Black|Shadow

I had been sitting with this idea that Black America is the shadow side of White America that wants to be forgotten. That like the movie Inside Out they want to draw a circle around us and confine us to specific spaces and tasks. I’ve felt this for a while because when I look at the group behavior of each side in these racially charged violent accounts in the last year or so, it just feels like that moment where someone is pushing so hard against you not because they want to be free of you, but because they want you to fight and hold them tight. “Acknowledge me and affirm my value!” It’s the cry that I keep hearing  no matter the changing names of the faces of the perpetrators or the victims. 

So I’d been sitting with that. And on a more personal level, trying hard to do “my work” to combat this anxiety stuff. When you don’t know which triggers are going to be the triggers, you kind of work through all of them to see what’s what. It’s like checking all of the Christmas tree lights on a strand. And just like the fight for recognition I feel Black people are having, I am housing my own war within me. I’ll call myself out guided by the things I tend to be most critical about it others (see photo)   

 as it applies to me

  • I judge others for being what I perceive to be as weak because I do not want to face the limits of my own abilities. 
  • I judge others for being stagnant because I do not want to own the part of me that craves security. There is both a love and a hate of predictability and routine. Mostly though it suffocates me. 
  • I judge others for being naive because I do not want to face that not everything is how I make sense of it. 
  • I judge others for talking too much because I do not want to face my own insecurity with my voice. I consider them to be self-important when in fact it is I who does not often see myself as important enough. 

And as I sat with my judgments and moreso,  what each judgment said about me, I felt ashamed but also proud. Ashamed that I judge people at all when I know I know that we are all trying the very best that we can. Then pride that I could look myself inward towards my spirit and say there are pieces of you I ignore and I would like to acknowledge you now. You have value to me in my life. You are of me. You matter. 

It didn’t change anything. There was not miraculous moment of catharsis or a big promise never to judge again. Instead it was just the quiet recognition that despite all things, I am doing my “work”. 

And for the first time in a long time I wondered, how is this “work” going to affect my dissertation research? 

Starting Over Better

I told Robert (my therapist) the following thought I had:

Maybe, all this loss and what I count as failure is an opportunity. It’s stripped away, it’s gone now. But maybe because it was rooted in fear and that is not a sustainable foundation, nor how I elect to run my life anymore. Maybe now that it’s all gone I have the chance to start over and build up from love. Which is how I want to do everything, I want it all rooted in love.

He affirmed my assessment of how I made sense of my losses and my set-backs. It was a new assessment I’d come to because the one I was used to (The explanation that says these things happened to me because I did something wrong or I am something wrong) did not set well with my soul and left me with more pain than peace. So I decided to tell myself a different story about what it all meant. I decided to believe that I was given this struggle because I am strong enough to survive it and that I was given my gift of vulnerability to be able to connect my own pain to the pain of others in an effort to offer us both some healing.

And yet, I still struggled to truly let it all go. I’d had the words on my heart for a week now to ask my best friend but had not had the gumption to follow through. What if I am not as good as I think I can be? What if I am not as good as a writer as I think I am? What if I try to step out on my own and I fall on my face because I have no real talent? What if people then figure out that I am just some great fuck up who is building the ship as she sails? The thoughts had been with me moreso lately than normal. So much so that I began my familiar pattern of thinking about jobs in Higher Education that I would be qualified for. It wasn’t until this morning my conversation with Robert resurfaced in another being…

Scrolling through my feedly I saw that blogger Necole Bitchie has decided to move on from celebrity blogging. Truthfully, I knew this was coming and am excited for her because I believe she has much more to offer the world. She is the only “celebrity” blog I follow and I started doing so because of her story. I wanted to keep my eye on her.  In her last post she wrote:

I had to start living a purpose-driven life. I had to start thinking about what I wanted my legacy to be, and what steps I’d have to take to start living in it…I realized it was taking me awhile to get the guts to walk away and pursue my true life passion because 1) I felt as though I was being ungrateful to walk away from what has proven to be successful  and 2) I began living my life in fear. That fear was not just because I was scared to fail – but I was also scared of how great I really could  be. [Too] many people are not living their dreams because of fear.  I DO NOT want to become one of those people.I had to destroy it, before it destroyed me. (Necole Bitchie)
Her words spoke to me so absolutely that I felt a sensation throughout my body and just had to close my eyes a bit and let it pass over me. Hers was a truth I recognized as my own. It is just like what Marianne Williamson says in her famous quote, it is not our darkness but our LIGHT which frightens us.  So I have to say to myself, “Jessica, be not afraid of your own greatness.” And I say it to Necole too. I say it to all people, but especially women, be not afraid of your own greatness.  The courage we have to step into our own full power fueled by purpose–a greater purpose than money or fame or success in any Western sense of the word–that is what will change the world.  I feel like I have always known that, but sometimes I get so distracted by my ego…that need to be important in the worldly sense. I have to let that go. And as I breathe and cry and write this post, eyes closed like all my favorite posts come, I can feel the weight lifting off my chest.
Every thing that has happened to me in my life has been in preparation for me to be equipped to lead a purpose driven life. Not one single thing has been an accident or a coincidence. Even the rape when I can step out of the emotion of it, it too has been a great source of learning and growth for me.  All of which helps me to be better at what I know I am here to do: Help women see and step into the very best version of themselves. I have known it since I was 17 years old. And I have experienced to of perhaps the worst traumas women can experience, miscarriage and sexual assault. Two events that would drown me if I succumb to the emotion of them because they hurt that badly. Yet two events that wrap me so tightly in femininity, they are no accident. I choose to see them as opportunities…
When I worked the conference this past January I said that my intention was to recognize anger as a symptom of pain and an opportunity for healing. Little did I know how true that intention would be beyond those three days. It is no doubt that I am still hurting and healing from my assault, but make no mistake, I will come out of this stronger.  That knowledge, that….inner voice which is my navigation, the God that dwells within me, that voice has assured me of who I am, and she is not a quitter, she is not weak, and she is not a victim. She is a fighter.
So I thank Necole for her words which came at just the right time. I wish her well on her journey and it would not surprise me if our paths crossed sooner or later. The universe has a funny way of shifting winds so that people who should meet, do.  I was meant to meet her message this morning. Today in particular as I had already began to worry and fret about things that are beyond my control. Yet now, all I feel is peace, the gentle calm of recognition that this too shall pass. And that I am going to be okay. I always am.

Matthew 6:25-34

The girl who never asks for help

Lately I’ve been fighting a battle of wanting to remain gracious for all the blessings I have and falling apart from all the stressors currently in my life. I’m exhausted by being exhausted. I want so badly not to need checking up on or to write about something other than sadness, healing, assault, PTSD, and stress. But that is where I am right now. 

In the midst of all the other mess, my finances have decided to be an issue. Partially because I haven’t had the energy to devote to getting some needed paperwork in for school stuff, partially because I’m now on disability and haven’t had a full paycheck quite yet. It’s not so much about the money though, it’s about the fact that money is already a sore spot for me. And here I am having to deal with it on top of everything else. 

It makes me, for the first time in recent recollection, angry with God. It’s an anger that I know is just me hurting because I don’t feel capable of handling one more thing on my plate. In fact, the plate fell a long time ago and now I’m sitting down among the broken glass and just crying. Why now? 

And true to what my mentor said, if anyone were to ask how I am doing I would say fine. I wouldn’t tell them of my inner turmoil. I certainly wouldn’t ask for anything. It’s a lesson I fail over and over again…

Ego: at 31 you shouldn’t need that kind of help. You should be able to stand on your own two feet. 

Self: who is to say what kind of help one needs at any point in life? Do not elect to struggle because of pride and then make the world audience to your complaints. 

I just want to sleep. As if it’ll all go away then. It won’t but I at least won’t be worried about it. I don’t want to be prideful. 

I also don’t want to be learning this lesson at 35. And 42. And 56. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. Why is it so difficult for me to do it? It does not mean I’m irresponsible or a bad person. Maybe there have been times when I was irresponsible, and maybe there are things I could have done differently. But the stressors currently in my life are not solely my fault. I did not deserve them as a result of my own deficiency. 

Grace. I try to remember my therapists challenge to me.  Offer yourself grace. I shouldn’t be contributing to my own frustrations right now…

Brené Brown said, “Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.” It’s plagued me since I heard her say it. I do not know what judgments I make about those I offer help to, but I am well-versed in the judgments I make about myself. I am not kind to myself when I ask for help. And I project judgments from others onto myself, and then I internalize it. Social media only makes it worse. 

For example I explained to Robert that I felt bad for posting happy photos with my family while I was on leave from work. As if every waking moment should be spent suffering. He offered that those in support of my health would be happy to see me happy and would see that the time off was a good thing. The thought never occurred to me. 

I don’t want to be unkind to myself. I don’t want to hold myself to impossible standards of complete self sufficiency. I’ve said this before. But here in all my broken glass I think it might just be the opportunity to rewrite the story of what it means to ask for help. What it says about me…and own what a blessing it is to have people I can ask. And who are willing to help. 

You are not all the bad things you’ve told yourself you were. 

A sprinkling of Grace

in the eye of the storm she sits 

Doubt threatens to steal her breath

What if your dreams never come to pass 

What if the light you had grows dimmer by the day shaded from hurt

What if all the things you thought you were are but mere fantasy

What if builds a prison keeping her trapped there in the eye. 

She closes her eyes and tears fall. 

Reaching out her hands looking for another to hold, but no comfort is found in their touch 

So she holds herself. Which is what she was always meant to do in this moment. 

She wraps her arms around herself and cries as she begins to sing. 

She sings a broken song through sobs and salt water. A song she only just now knows the words to. 

And she rocks herself to the place that feels better than sleep: contentment. 

Laying on her right side she curls into herself and makes a promise 

Everything is going to be alright. 

And she believes it with her whole heart. 

It is the pillow she rests her head on while the madness continues to swirl around her. 

She may only have it for a moment, a breath or two, but while she has it 

She is thankful for even just a sprinkling of grace. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

I’ve googled the words. I’ve read articles and looked at Pinterest pins to see how other sexual assault survivors with PTSD were managing. I found a bit of solace when I realized my nervousness, panic attacks, fear, startle response, aversion to loud noises and long periods of social engagement were par for the course. It does not, however, help any of these symptoms subside. 

The last three days my next door neighbors have been tearing their place apart. At least that’s what it sounds like. Banging and knocking from morning to night as they remodeled or cleaned or whatever it is they are doing. And with each loud and unexpected clang I bit my jaw until it was sore. Scars on my arms and legs from nervous scratching. A growling stomach from hunger I’m too anxious to attend to. Decision after decision to have to make when all I want is the noise to stop and to feel safe. But nothing helps. 

I sleep right in front of my fan bundled up in blankets and surrounded by pillows to swaddle myself. It works until I wake up sweating and shaking. In need of medication to ease the panic I always try to wait it out a bit. My medicine is non habit forming yet I’m aware of drug dependencies. I stretch the time until I can’t take it anymore and I succumb to my daily dosage of semi peace. 

To deal with the banging, to keep from jumping out of my skin and to get out of my bed, I get high. It calms me. Perhaps not the best solution. But it’s all I can do to just make it through the moments. I’ve cried so much I could drown in my tears had they not evaporated first. Skin hot. Right. My muscles always ache. Feeling as though I’ve run a marathon. Constantly tired as my body expends copious amounts of energy preparing for and fumbling through the one socially engaging activity I give myself a day just to feel normal. Only to come home exhausted and bundle myself in the heavy weight of the only comfort I can offer myself. 

I’m sad. I’m becoming more bitter. I’m lonely. And a loneliness that can’t simply be solved with company. It’s a loneliness that just feels like I’ve lost my way home because home isn’t there anymore. Have you ever just wanted to feel good but no matter what you try nothing helps? So you setting for feeling nothing. I’d rather be numb than kayaking through my bedroom River of sadness as I draw blood from my jaw each time a clang or bang shakes my wall.

Trying so badly to stay present but that’s where it hurts the worst. I just wish and pray pray and wish for comfort. Please God? 

Onward

I had a dream I lost my car keys. Retracing my steps to find where they were I was still unable to locate the original set, but I did find my spare. Frustrated about losing my keyless entry, I griped on how difficult using my spare would be. Then I woke up. When I looked up the dream it said keys were about power and car keys were about moving forward and making progress. I took that to mean I’d lost my power and my ability to move forward. I had a spare so I could still access my power and be mobile it was just going to be more difficult than it would have been previously. 

Which is exactly what I discussed in therapy this week. That and the idea of yet again having to appraise myself. Let me back up a bit…so obviously the loss of power alludes to the rape, but my therapist helped me to reframe it a bit. I explained to him that I’d just watched Orange Is The New Black and watched Pensatucky “accept” her assault quietly with just chilling stillness and a single tear. Watching the scene, I told him, was like watching me. I cried about that for two hours. One hour before therapy and all throughout. I told him about my feeling like an air nomad: all defense no offense, not one to anger, and anything to keep peace. He reminded me that even in my choice to remain still and remain silent it was still a choice and not to let myself believe I was powerless or weak. It was a decision I actively made about my survival in that moment. Which may seem like the same problem I’ve been struggling with for a while, but it was a shift for me…he then asked me if I felt betrayed by my fire side (the opposite of air). 

Sidebar, I love that my therapist has seen and can allude to Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra. I told him he’s my tribe. 

I told him no at the time. But after thinking about it, I did access my fire. That is actually what ended the assault. My temperament changed and I fought him off of me and put myself in a corner ready to defend myself if needed. I spoke firmly and assertively telling him I was done. He listened. Dr. D says that rape is often described as happening both fast and slow at the same time. I can agree to that. Perhaps I can have a bit of grace with myself knowing that when I needed my fire, it was there. 
Next to the appraisal…I explained that it went back to my father. Constantly trying to be in his favor and repeatedly falling short. He says he loves me. Loved me. I never felt it. What I felt was not good enough for his attention. Real attention. Not just money, not just a quick fix to a problem, not sending me shopping with a step mom but for him to take real interest in my life. What I used to feel was that I wasn’t worth it. I worked for years to tell myself a different story until it finally stuck that I was full of value and he was simply missing out. Then I was sexually assaulted. It came after a year of sexual trysts triggered by the ending of a very significant relationship (P2AD). All that year I just wanted to feel wanted because I’d felt so discarded by him. Once again questioning my value as a woman I looked to other men to help me assess my worth. Of course that did not work and ultimately the behavior led to me meeting my rapist and being sexually assaulted by him. 

All the things I prided myself on being: intelligent, creative, a good friend, a great listener, pretty, sexually liberated, hell and Southern, I lost them all. Or I felt I did. My inability to perform at work and at school made me question my worth. My poor choices with men made me wonder if my sexual liberation was really just a desperate girl seeking validation, anxiety stole my ability to listen and focus and many of my friendships were affected by my new need to focus more on me. And the southern thing…having to file for FMLA meant no more Georgia residence, I’m officially a Californian. 

What I’m working towards reconciling is that all the things I thought/think I lost are not gone forever. Some are temporary, like those things affected by my panic attacks. Some, like my Southern identity, cannot be taken away. And some, like my sexual freedom, are still in flux. What I can say is that I am working my ass off to be better the right way. Acknowledging that “right” is simply the way that feels most authentic for me. I am crying when I need to. I am presently in a ball, muscles tight and in pain from an attack that I’m just trying to breathe through. I am falling apart daily and finding ways to put myself together again enough to get to tomorrow. 

I know I have power. I know I have value. I know that right now I’m relearning how to make sense of both. What are the things that make me strong? What are the things that make me priceless? What are the things that make me Me? Dr. D said after the roughest patch with my dad I defined myself in specific ways and that the rape attacked that foundation. It was an accurate summary of how I felt. How I feel. But what he urged me to consider was how much of that foundation was actually lost? 

I am still writing. I am still sharing. I may not be a friend in the way I was before, but I am still compassionate, fun, a good listener, and accepting. I am still intelligent. I am still creative. In fact I have new perspective on so much now, especially things that relate to the feminine. I am still me. Even when I don’t feel like me. I patiently await the day when I don’t feel so all over the place. When I integrate. Until then…Onward. 

Mental

When I was working as a counselor, my favorite clients were the ones who were diagnosed with bipolar disorder and  schizophrenia because they were always the most expressive and artistic clients I had, especially when they were going through medicine transitions or changes with their psychiatrists. The description of mental or physiological states of being were described in poems or through song lyrics. As I reflect on them I can see that much of why I enjoyed working with them is because they spoke my language. 
Similarly, my work with these clients catalyzed my disdain with psychotropic medication. Why were we suppressing the creators of such beautiful artistic expression? What could we be getting from them if we were not sedating them into such flat affects? I recognize that is not the point of their medication, however it is what I would see happen sometimes once their meds were stabilized. Selfishly I wanted them back in raw form, never mind the fact that in such a state they might be a danger to themselves. The Shiva in me was okay with risking destruction for the possibility of beautiful creation. 

When I talked to my psychiatrist about my own medication, it was a fear I had. That I would lose the true voice in my writing if I were not clean of the pills. I suffered through the sweats and nervous shaking, constant doubt, crying and flashbacks just to be able to write my dissertation from my familiar headspace. On the day of my defense, I didn’t take my “in case of emergency” pill which had been added to my daily regiment. I wanted a sense of true presence even if it meant I fell apart. I did end up crying three times that day. 

Now as I work with my doctors to lower my dosages and lower my anxiety, I feel trapped in the limbo of having deep beautiful thoughts and being too anxious to do anything with them. The paradox upsets me. It is such a tourment to feel glimpses of beauty yet have no real way to step into it fully. To embody it. The dance exhausts me and makes me cry, longing for just a few months ago when creativity was my resting place. 

Art is my freedom. And lately even with writing, the cost is so high to produce it I question the value of the entire process. But somewhere deep down at the core of me I can hear my Brahma assuring me that words written through shakes and tears are still worth writing. 

I worry constantly about over exposure. Am I saying too much? Being too open, as if there was such a thing. I try to tell myself to listen to my intuition and trust myself. It’s harder to do when you feel so scattered. Like a deck of cards thrown up in the air scattering the floor one at a time. I’m a full deck but I’m a mess. 

What does pain look like? 

Reading about the formation of pearls, an irritant gets in between the mantle–the organ which produces growth of the shell–and the shell itself. It is akin to getting a splinter, something has gotten under your skin. And the oyster basically begins to grow a new shell around the irritant resulting a pearl. Something beautiful from something painful. 

After breakfast with my mentor I was left pondering my own splinter. It was offered that while open and vulnerable and expressive via this medium, I was not always as receptive to such connection in person. It was something I’d heard before. People expressing to me that after reading my blog(s) and meeting me, that I was much different in person. One persons even called me cold. It bothered me then, but perhaps I was not so ripe to begin the process of pearl making at those times. 

I’ve found myself being more open than ever with my life and life experiences, and yet if anyone were to ever approach me to have a conversation about something I’ve written, I would be terribly apprehensive. I though that maybe it was because when I was a kid I was constantly called too sensitive and learned to lock my emotions up tightly. But the truth is I’m just scared. 

I’m afraid of crying in front of people who may or may not offer me comfort. I’m afraid of reaching out my hand for connection to be met with nothing in return. I’m afraid of becoming too dependent on someone who may leave. I’m afraid of losing me in we. I’m afraid that I’m not as good as I’ve written myself out to be and that I’ll be a disappointment. I’m afraid that even after bearing my soul someone will look at it and realize I’m not what they wanted after all. That’s what naked honesty gets you. That’s what vulnerability gets you. 

And I can say logically, what if the oyster so feared sand irritants that he never opened his mouth? We would have no pearls, but also the oyster would die. He would not grow, and he would starve. So I mustn’t be like the scared oyster and I have to take a chance on exposing myself! 

Easier said than done. 

I take my mentors offering as my grain of sand. Right now it’s just irritating the shit out of me. But deep down I recognize that as an artist, I want to be congruent with my art. And as someone who wants to help others step into their best selves, I have to be willing to do the same. 

My 2015 word is love. And in the first six months of the year I thought it would be about finding love in things and people. What I now accept is that perhaps solely, but definitely simultaneously, it is also about loving me. Loving me enough to be bare and hold my head high so as to say, This is me. Pain, I think, is what it looks like when we are too afraid to do that. Too caught up in what would have been, could have been, allegedly should have been…pain is the emotive manifestation of non acceptance. But pain can also be our splinter, and it can be our opportunity to make something beautiful from something that hurts. 

I posted the following photo and caption on Instagram: 

One of the things that happens when you experience #sexualassault is #victimblaming. You ask yourself what you could have done differently? Better? Then, if you report it, cops, detectives, even some friends and family will ask you the same thing. Why didn’t you scream? Why didn’t you run? Why didn’t you fight? And in your lack of answers you begin to make deposits in the bank of self-depreciation. Never owning all the while that your #silence or your #stillness was really your #bravery and how you saw best to #survive in that moment. I say this to the part of me that hurts the most, “You are doing the best you can. And my darling, that is more than #enough. You are more than enough.” Your body is not a cavern of misfortune or mishandled reaction. Your body is a testament to your #resilience. Your body is the keeper of your #light. You cannot be dimmed. You cannot be shut out. You survived. And you must make the choice to do so again and again always until your work is done. #Onward

I struggled with the idea of sharing it on Facebook. Not because people would see, because my Instagram is not private nor is my tumblr, but because on Facebook those are the people in my life who would speak out to me. Family. Good friends. Professors. Mentors. Colleagues. That’s who might reach out to me. Who would seek connection. And I had to admit to myself that I was terrified of that. I also had to admit that daring to love myself in such a bold way was pretty brave. And that I was proud of both the photo and the caption. I had to own that this was me. It really really was. Nothing I’ve ever posted has ever felt more like me. 

It was or it is a marked change in the way I interact with my work. I did not want to just express and expell, I want my work and my writing to be tangible in me through me as me in person as well. Because it was me. And perhaps I was just tired of wearing the mask to protect myself. Pain, I realize, can be the first step in a shift towards authenticity towards acceptance. 

I used to crave comments on my blog. I used to want shares and reblogs and people tagging friends to my work… And now I wonder if I could hold having those same people at dinner discussing whatever topic at length with real depth? I am working towards that place. I imagine falling deeply in love with my own being, so much so, that masks and walls just block my light and I much prefer to stand nude in front of the world risking ridicule for the sake of artistic freedom and personal happiness. I crave the day when I maybe think twice, but do not allow the possible opinions of others stop me from living in my truth. I want people to read and see and talk to me and feel each of the interactions was a rich as the other. I want to be congruent. Not at war with my hurt, but owning it as part of me. Not fighting with shame but exposing it. Not fearful of vulnerablity, but using it as a tool for connection. 

Anything other than that is a life less than the one I am capable of living. 

A certain certainty 

I am giving up on love. Not in a cynical sad way, but in the way where you finally donate those pair of jeans that you bought as “goal pants” that just mock you and take up hanger space. Further, by love I mean this idea that I’ve subscribed to that this one human being is going to come into your life and fit in a way that everything else shines brighter. That somehow the world you already have created for yourself somehow is enhanced. 

I still believe in companionship. I even still believe in the sacred vows of marriage. What I no longer believe in is that without those things my life is dull or somehow incomplete. 

It’s somewhat of a big revelation for a romantic like me. But as I’ve grown up and down–rooted deeper into myself I had to ask myself why I was holding this reservoir of love for a “maybe” rather than pouring love on the people who mean the most to me who are currently in my life. Further, I’d started to make a habit of dating men who couldn’t give me what I needed or deserved and wanting to “love them into commitment”. It didn’t make any sense, they didn’t want it and if I were being honest with myself, I didn’t want it either. Too afraid then to call a spade a spade, I can say it now: I was preparing to settle. 

And that is never ever where I wanted to be with love. I’ve asked myself if what I want is unreasonable. But then I see it reflected in my friendships, most notably with Jennie, Annie, and Ted. Circumstance and sexual orientation aside, I could live rich and happy love-filled lives with either of them. So it lets me know it’s possible. 

I’m not sure what happens in the future for me relationship wise. But I’m no longer subscribing to the idea that my life is incomplete or lacking because I’m single. And frankly, it’s a good thing to make that declaration I think. To be a whole person living a full life…that’s the dream! 

My life is up and down. I’m battling through anxiety and PTSD, I’m figuring out who this new me is, I’m trying to set intention for my professional future and do the work that will get me there. I am in progress, but I’m here. I feel the sun on my skin and the air in my lungs. God is within me. My heart beats and laughter still escapes my lips daily. I am blessed. No man could give me that kind of soul satisfying, gratitude soaked peace. No anyone could have. 

  

Humpty Dumpty 

Over and over again throughout this healing and recovery process I keep hearing how time is the best salve. Just give it time. I know it’s true but it doesn’t make it any less patronizing to hear. I want to scream, “Bitch, but what about right now?!” Just being honest. 

I met with my mental health care team this week and we all decided that for the sake of my overall health I needed to step away from everything for a while. So I’m actually taking a medical leave from work. I was worried at first for multiple reasons and I know I’d mentioned how I really would just quit my job to deal…but now I don’t have to. Which in an of itself is a huge relief. Part of my anxiety around work was underperforming, and been seen as taking advantage of my supervisors patience with my healing process. It’s irrational considering I work for and with trained counselors, therapists, and psychologists, but in case you’re just now tuning in: I’m irrational right now. I feel at total piece with the decision. Or at least my capital ‘S’ self does. I won’t give too much merit to the ego side that considers this quitting or weakness or a failure. I am taking a breath, in the grand scheme of my life. I’m pausing now to really work and process and heal a bit more so that when I do go back full throttle, it’s not from a place of suppress, ignore, persist but from somewhere much healthier. 

Similarly yet in a different vein, I met a guy. It is very very new and I don’t want to say too much. Other than the theme of time is one threaded throughout my life right now, even with him. It is like when you first begin to practice mindful living and you chew your food slower so that in that moment you’re actually tasting all the flavors. Or the swirl of wine around your mouth and against your tongue before you swallow. It’s a savoring, an appreciation. Slowing down allows you to catch more of the detail and the nuance. 

I’m excited by the idea that for a few weeks I don’t have to wear the mask. That I can be how I feel without questions or glares or that antagonizing awful question “How are you doing?” I’m a hot fucking mess, how are you? I always want to answer that way and maybe now I will. Likely not, but maybe now I can have the time to consider a thoughtful honest answer without being flippant. 

And on a final note, I have to say I’m so blessed by the people in my life who have been so patient with me. Jennie and Annie and Ted and Nick and Rox and Tara and Mari and Dom and Ne, my supervisor my dissertation committee my family especially my mom. I’m blessed beyond words for the time they’ve allowed me to fall apart and the support they’ve offered in various forms as I work to put myself back together. You know, the poem never explicitly said that Humpty Dumpty was an egg…maybe he, too, was just going through some shit.