Tuesday, April 12, 2016

split wide open

When I was younger, I didn't really know how to feel. Or maybe I just didn't know enough about anything to recognize anything other than large swells of emotion. I loved the huge dips and swells, but rarely noticed anything in between. There was a point of pride that I took in being stoic or not giving a fuck or maybe even playing it cool.  

In college I got enormously drunk one night and cried over a bad breakup with some stupid boy and one of my guy friends told me he had thought the world was ending. I felt even more desperate for control of myself after that. He'd never seen a genuine emotion come out of me before, and even then I'd had to be saturated enough with liquor to let anything at all seep out. I played my cards close to my chest, then. That's what I thought it took for people to like me. 

I grew up in a series of places that felt like a vice, a series of expectations and right angles, repetitive patterns. If ever I tried to stretch, I could be sure that one of my limbs would strike a solid surface. It wasn't that I had a bad life, I think I just felt cagey and irritable for lack of something I couldn't name. 

Now though, I seem to cry at the drop of a hat. Little things, seemingly nothing things. Anything that moves me in the slightest. I feel so much for everything that the swell in my chest has become familiar and even comforting.  

I cried driving through a tiny little Oregon town in the mountains two days ago for the love of the place at first sight. Again during a Pete Seeger song just because his ideas are pure and fair. I cried at the start of the NCAA women's championship basketball game, when all the players were being introduced. Those girls, playing for the love of something, not because there's even the slightest chance of anything more, just for the sake of loving the game and the feeling of being part of something good. And how can I ever explain to those around me why these things bubble over so freely in me now? 

How can I really explain why I welcome it?

It's more than the little moments which make me feel grateful to be living right here and now, it's a change that happened to all of me somewhere along the road. It's a shift in me that makes the world a better place for me, and me better for being a part of it. 

I'd like to blame the years of training as a counselor for this somewhat recent development, but I know the real root. 

I have the West to thank for this change in me. 

And thankful is exactly what I am. 

Choosing this place, a rugged and ever-changing wonderland of beauty as my home, it has made me aware and enthusiastic, wilder and more open than I ever could have imagined.  

Where once there was a cap, a container for all my emotions and depth of feeling, now there is only wide open air, a boundless plane in all directions for all that I am and everything I witness. There is finally room for wonder, and I find I am full of it. 

That is what the West is. Still a little wild, jagged, rugged. It's unpolished and perfect in a way that only true beauty can be. Open to whatever comes, able to cultivate and stoke at the wild fires burning in my heart, no desire or notion to tame my inner furies or blind devotions. 

I was a person before I came to the west, it simply split me wide open- gave me more room for possibility, more space to grow from the inside out. 

Monday, February 22, 2016


It is never as drastic as snapping your fingers, but one day you wake up or look in the mirror or are sitting at a traffic light and you realize that you feel different. Different than the body-slogging, soul-tired, just-barely-eking-by 'normal' to which you've resigned yourself. 

And it feels like spring. 

You realize that this didn't just happen, that you worked for it. That even if on a minute-to-minute basis, nothing was different, on a week to week basis, you did the things and made the change

And maybe there's still a long way to go, but, really, maybe not. If happiness isn't a place you can arrive at, then maybe the isolated moments of happiness when they arrive, however fleeting, are what we're living for, anyway. 

It's belly-laughing during sign-language charades, or hearing your favorite song on the radio, when you're alone and can really belt it out. It's seeing the bulbs you planted last fall but maybe never truly believed would grow, poking out of the wet February earth. It's another mile at a faster pace than yesterday or a bright new robe for around-the-house lounging. 

And my god, it's all so imperfect that it would be easy to diminish and dismiss. 

But, one day, you don't. You don't diminish your life into a blur of status quo. You start noticing the little joys. 

And it feels like hope. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Trying to vibe positive on a cranky Tuesday. 

Cheers to those delightful souls who think we are funny, nice, helpful, and great at drawing. And who tell us so, especially when we don't expect it.

Monday, February 1, 2016


Today is Monday and it is the first day of my very least favorite month and it is your birthday.

Naturally I'm starting a crazy fad diet today to illustrate my mood and sentiments. Deprivation will set me free. I'll starve these feelings out. I've got a goal, for the next 30 days, at least.

To be fair, I can eat as much as I want. It's depriving myself of the things I like most of all which provides the most exquisite type of torture. I've started to think it's the only way to get through to myself.

I had crazy dreams about you last night, of course. When I woke up, my mouth felt dry and stale, probably from gasping for breath.

It's wild to me that even in my dreams, you don't forgive me. And you don't even know the half of it.

Tonight I'll tie my laces and run, going nowhere, staring at a screen, until my body is as exhausted as my mind. I'll let the spinning belt of the machine have it until I'm sure that I'll regret everything tomorrow.

That getting out of bed will be even more of a struggle than it was today.

Then I'll lie in the cool water, floating, with voices bouncing off all the walls. I'll let it revive me just enough to continue to revise my apologies.

I'll get home and do exactly the same thing to him that I did to you. I'll be cool, aloof, preoccupied with a task at hand. Harried, hurried, worried. Unfocused. Not quite cold, but not exactly present, either.

This is what I always do. I might as well start writing these apologies down, so they're ready for him next.

Maybe they would have worked, had I said them to you. You of all people, would have forgiven me

But that's another thing I always forget to do.

I wish I didn't always figure these things out way too late.

Happy Birthday. You've got to be the only person to become a ghost while still living.

Friday, January 29, 2016

ten minutes

This morning on my way to work I went somewhere in my head that I really only let myself go for those ten minutes on my way to work.

I thought about my trouble in interpersonal relationships lately. My lack of confidence and feeling of ineptitude. My feeling of being excluded. 

I thought about this g-chat conversation and the moments it described:

me we went with two other couples to trivia last night and the last gal showed up late because she was at the gym
 Jessica ok
 me and so she got there and i asked her how it was and she said 'sweaty' and then basically ignored me
and then the other gal came back from the bathroom and asked her how it was
and she was like 'good!' and launched into an animated explanation of it
 Jessica oh jesus
that's just rude
 me i don't know, it just rubbed me the wrong way
  i know she doesn't realize she's been doing it

And then I started thinking about you. Because when I'm low, I want to get lower. And you're a first class ticket to the bottom. 

Sometimes lately when I'm driving to work I spend those ten minutes thinking of how I feel like I'm in the periphery of every group. I remember that I didn't always feel this way. I didn't always feel obsolete and unnecessary, just a supplementary addition. I remember my 17 year old self, sitting shotgun next to you in your truck, driving anywhere. I felt like the center of the universe then, like a leading lady in my own story. Prickling with explosive energy.

So in less than ten minutes, I worked myself up to tears this morning and then had to immediately recover and slap a smile on my face when I got to the school, so now I'm feeling a little bit of emotional whiplash.

But I guess I'm finally feeling like writing with real emotion and not some half-assed attempt at humor, so it's a start.  

What I want to say is this. 

I miss you every day. Not every second of every day, but still, every single day. I wish I could say that I want you out of my head, but the truth is that I'm terrified of not missing you. I'm terrified of you not being in my head, because I need you there, I need to know that everything that happened between us is real. That you were my best friend and I was yours, even if it couldn't stay that way. Being that vital, indispensable, it's a good feeling. 

I get the impression now that if I wasn't here, no one's life would really be all that different.  

And I worry that you're always going to be the most important person in my life, and you're not even in it anymore.

And what does that mean for me, then? What do I have to look forward to? 

I'm a little scared that I'm going to keep walling myself in with people who don't make me feel special because it makes it easier to not let them be special to me. That I'm not going to be special and so I somehow deserve to be in a relationship with someone who has refused to have sex with me for six months, for no reason at all. That no one has to say bless you to me when I sneeze and mean it or ask me what I think about the silly little decisions of everyday life and want my input. I have a good life, and my partner loves me, but I am so, so lonely. And I sometimes feel like it could be anyone going through the motions with him, it doesn't have to be me. 

I'm not special.

There was a version of me that never never would have stood for this, and I can't decide if I lost her by accident or on purpose. 

I miss being the me who people heard when she talked, even in groups. Who was part of an attentive, inside-joke filled, sensitive, honest, open, pair. Because even when we had disastrous arguments, at least I knew you'd say you were sorry if you hurt my feelings. At least I knew that at the core of it all, that you came from a place of deep love and had my best interest at heart. I knew it and I took that for granted because I guess I thought it was always going to be that way no matter who I was with.

I miss the way you would defer to me, refer to me, when having a conversation in a group. Especially when I was standing right there. It made me feel worthy, important to you, like you were proud to be with me. "Sara's really good at that too." or "Sara was telling me about that a few days ago." I know I did that for you too. I didn't realize how important that part was until my boyfriend started turning away from me when he got into conversations, instead of drawing me in. I feel excluded. I feel like maybe I should be more independent? I feel like it's all my fault, apparently. Maybe it is.

The fact remains that I never feel that anymore, like anyone is proud to be with me. Maybe I'm not that person anymore, or maybe I just have a knack now for picking people who only care about making their own point, feeling proud of themselves. Maybe it's a flaw in me, that being proud of myself isn't enough. It makes me feel like I deserve more. It makes me oh so aware when I don't get it.

I made my choice. The last time we slept together, I flew back to Montana two days later. The one who is with me now picked me up at the airport. It was the beginning of something new. I was excited. Bloated with hope.

And now I am where I am. I've waffled with you enough in the last 12 years. Changed my mind. Been unsure. Reminded myself why it can't work. I can't turn back now, I made my bed.

I'm not going back. 

So here is where it always goes. It goes to reminding myself of the reasons why not. I cling to them. Those reasons, they've become the most important thing about me. They keep me in line.

And that's about as far as I get in the ten minutes I allow myself each morning. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

sore muscles

As you may have seen, one of my new years resolutions this year is to find better ways to occupy my time. 

You see, I fell into this pattern where I actually had too much time on my hands. Like, it felt like a struggle to fill up my days and like it took too much energy to do anything other than the Netflix binge I was going on- nearly every day after work. 

Yes, I said that I actually have too much time. 

This doesn't seem to be a common problem for a lot of people I know. However, I am fortunate to work from 8-3:30 during the week, except Thursdays when I get to leave at like 2:30. 

Oodles. Of. Free. Time.

Previously, being totally wasted.

BUT, I think I'm making a little headway. 

Every Wednesday I have American Sign Language for two hours in the evening, now. It feels really great to be learning something new again. It's fun. Working a muscle that I haven't utilized in a while. Learning for the sake of enjoying the taking in of knowledge. Plus I get to make some really dramatic gestures and facial expressions. 

Also, I joined a gym about a week ago, which you may have learned from my group exercise post. I'm spending a fair amount of time on the treadmill, which means I get to stock up on alone time, but also feel the burn. And many, many parts of my body are in pain right now. But it's the good kind, so I'll take it. 

And, I'm writing again. It's hard, it's miserable, and another one of those waking-up-an-underused-muscle metaphors would definitely fit. I'm still hating everything that I write. I know that it's not funny and most of it rings a little more on the stale than inspired side, but I'm trying, and that's something. 

I keep telling myself, I have to start somewhere.  

So, all of my muscles, mind, body, spirit, they're a little sore, but that means they're being used again, and that's a start. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

kick and core.

Let's talk about group exercise.

It seems like everyone I talk to is a huge fan of it. You know, working out in a room with a bunch of people, doing the same stuff to really loud music with heavy bass. They talk about accountability and healthy gal pal bonding time. They talk about 'fun' and how 'fast' a workout seems to fly by.

And they always say "You should totally come along! You'll love it."

I've been pretty reticent to participate in this form of exercise because usually when I tell one part of my body to do something, like four other parts of my body respond by doing something embarrassing. I ran cross country in high school- a team sport, but pretty much a solitary endeavor with a solidly repetitive body motion. It was a good fit for me.

So when I decide I'm going to get into shape, which I do from time to time, I usually turn my trusty running shoes to the streets, trails, or treadmill- with varying degrees of success. Because sometimes, I admit, I do get pretty fucking bored with the same old running, day in and day out. And then I stop with the exercise and then I continue to be out of shape.

Do you see where I'm going with this yet?

I allowed myself to be talked into a group exercise class called 'Kick & Core' last night.

I should also mention that in a weak moment I gorged myself with Arby's about 2.5 hours prior to this initial attempt. That turned out to be a poor idea, because trust me, Arby's does not taste as delicious multiple hours after consumption, coming up instead of going down.

No, I did not vomit during group exercise, mercifully the universe spared me that degree of humiliation. But I will say that there were a couple of touch-and-go moments and I definitely got to re-taste some of that poorly planned meal.

I wore my normal running attire, which consists of a baggy t-shirt, some capri length  black leggings, legs that haven't been shaved since New Years Eve, and some old running shoes. Let's just say no outfit would have made me feel like I fit in with these women, but running a razor over my legs in the past 25 days would have helped me to feel like I was at least a female.

Despite my Sasquatchesque appearance, I felt welcomed and and not singled out as the new girl, which is my biggest fear. I went with one friend and felt some relief that I could look over and give her a bewildered eyebrow raise at any time.

Still, I  wish I had the words to express how uncomfortable it was for me to sweat my tits off in a room completely lined with mirrors. It allowed me to be intimately aware of the fact that I was always two to three motions behind the rest of the class, flailing wildly. It also let me know just how miserable I look when I'm doing squats. Approximately the same amount of miserable I feel. At least I'm proportionate.

My one consolation the entire work out was that everyone was probably concentrating so hard on keeping up that they didn't have time to notice what an absolute ass I was making of myself.

When it was over, I was relieved. Like, whole soul relieved.

I do think this world needs group exercise. "Fun" exercise. I think they need peppy instructors who are impossibly fit and don't even grow winded throughout the hour-long routine that you yourself barely survived. We need these kind of women, even though when they casually mention their two year old child you are completely baffled that a baby made it's way out of their perfect body only two years ago. Maybe some people really are motivated by the idea that they will be missed by the group if they don't get their asses in gear and go work out with their friends.

I wish I was motivated by that.

I think I have some kind of physical insecurity that doesn't translate to my normally confident psyche. I think it has to do with how out of shape I really am right now, compared to in shape it seemed like everyone else in the class was. Maybe if I has been back in the exercise saddle for four months instead of four workouts, I could have laughed and poked fun at myself for how uncoordinated I am, like I would in pretty much any other setting. But probably not. I think I'll never like staring in the mirror while I sweat my ass off and wish I were dead, surrounded by the group of thirty beautiful and more coordinated women whose bodies actually do what they tell them to do.

The truth is, I think I prefer solitary exercise. I think I prefer pretty much solitary anything over large group activity. Besides, have you seen treadmills nowadays? They have T.V.s on them! I can stare at pretty much anything I want.