Wednesday, March 26, 2014

on being a chicken shit. under the guise of control.

I'm taking a class this semester which makes me take really honest, uncomfortable looks at my life and myself. I would argue that these are the best kind of classes, even though they are hard and trying emotionally more than academically. Getting my Master's in counseling has been an entire journey in self-discovery, and while I'm extremely grateful, I'm also exhausted. 

But I'm here to write more specifically on this wonderful, albeit at times shaming-inducing and embarrassing class. 

I've always considered myself one of those people who never cries. For me it was a measure of strength, and I think there was even a bit of pride in being the kind of person, perhaps more specifically the kind of woman, that has control over my emotions. But do I really?  When I think about that now, I feel a little silly. Because in truth, I'm a HIGHLY emotional person. I'm one of those people with big, extreme moods and messy expressions of love and pain. I just got so good at putting a hard shell around it, withdrawing, successfully avoiding emotion that I was a sort of robot-person. Really, I wasn't in control, I was just terrified of what would happen if I had feelings, that I buried them. I like to feel safe, emotionally, even though I'm rather reckless in most other aspects of my life. Emotions are messy and unpredictable and powerful. They're raw. I like to appear polished and rational, self-assured. 

There's nothing wrong with being that way, except that I now really believe it's completely contrary to my authentic nature as a human being, as a helper. As a person swollen with empathy. Writing has been the only place in my life that I've let myself go, and even in that, there's a risk. 

And now I'm off-topic again. 

I'm just trying to explain. Tonight in class, the topic was apologies. What makes a good one? What does a bad one look like? Is hearing the words as important as a change in action by the person that did you wrong? So we had this assignment, and it was to come to class with a written apology, one you wished you would have given to someone you wronged or one you wish you would have gotten from someone who wronged you in some way. 

And suspicion crept in as I was thinking about what I was going to write about. I got this sneaking sense that we would all be sharing what we wrote with the class. So I typed out a bullshit apology to a faceless person about abusing the parking system at the university and came to class feeling safe. Last week, I broke down crying when I gave some of my thoughts on suicide, which was the topic that class. It was scary, I felt out of control, not just my voice and my face coloration, but in the slippery slope release can be on such a charged topic.

I've done wrong and I've been wronged. Not more and not less than anyone else, I don't think, but I have tons of actual examples in my life I could have drawn from. I can make a mountain out of almost any mole-hill when I start writing. It's what I do. In order to feel safe in my emotions, I have to explain and dissect them, and I can only do that through writing. It makes me feel more organized, seeing it all there in print. 

The people in my class, and there aren't that many of us, maybe 15, took risks. Almost all of them. And as I heard their stories and watched them struggle and cry and bravely share, I was ashamed of myself. Here I am, one of the few grad students in the class, and I'm in a program that has me talking about feelings for a living, and I can't muster an authentic apology to share with these people who have only ever been supportive?

So it comes to the end of class and I'm the only one who hasn't shared. And my teacher looks at me. And I say to the class, "I'm so embarrassed you guys. I didn't take this assignment as seriously as I wish I would have and now that I've heard all of your stories, I'm ashamed. I'm sorry, you guys. I was scared." And I read it and people laughed and they didn't seem mad at me for not exposing myself like they did. 

But I just felt so, overwhelmingly selfish and shallow and pathetic. 

And so now, I think it's time to do this assignment over. With feeling. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

hanging in there

I'm  basically white-knuckling life this week because spring break is next week and I have a really bad attitude about school right now. Mostly I think I'm just burned out and worried about what the hell I'm going to do with my life after graduation on May 17th.

It's rapidly approaching.

Does everyone else constantly question, like, every single one of their life decisions on a moment to moment basis? Or is that just me? I never really thought of myself as someone that has a hard time committing to things, but I'm starting to wonder.

I'm a HUGE believer in all that "trust the universe" granola hippy-dippy bullshit, but maybe my connection with said universe has been interrupted or something because I think about paying my student loans back and I kind of feel compelled to go off the grid. But like, for real go off the grid, not the idealistic going off the grid I talked about when I was 24 and my brain hadn't started working yet.

Whatever, I need to complain less. Sometimes I get this (idiotic) idea in my head that somehow complaining about things is funny for other people, but really I think it just makes me look annoying and ungrateful.

So let's go ahead and move on.

This weekend, Courtney, Aubrey, and I went on an adventure. They are my roommates and also Courtney has been my best friend for almost ten years, since the fateful moment that we met in the Ohio State dorms. Aubrey is in my grad program and also one of those soulmate kinds of friends that you feel comfortable talking to about bowel movements and awkward sex positions.... sometimes in the same breath. We accidentally watched a lesbian porn the other day, disguised as a regular old French netflix movie, but that's a story for another time. Just let me say that I looked over at Aubrey and said "Sooooo, this is something I never thought we'd do together." And then we both started cracking up as the ladies on screen transitioned from 69 to ass-to-mouth. It was interesting.

Anyway, back to the adventure.

One of Courtney's bucket list items was to go see the great snow goose migration. It happens every year when they head back to Canada. So we drove East, across the Rocky Mountain Front (continental divide) and camped and then woke to have our worlds rocked by birds. It was amazing and fun and I really needed it.

Below is a short clip from our adventure. It was A LOT colder than anticipated, since Spring has reached Missoula, but not apparently Freeze Out Lake, MT.  We're discussing the finer points of our camping method for the night. Enjoy.

Bucket list item, check check.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

On Buried Treasure

still taking awkward selfies after all these years. 

The other night I was waiting for the new Veronica Mars movie to download onto my computer.  Don't even get me started on why I was downloading it instead of going to the theater. Okay, actually I'll just tell you. It's because no fucking movie theater in the entirety of the state of Montana was playing the film. I considered for a fleeting moment driving to Washington to view the movie so that I could see it in a theater, but then realized I wouldn't have a place to stay afterward or a car bud to keep me awake on the drive home. But that's neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is that I was waiting for this movie that I've been waiting for 7 years to finish downloading and I seriously needed to chill the hell out. Tension was running high. 

So I did what any normal person would do, I exhausted Facebook, Thought Catalog, and Pinterest. And then I still had like 71 more minutes of downloading or something, so I got creative. I decided to go through my old draft folder in gmail. Just to you know, see if I had anything good. 

As of this moment, I have 653 drafts in gmail, which I realize is pretty ridiculous. But it's where I go to just jot down a couple of lines I think about or go on pissed off stream-of-consciousness rants. It's my thing. My draft folder is like, really close to my heart. It's also kind of a deep abyss of curiosities and antiquities and embarrassingly shitty writing. 

I don't delve very deep very often. 

But you know, I had some time on my hands and about three beers in my belly, so I dove right in. I found a lot of things. Essays I'd started about my Nana, years before she died. Ranty bitch fits about my best friends in those moments when I actually had the luxury of being close enough to them physically to be annoyed by anything they did, instead of just missing them desperately. And about 200 pages of a story that I started writing four years ago and just kind of ....forgot about. It was all so earnest, you know. I was discovering so much and meaning everything that I felt SO MUCH. 

It was a comfort, you know. To read and think from the voice of the girl that I was, the girl that I'll always be. Romantic and reckless and scared and self-conscious all at once, most of the time. Sometimes I forget myself, all these places that I go, all these things I get swept up in. This was a strong dose of identity. 

Finding my voice, deep and unexpected in my draft folder, it was like finding buried treasure.  

Oh, and Veronica Mars, that was a treasure too.