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Runner’s Calm

In Depression and Mental Health, Somewhat disjointed rant... on August 31, 2014 at 3:11 am

I run on the left side of the street. That’s a habit born of having my ass slapped by the driver of a car coming up behind me once when I was running on the right side.

The first step out of my house is always the hardest. I have to fool myself. One part of my mind knows what is coming. The other part is too busy thinking mean things about me. My body is in total disagreement with anything that involves more than flipping through Buzzfeed.

But, I do it. Because I am sick of bullying myself mentally. The best way to fight a bully: fight back. I usually choose light weight clothing. Not today. I wore a heavy-weight t-shirt and those terribly hot track pants that go swish when I move.

I don’t track distance anymore; I track time. I usually power walk for a good bit before I run, but not today. Today has been a day full of frustration and anger–mostly directed at myself, but some at others (if only for good measure). I hate working out inside. I need outside. I need the challenges of heat and insects and cracked pavement and looming branches and cars and overgrown thorns and hills.

I started running almost immediately. Not jogging. I cannot jog. I’ve tried and I fail most miserably. It’s painful and I find myself curling forward into the pace of it. No, I need running: with my chest open and my back straight and my knees high and my feet swinging back. The first few steps, I can still hear the self-doubt, the self-hate, the self-loathing. But, then, the inevitable stitch creeps up my right shin. I have a funny gait that I constantly have to readjust. I was really thin as a kid; where some kids have baby fat, I had baby thin. And, I never really moved my hips when I walked. I had no need of it. But, baby thin wore off. Adult me still hasn’t quite gotten used to my woman proportions. To compensate, I bear the weight on my right leg whether I run or walk.

The stitch is painful, like I pulled taut an imaginary thread that connects my toes to my fingers. But, I don’t stop. That one part of my mind knows that the stitch will ease. I’m not running to ease the stitch; it’s almost welcome. Every part of my mind is screaming OWWWWWWW. I always walk downhill. In my mind, it takes far more control to prevent my 180 pounds from barreling down a hill at top speed. No, I power walk down hill. I run uphill. I set my goals by mailboxes. At the first hill, I decide to stop at a forest green mailbox. I always stop, take my pulse, and have celebratory swig from my camelbak. Within 10 seconds, I want to feel at least 30 beats.

I live in the Piedmont–the foot hills of Georgia–so there are a lot of hills. Lots of chances to silence my self-loathing. The second hill is more severe. My pulse is high, so I don’t push it too much but just enough to make my thighs hurt. But, suddenly, I don’t care about that. I am reveling in–and sharply thankful for–enough youth and health to do this. This particular hill is the one that forces the longest recovery. I get myself back to a power walk with Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Good and that lasts through the third hill.

I’m hot, but I wish I had started a half-hour earlier before. Late August in Georgia means blazing hot days, humid afternoons, and cool almost Autumnal evenings. I wish that I had started in the humid afternoon. Sweating it out goes hand in hand with running it out. My stress sweat smells terrible and bitter; my running sweat smells noticeably cleaner. So, I can tell when I’ve pushed myself beyond the stress. Today, it happened at the top of the third hill just before I turned left to make the fourth.

My workout playlist is an odd mix of styles that I put together with no other requirement than that the beat be fast and heavy so that I can keep up a good pace. That means there is a good bit of techno. I never bother to learn the names of the songs. But, as I was pushing up the fourth hill, one of my favorites came on. The chorus (I guess it is still a chorus–even though those are the only discernible words in the song) goes, “Torture. Kill Me.” It was then that I realized that I would have to do a fifth hill.

It’s one thing to run past the pain in my legs and butt. That will yield the almost pleasant dull ache tomorrow that reminds me of what I put myself through today. The real mind game comes with running past the pain in my lungs. My pulse is fast; but not dangerously so. That’s the point of the cardio–to improve my heart’s ability to recover. But, the primordial part of my mind (where I register basic gut things like fight or flight) doesn’t know that. It thinks I’m going to die. And the only thing that I hear, the only thing my mind registers, the only thing my body understands is: MUST MAKE IT.

I know better, but I agree that I must make it back to my house for a hot shower. My skin is warm, my breathing is strong, my mind is alert, my sweat is evaporating in the odd breeze. I’m not dying. But, I will have to make another hill no matter which way I choose to get back to my house. It’s a smaller hill and good for a close. My shirt is soaked; my synthetic pants have done their best; my camelbak is wet from the sweat off my neck and hair.

I probably did push myself a little too hard. My eyes seem to be beating in time to my pulse. But, there is nothing to be done at this point but cool down–until my pulse is at or just under 20 beats in 10 seconds. I walk back to my house in the gathering dusk. Everything is in sharp relief: the little irregularities in the pavement, the speed and headlights of an oncoming car; the almost non-existent tightness in my lower back; the slight smell of coming rain; the gray-purple of the sky.

I listen to Misty.

All the self-doubt, self-anger, and self-loathing are afraid of me now. They are silent. This is the point I need to reach. I run from me and return back to me. Runner’s calm.

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Reunion: A sense of something past

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Depression and Mental Health, Encouragement, Friendship, Happiness, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on April 29, 2014 at 3:14 am

This past weekend was my 10 year reunion for Agnes Scott College. I was very excited, and it was a great weekend. A great many of the women with whom I attended school came, and it was something not quite nostalgic. There was a sense of something new: the chance to form adult friendships with women who are smart, accomplished, articulate. The chance to form mature friendships that I could not have formed as a young 20 something.

But, then, there was also a sense of something past for me. I did have good times in college, but (overall) it was not a happy time in my life. I have written before of how I dealt (back then) with deep depression that made me feel disconnected from other people. Strangely, though, I was brought into very close contact with people without whom I would have been unable to graduate on time and move beyond my stint in the behavior disorder ward. The administration of Agnes Scott and many of my friends made around me a protective circle of love, prayer, compassion, and faith. I’m forever grateful.

But, momentarily, I was flooded with questions like: why didn’t I…? Why couldn’t I…..? Shouldn’t I have….?

Is there a way to step, for a moment, back into that time and pick up the things that I missed? Or, can I at least figure out why I didn’t do this or that? I concluded, that for me, there is not a way to step back into that time. The things that I missed, the connections that I did not make cannot be redone or remade to be as if it had been ten years ago. For me, the best thing was to be grateful for the past, to be grateful for those who loved me in the past, to be grateful that I have a chance to connect with the women as they are now rather than lament that I missed the chance to connect with who they were.

This past weekend was a practice in living the now. And, I realize that I need to allow myself a healthy amount of grief over the very young and scared woman who was me. Until now, I mostly ignored her and the past. But, there is no need for shame, embarassment, and denial. After all, she eventually became me. But, grieving over her is not at all the same thing as resurrecting her. I cannot make her time happier, but I can work to make my time now happier. I cannot reach back across 10 years and make her experience peace; but, I can be at peace with who I am now.

And, oddly what so worried and saddened me 10 years ago was the thought that I would never feel happy or at peace. Some things do fall away into the past. Moving beyond those crippling thoughts and being the woman I am now among other women of the now made me happy–perhaps not exactly nostalgic–and glad to be with them.

The truth about cold turkey…..

In and other uncomfortable topics, Depression and Mental Health, Somewhat disjointed rant... on March 25, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I have heard, read, and believed how tough it is to quit nearly anything cold turkey: smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, eating meat, consuming sugar. So, somehow, when my doctor was irritatingly dismissive of my desire to refill my prescription of fluoxetine (that’s Prozac for all of you completely sane people out there), I went on an “I’ll show you” rampage and decided to quit the med cold turkey.

Only belatedly did I discover all of the sites where the phrase DON’T QUIT MEDS COLD TURKEY dances across the screen in neon yellow. So, apparently, what I went through is a rare experience since most people DON’T QUIT MEDS COLD TURKEY. Of course, my experience in the cold turkey rabbit hole is unique and others will likely have a radically different experience. My last dose was at the end of December 2013.

Here’s what I learned:
1. Some anti-depressants can have long half-lives. This means it could take days or weeks for the meds to work their way out of your system. What this means: when you wake up feeling great 6 days after taking the previous dose, this does not mean you are done and that you have made it to the mountaintop. If your doctor is at all professional and competent, your doctor will know alllllll about this.

2. Be adamant. Be very adamant about what you are looking for in terms of mental health. The key word is YOU. Not Uncle Hobart; Not Aunt Matilda; Not the Dowager Countess; Not dear old grand-dame; Not Marty McFly. There may be people in your life who are (and will likely always be) disapproving of you taking meds; there may be people in your life who believe everyone is neurotic and in need of meds; there may be others still who believe you are not strong enough to go off of meds; there may be even another group who believes that you are Zena Warrior Princess or Highlander and never needed meds; there will be people who prescribe vegetarianism, veganism, exercise, laughter, sex, meditation, or prayer as the non-med cure for what mentally ails you.

Again, be adamant about what your wants, needs, and current place in life mentally and emotionally.

Here’s what I experienced:
1. Nausea. Not the sort of hard core nausea that I experience as a result of motion sickness or during my cycle. This nausea was a dulled and prolonged sense of disequilibrium. This began about two weeks after my last dose and ceased about two weeks ago.
2. Shift in eating patterns. Previously, I would sometimes wake up and grab a midnight snack. Lately, I have experienced hunger pains at night that sometimes wake me up.
3. Dizziness. Making a quick 180 degree turn would leave me feeling wobbly. It would then take me a moment to collect myself. This started about two weeks after my last dose, but ceased about two weeks ago.
4. A definite shift in my self view. I’m a lawyer, so I don’t necessarily have a small ego. But, my sense of self-efficacy and self-assuredness has definitely become a bit more fragile. Also, libido. Down. That’s all I have to say about that.

Here is what I would do differently:
1. I wish that I had kept a diary, so that I could relate my experiences to a counselor or doctor.
2. I wish that I had gotten a second opinion or simply fired my doctor in favor of someone with compassion and patience for mental health issues.
3. I wish that I had engaged a counselor before doing this cold turkey. The fact of the matter is that no matter how much another one promises to be there for you during the time you are kicking the meds: no one is going to be able to handle the numerous small changes and large obstacles that are in your way. It’s not fair to turn a civilian into your makeshift professional counselor. This means that I’ve toughed out a lot of struggles quietly on my own.

No, I’m not watching the Academy Awards

In and other uncomfortable topics, Examining my tears #ExMT, Race, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on March 3, 2014 at 3:00 am

This is one of those posts that, the writing of it, takes a sigh and the publishing of it takes another. I have immense self-doubt even as I write this. Also, I have hood-winked you. This post is only slightly about the Oscars, and a lot about my own confrontations with and misunderstandings of color.

I am an American, and steeped in the hypocritical psuedo-democratic, but at the same time grandiose and hopeful, rhetoric and culture of this place. And, like so many other Americans who are aware of this Oscar season, I found heart-breaking the words of Lupita Nyong’o as she accepted an award at Essence’s Black Women of Hollywood luncheon. As a child, she prayed to God to “wake up lighter-skinned.” That prayer embodies years of negative comments to Ms. Nyong’o; years of not being told she was beautiful period; hundred of years of subjugating and objectifying and brutalizing darker women; colonialism; the slave trade; religious teachings about the evil and depravity of darker people.

Those things set up a hierarchy, embodied in the old (though not so old) Southern U.S. saying: “If you’re white, you’re right; if you’re brown, stick around; if you’re black, get back.” But, as I am typing this, I am looking at my fingers and realize that I might be scoffed at for joining in this conversation. I’m in an outsider position and, for years, I was told as much: “You don’t have Black girl hair”; “you’re best feature is your light skin”; “you get handed things because you’re light.”

I say “for years” because I now actively refuse to participate in color conversations because no matter what someone always gets hurt and because I am not an outsider. I am an insider. I am an inside witness to what the still-working system of subjugation does to darker people of all hues.

That system–and all of us who participate in it–defines darker as ugly; if not ugly, then less than; if not less than, then different; if not different, then exotic; if not exotic, then not *quite* White. Darker is never allowed to be, to live, to exist as an unremarkable part of daily life. We all have the daily opportunity to see beautiful people of every color. Whether we choose to seize that opportunity is another thing; whether we choose to wholly acknowledge that beauty is another thing.

In plain language, Morris Chestnut is not a beautiful brown man. That is not wholly appreciating beauty. No, he is a beautiful man. Jesse Williams is not a beautiful “mixed guy.” No, he is a beautiful man. And, most importantly, the two do not stand as representations of polar opposites of each other. Ms. Nyong’o deserves all of the accolades and attention for her acting chops and her beauty. But, it makes me a little sad that, in some of the writing about Ms. Nyong’o, “lighter” actresses are getting thrown under the bus as examples of what’s wrong with Hollywood.

The hard part–and the part that sometimes makes me feel hopeless–is that there is no real way out of the system. The fact of the matter is that women who look like Lupita Nyong’o and Grace Jones and Iman and Viola Davis are often either told they are ugly or not told they are beautiful and these same women deserve to be smothered with love and appreciation and admiration because they were beautiful all along; the fact of the matter is that Halle Berry and Paula Patton and Zoe Saldana are very popular actresses and not always because of talent alone. Is there a way to reconcile all of that? Is there a way to love and appreciate and admire one without pointing out the fault in the other?

And, the point of the whole thing is money made by selling images and films and tickets. It seems that the better the system works at making someone feel ugly, the more likely that person is to pay good money to see someone who looks like them who is beautiful. So, the system wins in the end anyway, and in the end we all end up distracted from the fact that minority communities (and I don’t just mean Black folks and racial/ethnic communities) are underrepresented anyway and all the damage caused by that can’t be fixed by a couple of magazine covers, a television show, and a few awards.

So, no. I’m not watching the Academy Awards–despite the fact that I think Ellen DeGeneres is hilarious. I’m no longer sure that I can trust what I am watching. I am no longer sure of where the system ends and true admiration and healing begin.

Here goes: sigh.

World: 1; You: 0

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Examining my tears #ExMT, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on February 26, 2014 at 5:08 am

Allow me to be frank.

The world has a way of telling you that you ain’t shit, of ever so slightly lifting away your protective ego and exposing your sensitive soul to the withering glances of uninvited eyes. Then, what began as a just a corner lifted up turns into a gale force that rips away your confidence.

And, all it takes is one voice. One completed action aimed at you. Today, I heard that voice. Then, my own insecurities took over. It started with one dissatisfied client and
I’m inexperienced
I’m young-ish
I’m Black
I’m female
I’m not on anybody’s magazine cover
I’m not on any tracks
I’m not able to fit into any of my clothes from high school
I’m not a mother
I’m not married
I’ve not made any large or notable settlements
I’m in some serious student loan debt
I’m unable to replicate any of Norm Abrams’ wood-working

Obviously, some of those are pointless….

But, I realized that EVEN IF ALL OF THAT IS TRUE, there is one thing I have in my “plus column”: today, I was not that voice to someone else. I have the choice–and I made the choice–to speak positive words to others. I do not have to be the trigger for someone else’s insecurity spiral. I refuse to allow the World to get a plus one over on someone else because of me.

Instead, I can be for someone else what my loved ones were today for me: a voice that nurtures; a hand that consciously and purposefully replaces the protection over an exposed and shivering soul; a reassurance that one does matter; a reminder that there is no score card in life.

Tomorrow is another day, sure to present a multitude of voices. But, the only thing I can control is what I do with my voice.

February: Let me sum up…

In Examining my tears #ExMT, First World Problems, Somewhat disjointed rant... on February 24, 2014 at 5:33 am

In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya: “Let me explain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up.”

February: the month of revelations and annoyances, large and small. I learned much. For example….

1. I should feel sorry for my frequent and vigorous use of adult language. I should. And, sometimes I do. But, I often don’t feel sorry. I do recognize that said language is incongruous with my Christian faith. I’m working on it. But, I’m pretty sure that you looking down your nose at me is not WWJD.

Lesson learned: Judgmental people are boring.

2. My dentist is not an orthodontist. So, I will forever kindly thank her to talk to me of the state, health, cleanliness, and hygiene of my mouth rather than asking me multiple times if I still wear my retainer. Yes. Yes, I know I have a gap. I know that. And guess what? I’ve had braces TWICE. No. No, I would not be interested in Invisalign or in getting braces again. Yes. Yes, I do wear my retainer. I still fit in it. I have a gap between my two front teeth–my sister has a gap. My mother has a gap. My grandmother had a gap. Heffa, clean my teeth, tell me if I have cavities, and let me go to work. I know my teeth are not “perfectly straight.” Based on my dentist’s preoccupation with my teeth not being “perfectly straight,” I would guess that at least 90% of her patients must have “perfectly straight” teeth. That would be an incorrect guess.

I cannot believe I paid $170.00 for these broads to give me 15 minutes worth of cleaning, 20 minutes worth of lecturing on retainers/braces/invisalign, 45 minutes of waiting, 10 minutes of an attempt to convince me that I needed new “bitewings” done when I knew good and well that I had paid for “bite wings” the last time I visited the dentist, and 2 minutes of an awkward stare down when I refused to have new “bitewings” done before the existing “bitewings” were found.

Lesson learned: My dentist is probably run by an Invisalign cartel.

3. There are many people in the world who should have gone to law school. I went to law school, and I’m now a lawyer. So, I know that there is nothing particularly special about lawyers as people. We’re not smarter, better, more attractive, more charismatic, or quicker. The only thing we have is a JD and a (hard earned) bar number.

People sometimes ask for legal advice. That’s fine. I enjoy sharing with people (sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee). I work hard at legal research to make sure I don’t give people crap advice. I like my profession.

What I dislike is a client telling me (after I give him my legal opinion) that he doesn’t like that advice, that he has a better (albeit illegal) solution, and then telling me that he should have been a lawyer.

Lesson learned: Shut up and walk away.

4. I do not like snow. I do not play in the snow. I do not look at the snow. I am not amazed by the snow. I am not happy about the snow. I do not care that you are from The North and that you are used to snow and that it starts snowing in late September where you are from. I do not care, though I am sure that’s lovely in its own way. That does not change the fact that I am from The South where we know about air conditioning, ice cream, sno cones, ceiling fans, sun glasses, shaved legs, Daisy Dukes, and dogwood trees. I do not harass you when The North has a heat wave and all sorts of emergency type things start happening. Two inches of snow presents a myriad of problems. Not the least of which being that I do not like snow.

Lesson learned: Avoid social media when it snows in The South.

5. I am who I am, and there is a reason for that and there is a place for me. I’m loud, opinionated, occasionally snobby, overly emotional, not always Rated G, vain, sometimes pretentious, obsessed with British period drama, chronically late, periodically explosive, almost thoroughly introverted, an enjoyer of beer, and unapologetically liberal sometimes to the point of socialist. That’s me. I have plenty of areas for improvement. But, the point is: there will always be something about me that is polarizing. Always. This is why enemies exist.

Lesson learned: There are methods that allow people to not have to communicate with me or be around me or even know I exist. Let them use those methods. I don’t fit in everywhere.

Remember that day Jesus skipped to the cross?

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant..., Thoughts on Christianity, Using my words for good #UMFWG on February 7, 2014 at 3:18 am

In the end, I suppose that there is a self-centered reason for me writing this piece. I am not always happy. Not always. Some hurts take a deep root and are difficult to snuff out. I shed my tears. But, I believe that I have necessary things to learn from the hurt. And there are few things that anger me more than someone trying to cut short my healing process. That process is important. It cannot be circumvented; sometimes, it cannot even be shortened. It starts low, and it ends in balance and strength. Most of all: nothing can be earned from avoiding or denying the healing process.

But, there are a few key phrases that Christians, myself included, love to drop when we are faced with a person who is sad because of, despairing over, or agonizing with something in life:
1. “Count it all joy”
2. “Rejoice”
3. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Stop. Please for the love of peanuts, stop it. Jesus did not skip to the cross. He did not sing songs while He was whipped. The day before He was crucified was not a last grand bro-fest with the disciples.

Instead, He had (what sounds to me) a rather sad supper (seeing as how He had to tell His disciples that one of them would betray Him and Peter would deny Him) with the 12 men who had been closest to him, broke bread, drank wine (see Matthew 26: 17-35). Then, Matthew 26:38 tells us that Jesus told His disciples “My soul is very sorrowful . . . ” Mark 14:36 says that Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.” Luke 22:44 says that “being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.” After being arrested, He was beaten, spit upon, and pierced with thorns. Then, either Simon of Cyrene was made to carry the cross of Jesus (as it says in Matthew, Mark, and Luke) or Jesus carried His own cross (as it says in John 19:17) to Golgotha where Jesus was crucified.

It sounds sad, agonizing, dramatic. Jesus was marching to His own death. He was not skipping. He was not shaking hands and kissing babies and tuning his guitar. He was not repeating “I’ll soon be in Heaven” like a mantra passcode to better times. He did not look down from the height of the cross with a wink and smile. Jesus went through a process that began thick with agony, despair, and sadness. But, the process ended with Him glorified as the Son of God, the Risen Savior, and one of the most compelling (if sometimes elusive) figures in history.

To all of my Christian brothers and sisters, never forget that someone’s healing process is not an affront to God. Someone’s hurts do not indicate a lack of faith. Sadness is not a sin. When Jesus preached to others about the process and ordeal He would go through in Jerusalem, Peter rebuked Him and said it would never happen. But, Matthew 16:23 relates that Jesus turned to Peter and said something often quoted, but rarely contextualized: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

I know you don’t mean to be, but when you tell a person who is going through his own ordeals to act happy (or “rejoice” as we Christians like to say), you may indeed be casting yourself down as a stumbling block to him by convincing him that sadness and agony are evil even as God tries to bring him through to a place of strength. As humans, we dislike negativity and sadness. But, sometimes: those things are vital.

Simply put: if we are Christians and if we do believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God, what was good enough for Christ is good enough for us. We will have despair, sadness, agony, and sacrifice.

Of course, in closing I have to leave you with the required (but, appropriate) words of Jesus at John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble. But, take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Learned of Love

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Lawyer Problems, Love and Romance, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on January 27, 2014 at 5:59 am

I’ve been sick for a few days–a lingering health malaise that still isn’t cleared up. Right in the middle of all the deadlines of a federal case. And, without the placations of the Prozac I’ve recently quit cold turkey.

Today, my law partner boyfriend (LPBF for short….let’s at least pretend at anonymity) brought me the case file for that federal case in which a deadline is currently looming. It didn’t take long for me to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. It took even less time for me to start taking it out on him in pounding, snipping, cutting words when we had a telephone call about the case. I realized what I was doing and that I was in the wrong. But, somehow, that didn’t stop me. Oh, did I mention that this wasn’t the first time I’ve done that? This wasn’t the first time I’ve done that to LPBF.

After an episode of Downton Abbey tranquilized me (I think it’s their lovely accents), I recognized that I was being an unmitigated douche bag to a man who taking up the slack for me on my case so that I can get healthier. Of all the people who deserve my choice words, he wasn’t one of them. But, he was the easy target. He was the one talking to me at the time.

So, I apologized and asked him why he hadn’t called me out on being so snippy. His response taught me to love him even more:

“Because I love you and now is not the time to argue.”

That response is packed with love and acceptance and patience and focus and passion. Love is a miracle that can happen everyday we wake up and it doesn’t need to come with flowers or chocolate or jewelry or flamboyance–but, somehow, it manages to come in the way you need it. But, it has to be nurtured. I’ll have to get over my unnecessary use of cutting words. That’s not nurturing. It will take love, acceptance, patience, focus, and passion to break that bad habit. I already know someone who can teach me how to use those.

Love is a miracle. I learn something new everyday.

John Mayer, Hot Wheels, and Self-Revelations, #ctstw

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Happiness, Somewhat disjointed rant..., Uncategorized, Using my words for good #UMFWG on December 3, 2013 at 4:48 am

I pressed play on “In Repair,” John Mayer’s heady ballad about a life on the mechanic’s lift (so to speak).

Earlier today, I fixed my young friend’s Hot Wheels car factory that melts plastic, squeezes it into a mold, and cools it into the shape of a toy car. Some of the cold plastic ended up in the wrong place (well, truth be told: my young friend PUT a piece of cold plastic in the wrong place), so I unscrewed some things, poked around with a screwdriver in a manner that likely voided warranties and……voila! My young friend was making plastic toy cars again.

And, it hit me as I was driving the rolling hills of Rainbow Road away from South DeKalb mall. I saw the wonderful–in a completely opposite way than the song indicates.

I am not in repair. You’re not in repair. John Mayer’s not in repair…..though he did write quite a song.

Repair…..when something needs to be fixed, one has that thing repaired. Repaired…..put back together so that the thing works as it’s meant to. Repair…..re-made into some whole version of the thing.

But, I am not a car. You are not a car.

I work the way I am meant to work. I am a flawed, crazy patchwork of failures and successes.

Suddenly, thinking of people as in need of repair annoys me. The person who murders. The child who is abandoned by careless parents. The careless parents who abandon their child. The person who snatches purses and wallets. The arrogant person. The rude person. The gossiping person.

Are they in need of repair? In need of love, in need of compassion, in need of nurture, in need of guidance. Maybe those things are a part of repair. But, repair seems to me a discrete process, while love and so forth should be endless. Right? Maybe?

Maybe this is just a (horrible, horrible) semantics game. But, thinking of people as needing repair suggests that a diagnostic test can be run, a few changes made, and voila! A functional human emerges. But, what is a functional human being? Even medical doctors will admit that an accurate diagnosis and a corrective procedure may not get at the root of a physiological problem.

I have a few rough emotional edges and a deep store of self-loathing and a noticeable mean streak. I can change those things, but not with a simple process of repair in which someone unscrews me, pokes around, voids some warranties, re-screws me and voila…….Moi 2.0! There is a huge chance that I may never totally unload my self-loathing. In other words, I may never FIX that about myself. And, why should I–you, we, us–drip our lives away trying to fix this thing or that? When, much like the case of my young friend’s hot plastic car molder, external forces caused the “malfunction” in the first place.

If we could rewind the life of the arrogant person or the gossip or the murderer……would we see crucial moments when another person intercepted that life and altered it? Would we see abuse or shame or abandonment or loneliness or embarrassment or judgment? Probably. If you could rewind your life to a time when you weren’t in need of “repair,” and then pressed play: would you recognize the ways that others affected you and the way you affected others?

What am I saying? Hm. I’m not sure really. Well, maybe this: if there is any screwing to be done, screw those who tell you that you are less than, undone, in need of repair, wanting, not up to snuff, below the mark. You keep living, loving, sharing, giving, cooperating, raging, flourishing. I’ll do the same.

Happy New Year.

#UMWFG: Friend dumped redux

In and other uncomfortable topics, Friendship, Happiness, Love and Romance, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant..., Using my words for good #UMFWG on November 3, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I’ve written before about being friend dumped, but at the time I was studying for the Georgia bar exam and life was an emotional roller coaster.

I found out that I passed the bar several days ago. So, I decided to revisit those feelings. Not surprisingly, things look different now that I am in an emotionally different place. I still hurt from those losses, but I also see that I have done the same thing to other people for both good and bad reasons (from my point of view). That realization has helped to move to a place of forgiveness toward both myself and others.

In my victim-mindset, I had all questions and no answers as to why anyone would do such a thing. But, now that I am in a more triumphant mindset, I am able to supply some of my own answers–and maybe answers for others, too.

1.  I THOUGHT WE WERE CLOSE.

There are areas and zones of black when it comes to answering any questions about human relationships. But, often times we WERE close. We shared physical and emotional space. Sometimes, however, perhaps *I* thought I was closer to the other person than I actually was. Perhaps *I* wanted to be closer to the other person than I actually could be. Nonetheless, we still shared some degree of connection.

I should NOT allow the disappearance of the friendship/relationship to diminish the closeness and connection that genuinely did exist.

2. WHY DID YOU LEAVE?

Sometimes, I left because the leaving was in my best interest. Maybe I felt emotionally dominated or suppressed by the other person. Maybe I felt recurring but unpredictable tides in the relationship that I just couldn’t decipher. Maybe I was trying to make some changes in my life that I didn’t want to force that other person to become a part of. Maybe I was changing and that other person blatantly did not want to be a part of that. Maybe I was just too immature to handle the weight of that relationship.

Sometimes, I left because the leaving was in the other person’s best interest. I do freely admit that I did not do altruistic abandonment very often. But, the times that I did, it was because I knew (felt) that other person wanted something from me that I couldn’t give and I knew (felt) that other person would not accept that fact that I couldn’t; that I was emotionally unable to deliver.

Sometimes, life pulls people apart. Maybe I was courageous enough to fight life’s gravity, maybe I decided to just be pulled away. But, I still harbor gratefulness, thankfulness, and fond thoughts for those people that life pulled away.

3. WHY DIDN’T YOU OFFER SOME SORT OF EXPLANATION?

No explanation is good enough, anyway. Truly. Besides, sometimes “explanations” turn into blame games. And, that would just leave everyone feeling terrible. Of course, that’s a cowardly response. There was a way for me to explain what was going on with ME without involving YOU. Also, in situations where I was wrong and continued to be wrong and knew that I would stay wrong for a while: it’s so much easier to just tiptoe out of the backdoor in my socks. HOW could I look another person in the eye and admit: “So, yeah. I had underhanded motives. Still have them. Will continue to have them. Sorry for not being sorry about that.”

4. DO YOU EVEN CARE THAT I AM STILL HURTING?

Maybe. Maybe not. For some people that I friend dumped, I do feel bad that I changed the locks, didn’t let them know, and now refuse to answer the door. I know those people didn’t deserve it, but I’m just too cowardly to reopen the subject. A couple of times, I have reopened the subject (but, years later). I felt awkward at first to bring up something from so long ago; I thought it would seem as if I had been ruminating for all this time (true); I thought maybe that other person would not remember what I was talking about; I thought they would curse me out. It WAS awkward. S/he DID remember. S/he was, surprisingly, mild and mature in response.

But, it doesn’t get easier to reopen to past friend dump.

Sometimes, though: I don’t care. Sometimes (in a most UN-WWJD way), I feel like I screwed him/her because s/he screwed me first.

5. I KNOW YOU ARE VAGUEBOOKING/SUBTWEETING ABOUT ME.

SUCH a 21st century problem. Yeah, guilty as charged. I did. Totally. Sometimes, I vaguebooked/subtweeted from the victim’s mindset. Sometimes, I did so from the dumper’s mindset. But, yeah. I totally did it. Like, totes.

6. COULD WE REBUILD A FRIENDSHIP?

Ummmmm (from both the dumper’s and dumpee’s mindset)…..probably NOT, but maybe. I’ve never really tried it. Is there a way to rebuild a friendship after a such a rift? In my experience, no. By the time both of us are ready to mend the rift, we’ve both grown and changed–perhaps into an appreciably different person.