Grab your map, and let’s get going! This journey won’t complete itself. This hard mile won’t be walked without feet on the ground!

Ultimately, we each choose our own path…

Wait…what? No map?

A favorite trail was flooded. It was necessary to choose another way.

No map. Not really, no. There is no map besides the map we create ourselves as we take our journey through life. We get by on some advice, hopefully choosing wisely which advice to heed, because… it’s not all worth having. It’s a noisy din of bullshit, woo, and well-intended platitudes, ringing in our ears any time we seek help, and it remains up to us, broken, fragile, confused, angry, held back, frustrated, afraid… yeah, we’ve still got to sort out which advice becomes a next step, and which advice becomes… something other than that. lol

Every day I try to face some piece of who I am, something less than satisfying about the way I live my life, something that still frustrates me, or leaves me feeling diminished to allow it to continue – I make a point of working on that. Growth and change don’t generally spring forth as wholly satisfying solutions without a significant measure of discomfort, and yeah, sometimes loss. It can be quite painful to face the person in the mirror, yet again, over bullshit I thought I’d addressed quite satisfactorily, only to find that it’s still a challenge. So very human. It’s the “why” behind my attention turning to beginning again, to self-acceptance, to self-awareness, reflection, and iterations of incremental change over time, versus the “flip a switch” model of self-improvement, which I’ve found, myself, has limited utility; some stuff just doesn’t work that way, in practice….

…Because that’s what a lot of willful, desired, deliberate, chosen changes require; practice. I choose a direction. I take a step. I fall. I fail. I get up and renew my efforts (and my will). I begin again. The cycle repeats. Each iteration, with practice, new behavior (and it is about behavior, in this case) becomes somewhat easier, and more natural. We become what we practice. There is no need to “fake it until you make it”; I’ve found it quite sufficient to be authentic with my experience, and openly admit it when new behavior is uncomfortable, and I am frank when new behavior is part of a future experience of self that I am embracing (“sorry about any awkwardness!”). We’re all way to hung up on looking like we’ve already mastered this shit. We have not. 😀

It’s a journey with a lot of stairs to climb…

Our own need to feel like “we’ve got this” sometimes prevents us from being open to change, to learning new ways, to feeling safe enough to admit our mistakes and embraces a radical departure from who we once were, to become someone we would much prefer to be. Harsh. Vulnerable is also sort of scary, sometimes.

I sip my coffee and think about a friend who has recently undertaken to address his problematic relationship with anger, and to improve upon the way he treats others, particularly in intimate relationships (actually, I have several friends, all taking this particular profound individual journey, as well as it being one of my own). I fret over his pain, and his despair. I silently consider how far I have come myself, and feel certain kinship, sympathy, and understanding. Different journey. Different lives. Still… a shared emotional experience; we all face anger at some point. Anger is a badass motherfucker of an emotion, easily weaponized, difficult to control skillfully, useful in some limited capacities, a burden in many other circumstances… Anger is a hard one. Anger is the Boss demon among the cohort of personal demons that many of us face.

Life isn’t all logic and reason; we are emotional beings. It only makes sense to invest time and study in such an important part of our experience.

Emotions are not our enemies. Even anger has its place and a purpose in our experience. It’s our behavior when we react with anger leading the way that becomes problematic, inappropriate, hurtful, or even criminal. The good news there? Behavior can be corrected through practicing different behavior. No kidding. Hell of a short cut to change right there. Think about that; the difference between healthy anger, and unhealthy anger is purely a matter of behavior while angry. Change the behavior. Commit to that change. Practice other behavior. Keep at it. Practice more. Over time, not only is the behavior changed – so is the thinking. No kidding. Sure, there are probably fancier approaches to making a change of this sort, but this one is within reach for literally anyone at all.

Still though… I’ll just say this… if your issues with anger result in you being actually violent, actually emotionally abusive, and/or actually explosive of temperament in a scary way for people (trust them when they tell you so, they are not kidding), please also consider getting some professional help. I love that you want to change. I encourage you to do so. I also recognize that this shit is difficult, and you may appreciate having some support (that in all reasonableness can’t be the responsibility of your friends, family, or loves). 🙂

Where you find yourself in life largely depends on the choices you make along the way.

My Traveling Partner sleeps in the other room. I am content, and warmed through and through by Love. It’s quite wonderful, and I am so grateful my journey has brought me here. Every prior long-term relationship of mine resulted, at some point, in actual violence against me – other than this one. This singular love, right here, has worked well on a foundation of mutual respect and consideration, and an understanding that raised voices are already an excessive transgression against self, and a violation of Love; anything further would be simply inexcusable. Having accepted non-violence, together, we’ve enjoyed our years together without inviting violence to our shared experience. I am pleased with my part in that, and grateful to my partner for the part he plays, as well. There are verbs involved. There are choices. We make choices every day to speak gently, to take a step back when we feel provoked, to acknowledge emotion without allowing emotion to call all the shots, to hear ourselves and to hear each other, and to respect each other’s experience without fusing with it… everyday work, everyday consideration, everyday respect. Loving each other, while also respecting (and valuing) each other’s agency. How love works (your results may vary). 🙂

Is love a journey or a destination? Or… is love a verb?

I love that paragraph. I feel well-loved, and unafraid in my home. There was definitely work getting here, and a measure of that work was ending relationships with lovers, partners, and friends, who were committed to violence, or unwilling to accept that their behavior, or words, could be received as violence, and unwilling to change their behavior. No point insisting, really; agency matters. I don’t have to insist on change – and I can’t “make” someone choose it. What I can do, and must, and have, is walk on from relationships in which my needs are not valued, or my agency not respected. I can walk on from violence, and choose another path. I can – and I have. 🙂

Not gonna lie… lots of verbs… lots of practice. Sometimes some major logistical losses. Worth the effort. Worth the choice to care for myself.

Are you ready to begin again? You are your own cartographer. It’s time to get started on a new map. 🙂

The map is not the world…but the journey may be the destination.