Archives for category: loneliness

Sipping coffee on a quiet President’s Day holiday morning, and contentedly relaxing, letting go of baggage and bullshit lingering from jobs past, preparing for a future that begins in earnest, tomorrow. (Doesn’t it always?) I breathe. Relax. “Fuck my bullshit,” I think, smiling.

This seems relevant today (and many other todays as well). Far more experienced and expert words than I could offer. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m comfortable telling my own bullshit to fuck right off. If I don’t, I’m sure someone else will, but… what would I learn from that besides rejection? It’s too easy to excuse bullshit because someone else called it out, and the resulting feelings of defensiveness, hurt, rejection, and possibly resentment and anger, will quite likely blot out my ability to easily recognize that there is real truth to it. It’s important, I find, to be awake to my own bullshit, as much as possible, and do that work myself. It’s peculiarly far less lonely. ๐Ÿ™‚

While I’m on about it… fuck your bullshit, too, damn. Can you do a little something about that? (Yes, you can. Choices. Verbs. It’s a lot of work I know.) I’m being somewhat playful, but also quite serious and purposeful. When was the last time you did a serious self-inventory? Who are you? Where are you headed in life? Are you wasting your resources and potential as if there is no future? Are you playing a grand game of Let’s Pretend and failing to understand how very much control you actually do have? Are your thinking errors preventing you from being emotionally and physically well? Are your addictions degrading your quality of life in return for a few minutes of something like pleasure? (Fine, fine, you’re not addicted, it’s just something you do… whatever. Fuck your bullshit.)

Seriously. Fuck your bullshit. Let it go. Change something you don’t like about yourself – because you don’t like it. Change your circumstances, if they suck. Seriously. Make choices. Use verbs. Don’t just party through your heartache or the wreckage in your head that’s holding you back. Educate yourself. Read a fucking book. See a damned therapist. Make every possible effort to be the person you most want to be! This is your life. Live it well, for fucks’ sake – because it is yours.

Why? Well, damn – because it’s what you want. Did you not already catch on to the fact that when what you want (of yourself, and of your life) is very different than what you are providing yourself, a deep despairing unhappiness can set in, an ennui that can destroy your ability to act – or to care – leaving you vulnerable to yet another evening/weekend/week/month/year of going… nowhere. Stress that never ends because you never choose in favor of your own long term interests and needs. Are you on a path that leads somewhere? Are you “wandering purposefully” seeking a greater truth? Or are you sort of just… killing mortal time? You could likely do better, for yourself. Your will to do so will matter a great deal. There are verbs involved. It’s a lot of work, and at least initially (maybe always, just being real; there’s work to do), damn little in the way of obvious pay off. It takes time. Incremental change is slow.

Anyway. What I’m saying is; this is your mess, you clean it up.

…And also? Fuck your bullshit. Damn.

…And also?…

Begin again. โค

I’m sipping my coffee and marveling, a little awestruck, but not in any pleasant way, really, at the quantity of posts, reposts, and shares in my feed that are seriously… emo. Like… bleak. Self-denigrating. Depressed. Blue. Despairing. So many of these are also coming from friends and associates I understand to be lovely people, from the perspective of my experience of them as individuals, in some cases gifted, warm-hearted, and thoroughly promising samples of what humanity is capable of, which… is weird. People who simultaneously appear to be on a journey of growth and improvement, and also appear to be mired in negative assumptions and self-loathing. That’s a lot to take over a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning. (Personally, I’d rather not have to wade through all that suffering; I’d rather have brunch.)

I find myself wanting to answer each such post. To correct the thinking errors. To correct the mis-assumptions. To fact-check. To lift people up, by giving them tools to prevent themselves from drowning in their own bullshit. It’s not that easy, is it? A lot of people are ever so carefully crafting that experience. Building the narrative that supports it, with great care. Seeking emotional support and feedback from others who will nurture the suffering – instead of nurturing that human being who is their friend. Drama creeps in from the edges pretty quickly. I breathe. Let each one go. That is my own challenge; to refrain from reacting to each new outrageous self-deceit posted by a friend. Sometimes, attempting to correct these things only reinforces them by way of repetition and sharing. (See? We have learned something from social media!)

For fuck’s sake, people, try not to hate yourselves. Let go of hating each other, too. Try to assume positive intent. Oh, I know, you’ve been hurt – or soaked up the residual lessons resulting from the hurts your parents and community perceive, invent, or celebrate. (Quick aside for the white people in the room; no, this doesn’t get us off the hook for being aware of our privilege, or make it okay to shrug off generations of abuses delivered to others, or in any way defend the heinous institutions and practices that have held back our brothers and sisters of color. You’ll want to let that go, too – real wrongs definitely do need to be made right, and I am calling bullshit on racism, sexism, and xenophobia, just in general.) It’s time to let go of treating yourself like shit. That’s what I’m saying.

If nothing else, don’t be a dick. Not to yourself. Not to other people. Not – perhaps especially not – because you think it’s “just a joke”. When the humor comes at the expense of someone else’s injury, it’s not funny. If you’re laughing at other people’s pain, maybe spend some money on therapy instead? Sort that shit out. Why do I care? Because when we treat ourselves poorly, mock others for our amusement, and allow the world to strip away our humanity, we create a shitty experience for everyone involved. Why does it even have to be like that? Truth: it doesn’t. We can each choose differently.

My friends are all – each and every one – so special to me. I see your charm, your wit, your heart. I enjoy your merry laughter, your presence, and your forward momentum in life. I worry when you are in distress. I celebrate when you triumph over adversity. I celebrate your milestones. Your self-loathing? I’m betting neither of us really benefit from that. Maybe consider letting that go? You are so worthy. โค

Really? You only need to begin again. Like, but a whole lot of times, probably, and yeah, it’s a slow transformation. It’s there for you, though. So am I.

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

Well… I’m home, again. The car is unloaded. There is a tidy stack of belongings to one side of the living room that are not mine. There are bright lime green sticky notes here and there, on walls, on bookcases, on drawers, marking spaces that could be pleasingly and functionally re-purposed for the needs of another. Oh sure, this is a comfortable space for two, has been, really, all along – I just choose to live a solitary life, these days. Or… I had been so doing. And, although it is a comfortable space for two, it’s not really outfitted for cohabitation in any long-term way.

Change is coming. Actually, according to the stack of boxes and things, and the handy list of stuff I would ideally like to get done ahead of time, it’s already here. He’s already here… well… on his way. Not a visit. Not a vacation. Not “coming and going”. Not wandering, or mostly traveling; my Traveling Partner is coming home for some while. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m excited, like a teenager, nesting, doing chores, moving things from here to there. I’m also… giving my inner teenager a lot of shit over it, in the background, and a hearty helping of side-eye, when the excitement becomes surreal. This is not a daydream of playing house. This is real life. Real people. Baggage, challenges, aspirations, changes, love, and all. All of it. Who we are now. Who we want to be. The journey between those destinations.

…No map.

I’m glad I got home ahead of him. There feels like so much to do to make him welcome, to make room for him to truly feel fully at home, and moved into this shared space. (Holy shit – I gotta share my space. lol) Then, too, I look at things I just haven’t gotten done, ever, because… reasons. (Some fairly lame reasons, some utterly understandable – some both. One reason, just being real, is all the back and forth travel to spend time with my Traveling Partner, elsewhere!) He knows me so well. His affection is deep, abiding – and accepting of who I am, while also supporting my growth. There is so much I won’t have to ask for help with, the help will be there. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s like another Giftmas, every time I come home to something nice he’s done to help out. He fixes things. He has an exceptional sense of placement that suits my aesthetic. He hangs paintings with skill and an eye for theme and beauty. He notices things that I don’t always spot, and takes care of what I can’t so easily do. It’s reciprocal; I help him with things that are “more in my area”, whether personally or professionally. That matters. We count on each other – and we comfortably can. I laugh when I realize that there are no surprises here, and that he is coming home to my familiar presence, because he wants to be here, with me, as I am. I relax. It feels warm and supportive and intimate, even from afar. Even before I hear his key in the lock on the front door, in some future moment, soon. There is a sense of eagerness, and belonging. I have missed him greatly, however much I enjoy living alone.

I hop up from my writing to add another sticky note for him to find, “this bookcase is entirely for your use”, it says. I sit down smiling. There is more to do, and I feel grateful to have time to get some of it done in advance, so that I’m not “underfoot” while he is trying to get settled in; a drawer in the dresser that I plan to relinquish, night stands to swap because he likes “the other side of the bed”. I frowned into the refrigerator earlier; I need to grocery shop, too. I’ve been living a bit like a bachelor, a bit more than I’d really like to. There is positive momentum in this change for both of us.

Sure, sure, eventually there will be some moment of miscommunication, hurt feelings, or anger, and we’ll deal with that the way we do – explicitly and affectionately, sometimes with clenched jaws, and terse, deliberate, careful communication, sometimes with tears – from a place of love, wanting only the best of, and for, each other, and always building this partnership. Fearless commitment to loving. Expectation-setting, clarifying questions, deep conversations, laughter – so much to add to my day-to-day experience, and I am so hungry for it, sitting here thinking it over.

I wasn’t in a good place for cohabitation 4 years ago. Am I now? Moving into my own place made so much sense, then… What about now?

I look out the window of my studio. It looks out onto the front stoop, and at the door into the garage. His space. Oh sure, still shared, but… shared like my studio is shared. It sort of has to be, small place, but, still my studio. Still his maker-space/workshop/whatever he makes of it, despite any wee bit of shared purpose in some fashion or another. (And yes, we do things like knock, check before we barge in, make sure we’re aware whether the other is in the throes of some creative endeavor that would suffer for being interrupted. Respect, reciprocity, consideration – they’re all part of my Big 5 relationship values, values that he both respects and shares. Boundaries set are boundaries respected, in this house.) I smile looking at that door. I earnestly want to put a sticky note on it, although it is not at all necessary… I do it anyway. My smile deepens with my feeling of contentment.

It seems a lovely way to begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s a question worth asking, I think. It’s at least worth reflecting upon it, asking it of yourself, and perhaps even being prepared that this could eventually be a thing you have to wrap your head around; what if you had to completely start over – with nothing?

Where you would begin in life, if you had to begin again on an entirely different level? What if you lost everything, even losing your “way”, your sense of place in the world, your job, your home, your standing in the community? How to start over…? Where to begin…? What matters most?

What matters most?

If you’ve “lost everything”, it’s likely you still have something precious to count on… this moment. Here. Now. Maybe some choices? If you’ve already lost everything, you’ve also lost reasons to turn away from choices that could take you somewhere really new… that’s something. Maybe that doesn’t seem like much, by itself, just the freedom to choose. Choose anything. To start from nothing and rebuild doesn’t sound at all pleasant, but once we’re on the other side of that “rip off the band-aid” moment of loss, isn’t it, potentially, all forward momentum?

For fuck’s sake, though, grieve if you’re hurting! Don’t mistake loss – and the emotions that it evokes – for anything more permanent than any other emotional experience, but do give yourself – and take – the time you need to heal and be okay! Impermanence is one thing, but please, oh please, don’t treat yourself harshly when you’re hurting. Feel your feelings. Be the best friend you may not feel you have, right now. Treat yourself with the consideration you’d give anyone else who is hurting. There’s no magic happy pill (no, really really there isn’t). Maybe it’ll be slow going to pull yourself out of whatever you are mired in right now… but you can.

Where would you begin, if it were you? A cup of coffee and a good book? A few minutes on a meditation cushion, a lovely view, the sound of breezes through tree tops? A few hours playing video games? A walk alone through a beautiful forest? I don’t know where you’d begin again… that one’s on you. I’ve gone without more than a few times. I lost a lot in life, and rebuilt a time or two; it’s why I refer to my lives in the plural, and reference “past lifetimes” – it really feels that way. lol I’m here, now, though, and I’m okay. Choices.

Yeah, but… circumstances, too. Don’t forget about the circumstances, right? Unavoidable, undebatable, immutable circumstances. Well, shit…

…Nah, I’m going to argue that one. Not gonna let that go. It’s an excuse to fail. Circumstances are circumstances; you still choose your adventure, still decide who you are as a human being, and you still have choices –ย how to act, how to react, what to say, how to treat people, how to treat yourself, where to go in life… all choices. Are you going to get handed some tiles in this game? Yep. It’s true. Starting points. From there; choices.

Choose wisely.

There’s much suffering in the world (and in my feeds), and I don’t much want to call it out, but some of it appears to be based on… choices. You can choose so much of your experience, and yes, even the suffering. Why choose to suffer?

We become what we practice. What are you practicing?

Damn, look at the time! It’s time to begin again. That’s a choice. โค

Giftmas isn’t the wholly inclusive holiday we like to imagine it is (those of us who are deeply into it, I mean). There are a lot of people who suffer the winter holidays as they suffer winter itself; eager to put it behind them, and wishing to see the sun again. It’s complicated being human.

When we are told to “be happy”, it can make us feel ever so much more miserable that we seem unable to achieve that for ourselves.

When we have the religious values of one or many faiths thrust upon us repeatedly, for weeks, as secular human beings who don’t practice a faith at all, we may feel excluded from practicing community and culture, itself. We may feel invisible, and unappreciated, as human beings.

When we are bombarded with media marketing for luxury goods “on sale” that we can’t envision ever being able to afford at any price, it can make us feel like outsiders in our communities and our world – trapped.

When we hear “glad tidings” of “comfort and joy” on every radio station, every streaming service, every TV advertisement, and in every retail store or restaurant, while we grieve the loss of loved ones, it can make us feel very much as if the world doesn’t see us here at all.

The result is often that we punish ourselves with our misery, even to the point of feeling guilty or ashamed that we don’t “get it” or “enjoy all that”. That’s pretty shitty, and it’s not fun, and it is uncomfortable. Any of that. All of it.

I’m very merry at Giftmas, myself. In spite of not being a practicing Christian (see: “Giftmas”), in spite of many years of being not at all “happy”, in spite of having very little money in many years (and this one) to spend on gifts, charity, or feasting, in spite of grieving poignant painful losses: I am merry, each Giftmas. I even want to share how that can be a thing.

A good beginning.

There’s no money to splash around on luxurious lavish gifts and frippery this year (and nothing in the picture above required me to spend any money, this year; it’s built on what I already had, and have cared for, for a lifetime), instead, I’ll share “How to be Merry at Giftmas”. ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s a simple enough idea, in it’s most basic form; make it yours. That’s basically it, summarized. I know, I know, saying something super simple to communicate something nuanced is a bit of a cheat, intended to make it feel accessible, but sometimes missing the most important points. So. Ready? Merry Giftmas, Y’all! Here we go!

The magical Giftmas that almost wasn’t.

Start with where you are. Start with who you are. Your authentic self, your actual values, your own vision.

I grew up in the midst of violence, emotional, physical, sexual (and uncomfortably commonplace in the culture). Guns, alcohol, and rage just… every-fucking-where. Poverty. Trauma. Chaos. Fear. Learned helplessness. Abuse. Gas-lighting. Rather peculiarly, each year that I can clearly recall (sorry, head trauma, right?), it seemed as if “Christmas time” was some sort of surreal cease-fire in the household hostilities (and somehow, even out in the world). “Healing” wasn’t even on my radar yet; I still had an additional lifetime of further trauma, turmoil, and heartbreak ahead me, that I could not even see. (It’s likely that, in some measure, a great many of us do, actually, regardless where we stand right now. Sorry.) Something about the holidays stuck with me; the best bits, actually. Grand holidays meals when far away family arrived to join us at the table. Mornings of twinkle lights and brunch recipes untasted at any other time ofย  year. Gifts. Out of the pain, out of the chaos, for some weird reason, once a year we all sat down together and exchanged gifts. Gifts. We took from our own resources, to give of ourselves to each other. All of it amounted to an extraordinary departure of all of the routines. It seemed… magical.

I have come so far from this place.

My first “Christmas” as an adult, at 18, was… weird. I was in the Army. I was in advance training (and for fuck’s sake already married??), and I went “home” (to my parents house, at my new husband’s instance, even though I was deliberating estranging myself from them, for… reasons). It wasn’t much of a holiday. Uncomfortable, strained by the presence of a stranger (my new husband). I don’t actually recall it at all clearly; I was working too hard trying to live everyone else’s vision of what my life should look like to really make sense out of it, at all. It would have been… 1981?

My Giftmas stocking – and how I keep track of where I was each Giftmas. ๐Ÿ˜€

That was the missing puzzle piece; an understanding of what it takes to make a holiday, myself. See, that’s the thing; we have choices. The day, the season, the time, these are ours to make as we wish to experience them.

I re-created my vision of Giftmas that year, made it over based on my own vision of celebrating the winter holidays, and Yule, in accordance with my own understanding of the “meaning of the season”, which, speaking frankly, has nothing to do with gods or religions, and everything to do with community, charity, gratitude, love, and celebration. It’s winter. We’re all stretched a bit thin at the end of the year – it made sense to me that my Giftmas could be a celebration of sharing, fitting the cultural practices, and keeping all of what I love about the winter holidays, and letting go of all of what did not suit me, personally. I enjoy the merriment. I enjoy the moment to celebrate lost loved ones and honored departed, yes, and still be merry – there is no shame in our tears, or our joy. I love to give a friend some small thing, to say “thank you”, “I love you”, “you mean something to me”, or even just “I know it’s been hard this year”. We’re all in this together, each having our own experience, and each year we have this colossal near-global cross-cultural celebration that clearly extends well-beyond the reach of any one faith; it’s just not really at all about religion. Any religion. lol It’s about everything else, so joyously and so much that any religion within it’s sphere of influence wants a piece of that pie. Me too. So – I celebrate Giftmas. It’s an honest celebration of plenty-amidst-famine, and I celebrate lavishly and generously when I have a lot, and I celebrate joyously and heartily with whatever I’ve got when times are tough. I generally celebrate the season as commencing with the Thanksgiving meal – a season of gratitude and sharing – and I celebrate until I end the holiday season with New Year’s Day with my personal “One Hour” celebration (a contemplative time to explore the past, and plan for the future). It’s scalable sort of holiday, for me, that I can blow out of all reasonable proportion in times of plenty, and still enjoy with irrepressible joy in times of privation. That’s right. I think Giftmas lasts more than a month. LOL ๐Ÿ˜€

Actually, I take the long holiday season so seriously that I regularly give gifts randomly all through the season; nothing gives a beat down to a stressful moment like an authentic expression of value in the form of a small unexpected gift, or a moment over a holiday treat. ๐Ÿ˜€ Certainly, there is no legitimate reason to ration connection, presence, or joy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s okay to feel deeply. It’s very human. I even raise a glass to my Dad.

It does take practice. Sometimes there are poignant moments. I’ve shed many tears either putting up, or taking down, the holiday tree; every ornament has real meaning for me. Gathered with care over many years, each is like a tiny memory box, bringing back floods of emotion, and memories untapped any other time of year (not all of them are pleasant, and I often remind myself that the way outย  is through). I have reflected on so many holidays, and taken from them what worked for me. This is the secret sauce, and the source of merriment; this holiday is mine.

Like our lives, a celebration is built on so many things. Yeah, there are verbs involved.

Merry Giftmas, friends and readers and friends who are readers, and humans I don’t know at all. Make of it what you will. May the season show you magic and wonder – and may you be the creator of magic and wonder in someone else’s holiday. May the year ahead show us each the path to being the human being we most want to be, and may the journey to become that person be enlightening, and maybe not to terribly difficult. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Are you having a rough holiday season this year? Please – oh please, dear one, please begin again! โค