I am the strangest, weirdest, most complicated woman I’ve ever been.

Do any of us really know our self?
I’m talking about our true self. The one that inner speech, and socialization, and life choices..relationships, jobs, residency…work so hard to alter.

I’ve been reminded of my true self lately. Mostly though conversations with people I met because of this blog, and my precious sister in law, but also my obsessive journaling.
I find it curious how you sometimes can’t see yourself until you observe your reflection in another or written on a page.

I have so much negative inner speech in my brain. I don’t feel the need to place blame for how it got there, I just need to remember to ignore it more frequently than I do.
Allow me to quickly explain to you about inner speech:
Imagine adults going ‘round with great big highlighters and highlighting things a child might experience. Whatever gets highlighted, is reinforced. The problem with highlighting a child’s behavior, is that adults tend to judge a child’s behavior. This judgement (or highlighting) creates their inner speech. The thing is, adults are particularly good at highlighting “bad” behavior. However well meant these intentions to highlight are, if all that’s being pointed out is what’s wrong with the child’s behavior the child can only focus on what’s “wrong” or “bad” about who she is.
Consider this, brains are pattern seeking. So if all that’s ever been highlighted in a child’s brain is negative that’s where the focus is.
So, I am working every day to see through new eyes, to encourage my brain to pick up on new patterns. To highlight that which is helpful and kind and loving.

In my past if I’d been told: “Your mind jumps all over, like a jack-in-the-box on speed. You say some odd, perplexing, annoying, infuriating things.” I would have heard these as “bad” things, negative traits. My inner speech conditioned me to that. But I’m realizing these are actually compliments. I’m challenging the people with whom I communicate. Go me!
In my past if I’d been told: “You said deep things that resonated with me. I should have taken notes. You are doing a good job of taking care of yourself. It’s something many cannot do.” I would shrugged it off. I wouldn’t have been able to handle the sincerity of these words. I honestly don’t think I’m doing such an excellent job of taking care of myself…but I get better at it every day.

I’m seeing myself as the strangest, weirdest, most complicated woman I have ever been. In the best possible way! I am seeing myself as the most loving, caring, nurturing woman I have ever been. I see this because I’m paying attention to my reflection.
We all need help to see who we are. We can’t see it for ourselves.
It’s like trying on clothes alone. You’re in the fitting room and you’re wearing the most adorable (whatever) you’ve ever seen and the moment you put it on you’re looking at your flaws. Oh, my belly is pudgey there. This is too tight across the bust. My bottom looks too flat. Your body language reflects this, you’re not standing up straight, you’re not smiling. But what if you tried that same (whatever) on with a friend in the fitting room with you, their view of you helps guide you to what is lovely and wonderful about the (whatever) you’ve tried on. You’ll see that your posture is different, you’re smiling, you’re seeing what’s really in front of you instead of what you expect to see.

When you can see yourself the way you’re reflected through the eyes or words or point of view of someone who cares about you, you are seeing the truest you. Sure everyone has an agenda, but in that moment you don’t see your own inner speech reflected back at you, you don’t see that person’s agenda, you see the bright and shining you that they see.
One cannot be loved for absolutely no reason.
Nobody will honestly love the worst in someone else. You are loved because that person sees the best in you.

So the lesson here is to begin to see yourself as the ones who love and care about you see you. When you begin to see yourself in this light, you will begin to realize how much you are. How much you have to offer the world. If you begin to see yourself in this light, you will become an even better/healthier/more luminous version of you. Eventually you won’t need to see yourself through the eyes of others, you’ll become accustomed to seeing that you through your own eyes.

But keep those loved ones handy, sometimes we all need a little positive encouragement.
Just like Katharine Hepburn, we all need Jimmy Stewart to occasionally remind us that: “There’s a magnificence in you, Tracy. A magnificence that comes out of your eyes, in the way you talk, the way you stand there and the way you walk. You are lit from within, Tracy. You’ve got fires banked down in you, hearth fires and holocausts. You are the golden girl, Tracy. Full of life, warmth and delight.”

And if there is ever a moment when you can’t see yourself in this light, always always remember what Christopher Robin said to Pooh, “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”

I am a Goddess. I am a warrior queen. I am a fairy princess. I am a plain old regular girl. Aren’t I the best!?!
Does this mean I know my true self?
Nope. But I’m learning every single day.
And really what more can I ask for?

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future starts slow

It’s all about The Kills in the Robynbird’s Nest this morning.

You can holler, you can wail.
You can blow what’s left of my right mind.
You can swing, you can flail.
You can blow what’s left of my right mind.
I don’t mind.

Please listen responsibly.

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Warwick Avenue

How about a little Duffy this morning?
Please listen responsibly.

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speaking truths or the time to hesitate is through

After several days of struggling with my thoughts and emotions, I feel a little better today.
I had to be honest with myself before I could suss out what was going on. Journaling helped that. I had to get it all down on the page to see what was troubling me so. After being honest with myself I was able to be honest with others.
I had good conversations. Speaking truths that are hard to say out loud, especially when these truths could be hurtful to people I care about.
I feel like I’m at a place where I can proceed. Though not gone completely, my instinct to run has been quieted.
Being mindful and present in my relationships will keep them true. To love and be loved, to share and experience in this state of being, more present is what’s best for me.

These are things I know. Things I preach. But I’m realizing it’s easy to become complacent. It’s easy to simply acquiesce. That needs to stop. For me. For the people I love.
I must be proactive. I must…do!

I feel much like Lucas at the beginning of Empire Records.
Lucas

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pipe the f**k down, Marcus Aurelius

When you arise in the morning think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love. ~ Marcus Aurelius
Well, this morning I woke rather grouchy, so why don’t you just pipe the f**k down, Marcus Aurelius.

I had bad dreams again last night. My body exhausted when I woke. These dreams fill me with pain and anxiety. My body produces adrenaline and cortisol but has no outlet for it because I’m sleeping. So I’m flooded with these stress hormones that my body has to somehow reabsorb. No wonder I’m grouchy AF.

Normally, I can remember and recount the particulars of my dreams. These icky ones aren’t like that. All I can call up is imagery and the way it felt.
There was water in my dreams. It was dark and rippling. This water made me fearful. I was frightened that it would drown me.
My one true pathological fear is to smother. Drowning is essentially the same thing. So what is happening to me that I’m experiencing this level of fear and anxiety?

The logical part of my brain considers this:
Every thought we have causes a ripple. Every choice we make causes a ripple. Every action causes a ripple. Ripples move away from the starting point out in all directions and pretty much looks like this.
ripple

So when you’re having many thoughts, or making many choices at once it rather looks like this.
ripples

The feeling part of my brain sees only that the water is dark and moving rapidly. I become frightened. I become overwhelmed. I begin to panic. Stress hormones get released. I go to my brain stem and enter fight or flight mode. I don’t understand what’s happening to me but I feel that water is going to overtake and drown me. I’m not frightened enough to wake. I’m trapped in this cycle of fear and anxiety.
Here’s the part that I cannot wrap my brain around. I never enter the water. I’m never swimming or fighting to stay afloat. I’m just paralyzed by fear at seeing the water. I absolutely know that it will drown me even though I’m not actually in the water.

What is happening to me that this is my sleep?
What am I struggling with so hard?
What needs to be done to quiet my brain?

Apart from today and of course, Monday, I’ve been feeling overall well emotionally.
Obviously something is stuck and whatever it is needs help getting sorted. This cannot be my sleeping life. My fear of smothering is something that rides with me every single day, I can’t have it decide to try and drive once I’m sleeping.
Sleep is supposed to give your body a chance to rest. To restore. To recharge. Right now sleep is making me its bitch and wearing me out.

Something’s got to give.
My instinct to run is present. And getting harder and harder to ignore.

So, when being alive and able to think and enjoy and love is precious privilege, you’re waking from deliciously restful and restorative sleep, not from stressed and scary dreams.
While I appreciate the sentiment,Marcus Aurelius, I’m not feeling especially privileged today. Maybe I’ll get lucky tomorrow.

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To understand the living, you got to commune with the dead.

On my way home from the doctor’s office this morning, I went to the cemetery where my beloved Grandaddy is buried. I wrote about the cemetery in a post called memories. But today it wasn’t about the cemetery itself. It was about talking to Grandaddy.
It’s been a while since I was there to spend time. The last time I was there was to reattach the broken angel statue quickly before it began to rain.
Today I went for advice. To talk about how I feel and see what it might mean.
I’m fully aware that no “real” or tangible answers come as I’m sitting in the grass while the sun warms my body and the granite of the headstones.
But somehow I get what I’m searching for for.
Today was no different. I felt what I needed move through my body like a wave, and I had my answers.
Does that mean what I’m searching for is already inside of me?
Why do I have to go to the cemetery to talk with my Grandaddy to access it?

You know what Minerva said, “To understand the living, you got to commune with the dead.”

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Wait a minute! I’m a grown up?

I believe I’ve remarked before about how I sometimes don’t feel like a real adult…it could be that I haven’t written about it, but I know I’ve talked about it in day to day life.
Sure, I did do grown up things. Sure I had adult responsibilities, but I never really felt like a grown up. Not exactly “fake it till you make it”, more like “feelings follow actions”. So I acted like a grown up to the best of my ability.

The first time I officially felt like an adult was when Thing 2 was moved to the NICU. Sure I was already a mom, but I was a young mom and I was still growing up while I was being Thing 1’s mom.
The second time I felt like a proper adult was when I took my suicidal first born to the hospital. Leaving her there in on the adolescent mental health floor of the hospital was the hardest thing I’d ever done.

So far, both times I’ve considered myself a real adult involved leaving my babies in a hospital and going home without them.
Other things happen in life that make you feel like a real adult. Finding your first “real” full time job. Divorce comes to mind.
When my mother died, I didn’t have that feeling of being an adult. I think it was because I was experiencing shock and disbelief. I’ve since wondered if it’s because I was never treated like a grown up in my relationship with her.
The day my father died, I never felt more like a child but I’d never behaved more like an adult. Isn’t it curious how that works?

You know you’re an adult when people you know, respect, and love need important things from you. Help with children, support after a death in the family. A strong sounding board for the tough questions.
I was an adult when I stood in church surrounded by all the people I love most and pledged my life to YBW.
I was a grown up for my friend and mentor when her beloved died. And that realization just hit me.
Today, I did a real adult kind of thing when I had to write a recommendation letter for my friend in Arizona’s application to graduate school.

So it’s occurring to me the more I write this post that I really must be an adult.
It feels normal and natural, like the most comfortable article of clothing I own.
But I don’t always want to wear that, you know? Sometimes I want to wear impractical clothing…oftentimes in the form of shoes.
It feels like I’m still figuring out how to be a proper adult. It also feels like I’m still figuring out how to be me as an adult.
But the jokes on me, right?
I’m an adult.
And I don’t suck at it.
I guess I never realized that.
Perhaps I didn’t want to?
I’m not sure how I feel about this. And I guess that’s OK too. I can wear my grown up clothes, but put on my impractical non-adult shoes every now and then when I need to.

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riding the struggle bus

I had a bad day Monday.
It was the day of: Are you even alive?
I struggled the entire day. In all honestly, I should have gone back to bed and waited for Tuesday.
My friend Nora was quick to offer to come to my rescue, even though there was nothing she could really do to help. She’s good like that. I’m blessed to have her in my life. She’s a wonderful human being and she’s a good, strong, and loving friend.

I got a text message from her a little while ago. It said: Now it’s my turn to ride the struggle bus today.
She shared her struggle and we “breathed together” and she asked one question that I answered with truth and love. I think she’s feeling less anxious, and I know I don’t feel as concerned for her as I did when it started.

All that said, (and this is why she’s so great…she has the same wack-a-doodle sense of humor as me) I freaking LOVE that phrase “ride the struggle bus”. I’m fairly clever with words but have no qualms admitting I’d probably never come up with that phrase.
She was amused that I dig it.
She could see past her anxiety and appreciate the humor in the phrase.

Sometimes you can’t help but ride the struggle bus.
But if you’re really fortunate, you’ll have people in your world that will ride with you…or at least wait for you at the next stop.
That’s when you can stop and breathe together. And hopefully be amused.

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communication is (sometimes a tricky) key

Communication is key.
That’s a saying, right? I’m not dreaming that up, am I? Nopity nope. Not dreaming it up, I just Googled it.

I know that I’m “wordy”. I also know that I’d make a terrible poker player. My face completely fails at hiding my thoughts. Apparently my facial expressions come across as offensive when I’m being wordy. My facial expressions happen as I’m trying to make sense of what I’m saying. But it seems the perception is that my face is saying is that I think everyone else is an idiot.
Do I think everyone else is an idiot? Um…no.
What I think is I’m trying to answer questions I’m being asked…and doing a “double check” in my brain to make sure I know what I’m talking about and that the answers are correct as much as I know. This is what shows on my face.
I grow weary of being told I look like I think people are stupid. Especially when it’s the furthest thing from my mind.
My initial reaction is, “I give up.” So much so that I say it out loud even.
But that’s not realistic. And I’m not a quitter…
So, I have made a bargain with myself to “fix my face” when I talk. I’m hopeful it works to change the perception of what I’m thinking. Because no matter how many times I’ve said what’s actually going on in my head, folks get their feelings hurt.
I don’t want to hurt folks’ feelings. I’m just trying to understand what’s coming out of my own mouth.
Sometimes I wonder if I should just write everything and never actually talk. When I write, I can edit as I go…and that would take care of the facial expressions. (I make the same faces when I write, but nobody ever sees them.)

I don’t want to be forced into changing who I am…but I’m weary of hurting folks’ feelings. I’m weary of having explain myself.
Communication doesn’t have to be this tricky, right?

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best of both worlds

Dear all men, everywhere,

Sometimes women say things with great thought but not necessarily with great feeling. You see, we think we know what we want. We think we know who we are. We think these things because it’s what we’re taught, or society steers us in that direction.
Most of us are educated and capable human beings. But we think things should be a certain way. In fact, we’re so busy thinking that we sometimes forget to feel.
(Bet y’all thought it was the other way ’round, didn’t you?)

We do forget to feel. To let how we feel help guide us.

I realized recently that I’ve been guided by thinking.
I maintain that I’m strong and independent in my own right. I’m the queen of my queendom. There is no king because if there’s a king, the queen has no power. Therefore, I rule with my prince-consort, but I rule.
I’ve spent my entire adult life thinking this.
I’ve been so hellbent on being free that I will take on everything.

As far as I was concerned they are two sides of a coin: be your own queen, or be some man’s princess.
Well, up on my soapbox I’d go as fast as I possibly could. I’d shout about Girl Power! and equality, and the like. The responsibilities modern women have and the debt we owe the women who came before us.

But I’m beginning to feel as though it is a hard, and sometimes lonely, way to be.
I can’t always rule the world, after all, I am just one girl, and sometimes I just want to lay my head in someone’s lap and have them pet my hair. I want to be petted and spoiled. Treated like a princess.

It’s not all or nothing. It’s not two sides of one coin. At least it doesn’t have to be. Why has it taken me forty five years to understand it is actually safe, and even healthy to be both?

So, to every man I told ‘I’m the queen but you’re not my king.’ Well, actually I meant it and I’m better off for it…none of you were right for that job.

But, I have this theory.
(And this is where the ladies should also pay attention.)

The right man is willing to accept you as his queen, but still treats you like a princess. That’s when you get the best of both worlds. So, don’t think you should thumb your nose at it. Don’t be prideful. Accept it and see how lovely life might begin to feel.

My friend and mentor and her beloved were like this. She was his queen and he worshiped her. But he also treated her like a princess and “spoiled” her with love. It was truly something to behold.
I know one other couple that is close to this, and as time goes on, they’ll achieve this perfect balance. My friend Nora and her husband Dale. They are on their way to mastering this way of being.

Can I be both warrior queen and fairy princess?
I guess we’ll find out.

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