Tag Archives: feelings

I can climb hard things!

Hello again! Today’s Sunday hike took me to Cecret Lake. Long story short: I got pretty emotional driving up and was pretty emotional the whole way. What’s wrong with me?

I was just going to hike to the Albion Meadows and then back down, but I got to the meadow, saw the sign for Cecret Lake, and decided to do that too. Albion Meadows is a meadow about halfway up the mountain that is ridiculous with the wildflowers. It was literally breathtaking. That is a really weird word to say, but honestly, it fits. I turned the first corner off the trailhead and hiked a few feet up a hill and BAM. My phone camera was basically a failure at capturing it, but I did try for a few. Here you go.

All the way up and there’s a lake. Not so secret, which is why I think it’s spelled with a C. The National Parks Service knew they weren’t fooling anyone. Clever fellas. I saw a woodpecker, many chipmunks, many squirrels, and nigh on 15,000 salamanders. I ate lunch there. The pudding was a mistake.

As I jiggled back down, I met a guy on his way up the switchbacks. He had a contraption on his knee like he had recently had surgery. So of course I asked him, “What the hell are you doing on top of a mountain!?” He said, “I’ve got to be active. Once you stop being active, your life stops too.”

I don’t know if he was trying to be infinitely wise or not, but I felt like it really was. I hadn’t realized that until I started shedding my old life, before I made the conscious decision to stop conforming and try something new, I felt like I was finally actually living. The hikes have helped enormously. Even my new life was starting to feel a little stagnant. But I feel like I was finally active in my own life and realized how small my life had been before. Anyway. More words.

Stuff to bring next time:

  • Hand sanitizer: I touched salamanders and then touched a sandwich (and ate it, yes I did). I don’t feel good about it. I went to the potty at the Meadow. The hand sanitizer in the restroom was out. I don’t feel good about that either.

Oh, I guess that’s it. Except it’s Gratuitous Selfie Time!

bored. depressed. don’t care.

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Daphne is better at expressing her non-emotion than I am at faking mine. ūüôā

When people ask me how I’m doing, I know I should say, “Fine.” And I usually do. I think there has only been one person who asked me that and I told her I was¬†bored or depressed or something, but that I didn’t care enough to actually figure it out. To that person, I probably should have just said “Fine.” I guess I really just wanted to add “awkward” to my feelings¬†repertoire.

Mostly I think I’m bored. I’ve been wanting to write something about this but it just seems¬†like it doesn’t bother me that much to not feel anything about anything, until I sit down and start a blog post about it. And then I start to feel things. Specifically, I start to feel things about my lack of feelings. It feels bad. It feels like I’m very sad. Not with my life, but my memories of feelings make me feel sad. I start by having memories of feeling sad when I fought with my husband, or feeling really happy when one of my kids did something super amazing. I feel sad now because I miss those feelings.

So you can probably imagine that this apathy I have towards everything has extended into a lot of areas of my life. I’m tired. I’m barely Mormon right now. I still go to church (sacrament meeting) and the other two meetings I stay for about as long as I can stave off my inevitable anxiety attack. I don’t even know what the trigger is. I’m bored, but also there are people in there, lots of people, lots of people talking about feeling the spirit, about feeling charitable and kind and loving, and about caring about other people, about people we don’t know.¬†I don’t understand and I don’t like it and it doesn’t feel right. I’ve walked out of many meetings crying because it was uncomfortable unbearable. Mothers Day 2016, they said, “Talk to your neighbor about your feelings” about a passage of scripture, and I stood up, burst into tears, and walked home, barefoot, in pouring rain.

So I stick around, close(ish) to the church, trying out coffee, trying out tea, because these things seem to help a lot of my kind of people, people I look up to, unwind and destress and have easier times navigating life. I stopped debating for hours and hours before going to R rated movies. I guess I just feel like I might just be bored and in that case, I might come back. And it’s not that I want an excuse to sin. That’s always a really popular thing to say to people who are transitioning out of the church, and I’ve heard it a lot and haven’t even told many people about my near-exit. Coffee and tea are still gross and now I don’t worry so much about dying and going to hell on the way home from the movies, but it’s not about me feeling like I’ve been missing out on things. I feel like I might come back (if the church ever lightens up on gays and stops inadvertently squashing everyone with a vag), so I’m not out of it completely. I feel bored and I feel like boredom and basically not caring is not a good reason to quit things you’ve done for 30 years. Because maybe I won’t always be bored, and maybe the church won’t always be a jerk.

There is a lot of talk of eternal life, eternal families, living forever. And so much back and forth and discord about what that actually means and what’s required. I don’t know what goes on after this life, but eternal life sounds awful. It’s comforting to people, I guess. But it makes more sense to me that we live this life and then settle down in the ground and then we are¬†done. There is something really spectacular about that, about knowing that this is it, that this is what we get, and make the most of it. But I could just be bored.

Post-edit: Wow, that kind of came out of nowhere, and might have sounded angrier than it was supposed to. Don’t read into it.

Other than breaking up with the church (we’re actually just on a break, I think maybe), I have no motivation to do anything. Diet and exercise sounds like something extra I need to do, and so does work. I don’t avoid¬†it because I’m not a hard worker. I wouldn’t actually say I avoid it. I just don’t know where to find the motivation for it. In the past I’ve been a very hard worker (and a lot thinner). I was always able to find a job. I have been to what seems like 5,000 interviews in the past month and a half because I feel like I should get a job. I feel like I should have something else to care about that I likely won’t care about. And the last person who interviewed me and then “went another direction” told me that I just didn’t seem to care that much about whether I got the job or not.¬†Shock. Awe. Et cetera.

There have been a lot of really horrendous things happening in the world. I recognize that. But even these horrible things, I just can’t get myself to put together the right words. I can’t formulate anything comforting or wise. I’d like to feel awful. I wish I was tormented at night because of these things, some extra really close to home things.¬†But I literally cannot dig anything up out of my heart to feel the right things or even fake the right things to say. Someone tell me what to say. I’d like to be that person who gives hugs at the right times and says things at the right time. The last time I saw my therapist, he said I needed a friend. I’m not sure who wants to be friends with someone who doesn’t actually value relationships, but I guess if anyone wants in, I’m here. Let me know. I’m not doing anything. Let’s talk for a minute and then ignore each other.

Peace.

And breathe. And post this.

therapy x 2

Am I the only one who gets weepy about therapy?

Dang thing changed me. And not changed me. Changed me back. There, that’s how I want to say it. I was me, then I tried on someone else for a while, and now I’m me again.

I saw a therapist after my divorce, and I felt slighted after I left Brian’s office for the last time, because he asked me why I liked going. He said he thought that I liked therapy because of attention. I should have said no. I should have said I liked having my feelings validated. I¬†might have said, if I had been able to heal a bit from the trauma that had happened to me just weeks before, that I was afraid I was going to have bad feelings lurking around in my brain for the next 7 years. And I did. Guys, I had bad feelings for 7 years¬†until my second therapist cleared me for takeoff. But really I cleared myself. Because this time I left the office for the last time in a place where I felt like me.

I don’t know why I never healed from my divorce before therapy v2.0, but I didn’t. I have hated my ex and his whole family for 7 years. I hated my new husband, and I hated my family, and I hated a lot of people who didn’t know I hated them, and I hated me, and I didn’t really know I hated me either.

And then we went to therapy, and I didn’t know how to ask for help to not hate everything because I didn’t know that was the problem. I wanted therapy to fix my husband. I wanted it to make him do the dishes more, to yell at the kids less, to be this guy I didn’t hate so much.¬†It was two or three sessions in and I saw the error. I had broken. I had broken into 2 pieces and the one hateful piece was bigger and hated the smaller piece, the missing piece, away.

I started going in by myself. Some weeks, the conversation was significant and¬†felt like therapy. Other times, I talked about how I wanted to go to grad school. I talked about how I hated praying, that God’s a jerk, and¬†I wanted to move. I talked a lot about how I hated my husband and wanted to leave him. And then the next week, I was living in a good marriage in a good house and God was a little more real that week.

And therapy helped me recognize something I had never thought of before. Two things I had never thought of before:

#1. Life doesn’t have to be exciting to be good. I don’t have to move, or pray, or believe, or have dishes and laundry done every night for life to be fine. Flip flopping is my fantasy and sometimes I dive in and I plan trips and I look at real estate, sometimes with room for my husband to live with us. And then other times I sit in my basement office that my husband (who I usually don’t hate anymore) is building for me and I write things down and I think about things.

But I¬†don’t worry about how I feel about God or not-God, and I don’t want to move. I¬†think about the garden boxes I had put in, and whether my neighbors will hire a hitman for the chickens I will have (yes he definitely will), who will be loud and will stink. I let go of the fantasy until the next time I pick it back up and I spend a few minutes thinking about the weather in San Francisco in the winter. I flipped and then I flopped and that’s me. I know I’m doing it and I know why I’m doing it and it’s fine.

#2. My other realization is my favorite: I see¬†people differently. I look at their behaviors and things that they tell¬†me, and I no longer assume it’s a lie. My neighbor told me he plowed all the snow from the neighborhood and plopped it in front of our mailbox because he was trying to be nice. I chose to believe that.

I got into a spat with a friend and I took note of her concerns and then I didn’t talk to her for 3 weeks and I didn’t think of her even for one second because the things that motivated her to say and do things had nothing to do with me. I chose to believe that. People generally do what they do because they’re having a bad day or a good day or their dog died or they got sex or had pie for breakfast.

And trying to convince someone in an argument to not be mad at you is senseless, because they probably don’t care that much. They probably care that their dog died or they had sex or they ate pie for breakfast, but not about you. That’s not intended to sound cynical or jerky or anything. I mean that in the best way. People care about what’s going on in their lives, and sometimes other people come in while they are processing things and screw everything up. It’s not personal. People do what they can do with what they have and I have to believe it’s not personal. Unless someone tells you they hate you. (That feels kind of personal.) (I’m sure it’s not.) (I haven’t figured that one out yet.)

So I feel more like me, and here is why: Because I don’t worry about putting on a front. I was feeling bad on a day that my brother was taking the whole family out to dinner. I was very¬†appreciative, but I still felt sad. No reason why. I told my husband. I didn’t put on a front. I smiled through dinner and I got home and I cried a little bit and I didn’t hide. Hiding is the worst.

My sisters got together, my invite got lost in technology, and my dad came over and was sad. Or mad. Or something. He called my sister and made her apologize. But I told him I didn’t care, and I told her she didn’t have to apologize, because I didn’t care, and I didn’t. I’ve never lied about a feeling since I sat on my therapist’s IKEA sofa hugging that dang IKEA pillow, and changed the way I thought of people. To me, that’s a lot of liberty to feel all at once. Right?

I started going to therapy and I started living more honestly and authentically. I stopped apologizing for the messy house, and I stopped stressing out if I didn’t write that day. I¬†said yes more to my kids and I told my husband that kissing with tongue is gross. And I just wrote that on my blog, and people will read it and that’s fine. Because it is gross and I never would have said that in a million years before therapy. I never did. I’ve just always kissed and had people’s tongues in my mouth and it makes me ill.

I like kissing a lot more now.

And as it turns out, I like therapy a lot more now too.

What’s most important is that I like me, and I know who that is now too.

I’m the most honest person I know.

Family Trees

The Deep Dark Woods by Jeff Rose
The Deep Dark Woods by Jeff Rose

“Are these the deep dark woods?” she asks. It’s Ophelia’s question, the one she asks all the time.

With only four years of human experience, Ophelia doesn’t know yet the value of longing for relationships that are all wrong, the proverbial bad boy, the feeling that comes from sitting across the table from a lover with whom you share nothing in common, and the comfort that comes from nowhere and nothing.

Daphne’s a baby and doesn’t yet know that the best way to deal with being a target of someone’s intense feelings of passion¬†and love is to turn into something–anything–else. She doesn’t know and may not ever know the isolation and peace borne from¬†shying away from sincerity and kindness: things an imbalanced mind equates with misery.

On Day 1, the Alpine Loop is deep and dark, but I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t talk about the comfort of a million trees that are actually all connected. In response to Ophelia’s question, I give a science lesson on the aspen–its root system that can’t help but be more trees. It grows connections on accident, whether it wants to or not. I grasp for connections, reach out to other trees, and long for someone¬†to reach out. But for what? To¬†have something to hide from. To turn into a laurel. Whatever it takes.

On Day 2, my therapist asks me a question. He wants to know when I felt happy. I think of two years between marriages, spend days writing about relationships with people who were nothing. We were nothing for each other. My long list of Hamlets. Other relationships with men who in hot pursuit were left frustrated, staring at a laurel tree. A list of Apollos.

On Day 3, I walk through halls lined with art, and I see my connections. An exhibit by an artist, a fellow tree maybe but I doubt it. The artist has pulled trash from the landfill and from construction sites and arranged it on clean white walls and glossy gray floors. Opposites: obsidian and mattress foam, one on top of the other, weighing it down, illustrating perhaps the connection between hard and soft, a relationship that defies physics and yet exists, perfect and awkward, on the floor of a gallery.

Yet this is where I am home, among these relationships that make no sense but that are there. I walk back and forth with my Ophelia, her crazed eyes taking it all in. We look at the angles and shadows created by a row of water-filled jars. I show her the shifting shadows as we walk back and forth from one end to the other. Home. The jars of water collected from locations across the U.S., other jars full of nothing but air from significant places in the life of the artist. My brothers and sisters. Finally a connection: person and art.

I know what that is. Filling jars with air and water and displaying them as if they mean something. They mean something. These elements that feel like my siblings. I’d lost that part of me, and I saw not empty jars but connections. I had long ago forgotten that connections with air from places¬†you’ve never been could be made, could be stronger in a moment than the connection between husband and wife.

On Day 4, it’s Sunday and we drive to Grandma’s for dinner. We drive through a canyon with autumn leaves draped¬†on either side, and Ophelia’s question rises up from behind me. “Is this the deep dark woods?” I reply, “It is. What do you think? Is it pretty?” She says it is and I agree.

I leave a house full of siblings to¬†walk through the woods, walking past people who have made connections with other people, relationships that are smiled upon by an extrovert God who smiles on His extrovert children. This God discourages my comfort, encourages connections with people, demands that I¬†reach outside. I’m not sure who that God is and not sure I’m the type. I’m the type to¬†wander through hallways connecting to transparent¬†jars of other people’s memories, the type that creates ties with aspens and pines on a walk through the canyon.

In the¬†deep dark woods, surrounded by my blood, feeling cool and comfortable at last in skin that finally feels rough and cracked, the way it should, I embrace the¬†disconnect and think my happy thoughts: rows of jars of someone else’s memories, of water collected from unfamiliar cities I know nothing about. And I step even¬†deeper into¬†the Deep Dark Woods to be with family.

References
LIZZE M√Ą√ĄTT√ĄL√Ą: UPHILL/BOTH WAYS
GRANDMA’S CUPBOARD: KATE ERICSON & MEL ZIEGLER, AND MEL ZIEGLER

Shornda is real

Lolo¬†has an imaginary friend. Her name is Shornda. She has a baby sister/brother/ungendered sibling named Kevin (she can never decide), and her parents are always hanging out at our house when we aren’t home so they can take care of Kevin while Shornda hangs out with us wherever we are going.

Lolo makes up some pretty awesome names. Shornda is our favorite, and it’s the one name that has been consistent. We used to laugh about it because it is really a funny name, but let me tell you something. I am grateful for Shornda.

If you have kids who can’t communicate their feelings, encourage them to have an imaginary friend. It’s kind of awesome to see how Lolo¬†is able to articulate complicated emotions and experiences by projecting them on Shornda.

Lolo¬†doesn’t have nightmares, but Shornda does, which Lolo¬†tells me about in vivid detail (relayed, of course, from Shornda). When her¬†feelings are hurt, I hear Lolo¬†processing her feelings and emotions through conversations with her little invisible buddy. It started out as a weird quirk but over time I have actually come to feel very grateful for Shornda and her role in my tenderhearted girl’s¬†life.

I do feel like I have an extra kid though. The other day we were leaving and Lola¬†freaked out that we left “be out” Shornda. I had to go back home, open the van door, and let Shornda in before we were good to go again. Bless you, Shornda, you weird little thing.

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