I. Today is packed with people – therapy at 12, my friend, Sal, at 1:30, and then Stacey at 6. I have to go wherever one finds the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil – I treated myself to an iPad Pro so I could start doing digital things and also feel a little bit more mobile with work things, but bought the wrong Apple Pencil to go with it, alas. I also have to go pick up my meds, since I’m out of the one that lets me breathe. Oops.
This is all, as you can imagine, a bit extra for a girl like me, especially given that I am still injured, but I am really looking forward to all of it save therapy, which will probably be hard and awful given recent events. Then again, who knows. I am feeling shockingly calm about recent events. Denial? Healing? I dunno. I know that certain trauma bonds have been falling away in the face of my new found ability to say OH HEY FUCK NO YOU DON’T, and my clear-eyed observation of the response to said new found ability.
II. My healing from the gaslighting and abuse I suffered at the hands of my family of origin began on the day I called my step-father out on some pretty crazy-making behaviour. He accused me of something, and I had tangible proof that I had not done the thing he was accusing me of. He *refused to look at it*. Refused. There I was with the proof in my hand, outstretched toward him, and he walked away, ranting and raving…
He was more interested in bullying me than he was in knowing the truth, because bullying me gave him a perverse sense of importance.
That day, I called him a child. To his face. “You know, Randy? You’re a fucking child.” But I remained calm. I just sat there, shaking my head a little in disbelief, feeding my infant child, and completely shifted my attention away from the spectacle before me. I didn’t let what he was saying get under my skin. I could very clearly see that what was happening in that moment had literally nothing to do with me.
My mother, who was sitting in the living room within my line of sight, chuckled. She didn’t stand up for me, didn’t intervene in anyway, and I recognized in that moment that she had never protected me from the men she’d brought into my life. Never. She brought them in, let them do what they wanted to me, and as long as she was okay, she was okay with them.
I remember shaking my head and thinking “These people are fucking crazy.”
I got out of there as soon as I was able, and while it took me a decade to stop longing for my mother’s love, I did, eventually get free of that, too.
Years later, and I still come up in conversation. I know this like I know the back of my own hand. They all take perverse delight in reporting to one another on the family scapegoat, the one they sent into the desert, back draped with their shame and their sins, projecting, and judging and criticizing me from afar.
And I don’t care. I really don’t. These people have no idea who I am, and they have no power over me anymore. I don’t have to say anything, don’t have to do anything about all of that over there.
I just live like I live and do what I do, and I am who I am, and in the end, I fucking win.
III. I’m getting free.
IV. I have a friend who is also a therapist, and while we don’t have a therapeutic relationship, we do have an intimate one, by which I mean she knows a lot of my stuff, and I know a lot of hers. She’s been reading me for years, and she checks in with me on the regular. We talk about the deep, scary things, hers and mine. It is a convention of equals when we convene.
Still, she has been telling me lately that I’m healing. She says it with authority, like she knows for sure.
I find myself believing her.
V. No art got made yesterday because it was an ‘interview this person edit that video administrate this piece of the work’ kind of day, and because I had so much on my plate, and because I was taking liberal doses of muscle relaxers, the day flew by. There will probably be no art today, either, since it is equally packed with things to do, but tomorrow…tomorrow I will make art, and I have a lot to pour into the page.
I’m so grateful that I have this way of being with myself, this way of creating containers for the things that feel too big for me to carry alone.
It helps that I have witnesses, but I think our most important witness at the end of the day is that quiet self that watches us and needs to hear the things we whisper as we self-soothe.
“I see you. I hear you. I love you. I’ve got you.”
I have become very good at loving myself in this very specific way, and as a result, others can love me in this very specific way as well, and I love them back with all my fierce, thorny, dark heart.
Here’s some art from my archives.
VI. 42 will argue this point. He will tell me my heart is anything but dark, and he’s not wrong, exactly, because there is light in this heart, too, for sure, but you and I, we know that the power I wield to light up shadow didn’t come from imagining ‘figures of light’. It came from acknowledging the darkness within me, as we all must do if we’re going to be whole.
I am a shadow dancer. I delve. And the darkness is fertile, and I am not afraid.
VII. He calls me ‘Ivory Tower’. It used to hurt my feelings, like he was trying to call me some kind of diva or something. I’d bristle at the words. Not anymore. When he calls me ‘ivory tower’ he’s saying that I’m fucking awesome, high above the fray, someone to be reckoned with.
VIII. My people are also fucking awesome. High above the fray. I have this gift for gathering, for inviting into my innermost circle the very best of the best.
If you’re reading this you’re one of them.
We’re also spelunkers, though, exploring the caves of bone we live in, rooting out the truth, making beauty out of ashes, planting tender seeds of dreams.
IX. Over and over again I hear from my people (that’s you) that my ability to show up with my whole self on board and tell the truth of my experience is a needful thing. It creates space in which others can show up with their whole selves on board to tell the truth of their experience. We live in a world where we are all told to simmer the fuck down, to refrain from airing our dirty laundry. We live in a world where we are pressed to protect the abuser, keep their secrets, hold their shame – be nice, be good, be discreet, be quiet. There were years where I fell in formation with that way of being, because I had been badly hurt when I fell out.
I’ve fallen all the way out now. I have no interest in being ‘nice’ or ‘good’ or ‘quiet’.
I’m the granddaughter of the witch they couldn’t burn.
X. And because today’s post was super heavy, a fact for which I will *not apologize*, I made you a playlist of all the songs I’m listening to on repeat lately, because they move me and keep me grounded in the now.
I. I started a painting a few days ago when I was in a pretty good place. Worked on it yesterday when I was *not in a good place*. Achieved what to me looked like OMG DOOM.
This is always an interesting experience for me, because I know there are going to be people who love my version of OMG DOOM, just as I love other people’s versions of OMG DOOM.
So I shared it on Facebook, because I wanted to share that truth – that sometimes our paintings are mirroring something we don’t want to see, so we ‘hate’ them, but someone else will see something different and love them.
II. I continued to work the painting from this awareness of the painting as a mirror for some inner state that I was rejecting or splitting off. Got really gentle with it, and really listened to what it wanted. It was like a therapy session, with the layers that went on feeling like layers I was excavating.
III. In the end, it wanted me to let go of everything but its bones, so I did.
And then it wanted a new day in the form of blue skies and a verdant foundation, so I gave that, too.
I wonder what it will want next. I’m listening.
IV. Something about start over. Something about letting go of the past. Something about shifting focus. Something about softening one’s own jagged edges. Something about liberal applications of self-empathy. Something about the power of looking a thing right in the face and seeing it for what it is.
V. It’s happier today, and while I’m still in a pretty stormy place, I feel less windswept and buffeted by outside forces, ready to let the winds of change be more friend than foe.
VI. What I resist persists.
VII. This is a peek at another ‘working with what is’ painting. This one will go up in Book Of Days for the month of May. It’s a deeply satisfying process that I call ‘net journaling’ or ‘catch and release’. You can still join me in Book Of Days for $99 for the entire year of lessons from me + my guest artists.
VIII. Something about how when people do you wrong, they must make you wrong in order to bypass their own shame. Something about how well I understand that, how much empathy I have for that, but also something about how tired I am of that.
IX. Every morning. “Good morning, love.” Every night. “See you in our dreams.” It’s like a parenthesis on my day – the curve of a smile to begin it. The curve of a smile to end It. Love encompassing everything I come up against, struggle with, endeavour toward, do.
Something about noticing that. Something about the kind of gratitude that brings tears to my eyes. Something about being afraid ‘to get used to it’, but also willing, but also, leaning in to letting it be a thing I get used to without ever taking it for granted.
X. I wish there were some hybrid cross between a cherry tree and a willow so I could have that as a plant ally. Sweetness and flexibility. Medicine for the voice (cherry bark) and for the pain (willow). Roots that draw from deep cool, clear wells. Blossoms that explode in frissons of mind bending beauty. A rooted dancer. Tears and glory.
I. I went to bed early last night, because the day left me quanked, but content. I had interpersonal drama all morning, then worked all afternoon, and then had my son over for dinner AND my grandson over so his ‘rents could go do grown up things.
Wooosah. That’s a lot.
It was a learning curve having an *extremely mobile* baby rolling around my apartment, but it was so much fun, y’all! He’s so busy, and mostly happy, until he gets tired. Then all bets are off.
He started out rather afraid of my dogs, but by the end of the night, he was down on the floor with them, sharing his cookie. SO SWEET y’all. So sweet. Sybil the cat adores him so much that if he cries, she gets very alarmed, and yells at me to make it stop.
No pictures from last night because he kept me very busy, but there will be a next time so I’ll try for some then. In the meantime LOOK AT THIS BEAN.
II. Summer squash, caramelized in a pan with a touch of garlic, tossed with cubed feta and a hint of lemon zest. So good.
III. Getting up with the sun makes me feel very adulty. It also makes me feel very much like napping at some point during the day, but whatever. I’ll take it.
IV. Yesterday was rather full of “Fuck no, I am not here for this.”
Scales falling from eyes. New boundaries. Holding space for myself and what I know to be true.
A bit of art I did just for me.
V. My love, is as ever, my soft place to land, my willing witness, my comedic relief. I’m lucky to have him.
VI. Have you heard about this giveaway? You want in. Trust me.
VII. I’m filming a lesson for Book of Days in which we work with difficult emotional states in a way that allows us to be with them, release them, and transform them. It just so happens that I really needed this lesson myself, so good timing. I can safely say ‘this technique test driven by your hostess, y’all’ and it really did work wonders for me. I can’t wait to share it. (Get BOD2019 for $99).
VIII. I’m still recovering from my roller skating injury, but all the same, I’m heading out to OBSERVE a derby on May 3rd. While I’m there, I’ll be picking up some protective gear, because I am determined to get back up on those skates as soon as I can safely do so.
IX. Game of Thrones is rocking my poptarts, but I have to admit I found Arya’s “NSFW” scene a little uncomfortable. *Squeamish* My son and I looked at each other and made a o.O face at each other at the same time over it.
I am excited about that particular pairing, because it makes perfect sense to me, but I REALLY DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO WATCH THAT kthnxbai. *Averts eyes*
This is a work in progress, of course, but all the yes to this.
Stand up. Use your voice. Do no harm, but take no shit.
This is from the archives because Sunday is for silence.
Up before the sun. Doesn’t happen often, but I secretly cherish it when it does because it makes me feel like Ben Franklin.
Speaking of which, have you see this?
This is Ben Franklin’s daily plan, and it makes me swoon. There is so much about this plan that I love, from the rising before the sun part to the ‘addressing the Powerful Goodness’ part, to the fact that he doesn’t scarf down a face full of lunch – no. He dines. DINES! He doesn’t just ‘get shit done’. No. He prosecutes the present! He doesn’t do the washing up. He puts things in their places. IN THEIR PLACES! He asks himself the hard questions! He examines his day.
*Dies of swoon*.
Aside from totally nerdgasming over Ben Franklin’s daily planner, I am up at this wee hour thinking about you.
You are the Powerful Goodness Ben’s jamming about in his planner. Your hopes and dreams. Your kindness and how hard you try. The little things you do that are the divine’s hands on this world – the supportive word, the white knuckling it through, the act of kindness, the boundaried ‘NO’, the trying again, the willful refusal, the VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS, the prayers, the pleas, the songs of gratitude, the arias of sorrow.
How much you matter. How much you are a part of what makes up the powerful goodness – at least, in my little world, and I suspect in many worlds, seen and unseen.
I know that my saying you matter won’t touch the place within you that doubts it. I know that because it doesn’t matter how many times someone else tells me *I matter*, I still have my doubts (especially in the wee hours of the morning when life looms large and I’m not entirely sure how I can light up the darkness with my teensy tiny little spark of hope). Still. It’s good to be reminded, and at least reading those words “You Matter” set *my* head to bobbing in agreement as though I’d just heard something I’d long since forgotten. It gives me the opportunity to fake it ’till I make it. To remember that my every action can be a part of the powerful goodness in the world if I so choose. It reminds me I have power – the power of a tiny flame in the darkness.
You are the powerful goodness.
P.S. There is a huge giveaway going on over here and you don’t want to miss it!
I’m blogging every day in April. You can find out more and join me here.
I. One of the things I cherish most in intimate relationships is the way things feel when we’re ‘around’ one another without necessarily engaging one another. You know what I mean? Is there peace between us when I am doodling and you’re reading? Do I feel safe if I want to break the silence? Can I reach out and touch you? Can you reach out and touch me? Can we drift apart and then come back together with ease?
One of my ex boyfriends called this ‘the voice in the other room’ in a poem he wrote for me recently. This idea of me presented in this poem is very close to what I know to be true. I am everything expressed within it, and more that he never got to discover.
II. Here is the poem.
There’s a back alley I visit,
A place with the scent of leather corset
Laced black boots, straps that bind
A turn in the sheets signifying
Depth to bone and toothmark alike.
But she’s the summer asphalt,
Reflected heat and want of light
A honed edge, cutting
But not something that speaks of trends
She’s the knife that pares the apple
Below the skin, draws out the seed
Brings the truth of it up
Through capillary action
To head and present plane.
This place I go is portal
It’s not now or here
It’s not a clock face I read
I find no hinge or heft
But yet everything that could be
A time here
A time there
She’s always away
She’s always with me
That voice in the adjoining room
Over the shoulder and more than arm’s length
I don’t turn around to see.
III. The thing I love about this poem is how well known I feel when I read it. The thing that saddens me to my core when I read it is that I *did not know how he saw me until 16 years after we separated*. I didn’t know how he felt about me. He was not effusive *at all*, and I was very insecure. There were a lot of reasons for this, but mostly it had to do with the way he kept me at a constant, tension inducing distance. I was the voice in the other room *for him*. He was not that voice for me.
Still, this poem proves to me that he saw me. He saw my paradoxes and the cracks in my armour, the light within me, and the darkness, too. He *valued* my ‘to the bone’ honesty. He valued my presence.
I didn’t know.
IV. I have always had a deep, tragic attraction to what they call ‘attachment avoidant’ men, so I have spent most of my adult life craving a sense of certainty, a sense of *mattering*, that was never actually on offer. Most of the relationships I’ve been in have had a certain ‘trauma bond’ flavour that did not allow for real, mature love to grow beyond the initial attraction. This has resulted in relationships in which I got a few months, maybe, of something good, and then years of trying to fix what I was all too painfully aware was broken.
V. Until now.
The me of then, to whom I’d say “Oh hey…it gets better…”
VI. I do not love half way. I am a ‘love as a verb’ human, and I think that might be why no one ever really gets over me.
I don’t ever really get over my loves, either. I let them shapeshift, let them mellow. They go from songs I play on repeat to songs I hear now and then, and love no less, but do not seek out anymore, because, look, those songs make me *fucking cry*.
Most of them are about how much I wished I’d mattered enough for commitment to be a thing I could count on, could rest in, even in the storms, even when I go dark or scared. Even when I can’t really see you for the past that rises up like a spectre and obscures my vision of who you really are.
VII. Still, I have been the voice in many rooms without ever having one of my own. I have always longed for that for myself, that certain, steady sense of ‘yes, you are my person, and yes, I can break the silence, and no, you will not recoil, and yes, I can be playful with you, and also serious with you, and yes, I can be my whole self with you – the bone deep truth, the sex kitten, barefoot in the kitchen making you a sammich, hands on hips demanding your respect, and no, you will not keep me at a distance, and no, you will not be ambivalent with me, and no you will not think about leaving me for years before you finally do it, only to regret it later because all that time you spent thinking about leaving me, you could have spent fixing whatever was broken between us…
VIII. I don’t think this post has a real point. I’m just thinking out loud in the afterglow of having had that voice in the other room all weekend, and in this unexpected, newly found certainty that this voice *just is* for me, and always will be, even if I bruise him with my (inevitable) mistrust and my terror. Even then.
IX. It takes a strong man to commit to a woman who has been through what I’ve been through because he is often going to come up against some awful thing someone else did to me. I will bruise you. If I’m afraid, I will be more thorn than rose. I am a fucking force of nature when I’m afraid, because, listen – I have had to be. My whole life. I have had to be the thing that rises up in protest against being violated – physically, emotionally, covertly – being hit, being taken, like an object that existed solely to be taken. I have spent decades pouring love into black holes, into voids that took everything I offered, and offered very little in return.
Just enough to hook me at first, and then just enough to keep me until my despair became untenable.
X. The way to avoid the dark turns I take, though, is to provide me with a sense of safety and certainty, to do whatever you can to soothe me, to reassure me, to stand up to me when I’m out of my fucking mind with calm assertions about what is *actually true*. To show up. To ensure I know how much I matter.
I take work.
I’m worth it.
I’m beginning to think he thinks so, too.