II. All day yesterday, I wanted to have a hot soak to scrub *that man* (and the last four years) out of my hair. I just took delivery on a gorgeous bar of soap made with patchouli and activated charcoal, so it felt like the right time BUT I was so glued to the coverage of the inauguration that I couldn’t drag myself away. My nervous system didn’t say ‘ok, we’re clear’ until I could imagine President Joe Biden tucked in bed with milk and cookies.
I have not cried so many tears of joy in a very, very long time. It was a really good day.
IV. I had that soak I wanted to have this morning, charcoal soap and all, and lo, that was also very, very good. I am squeaky clean and can we please just never use his name again, like, ever? I know we can’t forget, but we can do the very worst and most painful thing one can do to a narcissist – ignore him completely. Insist that he just doesn’t fucking matter anymore.
Because he doesn’t. Onward.
V. Nothing is perfect, but things are better, and I’m hanging my heart on that. I keep saying “we’re going to be okay” like it’s some kind of magic spell, and maybe it is. I feel it this morning. We are going to be okay.
VI. I love orange juice. This new morning ritual of juice before coffee is *life*.
VII. Before I fell into my doomed relationship with 42, I was doing really well. I was happy. I had good friends. I was open to dating, and pursued that with varying degrees of success. I loved my apartment and my routine. I loved my work. I was a bit lonely, but it was nothing I couldn’t deal with.
As the relationship began, I was holding it very, very lightly. It wasn’t something I was thinking long term about. I expected him to come and go as he pleased. I expected I’d meet someone eventually who could show up fully and partner me in the way I deserved, and when it ended (because I was sure it would end) I expected us to go back to what we were before, because I couldn’t see how it could be otherwise…
…but he insisted that I was his center. His breath. His future. He insisted that we were meant to be, that we were going to have a whole life together. It was just a matter of time. “Soon, love.” he said, over and over again. “Pinky swear.”
It took me a long time to begin to believe him, and but I did, and it began to consume my every waking thought. I did everything I could to make us possible, to pave the way, even while he did nothing. I partnered him emotionally, financially, and by making space even when he failed to partner me. I told him everything even while he was withholding. I was willing to have the difficult conversations, even when he defaulted to humor or deception to avoid confrontation.
I would wonder out loud (because words weren’t aligning with actions) what the fuck was really going on and he would pinky swear that I had nothing to worry about.
I knew he was lying.
Every abandonment wound I had was badly triggered. I became anxious, depressed, no more fucking fun.
I lost my way. I lost *myself*.
VIII. Today, I am fully in possession of myself once more. I love my life. I love my little nest in London. I love my routine. I love my chosen family. I hate the pandemic because it is in the way of the things I want to do, but this too shall pass and I’m looking forward to the life I will create for myself from this haven I’ve made for myself.
The last two years have taught me a lot. There are things I will never choose for myself again. There are things I will always choose for myself. There are boundaries now in place that weren’t there before. My fawn trauma response has been completely exposed for what it is. I know how to stand up for what I want and need. I know how to refuse to accept anything less. I trust that self that knows when someone is lying – to themselves, to me. I will not align with someone else against my own best interests. Self-loyal. I choose me.
I am so proud of myself for how far I’ve come. This whole thing with 42 AND the stuff with my emergency move + the way certain of my bio fam responded to that whole thing AND a global pandemic could have done me in entirely – and if I’m being honest, it almost did – I had a legit nervous breakdown that almost killed me, and I was *absolutely abandoned* by people I depended on and loved when that happened, but you know what they say, right?
Throw me to the wolves and I’ll come back leading the pack.
XI. I grew up being scapegoated. My sister was the golden child, and I was – well – not. That was the theme of my childhood. I was the squeakiest wheel. I was the problem child. I was the difficult kind.
I still am, but now I am proudly so. I am PROUDLY and LOUDLY the squeaky wheel. I am proudly the one who will ask all the questions you’d rather not answer. I am proudly the difficult one that will not stand for abuse or projection of any kind. I will show up on your doorstep with receipts. I will call you on your shit. I will say no, this will not stand. I will not keep your secrets.
As we left 2020 behind and entered 2021, I shook off all the shit people have tried to lay on me. Every day, I remind myself of the one thing I know for sure: if you see and say things someone doesn’t like in themselves, even if you love them despite those things, even if you stand ready to assist them with those things, they will demonize you if they aren’t ready to deal with it. They will hold a grudge against you for the shit they did wrong. They will project and deflect. Their accusations are confessions. I have seen it time and time again. I *am* an expert in this kind of abuse. I am an expert in how this kind of abuse impacts my nervous system.
I’m not here for it anymore.
I used to be a perfect, willing vessel for other people’s stuff. I was raised to do that. I was the container into which other people’s split off parts got placed. I was the holder of their secrets. I bore the brunt of their unwillingness to do their own work.
I am no longer a perfect container for other people’s unconscious or shadow content. I resign. I rebuke this role now and forever.
Keep your box of darkness. I’ve got enough work to do unpacking my own.
X. Today is therapy day. I like to take these days as they come, since I never know what state therapy will leave me in. I did some Zoom coffees with friends first thing because we have things to celebrate on this bright shiny new morning in January 2021. I scrubbed myself clean of the last four years – all of it – all of them – and let all of it swirl on down the drain and away from me. I’m starting fresh, in full ownership of my little empire.
I am my own safe space now. I’m my own soft place to land.
I. I had SUCH a good weekend. There was RUFUS. There was a steak dinner. There was some painting by numbers. There was lots of Dr. G. There was Art Winos. There was a grilled cheese sandwich. There was work, too, which flowed beautifully. I am almost caught up.
II. I painted this today during Journal Jam.
You’ll find the replay here or if you’d like to have these as full HD right side facing edited versions, join me on Patreon at any level above $2 and you shall get them! You’ll also get the exclusive Jams I do for BOD and Patreon supporters! YAY! Sign up for a yearly subscription and save 10%.
III. I’m doing a LOT more art just for me as a way to keep myself in tune with my inner workings. I’m really loving it. It’s also having the unexpected perk of reducing my back pain, since if I’m sitting upright in my office chair, I am not hunched over in bed typing on my laptop. BONUS. I made this on Sunday.
I am so sick of hearing about COVID that I decided to flip the script to CORVIDS. Hah!
IV. Missing my peoples dearly lately and all the news coming out about how vaccines really won’t change that much for most of us is kind of miserable, but I know this will pass one day. I just hope I’m not completely feral by then.
V. I’m enjoying my solitude, though, and a life in which I am all up in my own business and not at all in anyone else’s. What a blessed relief it is to be unencumbered in this way! I had no idea how much other people’s shit weighed me down. The people I’ve kept in my life have a beautiful flow with me where we take turns tending one another. There is a sense of partnership, of having one another’s best interests at heart. There’s no sense at all of *not mattering* or of being judged or lied to. No one steals from me, takes advantage of me, or gaslights me.
You can’t heal from trauma when you’re in a trauma, so the silver lining of the massive upheavals of 2020 is that I am no longer dealing with trauma brought on by shit other people are doing around or to me. This feels like a minor miracle given that my entire life has been spent dealing with the shit other people were doing around or to me.
VI. I love my chosen family so much, and I can’t wait to kiss and hug every damned one of them, and I’m just holding on to the hope that this will happen soon.
VII. I can feel my heart starting to open. There is no one in my sights (because – uh – lockdown) but if someone showed up with good intentions, I would be curious to see where that could go.
VIII. Dreaming about some things: a car and the freedom that will afford me. Owning a home. Finally writing that book.
IX. I’m over you. I will always love you, and I will probably always miss you, but you wronged me, and I deserved better, and I am over you.
II. Last night’s stripped down version of “Slideshow” made me cry. It was *so good*.
You can listen to the original here:
“Do I love you? Yes, I do. Do I love you? Yes, I do. Do I love you? Yes, I do.”
III. It is also super cool that during the fireside chats that happen every second Friday, we (meaning the audience) get to ask him questions and often his daughter, Viva (Leonard Cohen’s granddaughter) reads them off the screen. It tickles me pink and makes me feel like part of the family.
There are a lot of us regulars who attend every concert, and a little chat area set up so we can talk to each other before and during the show. People from all over the world show up! Ah, technology! I love it so much.
I’ve also activated yearly subscriptions over there that come with a 10% discount.
VI. Being in lockdown again doesn’t feel all that different from pre-lockdown because I have been doing *nothing* that requires contact with other people for a very long time now. But. The news that vaccines are going to be delayed and the new variant is here in Canada was not welcome. Everything that’s happening right – the chaos in the U.S., the pandemic – is daunting, but I am maintaining a practice of drawing myself back into my little life and attending to the little things. The way Salem flops herself down against my left thigh when I’m writing or creating content. That constant warm steadying presence. The fact that I can order flowers with my groceries. Nag Champa. Twinkly lights. The studio full of art supplies. Zoom coffee with friends. Roasted acorn squash with cinnamon and butter. Pea flower tea, which is the most delightful shade of blue and delicious with honey and a touch of cream. Audiobooks. Being able to nap whenever I want. Watching Sookie and Salem do their daily crazy hour where they chase one another around the house. How spry Sookie is despite her advanced age (she’s 13 now). The skylight in my little nest. The fact that my plants are still alive. How beautifully all my students are doing with the content I keep throwing their way. How good it feels to paint. Journal Jams. Pictures of my granddaughter and excellent conversations with my eldest son that feel like minor miracles given how contentious our relationship was when he was living at home. The gentle wisdom of my youngest daughter and her consistency and presence. The steady witness of my amazing therapist.
V. I have a lot to be grateful and when I start to rise up out of a depression, I can tell that I’m rising up because I begin to notice. It is such a relief, y’all. It’s like suddenly realizing that you can breathe again. It’s almost euphoric.
I’m not out of the woods yet – because none of us are, really, and *waves at all of this* is still daunting and scary and anxiety inducing – but I’m definitely mending.
VI. Turns out that t-shirt that arrived at my door with the word Resilient emblazoned across it was a gift I got myself. I bought a home concert with Appalachia Rising and it came with swag. WOOT! I love it.
VII. Today will bring some inspiration in the form of a Zoom meeting with a storyteller I’ve commissioned to do some work for Moonshine. We’re going to record two stories over the next two days. Later today, I’m doing housework, and I think I’ll blast some music while I’m doing it to encourage my body to move in joy instead of trudging through the motions. I might paint. Tomorrow, we’ll record the second story, and then I have Art Winos at 3. I’m hoping to have the studio tidied up by then since all it takes to create a disaster is filming a lesson or two. Time to claw it back!
VIII. It is possible to find little pockets of happiness in hard times. It is possible to lean in that direction consciously and mindfully and doing that really helps the healing.
IX. I keep drawing The Star and every time I do, I think to myself “This is your year, Effy. Don’t say it too loudly or you might jinx it, but this is your year.”
I. Therapy today for the first time since early December. I cried a bit, but mostly I sat upright and I railed, and that is progress because these things are undeniably true, and these things hurt, but they are still undeniably true.
People who talk about me and not *to* me can go fuck themselves.
People who beg me to trust them and then lie to me can go fuck themselves.
People who say “You can share everything with me. I’ve got you.” and then abandon me when I share everything with them because they don’t like what it reveals to them *about them* can go fuck themselves.
People who insist that I believe they are on my side and then behave as though I am the devil because I say what I see can go fuck themselves.
People who think my therapist is some flaky spiritual healer without a degree (she’s a PhD, y’all) can go fuck themselves.
People who demonize me instead of facing their own demons can go fuck themselves.
People who tell me to cheer up instead of sitting me with I’m in pain can go fuck themselves.
II. I said to her “I’m recovering myself right out of any kind of ability to tolerate anyone else’s bullshit. I am becoming way more thorn than rose. I will never be able to let anyone in again. I can’t trust. That part is over.”
And she said “For now. We will work on all of that later. Right now, this is good.”
I believe her.
So onward, because *no one knows me as well as she knows me* and if your story about me contradicts her story about me, I will believe her story about me any day of the week. Hell, if my story about myself contradicts her story, I will believe her, because she knows me better than I know myself. I tell her *everything*. I have done for seven years now.
III. Maybe your issue with my healing, your throwing my therapy in my face, your “therapy doesn’t make you an expert” bullshit has more to do with the fact that you’re afraid I might be *right* about some things you don’t want me to be right about and less about *me and my healing process*.
That’s usually the way of it, tbh. People go to therapy, see what’s going on, say what’s going on, and suddenly our therapy is problematic. We’ve changed, they say. We aren’t the same, they say.
Fucking right, buttercup. We get boundaries. We self-align.
Try it. I fucking *dare you*.
IV. Most of what I deal with in therapy is directly related to the shit that gets stirred up by the people in my life who have refused to go to therapy. This is true, I think, for most therapeutic clients.
V. There is a pattern in my life of people rejecting me because I see them too clearly, and they can’t live with that.
VI. Suddenly, I am okay with that. Because if you can’t be seen and loved as you are (which is what I offer), I can’t love you as you are.
You won’t let me.
VII. I’ve got people to love and shit to do, so I’m done pouring into cups that *don’t pour back*.
VIII. There is nothing I’ve ever asked of anyone that was unreasonable. Nothing. In fact, I don’t ask for *nearly enough*.
But that’s changing.
Someone sent this to me and no one is fessing up. You’re fucking right I am, and also thank you.
I. I’ve spent this first two weeks of 2021 with my head down, doing my own work. For the most part. I have occasionally peeked up out of my little hermit cave to watch the news (holy Hannah) or check the numbers (holy Hannah), but mostly I’m just filming, painting, writing content, answering emails, and doing what I do. This is the part of my life that works, so I’ve taken up residence within it and I’m letting the rest go on without me.
II. I’m doing a lot better than I was as the calendar flipped over from 2020 to 2021 despite *waves at all of this*. I’m eating. More importantly, I’m cooking. My house feels good. I take pleasure in things. I’m not overwhelmed with the business of living. It all feels manageable. I’m laughing a lot more. I catch myself singing along to whatever Spotify is dishing up. I’m looking forward to things. I’m not hopeless. I feel useful. I feel more sure of myself.
III. I’ve stopped wondering why. Why did they respond that way? Why did they lie to me? Why did that happen?
I don’t care “why” anymore. I have spent my life wondering why, like a plaintive child railing against injustice.
Why did they say that thing? Why did they do/not do that thing?
Who cares. They said that thing. They did that thing or they did not do that thing they said they were going to do.
That’s all I need to know.
This feels solid. Because understanding people’s motives might matter if there’s something to work out but it there isn’t? It doesn’t matter. Whatever their motives were, the *impact* is what matters. I’m too busy healing from and dealing with the impact to indulge that plaintive inner child’s need to understand why.
IV. I think I have a history of grappling with the “why” of things because I desperately want a reason to forgive. The sooner I can repair a rupture and forgive, the better. But I’m starting to understand that this is a trauma response. This is a form of fawning. This puts me in harm’s way.
V. Impact > intention. I won’t chase the why anymore. I won’t ask for apologies. I won’t accept them, either.
I. The year is off to a really good start, and while that’s not trickling down into a ‘feel good’ moment, it is a ‘not feeling bad’ moment, and I’ll take it. Programs are up and running beautifully. So many new faces! I’m gobsmacked and in awe of all of you! More of this, please.
II. I got an unexpected bit of leisure time today because Myrna’s internet is being repaired + I slept in and didn’t want to run wild-eyed into Journal Jam. We’ll meet tomorrow at 2 p.m. EST. Meanwhile, this affords me the time to put my studio back into some semblance of inspiring since right now it is a pit of year-end omgdoom and needs a thorough going over. There are paper scraps all over the floor and a pile of stuff that need to be put back in place. My brushes need soaking and washing. It will feel so good to get it all done.
III. My new office chair is AMAZING and I love it so much. It is deep so my whole butt + crossed legs fit (I always sit cross-legged) AND it has a lumbar massager that I can remove and use anywhere. It is SO much better than my old chair. Here’s the one I got.
IV. I also got a champagne and rose coloured blue tooth headset so when I am actually ready to start gaming in earnest, I am all ready. I have been experiencing some serious screen fatigue, though, so I haven’t felt compelled. When I do, I have WoW Shadowlands all ready to go.
V. My art winos. Gods, how lucky am I to have them. So much gratitude for your presence in my life.
VI. My youngest daughter and I spent a few hours on Zoom last night and it was so good to talk real talk and to know that she *knows me* so she doesn’t let anyone else’s story about me impact her, nor does she let *me* tell bullshit stories about myself *to her*. She is wise, firm, honest, and true, and I love that she came through me.
VII. Cocoon. Self-loyalty. Clawing myself back from 2020.
VIII. When you said you were a coward, I should have listened. When you said you weren’t worth it, I should have listened. When you said you were lazy and thoughtless, I should have listened.
I wished I had listened because I have regrets I would not have if I had listened. But I loved you, and I aligned myself with the other words you uttered – the ones I wanted to hear.
Butandalso you taught me to tune my ears and heart to where actions and words align vs. where they don’t. You taught me to believe a person when they tell you they are what they are. You taught me about what I can and can’t live with in terms of my own integrity, too, and that will all serve me well if I ever decide to trust anyone with my heart ever again. Right now it feels unlikely because it’s a chewed up piece of gristle in your teeth and under your boot, but I have spent the last decade levelling up and I am continuing to do my work to become the best version of myself that I can be and I believe that someday the universe will put me in the way of the worthy.
May you heal. May you find your way. May you be happy. Fare thee well.
X. Today is a good day. I just want to bask in that.
*Pours more coffee. Turns on Mountain Men. Snuggles dogs.*