Lion thoughts

The lion doesn’t give a shit about the little things. The lion cares only for the expanse of his territory, the support of his pride, and protecting his legacy. He fears only that which he cannot control, time.

For although much of his time is spent in constant vigilance, he has come to rely on his sharpened skill set to maintain him. Only time can take that from him. For with time, comes age, and slowing of wit, reflex, vulnerabilities laid bare.

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Empathy is a gift. With it we can see things as the elephant sees, as the jackals see, as the lions sees. It is remarkable how the same things look different from another perspective and how predisposition distorts it.

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The warrior must look beyond himself to the ways that others see in order to both anticipate attack and how to move without detection. To be too proud to employ empathy does all parties a great disservice. And, although empathy is often a courtesy rarely returned, it is learned by modeling and reinforced by its own strength.

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Feral

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I go through cycles where I’m okay, and then round back down to the bottom and feel the depth of my damage. Maybe it’s part of the human condition. I really hope I’m not the only person who feels this way. My wiring makes me feel like I’m like a feral animal, adapted to civilized life but never really a part of it. Growing up in such a toxic emotional environment, I feel like I was lured into civilized life with good intentions but the forest can’t be taken away so easily.

When things are bad in my head, my depression feels like the filthy darkness that permeates every pore, caught under unkempt nails, a permanent stench in my hair. I feel like a sickly caged animal, turning inward on itself and its surroundings. Anyone unfortunate or foolish enough to stay in the path of inevitable chaos may end up going down with it.

Days like this, I feel like I am human toxic waste. My damage reminds me how I am spawned from one of the universe’s cruel jokes, I am bred for this. My parental influence plays out against the din. I am become them. But while they have no understanding of the work at play around them, I am witness to my own horror and unable to do anything to stop it. Standing too close to the void, drawn into terminal velocity. Such damage is done.

I hate feeling this way. My depression and dysfunction are such challenges against my efforts in earnest to be healthy, normal, and right. Most days are a zero sum game and those are my victories. The worst part of it, though, is not the experience, but feeling alone in it. I am ashamed to speak it sometimes, because I feel like I’m burdening the people who care about me with another eye-roll inducing round of “here she goes again…poor little baby feels bad about herself…wah wah wah…” And even if they don’t say, think or feel anything of the sort, I do. I annoy myself. How can I hope to not annoy the people around me when I can’t stand myself sometimes?

So, I often choose silence. My sticky bile stays inside, so I don’t contaminate others. But it leaks out sometimes. I trail it behind me without knowing, like a roll of toilet paper caught in my skirt. Most people are too polite to point it out. I’m just a semi-civilized monster trying to make it another day.

Endurance

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We don’t get to choose the context under which people enter our lives. So infrequent is the opportunity given to set the stage and make one’s self presentable for the first impressions. We’d hold up our hands, “wait, wait, you can’t see me like this! I’m a mess! Can we try this again when I’ve gotten my shit together? Because I just know you’re someone amazing and I’d like to present myself as the same.

More often than not, the people who end up amounting to the more meaningful players in our lives stumble into them amid chaos. Some of the most amazing people I’ve ever known weren’t there for the big stuff. But they were there through the worst of it.

I’d want to be more grounded and centered, but instead, the people who find me at my worst, see past that if it registered at all, and love me in spite of myself. Those that endure do so as a trial by fire. So few make it. But for each one that does, there are no words for the gratitude.

On closure

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I’m the worst at getting over stuff. I take rumination to a such a level of exquisite self-torment that the process of letting go has been the central theme in my ventures into psychotherapy for a majority of my adult life. I joke with people that I never let go of anything that doesn’t have claw marks all over it. Most people nod knowingly, because I think a lot of us have the same tendencies. My stuff, though, I know it’s “sticky.”

My family upbringing takes the word “enmeshed” to another level. I absolutely hated it, not being able to breathe without others knowing every molecular movement, and being judged so harshly for it. It is the root of my self-consciousness, loathing, and this rumination that makes letting go of anything nearly impossible.

The people who leave my life do so only after having absolutely enough of my bullshit, flinging themselves from the sticky, emotional tar pit that is just the unfortunate way I have of existing. The people I must extricate from my life are also subject to the same, but I’m the one doing the flinging. I usually have to do this by hurling my rage, damage and absolute finality at them.

It was easier, I think, to accomplish this in a pre-internet world. With such ease of constant access, the ability for me to be “in touch” is only a text message or email away, and the scarier, more unhealthier “checking in” process is far easier with publicly available sources of information. It’s easy to get caught in the recollection of an experience or a time with someone, and forget the unpleasantness that forced them to fling themselves/be flung from my life. I tend to own more of the responsibility for a relationship breaking down than I should. I go over each failure I assign myself, wishing I could undo it, not only for myself, but for them too, as if the atonement could somehow come.

In the end, I find that there is no atoning, nor is it needed for most of the separations. Some things just run their course, and I need to learn to become okay with that. This rumination takes me out of the moment, and keeps me from truly experiencing the beautiful things that are happening right now. And it needs to stop.

So, I see closure now as a three-step process:
First, I have to arrive at the conclusion that whatever is happening with the individual in question just isn’t working anymore. The problems we experience have no workable solution. This isn’t a failure on anyone’s part, usually. It’s only acknowledging that conditions are no longer conducive for it to be worth trying.

Second, saying goodbye. This is the apex moment, when you lay it out on the line. Things are bad, and I can’t fix it or deal with it anymore. As much as I want it to be different, it’s just not, and it’s time to say goodbye. This is the painful part. The ripping off of an emotional bandaid, the recalculation of the role you play in someone’s life, the removal of yourself from each other’s days. Where chaos and conflict once lived, now there is only silence.

Finally, much time must pass. For longer than anyone tells you, sadness will remain, along with any unresolved emotions. I try to forgive the person, for things that they can’t control, for not ‘getting’ me, for the things that hurt me. And I forgive myself, for all the same. Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you get to start over with them. Forgiveness is not necessarily re-initiating contact. Most of the time, there’s no outward change. This growth comes from within, healing of scars that no one can see.

Letting go is the simple (but not easy) acknowledgement that there was a series of things that happened, and now they are over. The emotions are viewed in past tense. (Yes, I was really sad when that happened. Was sad, no longer sad.) But more importantly, letting go is proving to myself that I’m going to be okay after all.

What I’m Reading…”How not to calm a child on a plane”

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I forget what aggregator website turned me on to Johanna Stein, but as soon as I clicked on her site, I knew I’d found someone special. The excerpts from her book were hilarious, and I added them to my wish list for the holidays.

Lucky for me, my awesome book-savvy friend bought me her book for Christmas, and I read half of it the first night. I saved the second half for our upcoming vacation, because I was literally about to take a child onto a plane, and needed to know the best way to keep my kid happy. Luckily, because of her story, I definitely opted not to make a barf bag puppet with gross outcomes.

The book itself is a quick, funny, enjoyable read. I highly recommend it to people with kids, or who are thinking about having kids. I’d pretty much recommend it to anyone possessing eyeballs, a sense of humor and the ability to lift a book.

E’erybody is sick right now…

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In the last two weeks, every person in my life has been sick with something (mental health diagnoses notwithstanding). I’ve personally come down with a GI bug, my son has had it twice now (my poor area rugs…) and my husband is both getting over and coming down with a new cold/plague/misery in microbiotic form.

I think this pretty much happens every spring, or whatever the weather goes all sideways, and you’d think that humanity would have figured out by now how to deal with all this, aside from large doses of antihistamines and chicken soup. But no, instead of a cure for the common cold, the science has decided that the collective misery of humanity can take a back seat so we can find a cure for the scourge of “low T.”

I realize the money to be made is in the cold medicines themselves, and there probably wouldn’t be much of a profit margin left if we just figured out, that combining applesauce, chicken stock and live yeast cultures would be the cure (actual science not conducted here, folks, just a hunch). But the genius therein, is that even if we wanted to raise a ruckus about it, we’re too wiped out with our yucky cold symptoms to do much about it. And by the time we’ve recovered and our netflix queue is that much lighter, we forget, and get back to the mountain of work that was left behind while we took a sick day or three.

Friendship rant

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(Disclaimer: This isn’t directed at any one person. It’s an amalgamation of multiple irritations that have given way to the self reflection that follows.)

Sometimes a bunch of stuff happens all at once that makes me question my worth. Lately I’m concerned that people may think I’m not a good person.

Thing is, I’m think actually a pretty good friend to have. Ask any of the people in my life. Although I’m rarely this kind to myself, my friends enjoy such benefits as undying loyalty, pretty much constant contact, seriously good advice, silliness and definitely no judgement. I’ll be the first to go to bat for someone who needs it, even if they don’t know it.

And yeah I share more about myself than I should, give people the benefit of the doubt and trust too easily, but I’d rather be genuine, honest and understood than be fake for the sake of social convention. And yes, I’ll tell you all about my damage and I’ll say things that may make you feel sad or uncomfortable, but that’s only because to be my friend means you understand what you’re getting yourself into. I don’t drag people into my nonsense without their willingness to accept it for what it is.

So, really you have a choice, and one that you can change your mind about at anytime. I understand if you’d want to, I really do. But once we’re done, we’re done. No games. Rip off the bandaid and let go.
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