Archive | relationship

if you’re sad, reach out

Happy Friday, fellow travelers! I hope your week is going well.

Mine has been so/so. I had a lovely evening tea with a beloved girlfriend last night and I have another girlfriend trip and tea planned for next week. But I also lost out on my last chance for something (which I may write about later) and that has left me sad.

And this morning I am also feeling someone else’s sad. Sounds weird, I know. But as an empath, I often sense the emotions of others, sometimes actually feeling them in my body. This has also been true with people I have connected with (at various levels) who are far away- even when they’re gone, I can sometimes feel them. (It’s like those stories where a mother knows her child got hurt, even though they’re 2000 miles apart. Pretty much exactly like that.)


Photo by Jonathan Crews on Unsplash


I have learned, over time and with practice, where the feelings of others live inside my body and where my own emotions find their way through my body. Other people’s sadness tends to settle in my face and make me feel like crying. Sometimes it goes down to the outer edges of my heart, but no further. My own sadness resides in my chest and I tend to feel it like a black hole in space- intense, compact, but deep.

And today I feel someone else’s sad. And it is a particular kind of sad- the sad that they miss me, or that they missed out on hanging with me, or that they wish to be near me again. I have my suspicions about who it is, but it brings me back to this eternal truth: you can always reach out again to me, no matter what. My heart is big, it forgives much. If you’re missing me or wanting to connect, there are myriad ways. And this isn’t just true for me, it’s true for anyone you’re thinking of as I write this. If you miss them, let them know. Most people want to be connected to people who want to connect with them. <– and that’s true for me, too.

Whoever you are, I hope you’re well. And I probably miss you, too. Reach out. I promise a great cup of coffee, fantastic conversation, and a truly supportive connection (which is all I ever wanted anyway).




trauma as (unrecognized) native tongue

I grew up with an emotionally manipulative parent. It took years for me to understand that the reason I was so good in a crisis situation and so good at helping others was because I’d learned to help my parent (and, more truthfully, my family members who were also dealing with that parent) in emotionally charged situations. Emotional charge felt ‘normal’ to me, because I’d been through it so often, and therefore I could function efficiently and effectively in it when others couldn’t.

These situations also taught me to be kind and supportive and love people unconditionally, because I didn’t receive those things in a way that I felt them easily. (Which is to say, parents can give love in many ways, but kids don’t always receive it. Know your kids, their personalities, and their love languages.) From early on, I had a drive to get out of my house. I have a drawing from second grade that says, “Someday I will…get married so I can live in my own house.” (Six year-old me wasn’t a feminist yet.)

Growing up inside emotional manipulation also helped me become as straightforward and honest with people as I possibly could be. I know the pain and damage manipulators can cause, so I try not to be one. I try to be as honest with myself about what’s going on, what I feel, what I need, and what I want so that I can express that thoughtfully to others (with care and clean edges). There is no hidden meaning behind what I say or ask for- hidden agendas just cause confusion and pain.

And yet, I am sure I still emotionally manipulate people sometimes. I know I do because there are times when I revisit a conversation (which I do about 10,000 times because I’m an INFJ) and realize I did something emotionally manipulative. I read and edit my emails several times so that I’m not being emotionally manipulative (and yet, I’m sure some things still get through). I feel like an asshole when it happens and always try to do better.


Photo by Karim Ghantous on Unsplash


One of the strange things is, though, that I still don’t necessarily see or hear emotional manipulation when it’s coming from others. To this day, my partner has to say, “Don’t let this [situation or person] emotionally manipulate you.” And sometimes I still don’t know what that looks or sounds like. It’s very much as if he’s saying, “Look, that’s a foreign language that we don’t speak,” but to me it is native tongue and so easy to speak I don’t even recognize it as foreign. Unlearning this language is tough business.

I wonder if it is like this for all who suffer trauma.

Does this ‘foreign’ language get so ingrained – because of young age or simple repetition – that we see it as ‘normal?’ I think, probably, yes.

And when we find a way out, when we begin to realize that other emotional, non-traumatic languages exist, it is like moving to another country. I keenly remember the first few times I felt unconditionally loved and safe- it felt like a party in my heart, a healing, a joy. It was a language I wanted to speak and found that I could. Which was both strange and beautiful.

The thing about learning this new language (what others know as ‘normal’) – and sorry to switch metaphors- is that it’s like the fish who realizes it breathes water, and that it is evolving into something that breathes air. That is what I have felt like for years now. That ‘water’ is my native tongue- the emotional manipulation and the life that creates- and that I am evolving to breathe air. But still, water is easy to breathe and I have to be reminded of what it is, of who I am and what I want, so that I do not fall back into the water language of emotional manipulation.

Maybe it’s not trauma that is our native language, but the form of abuse (whether large or small) that causes the trauma which itself feels normal. Abuse is what is done to us, trauma is our response. And when that abuse is repeated, it begins to be habit, and habit is what constitutes ‘normal’ (at any age, pretty much).

Despite my Master’s in Social Work, I’m not sure about this theory. (Actually, I’m sure there’s piles of research and it probably has a name, I just didn’t take the time to go research it.) What I do know is that I’m watching myself and many other people wake up and figure out that something from their past is broken, broken inside them. And as they begin to deal with this wound, they learn that they have been speaking a foreign language for some part of their life. It is only with patience and awareness, forgiveness and soothing, that they begin to speak the language beyond trauma.

Do we ever lose that native tongue entirely? I’m not sure. But I think we can refuse to speak it as much as possible and continue to dig after each root as it shows itself. And perhaps, as we tend to the growth of our healed self, the old language, the trauma language, will lay quietly. Not dead, but no longer bothersome.





Full Moon in Scorpio

I’m late again! Sorry, friends. It’s been a weird week.

My friend, Melissa Kaiser, made a beautiful graphic for this full moon. And she asks:

How deeply, intimately, fully are you connected with your heart? How connected are you to what you love? Open, she says, to the full expression of what you love and who you truly are. 

God, that feels so good- I’m so there, right now. Delicious.



Chani Nicholas writes:

Being alive means engaging in a continual process of transformation. Nothing in the natural world stays the same. Everything shows signs of being in relationship with its environment. Trees cannot deny the effects of a forest fire. Rocks do not try to hide the smoothness that results from the relentless pounding of waves upon them. Icebergs do not feign being untouched by the rising temperatures of our planet.

Yet we humans try to defend ourselves against the inevitable changes. Aging. Loss. Grief. We spend so much of our resources chasing some external solution to our internal discomfort. We have such difficulty sitting with the feelings that, if felt all the way through, could renew us. Release us. Transform us. 

Our transformation depends on our ability to sit with and accept the feelings that arrive with the truth. Not our version of how we wish life would be and not the version of reality that we need to be true in order to justify how we are living. Just the honest truth. How it lands with us in this moment. What it means for our life. Right here, right now.

I think I might have been born in the wrong sign. Scorpio feels more like me, if this is what it’s about. Click her name to read the rest of the post- it’s great.


And lastly, it’s not about the moon, it’s about nodes. (I don’t pretend to understand this, I just know it resonates.) From my fave, Bairavee Balasubramaniam:

There´s been an incredible amount of energetic spring cleaning as we´ve been asking to disconnect from things that no longer serve or resonate with us (as we perceive it to be). Sometimes this leads to healthier choices, and sometimes it leads to deeper delusion.

That´s up the individual and how they choose to walk their path…

When you see that Love has fire and teeth just as it has softness and surrender …. those neat little categories dissolve instantly. And unconditional love can just as easily hold you in warmth and connection, just as it can boot you out of its space, wishing you well from the core of its soul.

Too true.

That’s it for now. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things lately- my own interfaith training and how magic works and decolonization of the latter. More later, loves.

Best wishes from the trail,
Joanna :: xoxo




I Waited 26 Years for This Fantasy to Come True

Yes. Sometimes anticipation can be fantastic, and sometimes anticipation can be a bitch.

::: ::: ::: :::

My entire dating life, I was never asked out. Except Paul in Junior High who asked me to go out via a Hangman game. But otherwise, I was a self-made woman in the dating department.

From the age of 15, when I really, really liked Christopher (the tall, blonde runner) I started asking guys out. I distinctly remember hearing about women doing that- asking men out- on the radio or TV at that time (~1990 or so) and thinking, ‘that is a great way to get what you want instead of waiting.’ Because waiting for 15 year-old boys to ask you out was often a long game.

So, fuck that. I figured out that as long as I could handle the worst outcome (a ‘no,’ maybe even a rude ‘no’) I would be fine.

I asked dudes out.
It went great!
I went out more and got what I wanted- dates. And kisses and allthegoodthings.
And dudes readily confessed that they liked being asked out- had been hoping I’d do such a thing.
[Ego boost is always nice.]

But there was always a little part of me that wanted to be asked out.
Of course there is a part in each of us that wants to be chosen.
To be sought out because of who we are.
To be deemed ‘special’ and ‘worthy.’
[This is a bit of a problem for women, as we are asked to constantly judge our worth by whether someone wants us or not. Separating that honest human desire from social conditioning can be tough.]

::: ::: ::: :::

Cut to last year, I’m 41, happily married for 18 years, together for 20. My husband and I went to our local town’s “Grown Ass Prom” the previous year and were planning to go again that next year.

My husband, who didn’t ask me out when we dated- but worked hard to chase me down one afternoon at a tattoo shop after work!- knew that I wanted to be asked out. It was a dream I shared with him several times over the years, and he was always kind about it.

A few months before the prom, we were making dinner one night and chatting, there was a lull in the conversation and he did the sweetest thing: he grabbed me by the hand, pulled me close as if to kiss me, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Would you go to the prom with me?”

I did not need a ‘prom-posal.’
I just needed those simple words. That 8 word question.
What a thing it was to be asked.
Even after 20 years, twenty years of so much asking for so many things, he asked me to the prom.
It was just what I wanted.

I waited 26 years for that fantasy to come true.
And it was so fantastic, I cannot even tell you.
There were no teenage worries, no fear.
Only love and support and a desire for fun.
I soaked in every bit of it- pulled all the details into my heart to remember them.

The guy I wanted most asked me to the prom, you guys!!
Fireworks, inner squealing, jumping with joy- it all happened.
It was so worth the wait.

::: ::: ::: :::

We went for the third year again last night. Below are the pictures of that night from the second year (me, because I looked fabulous). We had such a blast.

Meriwether in leather.


All the details in place.


We fulfilled every ‘prom’ fantasy we ever had that night. I got my hair done in a faux hawk; nails and toes, too. We didn’t see each other before the final reveal moment. We wowed the crowd at the restaurant and on the dance floor.


Official prom photo.

Yes, my husband wears eyeliner. He went in an ‘Adam Ant’ outfit and he looked fabulous. Do you know what kind of balls it takes to pull that off? You gotta be real secure in your sense of self to do that. You have to know who you are. My man is fearless. Which is why I love him so. Even as I write this, it turns me on. We’d do anything to support each other- and we do.


The morning after.

Our prom night fantasy ended the way it should- with my dress on the floor next to our bed. A good time was had by all.




New Moon in Taurus

Ah, can you feel the changes since Venus went direct? So good. And soon we will be out of Mercury in Retrograde (but I do sort of love it).

So here we are in the Taurus New Moon. I love me some new moon. Full moons are not my fave, but new ones, oh. so. sweet. This one feels like first inklings of desire to me; lighting me up, warming my chest, making me smile with wonder and attraction. And so it is…


From Chani Nicolas:

In Taurus, the moon can build anything. If it has decided something will happen, Taurus won’t give up until it is so. Taurus is stubborn AF. When Taurus applies its stubbornness to a course of action that isn’t in its own best interest, it ends up wasting all that precious effort. But, when that stubbornness is applied to healing, developing, and growing the best of what we’ve been given, we have pure gold to build with. 

May we learn that our ability to love is the marker of our wealth. May we learn that our healing is holy, necessary, and needed if this world is to thrive. May be learn that the most sacred act in life is to find a way to make use of the pain we have lived through. 


From She Who Is: 

The pure, unaspected energy of this new moon brings unerring focus to all issues related to earthly manifestations in matters ranging from the necessary pursuit of one’s financial path to the revelation and discovery of love. 

Use this new moon energy to sweep away everything that you do not deeply and completely love, and to draw forth the new beginning of what you have only ever hoped to find. 

The emanation of Taurean energy is both stubborn and sensual…To feel mediocre about any aspect of your life will reveal the cracks of what needs to leave. 



And Elephant Journal takes a Buddhist view of the New Moon:

Some lunar cycles wreck our plans, others are meant to encourage us to reap our rewards, and still others—like this one—are meant to push us toward the building of something new.

Something full of love.

This particular moon is asking us to take a closer look at the Four Immeasurables, or the four Buddhist virtues of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. These components most highly reflect a state of enlightenment, and right now, as many are seeing spring begin to bud and grow around us, we are also feeling the urge to build something of quality and purpose.

We can make sure that we are building something genuine with a strong foundation or if instead, it already feels shaky beneath our feet. We can decide if what we are feeling is real, or if instead, it’s merely a figment of our own hopeful projections. And ultimately, we can discern if we’re truly content or only settling.

Nothing can begin without our decision, and no one in this life will make us happy if we haven’t decided to love ourselves as we are. This new moon is not only asking us to delve within but to stay awhile and see what is really inside.

What do loving-kindness, joy, compassion, and equanimity mean to us?

And more than that, what do each of these virtues feel like, taste like, and smell like? What would it mean to live a life that fully embodied these qualities on the exterior, because we have already mastered it internally?

And so we have to ask ourselves if that isn’t what our lives currently reflect—are we ready to start over?

::: ::: ::: :::

The question is, do you have the ovaries to do it? Can we refrain from lying to ourselves once again? That’s hard for INFJ’s like me to do (we hate lying!), but other folks seem to be able to with ease. If this moon is pushing you to love, it’s also pushing for truth- your truth. Go and plant that tonight.

G’night, fellow travelers. See you in the dark of the moon.
Joanna :: xoxo