Archive | Words

America is a 15 year-old boy

Specifically, a 15 year-old cis, hetero boy. And one who needs to get his shit together.

I should have written this post months ago. And that fact that I’m still capable of writing it- because nothing of significance has changed – kinda pisses me off. Alas…we’re here and there’s nothing to do but accept it.

Think of each country in the world as a person unto itself. We might imagine Ireland as a beautiful red-headed woman of about 30 years. She’s been through some violent growth spurts, raging inside herself to decide who really rules her, but she’s finally come to peace in the last few years. We can imagine England as a an older man, still white and cranky, but not so hell-bent on penis-waving conquering as he was in his 20s. (I think of England in its empire-building stage very much like Maverick from “Top Gun”- ready to prove its superiority at every turn, no matter the cost. These are simplified metaphors in many ways, but still valuable for examination and insight purposes, I think.)

And then there’s America. How can we tell America is a 15 year-old boy and not something else? We look at American culture and see: what does America like? What does it value? Uphold? You can tell a lot by what a culture produces and prefers- just like what a person produces and prefers.

Kardashians.
Sex.
It could give a shit about education or facts.
Addiction, and social circumstances that cause a fuck ton of depression.
Lack of critical thinking skills.
Prefers short-term solutions.
Political masturbation of the lowest sort.
Personal (white) supremacy. In other words, ‘if they ain’t me, fuck ’em.’
A distinct lack of wisdom.
Blaming others for its circumstances.
Just wants to go fast and fuck.
Playing power games with bravado and stupidity.
Easily entertained with bright lights and not much substance.
Heroics instead of actual care.
Lack of compassion.

[[I apologize to 15 year-old boys who don’t fit this mold; I know your smart, compassionate selves are out there.]]

And you can most certainly tell that America is a 15 year-old cis-het boy because a significant portion of the electorate felt Donald Trump was a good leader. A man who said so little of substance that everyone could project their hopes and ideas on him- and look at what they projected. Racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, class warfare, and white supremacy for miiiiles.

We’re kinda disgusting. And I say “we’re” on purpose- because even if we didn’t vote for the Trashman, we are part of this culture and contributing to it with our every decision and indecision. Unless we are actively fighting it, we’re contributing to it. And I include myself in that judgement.

 

Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

 

Here’s the thing, though. America has a better side. It has a better persona that is fighting to make its way out. Which is also how we know America is a 15 year-old; it’s still deciding who it is, and probably will be for a while.

What I know about the other side of America is that it is a side that it holds the opposite of most the qualities I listed previously.

The other side of America, the side that is fighting for its very breath, is so much better. It contains a lot of white supremacy still, but it also contains:

Compassion.
Acceptance of science and facts.
It reads books.
It imagines.
It’s gone to therapy for its issues.
It has broken, wailed, and healed- it knows the path of growth.
It knows that the value + integration of diversity and equality are necessary.
It might like sex, but it asks for consent.
It values transparency, vulnerability, and honesty.
It takes responsibility for its actions.
It seeks long-term solutions that are both efficient and effective for the Earth and its people.
It applies wisdom.
It upholds the feminine.
It doesn’t put up with immature bullshit.

There are people fighting daily to keep this America alive inside the body of the 15 year-old boy version of America. It’s a hard fucking fight- most especially for those who are fighting despite marginalization and resources withheld by policy and policing (and they are often the groups fighting the hardest. A lot of white ladies who marched in pink hats last January are still stepping on the necks of black women).

Here’s the thing about 15 year-old boys, though- nobody really wants to be around a kid like this. Most (not all, but many) other countries have gotten past this age and while they will nod and smile, they’re not about to let this dolt do any damage to the greater good of the planet (thank god). And 15 year-old boy America can stand around and swing its dick everywhere, but eventually everyone gets tired of the show (and really, 15 year-old dicks have no useful experience to offer us anyhow).

I believe that the majority of America, who voted for ‘not Trashman,’ have the upper hand and will eventually win out. It may take a while to undo the pissing contest mess that’s been created in a single year, but I trust it will be done. And I trust that actual jobs bills will be passed and single-payer healthcare will finally get rooted, and maybe even basic income will become a national thing. Because the one thing about fighting with ourselves is that we either die psychologically in the process (which would be fine, we can begin all over again, in that case) or the more evolved side wins out (check your personal experience with 15 year-old boys and see if I’m not right). Human culture always wants to move itself forward, and so I trust in that.

In the mean time, give yourself to the fight for America to grow up and get its shit together as often as you can. Our daily choices spread out beyond us in the same way that stones dropped in a lake make waves and eventually change the shoreline. America can be something smarter, more compassionate and fair, and a good person in the world again. I believe that because I know the sorts of people who fight for this- we are healed, we are aware, we are compassionate and intelligent. And there are more of us.

I’ll leave you with the words of our great leader, Beyonce: boy, bye.

 

 

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2018 :: insights. integrations. experiments.

[I started this post at 10 am on 01-01-18. It’s taken me all day to finish. Which says something about how the day has gone. Thanks for being patient with a very late post.]

Hello, fellow travelers. How are you on this first day of 2018? Is it a big celebration day for you? Or is it just another day, except now you have to write 2-0-1-8 instead of 2-0-1-7?

The first day of the year is kind of big deal for me. I was talking with my husband about it- he wondered why January 1st was more interesting to me than December 22nd – the day after Solstice and the beginning of the awakening of the season of light. I had to think about my answer.

Numbers are a beautiful language to me and so the change from 2017 to 2018 is significant in a way I feel inside myself- just a little shift in energy, a shift in the language, that makes me feel a tiny bit different. Some people don’t register this at all- but it shifts something inside me.

Truth be told, the point in the ‘new year’ where I feel alive and dedicated to something actually starts on the Spring Equinox- that’s when Life is starting to push its way up into visibility. So, what I’m doing now, in the dark of Winter, is more like planting seeds, knowing they will come up at some point. Even though the days are getting lighter by degrees, it’s still dark, still winter, and I think it’s good to stay low, quiet, and comfy. There will be time for rising and working and shining soon enough. But, yes, the change of the calendar does put me in a mood to take the small actions that will bear fruit later on.

 

 

Which is to say, I do set intentions for the new year. But I also know that changing my life requires actual fucking work and action, so I better be prepared to put my time, effort, and attitude behind what I want to accomplish.

Before we head into what I’m hoping to accomplish this year, I want to talk about some things I’ve learned about myself this year.

:: insights ::

In 2016 I learned that sometimes I have to let go of people because caring for them is hurting me. I have a huge heart, I love to love people- to let them know they are special, loved, and important to this world; I love to help people heal and feel strong and sure again. But there have been a few times when I’ve let that go too far and ended up hurting myself instead- giving too much. In 2016, I learned to let go of things and people and experiences that hurt that way.

In 2017, I learned that letting go is sometimes more complicated than that. Sometimes letting go means I am keeping someone else from hurting- that my attention and care might actually hurt another person. It’s weird to say such a thing, I know, but that makes it no less true. I learned to get better at cutting off one-sided relationships (but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt any less) and also to keep people safe from me by burning bridges or pushing them away. And that letting go is a multi-faceted decision sometimes.

[And also- I just suck at letting people go. I want to love people, so much. And if I can’t, letting them go is like the worst roller coaster ride ever. It takes time and it’s up and down and I just suck at it. I don’t know that I want to get better at it- I don’t want my heart to harden. But also…gah…it hurts to fight yourself for what you want but know you can’t have.]

This year I learned how and when to take risks. I don’t like taking risks, they scare me to death, but I will do it if there is some assurance of a good outcome. But this Fall I learned to risk even if I have no idea of the outcome. I learned to risk just because I desired something. And it’s thrilling, but it also pushed huge amounts of cortisol into my system and wrecked my adrenals. Still, it was worth it for what I learned and what I got out of it.

I learned that I can speak to a group of 200 people if I feel comfortable with the topic and have a decent outline for the content, but that if you get me into a 1:1 conversation that I care about a lot, I turn into a spaghetti ball of anxiety. And not a nice one that sits on a plate and just spreads, but rather a spaghetti ball that is dropping through air and quickly falling apart – at least that’s what it felt like on the inside. I’ve never experienced that before. But then, I’ve never taken that high of a risk before. Scary as fuck. Did it anyway. Learned a lot.

I was reminded, once again, that the heart is a house with many rooms. And you never know who or what will take up residence within our heart, or exactly how they will occupy the space. I also learned that I can lie to myself about what I feel for or want from people. And this is something I have to be very careful of from now on. Desire is sometimes full of surprises.

2017 also taught me that I can be tough as nails when needed, and also so overwhelmed that I fall apart. I’m not good at falling apart- I’m the strong one- but it happened this summer and I learned a lot from the experience. I know that I would like to prevent falling apart in the future, but even if I can’t, I can do it with a tiny bit more grace in the future. I hope.

I learned a really unexpected thing about myself in the last two months- that I don’t mind being sexually objectified as long as I’m sexually objectifying the other person, too. If someone is creepy, projecting their shit on me, or I don’t find them attractive, then I will create a boundary with the quickness. And- I would much rather be found sexually attractive and be interesting as a whole person (waaaaay preferable), but…I’m okay with mutual sexual objectification. I thought I was better than that, but I’m not.

I think it’s important to point out that I am a BIG believer in the idea that we never really ‘lose’ in Life. We either win or we learn. Yes, several times this year I wanted something big and didn’t get it. But what I do get is the opportunity to learn from my intentions and mistakes and try to get better (for if there is a next time) or be better then it’s still a ‘win’ to me. Which brings me to the next section: intentions.

 

i did some kitchen magic, too.

 

:: intentions and integrations ::

Based somewhat on the previous insights, but also on what I’ve learned from just watching my actions this year, I have intentions and things I want to grow and integrate into my life.

My intentions this year are thus:

consistent meditation and spiritual nourishment practice.

Spiritual nourishment is different for everyone. For me it means meditating for 15 minutes 5 days a week (no less than 4, for sure). Meditation keeps my head right, gives me stress resiliency, and makes me less of a bitch. I lost the habit over the summer and it’s really obvious that it’s time for me to get back to it. I have a longer spiritual nourishment practice that involves dancing + music + intuition + prayer and I also need to get back to that. Music really is my soul and my direction and without it I am not as whole as I could be.

 

less social media; more reading.

I barely read any books last year and that’s a damn shame. Granted, it was a kind of difficult and crappy year in many respects, but I don’t have that excuse any longer. Time to get my brain into a healthier place.

 

get to bed on time. 

I’m doing this one not only because I know it will calm down my cortisol, but also because there are a lot of guilt-inducing voices in my head that complain – at several levels – when I don’t get to bed on time. I can avoid the shitty voices if I just get to sleep. Also: fucking sleep! It’s a gift! I need it.

 

do more of the work I’m good at. 

I am really good at helping people, healing broken things and people, finding lost things and souls- I simply need to do more of it. Not sure what this will look like, but I’m ready to grow into it.

 

:: experiments ::

Intentions and resolutions aren’t for everyone, so I really like the idea from Amy McCracken on Facebook about experiments.

“What if instead of giant resolutions you conducted 12 mini experiments to find out if what you tell yourself is true when you think *if I just _______, my life would be different.

I asked a question on Facebook a couple of weeks ago because I wanted to know if I was the only person in the world who did this.

‘Legit question. I want to know if you do this to yourself. It’s for an experiment. Trust me. Do you have a list of things (or one thing) you tell yourself if you did that thing your life would be different? For instance, ‘If I did yoga every day, I swear my life would be different.’ If I ate fruits and vegetables, I am convinced my life would be different… Anything at all. What is it you tell yourself when you fill in these blanks: If I _____ every day, I think my life would be different.”

If I…
meditated
journaled
exercised
flossed
did yoga
studied
cleaned
played
got more sleep
practiced gratitude
made art
…I think my life would be different/better.

LET’S CALL OUR BLUFF. Let’s make our list of things we think will change our lives. And let’s put them to the test in month-long experiments. do one thing for a month. Everyday.

If it changes your life, holy shit, you’ve changed your life.

If it doesn’t, let that shit go. Once and for all. Never tell yourself that THAT one thing you are NOT doing would make you better. Done. Cross it off the list.

You don’t have to do an experiment every month. I actually hope that there are not 12 things on your list (there are on mine). You don’t have to do anything at all, ever, especially not because I’m proposing it. And you certainly don’t have to spill the beans about what you are committing to for 30 days.”

I love this. A way to let ourself off the hook from grand gestures and really find out what our life is about. What will really change us? What are we really committed to? Growth-junkie me digs this.

In many ways my intentions are these kinds of experiments. But I know I also want to try some new things in 2018. I want to:

  • take a boxing class. mostly I want to wrap my hands with that cool tape and hit things.
  • take a dancing class. burlesque. belly dancing. some kind of modern exercise dance thing. i don’t care, I just wanna move my body in new ways.
  • try rowing. this past summer I stayed in a house where rowers came by in the morning and evening and it looked both exciting and peaceful. i wanna find out for myself.

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

One of the things I know about Life now is that we can make intentions and resolutions and goals- and even reach them- but Life always also has its own agenda for us. We will have lessons thrown at us that we didn’t expect in any given year- and how we deal with them can teach us a lot. I hope that your 2018 is filled with all the good things you hope for. And when it also hands you the difficult tasks, I hope you find courage and patience and self-forgiveness to deal with them.

All my love, fellow travelers,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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Burning It Down

It’s time for another political post, my friends.

Yes, we do that here because the sensual body is a part of the body politic. And so many beautiful people are fighting for the right to call their body, their life, their love- their own. (You can find previous political posts here: Making the Spirit Corporeal, Forged. Punk. Sexy., Love In Action. )

And today we are going to talk about Systems theory.

Systems theory is the idea that everything is a system- each thing within itself and also as it relates to other systems. As an example, a tree is a system unto itself- roots, branches, bark, leaves. It also contains other systems inside itself such as delivery systems for food and sap. And, the tree is part of the environmental system in which it lives, which also includes the systems for Earth, Air, and Weather.

Humans are no different. We operate in many systems, not the least of which is our own body. The cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, the endocrine system. These systems work on their own but also touch other systems. One of the reasons I work in a holistic way is because the human emotional system has a huge impact on the human physiological system. And so does the spiritual system. They are each unique systems, but they also interact with many other systems inside the body. (I also use several different physiologic systems including Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. In contrast to Western systems, these have been around for 2,000+ years, so I think they are valid ways of viewing the human bio-psychological system.)

And then we have the systems in which humans interact. Currently, the political system has got me amped up because the new tax code aims to erode and destroy the things I most care about: love, health, and truth.

The systems involved in current Western society, especially American society, don’t help a lot of people. The current systems keep women, people of color, LGBTQQ folks, low-SES people, and a whole lot of others without resources, support, acceptance, or validation. That’s not healthy, loving, or accepting of the truth.

The systems involved in current Western society make men feel like they have to ‘be strong’ (or whatever) and leave them without ways to adequately emotionally express themselves or bond emotionally with other men. The systems draws a sharp, clear line between ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ and asks that we only rarely cross that line, which is not how human hearts, brains, or bodies work. I will say that this system is slowly changing for the better, as I know many men fully capable of healthy emotional expression and maturity, but there are miles to go still in changing this system to one of full acceptance of the human emotional spectrum for all humans (whether that is masculine, feminine, or any other expression).

The systems involved in current Western society encourage addiction of all forms, although most especially addiction to work. And individualism to the point of depression. And destruction of the environment (only today I noticed that the starlings, which usually leave in October, were still here, gathering on the wires to practice their flight plans; they are two months late in leaving). And destruction of the spirit.

The systems involved in current Western society are fucked.

 

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

 

The systems involved in current Western society help only very few to achieve their potential.

The systems involved in current Western society help only very few to have adequate resources.

The systems involved in current Western society destroy more than they create.

And this is why we talk about burning it down.

The systems that are in place serve the best interest of almost no one. What are the best interests of people? I boil it down to this: safety, health, and prosperity. Everyone deserves these things. Everyone. Without question.

We deserve to feel safe in our bodies, our love, our homes, our cities. All of us.

We deserve to have health and feel healthy in our bodies, our love, our homes, our cities. All of us.

We deserve to have prosperity in our bodies, our love, our homes, our cities. All of us.
[Prosperity may include riches, but it never includes greed. There is no reason anyone needs $mil in a society that provides for safety, health, and prosperity. Make all you want, but care for your fellow man.]

I recognize that if we burn these systems, if we tear them down, it will mean less of many things for myself and my family. And I am so fiiiiiine with this. I am not sure that others in my race and social strata are, even as they want to desperately change the system. But I know it’s worth the sacrifice, because the current systems serve the good of no one.

What new systems shall we build? you might ask. I do not know, exactly. I have no concrete vision that I can show you, that the world will look like x, y, or z. For almost a year now that has been a great struggle for me- I wanted to know exactly what we were building. But it is less difficult now- because I simply want systems that create safety, health, and prosperity for everyone.  And so I choose those as much as I possibly can. (Some thoughts in this article about moving beyond capitalism.)

Systems are not fixed. Not the tree. Not the Earth. Not the body. Not politics. Not money. Not taxes. Some systems can be changed with time. But some systems also need to be destroyed.

In many ways, I am very glad and proud to be alive now. To be the age I am so that I can apply pressure, resources, and my privilege to changing these systems, to destroying some, and to building up what I most hope for. It is a time of great creativity on a lot of fronts (thank god for artists and musicians and all other truth tellers). But it may also be time to burn things that are too old to change and turn the ashes under and not even begin again, but build somewhere else instead. 

I leave you with the words of Jacob Marley, on this, the 174th anniversary of the publishing of the first installation of A Christmas Carol:

“Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

[Which is to say: the new tax code, if passed, can go fuck itself.]

 

 

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knowing me.

I’ve been thinking some about how we get to know people. How do we pick people we want to be our friends, lovers, companions, teachers, mentors, counselors? Do we even know we’re picking them? And about 1,000 other similar questions.

As an INFJ I’m an introvert, so it’s hard to reach out to people and even try to make connections. I do try when I think it will be worth the effort, i.e. someone matches my super high standards. But my standards are high because I’ve been disappointed so often. And as an introvert, I get tired of trying.

I’m also pretty intense. My nickname at home is ‘small but powerful’ and it’s because I’m intense both in mind and body. Some people dig that, some people can handle that. And some people can’t. Weirdly, the people who cannot handle my intensity still seem to stick around and watch me. (There’s a dude who has been near me for five years who still cannot decide whether to leave me alone or connect in some way. I call him ‘WatchGuy’ as he likes expensive fake watches (‘replicas’). He sneaks around my social media, he sits on some posts so long I get ‘replica’ spam comments. And even though he knows I don’t deal in fakery at all, he still hangs around. I can only assume because he finds me fascinating. But he doesn’t have the guts to reach out. I’ve gotten over finding it annoying, now I just find it weird. Like, make a fucking decision, you know? Get on with your life.)

In the end, though, I’m one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Because I care. Often, too much. I have a big heart and it forgives a lot of things (I’m not sure it forgets, but it forgives far longer than it should). I want people to feel loved. I want them to be happy and healthy. I want there to always be a safe place for them to tell the truth and live their truth. I want to see people so they feel good- because we all deserve to be seen, to be loved, to feel good. I know these things, and try to provide them, because I feel the same, I want the same.

Encouragement, support, and love are the things I give most easily- my heart is just built that way. And I will love and encourage you in whatever you dream of being, whoever you truly are, for as long as I can. I see the truth of people and I will always show that to you until you see it for yourself.

I belong to a group called “INFJ Refuge” on Facebook and I they always have the best pictures and explanations of what INFJs really are. Here’s what you need to know about me.

 


This is seriously what it’s like in my head all day. INFJs are more strategic and functional in our heads than in real life. And it makes life interesting to say the least.

 


I wish there were 15 more words for ‘love’ than there are in the English language. ‘Love’ often simply refers to romantic of familial love- and that just isn’t enough breadth and depth for me. I love a lot of things and I love in many ways.

 


This is where INFJs can be cruel- basically, evolve or die. I can care for people and support and love them for a very long time, but if they don’t change, I will eventually leave. I did this recently and hurt someone I care about a lot (we’re working on it, though). Change doesn’t have to be big- simply show me you’ve learned something or seen something in a different way. But if you don’t grow, I’m not sticking around in the mud with you.

 


A. Rehman wrote this to go along with this picture/poem: “Today, from the time I woke up, I had her on my mind. She seeped into all the corners of my mind, unlike all the other days. I wanted her back, so bad, I felt like dying. After a hectic day…I came home and woke up my phone to see the date. It was her birthday. I sat still on the sofa for fifteen minutes and ran through all the memories we had made- they hit me like a cyclone. I thought to myself, ‘the reason she was in my mind the whole day was because it was her birthday. The third one after our breakup.’ They say when you are thinking about someone, chances are, they are thinking about you. I believe she was.” <– This is what it’s like inside the head of an INFJ. We care. We feel you. Even from a distance.

 


Just, yeah. I need someone to care for me. Partner or friend, please just be kind and support me.

 


“My daily consciousness is fenced in by reality, logic, perseverance, truth, and optimism. It’s all in how you see it. I don’t just wish for the best outcome and let the cards fall. I believe that if I hope for the best and make choices that align with the optimal end goal, then something good will come of that. Truth be told, it may not be what you were expecting, but no effort goes wasted.” Exactly. I believe there is potential for good in almost every situation.

 

 


This is why I take 20 minute showers. The first 10 minutes are therapy. Also, no one hears you crying when you’re in the shower.

 


“Our hearts are too soft, and our brain overthinks. And this is why we must listen to our gut ’cause that biyatch don’t lie.” I’ve had to learn to trust my intuition over everything else.

 


I don’t do it to be creepy, I do it because I’ve learned to (INFJs often come from tough/dysfunctional households- we’ve had to learn to please others so we’d be left alone to be safe). I do my best to use this tool to make others feel accepted, happy, and loved so that I know I’m not turning into the asshole who taught me how to be this way.

 

 

 

If I write to you it means I care. The more I write, the more I care. The more I write, the more I hope you will understand me and listen to what I say- because listening to me is the greatest gift you can give me.

 


Overthinking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But I do think a lot, and I do practice what I’m going to say – because I want to be understood. I desperately want to be understood.

Lastly, INFJs have the best worst sense of humor. Dark. Twisted. Nerdy. Dirty. Bring me your best awful and inappropriate jokes; I’ll laugh my loudest.

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

Okay, wow. That was a lot to say. But it’s pieces of who I am and how I see the world and how I interact with it. If it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. Please leave and be on your way and love other people who suit you better. But if you like being cared for, seen and understood, and you can give a little of that back- stick around. I’m worth it.

 

 

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the complexity of accepting joy

I am learning to accept joy in my life.

Which sounds like a strange thing to say, except that my life has almost always revolved around the emotion of bittersweetness…of almost getting what I want. Or of getting what I want, but in a slightly different way than I imagined. Or of hoping for joy, but watching it pass me by to one extent or another.

This past August/September there was a great upheaval within me- I clearly saw an old pattern in my emotional system. The pattern is this: I can only have what I want after great difficulty.

The world will give me what I desire, but never quite the way I want it, or only after I’ve hurt myself in the process of getting it. (Sacrificing too much energy in mind, body, or spirit.)

It probably started when I was six and was diagnosed with diabetes (type 1). From that day onward I never quite got what I wanted again. I could have dessert, but only angel food cake. I could only have candy if I had a low blood sugar. I could have dessert, but only once a month. I think I learned quickly that I could never have what I really, truly wanted. And when you get that message as a small person, it’s tough to clean it out.

In some places this story played out over and over again. Never quite the car I wanted. Never quite the house I wanted. The dress never looked quite right. The shoes were lovely, but the wrong size. The little disappointments were always mine.

Of course, I accepted it. This was my life, this was how things go. The spiritual traditions say this kind of acceptance of whatever comes is a good thing; a practice many wish to achieve.

I learned to tone down my desires. What I got was ‘good enough.’

But then…
but then…

Six years ago, desire swept through my body with such intensity that I could no longer deny that I wanted things exactly as I wanted them. I wanted things I have never wanted before. I wanted. I desired. The desire had precision.

And I had to own it.

It took me two coaches to understand that 1- desire was okay again and 2- it was okay to name my desires and seek to fulfill them. It was okay to be blown wide open with desire. I also had to learn the nuance between ‘desire’ and ‘want’ because not every fantasy can be fulfilled.

Which was the hardest goddamn lesson. To go from very little desire- because why bother?- to heated, pulsing desire, and then to recognize that fulfillment may not be in the cards anyway. Same old goddamn story as always.

But then, this August.

I got tired of living with whatever Life served of my desires.
I got frustrated with spending too much life blood to achieve my goals.
I wanted what I wanted, the way I wanted it. 

Was that too much to ask?
Just once?
Just when it really mattered?
Couldn’t I have the thing/person/experience as desired with no extra effort, just…just a bit?
Life is inherently unfair, I know.
And I know I get a lot of what I want; this isn’t ingratitude for what I have.
It is the pleasure of having it exactly as I desired.

 

 

I began to ask for what I wanted. Exactly what I wanted.
I’m fucking old enough to know what I want and ask for it.
I began to do just that.

But digging out an old piece of emotional software takes time; we must have patience in the practice so we can get somewhere and see our progress. I have learned three things so far:

Asking for what I want is frightening and liberating. Just asking- ‘can we chat?’ ‘I’d like to connect with you,’ ‘I want the blue one,’- has been a big step. Asking the person, the clerk at the dress shop, my friends, was different; I haven’t done that in a long time. It is one thing to accept my desires. It is another to name them, out loud, to other people and ask them to help me get what I want.

The risk of asking is vulnerability at another level. I have been told ‘no’ to a couple of my requests. Of course it hurts at one level or another. To want is to open our heart and then…to not receive it? Yes, it hurts. But what I have learned is that this risking is what it is to be alive. All the feelings that go along with wanting what I want, asking for it, waiting, hoping, and not getting- those are the feelings of being human. It is disappointment but at least in my disappointment I am alive, trying.

[I am also pondering when to fight for a thing, a person, an experience you want and when not to. Sometimes other people are scared or don’t have enough info (or maybe they’re agoraphobic, how do I know?). Do I fight to get what I want by reaching out again- even looking like a fool to do so? I don’t know. Sometimes it looks like Life hands me awkward second chances, but I rarely see them in the moment. I’m trying to figure it out. But I’m new to this piece and so I make mistakes. I am very good at learning, however, I wish I didn’t have to learn by fucking some things up.]

Receiving joy is complex in a way I didn’t understand. When I shut myself down to true desire I also shut myself down to receiving that which I desire (joy, connection, fun, a cute shirt, etc.). It’s one thing to throw out the pitch, it’s another to have your hands open, ready to have the ball come back at you. I have had to practice opening to joy, opening to getting what I want (the way I want it). [And PS- this is zero about the Law of Attraction which I think is bullshit.]

Two weeks ago, I had a day so full of joy I was beaming. I think I was lit up like a Christmas tree- I was smiling with my whole body. The day had gone so spectacularly well- a new tattoo, a little innocent flirting, a dress that made me feel just right, my twentieth wedding anniversary, heading out to my favorite restaurant, and a dozen other things that I was able to receive and enjoy. I truly felt like I was so full of joy I might actually explode into some kind of happiness ectoplasm if anyone touched me. (But, I don’t know, maybe happiness ectoplasm feels good when it’s all gloppy on you??) Fifteen little things had shown up as I’d imagined them and it was wonderful.

 

Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

 

I’ve not had a day like that since (and even some of the fallout from that day has been tough), but I think it means I’m heading in the right direction. The point here is that I have learned plenty about being blown open by desire, but receiving those desires? That is a complex emotional hurdle I didn’t know I had. Not getting what I wanted at a young age put a web over so  many parts of myself- desire, wanting, getting, receiving. And while I know that I’ll never get everything the way I want it every time (and would I really want that anyhow?), asking for what I really want has been a developmental step, as has opening myself to receive those things/people/experiences. But it’s a step and a challenge that is helping me feel more alive, more in touch with my senses, my emotions, even in the bittersweetness that I want to get away from. But maybe this is how we grow- a few steps out of what we don’t want, a few steps towards what we do. I hope so.

 

 

[And, jesusfuck, if this doesn’t make any sense, I’m sorry. I’ve realized in the last two days that the muscles of writing can atrophy. I really need to be here more.]

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