The way I knew to do relationships was to find the least available, most aloof, detached, disinterested person in the room and fling myself at them, a full-court press. I dazzled them with my attention, affection, caring and consideration. The more they ignored me, the more I wanted them. I would make myself into someone they wanted, prove to them my worthiness. I would do this by showing great interest in their experience, asking about them and listening intently, remembering details. I would do this by showering them with thoughtful little notes and gifts. I would do this by making myself completely available to them, their whims and fancies. I would do this by giving them anything I perceived them as wanting, and asking for nothing in return. The lengths that I would go to…just to prove I was worth loving. It was extremely dysfunctional, it didn’t work, and I got hurt a lot. I scared people off with my relentless pursuing, or attracted the wrong people. I went along this way for nearly the first three decades of my life before I realized I was going to need to make some major interpersonal changes if I was going to have the kind of life I wanted. This was the way I attracted Borderlines to me. Continue reading
I used to believe simpering was my greatest power, my secret interpersonal weapon. I affected a coquettish persona, donned the mask which I believed was the key to moving through the world. Later, a therapist and I named this simpering mask the “sex kitten”, as we worked to understand the connection between her and my blackout drinking. But before all that, I learned that if I widened my eyes, batted my lashes and ducked my head a little, people melted. I learned that if I asked for things in a singsong tone or a baby voice they seemed to come easier. Especially with men. Men were helpless against the almighty simper. They figuratively dropped to their knees, palms open, anything and everything on offer. They got out of the way. Or let me hide behind them. They handed whatever it was right over. I smiled and giggled in return, to close the deal. I didn’t know another way. Continue reading
When he calls, answer. And don’t be crazy. When he doesn’t call, don’t sweat it. Don’t be crazy. If he hangs out with you, play cool. Don’t be crazy. If he declines the invite, that’s fine. He’s got his life. Don’t be crazy. If he tells you you’re special, that’s great. Appreciate it. Don’t be crazy. If you’re not sure, remember you’re independent. Don’t get crazy. Don’t be too eager. Don’t be too distant. Don’t punish him with your feelings. Figure that shit out. You’re not crazy; don’t be crazy. Continue reading
I spent the better part of last week in New York City, a very special place I consider my spiritual home. About five years ago I made a decision I wanted to try to get there annually, until I can find a way to spend a season there (life goals). Years before that, I went there the first time as a wide-eyed 24 year-old and it grabbed a hold of me, frozen early-March weather notwithstanding. My first awareness of New York came straight from the Daryl Hannah/Tom Hanks Little Mermaid-inspired (the HCA fairytale, not Disney) romance Splash, set in early-80’s Manhattan. And of course the film where The Muppets take it.
New York loomed large in my imagination, the American center of grit and cool, of massive proportions. Continue reading
I visited Carlsbad Caverns over an August weekend, and there’s nothing like exploring our National Parks system for instilling a sense of wonder, history and gratitude. Just when I think we’ve destroyed all of nature, that we’ve polluted the entire world, slashed and burned and dumped and drilled the environment into oblivion, I get outside and see we haven’t quite. Not quite yet. Which makes me realize that for my strong identification as an urbanite–Manhattan being my spiritual home, the place I feel most alive and centered–I need to sense the natural world. I crave the astonishing beauty of Mother Nature, and the feeling of integration with the environment, my place in it, and the humility it brings. I feel so connected and astonished and shriek! Tommy, stop that right now! Shriek! Well, nothing ruins a moment in the park like people who don’t know how to act in public. Continue reading
Boredom is my greatest foe, sneaking up and overpowering me, trapping me, pinning me down. Once it has a hold on me, it’s nearly impossible to shake loose, inertia setting in. What do you want to do? I don’t know, what do you want to do? I’m bored. If I don’t get up, get out and do something, I won’t. And if I stay trapped too long, it’s only a matter of time before I slide down that slippery slope to depression, ass first. And once I’m down there, forget it. Anhedonia rules the day, and there’s not a damn thing I can do to get interested again. So I have to stay on guard. Continue reading
It was a desperate, confusing time. I’d hitched my wagon to a star, uprooted my life to chase my dreams back to my hometown. I had seen a shimmering (if rain-soaked) post-graduate school future of career fulfillment, rich sociability, fascinating interests, and wealth (of course). I saw this vision with such clarity I believed all I had to do was go home and the pieces would fall into place. In fact, I remember journaling something along the lines of “this new life is something I feel I can just relax into”, so certain was my hope.
The brilliant sunlight glinting off the Columbia River, the water teeming with people recreating, the golden plains stretching to the horizon seemed to foreshadow the bright future that lay ahead as my boyfriend and I drove west on I-90. We were going home.
Just a couple of hours later the shade of the Cascade Mountains enveloped us as we curved our way through Snoqualmie Pass. We drove across the bottom of a tunnel of Evergreen trees, dense and dark. A deep sense of dread began to spread through me, disguising itself as a stomach ache. I was so out of touch with my feelings in those days, the emotional usually expressed itself physically. I felt off. The glory of my triumphant return home was draining out of me and soon I was on edge. Had I been able to peer into the future at that moment I would have insisted we turn the car right back around for Arizona. Continue reading
My buddy Sam and I have this thing where we like to flip people’s attitudes from negative to positive in our attempts to usher society into the high vibe era. It’s become a game, really, and we enjoy sharing our success stories with each other. The tougher the nut, the more satisfying the crack. When we worked in the dress department at Nordstrom together and one of us had a difficult customer, we’d rub our hands together in anticipation, knowing the tough customer was totally screwed, about to be reduced to a puddle of vulnerability by our manipulative kindness. You see, people want to be seen, and validated, and told where the boundaries are. Sam and I inherently understand this, and use these truths to make the worst act their best. It’s fun for us. Continue reading
Nicki and I ran the back office of the organization, but our shared work station was situated in the front office. We were a crew of 25 crammed into 3,000 square feet on one level, pretty much working at bunk desks and feeling like sardines in a can. While the others had cubicles (though tight) or offices (though shared), we worked at a ramshackle amalgam of used particle board and dusty padded fabric that had been dropped in the middle of the building lobby. If Nicki backed her chair out too fast, she ran the risk of slamming into my legs, positioned four feet away at my stand-up desk. If I leaned too hard on my computer platform, the whole works creaked and threatened to collapse. We each faced a building entrance, and all day long visitors and colleagues streamed through the doors, constantly interrupting and disrupting our space. Our work station sucked, and we had the worst of a bad situation. Yet we were consistently the most positive people on staff. We chose to own that public space and create a welcoming, friendly, upbeat vibe we hoped would radiate through the office and change the culture. We called ourselves “The Positivity Committee” and formalized our program through targeted, strategic acts of kindness. Continue reading
I didn’t know what had coalesced in my unfolding adolescent sense of self in the summer of 1972 when I subverted gender-segregated work roles at a suburban Atlanta McDonald’s franchise. I hadn’t intended to when I looked in the eye of my shift manager and declared, “Have you ever heard of sex discrimination?” He had denied my request for a lateral move from my front-of-the-store counter service assignment to the male-exclusive crew on the cooking grill. At age 17, my freshman year of college under my belt and working the summer in a collective of temporary teenage hires, I had recognized a female ghetto when I was in one: girls worked the counter, boys worked the grill. Girls served the customers and boys cooked the meat. And I wanted to work the grill. Continue reading