Do you find yourself often apologizing, as a matter of course? Is “sorry” a word you deploy throughout the day, throughout your life? Is it how you often begin or end your sentences? Is it how you open or close interactions with strangers? Is it the platform from which you move through the world? Well, I’m sorry, but it’s time to stop using apology as your method of social conveyance. See what I did there? Continue reading
I don’t go in for AA. I’ve not found a way for the Twelve Steps to resonate with my atheistic soul, and I think it’s a cult. I’m not saying it doesn’t help people, just that it’s not for me. That said, it was in AA I learned I’d been living in a state of deep lassitude, shades of grey which matched the skies I was under. Continue reading
Is anybody out there? Continue reading
I fixate. I obsess. My mind sticks in a groove, and when it tries to wander, I move the needle back into the groove. I become stuck in a feedback loop that results in rigidity of thought, emotional instability, and a narrowing of life. I have fixated on one thing or another for as long as I can remember, and it’s only recently I’ve understood it’s willful. And only more recently have I begun to understand the foreshortening of horizons this way has caused. Continue reading
She’d given birth to her first child–a daughter–the year before, and I wanted to take an intergenerational look at the conflict and difficulty that seems to exist in the mother-daughter dynamic. I’d been privy to her struggles in her relationship with her mother, the pain and angst it caused her, and hoped she’d be willing to have a conversation about how she grew up, and what she’d like to do differently with her daughter.
Perhaps the most verbose, rapidly-speaking person I know (a court reporter once asked her to slow down during a testimony), we joked that I was lucky to be getting our interview in after she’d been down with the flu and bronchitis for a week. She began to take me through her early childhood, leading me from the picture of an idyllic family toward the tense, guilt-ridden, sometimes self-esteem-crippling snapshot of today’s relationship with her mother. Continue reading
This month marks seven years since I quit drinking, since my life went off the rails and skidded out of control. I memorialized that experience with a post I shared last year, a warts-and-all portrait of alcohol use gone unmanageable.
I believed my drinking gave me an edge, allowing me to express my most unhinged, outrageous desires and thereby differentiating me from the group at a time I felt invisible. It turned out, however, that when I got right down to it, blackout drinking (I know no other kind) was a form of self-erasure, a way to pull the plug on my conscious self and disappear. What good is standing out from the crowd when you’re not even there? What had gone so horribly wrong socially that I felt such a need for otherness, when my sense of otherness was the source of such pain? Why was I unable to make a choice about how many drinks I was going to have and stick to it? Why wasn’t one cocktail feasible? I was living with my foot pressed to the gas, and dying all at once, and these questions had to be answered. Continue reading
I stood cowering in the middle of the mall, as my fifty-five year-old chain-smoking boss spoke harshly, angrily, an inch from my face. Her blue eyes turned to ice and narrowed, she hissed threats, her hot, tobacco-and-death-reeking breath penetrating my nose. Humiliated, scared and disgusted, I took it, without taking a step back or saying a single word. I was shaken and upset the rest of my shift at the MAC Cosmetics counter, and I cried my eyes out the moment I got home. Continue reading
I’m an only child and I don’t know how to share. It’s not that I don’t share. I do. It’s more that it doesn’t come naturally and I constantly have to check myself, are you sharing? I have to remind myself when it would be a good time to share, and sometimes I forget. Sometimes I don’t want to, and I have to make myself. And because sharing isn’t a natural impulse of mine, it doesn’t feel comfortable or free. A voice comes on saying, it’s going to look bad if you don’t offer that around, and so I do. Will you believe me if I tell you that I am damn embarrassed by the fact that when I share it’s a PR move, not a selfless act? Or are you rolling your eyes in disgust at this typical only child behavior? I agree with you, it’s gross. Continue reading
Junior year in college I started hanging out with some new friends, who happened to be very ambitious people who had their lives neatly mapped out to include all kinds of tall orders, pies-in-the-sky and grand visions. I hadn’t thought much beyond next quarter’s class schedule, let alone life after college. I would listen in rapt fascination at their conviction, wondering if any of what they wanted was possible, and secretly dismissing their plans as grandiose, their future lives as boxed-in before they could begin. One time one of them said, “people without goals are losers. I simply can’t understand them.” Not long after that assertion the relationships ended and I parted ways with the group. There’s only so long a loser can hide out, before her lack of goals is revealed, her worth as a friend diminished. But to me they were the losers, setting everything up into tight patterns in advance, every detail accounted for. What about spontaneity? What about living for the moment? What about crisis, and life is messy, and shit doesn’t always go your way? These people knew nothing. I was the realist. Goal setting was out, because life smashes your plans and hope spirals down and away, and I was a cynic already at age twenty. Continue reading
I’m starting to come around to the idea that how we perceive our lives and daily reality contributes hugely to our happiness quotient. Have you ever looked back on a period of time in your life and realized, hey, I had it pretty good right then. I was happy and didn’t even know it. I have. I’m challenging myself to have those realizations more closely to the moments I’m living, rather than in retrospect. I’m doing it one small bit of awareness, one little shard of presence at a time. And it’s kind of working. I’m going to keep trying and see where it leads, with gratitude as my guiding force. Continue reading