Start where you’re at

•November 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I have this friend.  She is a funny, loyal, tough, insightful and creative trailblazer.  She’s relatively self-aware, and she pushes herself to great lengths to be the best person she can be.  She does struggle with her issues sometimes. She can be her own worst enemy, especially when it comes to eating and exercise.  She is an obese middle-aged woman, living a mostly sedentary lifestyle.  When she tries to implement change into her life with food and body movement, she often sets the bar too high and tries to do too much at once, setting herself up to fail.  She doesn’t often talk about it, but her body hurts every day of her life due to the inactivity and extra weight.  She has problems with her knees and feet, and she has lost a lot of the strength and physical vitality she had even 5 years ago.  Sometimes, she doesn’t know if her legs will support her when she has to get up from a sitting position. She has an all or nothing attitude about food and exercise, eating either very healthy food or complete garbage; there is no middle ground.  She can’t exercise for more than a few minutes at a time because she has little physical stamina.  She gets discouraged about this, and she gives up.  She doesn’t see how five minutes of walking- the only walking she can really do- can help her at all.  While she understands the concept of building endurance, she lacks the patience and gives up far too easily when it comes to this area of her life.   I love this friend, but sometimes I just want to smack her too.   This friend is the Fat Me, and this is what I want to say to her:

Hey you;

You have no idea how much you are loved.  I am here for you to help in whatever way I can.  You have to do the work, but YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  I want to be your cheerleader, encouraging you to any minute victory that moves you in the right direction.  You are so smart most of the time, but you are lying to yourself about your physical state.  You have transcended so much pain and grief in your life.  You can do this too.  You never thought you would accomplish the things that you have.  Your life is just now getting really full and rich and interesting,  I  really wish you could enjoy it more!  I want what is best for you, and that doesn’t include struggling to get out of bed and feeling hopeless about your situation.  This is a very fixable obstacle.  You know what to do.  I know you have issues with follow through,  I know that you are on some level afraid to be smaller.  Big equals power for you,  but I am here to tell you that you are a being of immense power that has nothing to do with your physical size.  You have huge energy, but you don’t have to have a huge body.

I also know that you never will be truly THIN, and that’s fine.  I wish good health for you, a concept completely removed from body size.  You’ve always been a little zaftig, and there is no way you will ever look like an emaciated cover model.  Nor do you really want to.  But, in the recent words of a beloved friend, it’s not going to get any easier.  If you are waiting for the Weight Loss Fairy to thunk you upside the head with a miracle cure for fat, it ain’t gonna happen.  You already have all the answers about what you need to do with food intake.  It’s simple math, and you have learned in the past year that when you eat a certain way, you feel FANTASTIC, energetic and optimistic.  Clean and clear.  And when you make other less stellar food choices, you feel like crap.  Pay attention to this, and let it be the barometer by which you measure whether or not to put something in your mouth.  If it makes you feel like shit, STOP DOING IT!!  Believe that it’s possible to create a healthy lifestyle that encompasses food choices beyond carrots, celery and tuna (the holy trinity of “diet” hell).  If I had the power to give you one gift, it would be to stop using food to punish and sabotage yourself.  I wish you could make more food choices out of love and respect for your body.  I know this is a process, and I know you can do it.

And the same thing goes for moving your body.  Cracking the whip and saying you are going to go from inertia to exercising 30 minutes a day 3 times a week is a load of crap.  It’s impossible for you- you have proved this time and time and time again.  Start where you’re at.  Keep a record.  If you can only do 5 minutes (or 3 minutes) on that exercise bike, don’t judge it.  Embrace it as 3 less minutes of inactivity.  Be proud of it, celebrate it, and notice how your body feels after a few days.  Your body used to be a lot stronger.  It remembers how to get back there.  Don’t get in its way with your defeatist attitude and let it do its thing!  Your body doesn’t want to be fat and immobile.  It wants to be strong and energetic and in pace with the rest of your life.  Make no doubt, this is a priority for you.  It is time to do whatever you need to do to motivate yourself to take those first steps.  That’s all you have to do.  Once you get in a groove with a little activity, your body will encourage you to push a little harder.  You may never run a marathon, but you’ll eventually be able to take the dog for a hike without dying.  Just walk around the block.  If you can’t do it yet, walk down the street.  You admire other overweight people you see out exercising.  It’s time to give yourself a little of that same admiration.  Trust me, it WILL get easier.  You WILL build endurance.  You WILL amaze yourself if you just stick to it.  You have overcome so many obstacles in your life.  This one is a piece of cake compared to some of the shit you’ve transcended.  I am here for you.  I love you.  Read this every day if you need to in order to get started.  It is okay to start where you’re at.  It’s okay to ask for help and encouragement.  It’s okay to indulge in a little cheerleading.  Give your body a chance to show you how amazingly transformative it can be.  Start where you’re at and just keep moving forward without judgment or harshness.  You deserve this, and you can do it.



Cleaning up my act

•November 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It always helps me to have a fresh start.  There are items on my to do list that seem to be permanent- like cleaning my room.  Some things never change.  I was a messy kid in my room, and I am a messy adult in my room.  I often clean the rest of the house, throw all my random stuff from the living room into a rough tote, and toss is in my room.  I don’t mind washing laundry, drying it or folding it.  I do appear to be constitutionally incapable of putting it away.  I will dress out of a laundry pile for a week.  As I start a new beginning with writing every day (and it feels fabulous, by the way) I feel the stirrings of other projects as the seedlings of ideas begin to poke through the dirt and search for the sun.

I hate to clean.  I have always resented it.  I loathe dusting, and I only do it as often as absolutely required.  Like when something like a cat tail drags across the dust on the front of the TV and disrupts its evenness, thereby distorting the picture.  At that point, dusting becomes warfare.  It’s EVERYWHERE, thick as a blanket.  Vanquishing it takes a lot of effort at this point, so I schedule a major purge and then retreat until the blanket re-knits itself.  Gross?  Yes.  I try not to let it get so nasty, but I often fail.

MY LIFE IS TOO INTERESTING AND THERE IS TOO MUCH GOING ON FOR ME TO MAKE CLEANING A PRIORITY.  I often say “Life is too short to spend time cleaning.”  But I am an anal retentive Virgo, and the clutter and mess make me depressed and angry.  Procrastinating with cleaning is yet one more masterful way I sabotage my emotional health and well-being.  Now, please don’t get the wrong idea. I don’t have filth lying around, dirty dishes anywhere, or scum in the bathtub.  A girl’s gotta have her standards.  I am more messy than dirty, with the exception of the whole dusting thing.  I do refer to the side table next to my recliner as my Corner of Filth, but that’s just where I store my most important piles of stuff.

I woke up this morning in the mood to vanquish the housekeeping.  And since I have avoided things like mopping the floors, it may take a while.  As usual, there is laundry to put away.  But when I get a room picked up and everything is in its place, I do feel peace.  The only major issue is how I arrive at the peace, which I think we can all agree is the good part.

I procrastinate and put things in piles.  Then, I resent the piles.  After a couple of weeks, I wonder what the hell is in them.  They become Mystery Piles.  Soon, I am prone to fits of rage because I can’t find something that I KNOW is in a pile somewhere.  This often happens with paperwork.  Then, I berate myself for being lazy and unorganized- two things I know in my heart that I am not- and the shame sets in over not being able to find the dog’s vaccination records when I have to board her in the morning.  Sooner or later, I sweep the inner critics from my psyche, take a deep breath, and dive in.

When I accomplish getting an area not only picked up but CLEAN (and you have to do the picking up part or you can’t clean- it’s counterproductive to mop AROUND rough totes full of stuff), it feels amazing.  Really.  I love having clean space, and I vow to keep it pristine.  Never happens.  Pristine is an unreasonable expectation for me.  But my cycle of perfectionism and failure is fully ingrained in my cleaning cycle.

I woke up this morning and cleaned out the inside of the refrigerator before I even ate breakfast.  My room is still a hot mess, but the fridge is CLEAN.  Unidentified weird brown sticky goo BEGONE!!  Old expired condiments GONE!  Scary wrinkly apple GONE!  Pickled ginger from the last time I made sushi (can’t even remember how long ago) GONE!  No earthly idea how long that stuff is even good for.   Jars with Japanese characters and no discernible expiration date have no place in my kitchen   We do however have 5 jars of different kinds of mustard: cheap yellow, generic Dijon, off brand spicy brown mustard, sweet yellow (gag) and the inevitable Grey Poupon.  Why the hell do I have so much mustard when I eat it on other foods maybe three times a year?  No earthly idea.

As I strive to dance with the ebb and flow of my life, I really want to make changes in the way I keep my space.  To reduce drama, cleaning up after myself for a few minutes every day will keep me out of the overwhelmed, panicky, grossed out desperation of vanquishing the blanket of dust.  I can relinquish that need to judge myself harshly.  No one I know can pass the dreaded white glove test, and I don’t love them any less.  Maybe it’s time to give myself the same compassionate consideration.  I have the power to adjust my goals, to ease into the habit if caring for my space a little at a time.  I do want to start out with a clean slate.  As bewildering as it is, I’m in the MOOD to clean, so I’d better get started.  I have no idea how long this mood will last or when it might strike again!

Speaking of rising up from the ashes…

•November 2, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I wish I knew how to link to this online article in a nice, neat, fancy and impressive way, but I don’t.  Dammit.  Copy and paste it and read the article, then come back here and check out this post.  My lack of computer linkage skills strikes again, and I don’t have the patience to deal with my screwed up learning curve today.    I want to get on with my life today, not spend 7 hours trying to figure out code and links and all sorts of other shit I don’t really care about.  I want to focus on people and how cool they can be.

WE’RE SO FORTUNATE TO LIVE IN THIS COUNTRY.  We take for granted that our lifestyle will never change- that we will always be able to catch a bus or flip on a light switch.  It is really incredible to see examples of our modern cultural shallow pettiness put aside as people pull together.  We were NOT the only country affected by Sandy.  But I think many of us live in a bubble, thinking nothing bad can happen to us in the land of privilege and freedom. Our attitude can make it difficult to accept when we are at the mercy of something outside our control.

I fall victim to erroneous thinking about this control stuff.  I am certainly a master of my destiny to an extent.  I can manifest great things in my life and have done so many times.  I create my own reality by controlling the only thing I can- my reaction to whatever is happening around me.  My attitude.  My actions.  I cannot, however, control the weather.

For awhile, I thought I was the Typhoid Mary of Vacations.  Every time I planned a trip, the elements followed me.  I went on a Caribbean cruise in the middle of Hurricane Rita.  Our itinerary was a surprise, since we couldn’t go to any of the islands that were being ravaged by the storm.  That huge boat was ROCKING in the ocean- I cannot even fathom the strength of the ocean and the energy required to make that happen.  I have gone camping with friends and found myself in the midst of Big Bend’s 60 mile an hour winds, 27 degree nights and a landlocked typhoon-like thunderstorm in Palo Duro Canyon.  I am no stranger to tornadoes, having grown up fleeing to the basement every time the sky turned green and the temperature suddenly dropped 20 degrees.  Even my choice of living arrangements has sometimes thrown me into the awesome effects of mother nature.  I lived in Northern California for two years and was at Stanford when the 1989 earthquake swallowed the Bay Bridge into the bay.  Mother Earth groaned and shook for two weeks afterward, and I had to take seasick medication to walk around outside.

And during every one of these events, people banded together.  We are survivors.  When the chips are down, we humans have the ability to set aside our differences and work together.  We have compassion and a strong survival spirit coded into our DNA.  People amaze me with their shallowness and stupidity during good times.  People also amaze me with their heart, courage and generosity during bad times.  This human experience is a wild ride.  We spiritual beings are so lucky to be on this particular merry-go-round.

Today, I send positive healing energy to the people who were negatively affected by Hurricane Sandy.  May we all focus on what is truly important as we send up our prayers to Source that things work out for everyone according to the Master Plan for the greatest good.

Out of the ashes…again!

•November 1, 2012 • 1 Comment

I cannot believe I haven’t dusted off the blog in over a year.  What a year it’s been- tons of growth in leaps and bounds, several wrestling matches with my inner demons.  Many, many steps closer to that spontaneous, strong connection with Source that I crave.  There is absolutely no way I can recap and update the past year in the sort of orderly fashion my inner perfectionist insists it must be done.  Hence the inertia.  Also, most of the past year has been lived at warp speed, a pace that my sister is much better at handling than I.  So, I will simply do the only thing I know how to do- start where I’m at.  I am sure the anecdotes will come as I write- they always do.  I am first and foremost a storyteller, and I’ve decided to plunge in and commit to blog every day for the month of November.

The lazy beast part of me (yes, Renfield has not gone anywhere, dammit) that is frankly kind of exhausted after surviving the whirlwind I have lived in for the past several months has something to say about this.  “Are you fucking crazy?  Look at your to do list.  There are not enough HOURS IN THE DAY!!!”  And my response is simple.  If it’s a priority, I will find the time.  For me, it all boils down to commitment.  If I am truly committed to an action, I will make the time for it.  If I’m not, I will find some other television series on Netflix to waste hours on.  Renfield’s words are not to be ignored.  The way I have been living is in short bursts of manic, overwhelmed activity and then weepy collapse into my favorite recliner with the remote and some chocolate.  I have no harmony in my life as I forge out into the unknown of developing a metaphysical business and try to live my life.  I still swing wildly between extremes as I navigate the discovery of the next right thing for me.  I still get overwhelmed and overcome with inertia when the vulnerable inner kids get tired of the slavedriver.  Those kids always win.  Always.  I am an intensely emotional creature.  When stressed, I will react emotionally 1000% of the time.

I used to think the key to life was living in balance. I do know what balance looks like- I catch a glimpse each time I swing by with my hair on fire going from one extreme to another.  Unfortunately, for me balance is entangled with my need to control.  I attack the need for balance in a structured assault by planning everything out so I can make sure I fit it all in.  I have a kind of endless mental checklist that follows me around all day, and I normally go from zero to ninety with the implementation of structure. I get up and brush my teeth (check), do my scheduled meditation (check off AM spiritual activity) before doing yoga or walking (if my exercise box doesn’t get checked off before I am fully awake, it normally doesn’t happen) showering (hygiene check) and eating a balanced breakfast (food check) and then heading out the door for work no later than 8:33 with my perfectly nutritious prepared lunch in hand (check check check).  I breeze through traffic with a song in my heart and strive to love each and every person I come into contact with.  I arrive at my part time job and diligently attempt to stay calm amidst the maelstrom of absolute insanity I’ve chosen to spend several hours a day in.

By noon (sometimes earlier), I’m fucked.  The list mocks me with its stupid, empty, unfulfilled spaces where the check marks belong.  Balance, that tenuous and elusive gossamer thread, has left the building.  I normally get angry at this point, which is what I do when my need to control gets bitch-slapped.  To stave off the anger, I indulge in a little sugary coffee conglomeration or the secret stash of chocolate, if I am lucky enough to find there’s still some left from the day before.  I throw in the towel and indulge those needy inner children, those aspects of my personality that I try to exorcise through the use of structure.  I end up watching TV, taking a nap, and/or eating unhealthy food instead of doing a little work on my website or my newsletter or my new radio show.  I have TONS of exciting stuff happening in my life, and the part of me that doesn’t feel safe with all this change is fighting tooth and nail to throw roadblocks in my way

I’m not sure when I will truly decide that the implementation of more structure does not work for me.

Over twenty years ago, I began a spiritual journey to live a more fulfilled and authentic life.  I have grown in huge leaps and bounds, and I still tend to focus on what’s left to be done.  I push myself pretty hard, and I have NEVER responded well to being told what to do by anyone- including myself.  The war in my head goes on.  I once told my first excellent therapist that I just wasn’t going to do that inner child work because I thought it was a bunch of crap.  As a result, I have not yet magically healed those wounded pieces of my psyche that sabotage me after 20 years of trying to bash their brains out against the wall. I guess it’s time to make some changes and try something new.  To learn to truly nurture the parts of myself that feel endlessly needy and terrifying.

As I regroup with my commitment to writing, I hope to re-ignite the spark of hope that change can come through joy and ease and compassion for myself.  I hope that I will release my death grip on the idea that structured balance is the way and the light.    I hope that I can learn through gentle progress to suspend the perfectionism and allow the healing to happen.  To strive for harmony in my life instead of balance.  To make choices about my behavior our of self love and respect instead of self loathing and judgment.  So, I’m hitting the rest button and starting over yet again.

Where the hell have I been?

•May 29, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Wow, what a roller coaster ride the past 9 months has been.  Some good, some bad, some ugly.  I have gotten up close and personal with those inner demons.  I have a ton of material to commit to print.

And my fear and repulsion for all things computer has limited me some.  I am in the midst of re-vamping websites (something I have no business doing myself, but financial resources and a desire to owe no one anything for this process demands that I do it this way… more lessons to be learned), and I will alert those who are subscribing to the location of the new blog once I figure it out.  It appears there is some question as to who owns the words I type on, and this bears some serious investigation before proceeding.

I am about to come back in a big way.  Like a “Hey, I think I’m gonna self publish a book” kind of way.

I have been wrestling with fear, fear and more fear- along with body image issues, health issues and some deep down and dirty sessions with Senor Fuckholio.  The lessons have been excruciating at times.  It’s all been a bit depressing.  I still HATE process.  But I am suiting up and showing up, and things are shifting.  Can’t wait to share it.  Please stay tuned.

The importance of doing “nothing”

•September 18, 2011 • 1 Comment

It feels good to get back to the blog.  I processed some huge chunks of work over the past couple months.  After almost a year of planning, dreaming, and the almost constant guilty “do I dare?” thoughts, I quit a job that I hated.  With nothing to go to.  No safety net.  No new job waiting in the wings that allowed me to take a mere day or two off in between.  No more constant push push onto the next thing.  I had something I haven’t had in years.  Like since the summers before I started working in high school. I had UNSTRUCTURED FREE TIME.  And no fucking clue what to do with it.  The only time it’s ever been okay to do nothing is when I’ve been sick and my body has forced me to take a break from my insanely stressful jobs, my anxiety, my chaotic life.  And then, I never really rested.  I sat around, hacking, coughing, or whatever- and berated myself for all the things I should be doing in my house because I wasn’t at work.  The urge to be productive is so hard wired into my character that it’s become a royal pain in my ass.

I firmly believe that we all need down time.  And I just recently learned how to allow myself to truly take it.  I spent a lot of time during my work career fantasizing about what I would do if I had the time.  The vacations, the writing, the sleeping in, the cooking, the almost endless list of projects…. if I just had time, I would get all that shit done.  I had a HUGE to do list of What I Would Accomplish After I Quit My Job.  And when I finally woke up on July 9 with no job that needed going to, I kind of cratered.

I don’t think I really had any clue how exhausted I had been for so long.  I slept a lot the first two weeks.  I told myself I would postpone the List and give myself 30 days to do whatever the hell I felt like doing every day.  After 30 days, I would start looking for part time work and start developing my businesses.  Then I could truly figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Now I was always a kid with direction.  When I was 15, I decided I was going to law school.  I finished high school with that goal, chose my college majors with that goal in mind (Who in their right mind chooses the exciting major of political science otherwise?)  I had no flippin interest in Political Science.  Politics bored me.  I thought Government was boring.  But I wanted to be a lawyer, and this is what you did  when you wanted to be a lawyer. I made some smart choices.  After the demise of my financial aid sophomore year, I worked really hard to finish my AA so I could transfer maximum credits to a school in Colorado, where my parents were moving.  I started school and worked full time to finish.  My parents helped me as much as they could-much more than I realized at the time.  I remember calling my mom when I had one more Political Science class left to take to fulfill my BA requirements.  By that time, I HATED my major. I was not going to take one more class.  Her response was “what do you mean you don’t LIKE it?”  (My mom’s attitude was usually “it really doesn’t matter what you like.  Do it anyway.”)  I was only halfway through my junior year and didn’t have enough credits to graduate. So, I chose to shift my Communications minor into a second major.  And I didn’t take that goddamned Political Science class until the last possible minute-spring term of my senior year.  I graduated with a double major.

Drive to succeed is not my issue; direction is.  I have been blessed enough in my life that I can seemingly do whatever it is I set my mind to.  The only exception I have discovered so far has been understanding college level macroeconomics.  I worked really hard for once in that class and the professor was still speaking Greek.  I read the book.  I think I was the only one  in class that really filled out that stupid workbook.  I still had no concept what the hell that man was talking about. It drove me crazy!  I was not used to academic failure.    We had to do a computer simulation on economic conditions in that class, and the prof said our average score would be somewhere in the 70’s.  I, of course, waited til the night before it was due to try the simulation- I really have always harbored secret hatred for computers.  I walked into class the next morning and told the prof I needed some tutoring, since  I obviously had no understanding of the interrelatedness of  economic factors.  When he asked what my score was on the simulation, I told him I got a negative 12.  NEGATIVE FUCKING TWELVE.  And he said (I will NEVER forget this)  “That’s okay.”  IN WHAT ALTERNATE UNIVERSE IS A NEGATIVE TWELVE AN ACCEPTABLE GRADE????    I was a freakin honor student.  I didn’t HAVE to study- I was lucky that school was easy for me.  Until this class.  I took it as a personal affront.  I busted my ass and still ended up with a C by the skin of my teeth and the mercy of the bell curve.

Once I started working at age 15, I never really quit.  There were times in my early 20’s that I had 3 jobs at once.  The law school thing didn’t pan out (and this is a good thing)   I’ve always either had a job or looked for a job.  Sometimes both at once.  I don’t know that I ever quit a job without a Plan B.  I got fired twice (both times in the last ten years as my tolerance for inter office bullshit began to wane) and those were interesting growth experiences.  My point is that I NEVER did “nothing.”  Adults don’t do NOTHING.  People who do nothing are lazy slobs.  People to be frowned upon.  Is it a surprise that doing nothing was never in my family’s plan?.  In a culture where you are valued for what you can do, produce, or accomplish, doing “nothing” with your life will bring about gasps of horror from everyone around you.  I have to say I got a perverse glee many times in the past month having this conversation:

Me:  So, I quit my job…

Other person (with expression vacillating between terror and fear): What are you going to do next?

ME:  I have no clue what’s next for me, but I’m open to it.  (BIG smile)

Other person:  …….<crickets>………

Wow.  The varied reactions to this interchange are ALWAYS interesting.   And a whole world has opened up to me in the last 30 days.  I have tons more writing material, much of it dealing with fear.  Despite feeling excited about being on this Grand Adventure, there is a quivering part of me that’s been terrified to step off the path of “work hard and then die.”  The part of me that is still invested in what I am SUPPOSED to be doing.  I’m not supposed to quit a job at 48 years old in a shitty economy and go pursue my life’s passion-  who does THAT?!?!  It goes against everything I’ve ever been conditioned to do. I have no husband, no children, no one that I have to be responsible for.  The fact of the matter is, I can do whatever the hell I want to do.

If this is my midlife crisis, I fully embrace it.  I just want to be happy in my own skin.  That’s my new version of success.  I want to make a living doing something that I love.  Something that has integrity and helps people.  My goals are different from the goals of those who used to plan my life for me.  And those people who think what I am doing is CRAZY.

So I quit my job.  I slept.  I watched endless hours of TV and napped.  I played with my dogs.  I did not end up cleaning my house or doing any of those “responsible” things on my list.  I played.  I listed to music.  I rested my impoverished adrenal system.  I got off the anti-anxiety meds  and anti depressants .  All of them.  I healed.  I laughed and cried and felt.  I lived my life indulging myself for 30 days.  It changed my life.    I dreamed and considered what FELT right as a next step. I  spent time with people I love.  I planned trips to see more people I l love.

If I play my cards right, I don’t have to work for 18 months.  I’ve tweaked my own plan as I evolved and began to feel happy again.  I developed hope that I might actually achieve a few of those dreams.   A wonderful opportunity presented itself to me, and I’m working part time at a job I love with happy people who love what they do.  This is such a weird concept for me that it’s taken some getting used to.  I go to work, and nobody bitches.  It’s BIZARRE.  I was raised with the attitude of “well, you’re not supposed to ENJOY it.  That’s why they call it work…” I’ve gotten back in touch with who I am and what I love.  For the moment, I’ve stopped fighting everything and pushing and killing myself.  I’ve started laughing and dreaming and loving much more openly, and I’m a better person for it.  And I’ve planted the seeds of my future by taking a step off the cliff and taking a chance on me.  I’ve furthered my evolution as a human being.

So what have I done lately?  “Nothing,” my ass….

To dance with anger, Part 3 of 3…whew…

•July 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

For me, the healing process is never pretty or neat.  Processing the incident with my beloved dog was no exception.  I tend to not change anything about the status quo until life becomes almost unbearable.  For some reason, I tend to be invested in doing everything the hard way. 

There’s a part of me under all this negativity that is loving and kind.  When I thought that I deserved to be disfigured, a still, small voice inside that said “Um, hold the phone… ”  I knew I had to break out of this destructive cycle.  I did the only thing I knew how to do- I told the truth to someone I trusted.  I was terrified of being judged.  I felt like the lowest form of scum on the earth. 

 The first person I confessed my sins to was a counselor at work.  We work with family violence offenders between 8 and 5 Monday through Friday.  I figured she was safe, since she deals with batterers all day.  If ANYONE could separate the offense from the offender, I knew it would be her.  She hears justifications from people day in and day out about some of the most awful things one person can do to another.  I tearfully confessed what happened with my dog, terrified that she would run away screaming.  And my friend’s response was a nonchalant “Well, it could have been worse.” 

I was dumbfounded. 

How the HELL could anything be worse than what I had been punishing myself for?  I asked her that question with tears in my eyes, and she shrugged and responded, “Well, you could have strangled the dog or killed her.”  My perspective immediately shifted.  In the grand scheme of all possible outcomes, screaming at and scaring my dog was indeed not the worse thing that could have happened in the history of the universe.

Honestly discussing my rage with someone I trusted opened the gate.  I began to trust the secret to more of my friends.  Each and every time, it was a little bit easier.  I began to feel like less of a fuck up.  People I approached shared stories of their less-than-stellar moments with with their children or pets.  We have all at some point done something out of anger that we have regretted.  I forgot that.  When people responded to me with understanding, compassion and love, I was astounded.  I began to see that while my actions were absolutely inappropriate, I was not a total piece of shit.  Senior Fuckholio and Renfield FREAKED OUT every time I approached a new person and told my story.  By the time I was completely out in the open about my actions, the inner voices were much quieter.  I felt better about myself.  And I learned that I get to run the show.  I don’t ever have to fall victim to Fred’s energy ever again. 

I also learned that when human beings stuff and repress anger, it burns and congeals into a rage that WILL eventually find an outlet.  That outlet may consist of hurting another life form or hurting oneself. The most talented of us cannot keep vigilant watch over our anger 24 hours a day.  I am no better or worse than anyone else.  Learning how to manage my anger and be responsible for it is part of being human.   What I’ve discovered is that there is a part of me (my Nemesis) that is so self-destructive that it will push me to do what I see as the most unforgiveable of all acts- hurting or scaring an animal- so that I can then beat myself up for those very actions.  I am brilliant at self sabotage, and I almost can’t believe how I pulled that huge number on myself.  I can say with confidence that I will never again put my hands on another living creature in anger.  I won’t do that to them, and I won’t do that to myself.  All resolved, right?  Wrong.  Not that simple.  My life rarely is.

Right after coming clean about what I did- the shameful secret that ate my guts for weeks- I had a week like every other week.  My job is stressful and draining, so I normally designate one weekend day for fun and one weekend day for work-  laundry, cleaning, errands, and whatever else Renfield  decides  not to do during the week.  I had chose to make Saturday my “hang out with friends” day and Sunday the work day.

 Making Sunday the work day RARELY works for me. 

When I make Sunday the work day, I lounge around feeling moody, resentful that I have a day off work and can’t do whatever the hell I want to do.  I resent that my dirty underwear won’t wash itself.  I resent that I have to wear clothes in the first place.  I resent that I have to take a shower, and sometimes I don’t.  I resent the fact that the dogs don’t pick up their own shit or that I might have to actually cook some food for myself.  Basically I resent not being able to do anything fun.  AND I don’t let myself plan anything fun because it’s the “designated work day.”  Another one of those double edged swords, thanks to my resourceful inner critics.  I really need to shake up my structure a little, because that Sunday afternoon was ridiculous. 

I slept in until about 8, which felt awesome.  I did my journaling, ate some breakfast, and realized that I couldn’t do any vacuuming or dishes because I didn’t want to make noise and wake my housemates up.  (Sounds like a valid excuse to me, Renfield!)  So, I opted to watch a film for an hour and a half and then start my chores.  It was about 9:30 in the morning.  The film was French and I had to read the subtitles. Normally that pisses me off, but this movie was fairly engrossing.  It was also thought provoking and kind of depressing.  So, by 11 AM, I’m in a funk.  I decided I’d relax a bit, because I just didn’t feel like doing anything.  I was feeling weepy and full of angst.  I had no idea what the hell  was going on.  I just knew I was sad.  I had several crying jags.  I spent the day watching movies about responsibility and power and abuses of power and several other heavy themes. And yes, dammit, there were some Buffy episodes in there.  The day passed and I hadn’t completed any chores.   I berated myself for not doing anything all day.  Thank you, Goodie Bitchface.  Renfield was most definitely driving the bus, but Goodie and Senor Fuckholio were in the front row, snarking back and forth about my to do list and how I am such a loser that I was going to let ANOTHER weekend pass without cleaning the fairly skanky shower. 

I finally cried uncle and called a friend.  She told me I was probably just releasing emotion and to just stick with the feelings. Lovely.  Not what I wanted to hear.   The feelings suck.  I hate the crying and all the snot.  I hate that black, sucking vortex of sadness.  She reminds me I did some fairly heavy duty work the past few days and that I should cut myself some slack.

Oh yeah, that work I did…  that GIGANTIC chunk of emotional baggage (losing my temper with the dog, please refer to part 2 of 3)  I worked on for three solid days prior to this little episode of depression.  I often tackle huge obstacles to my inner growth and then fail to allow myself sufficient recovery time afterward.  I plow through things and don’t give myself any credit for the courage or energy needed to tackle the tough stuff.  Instead, I immediately fix my sights on the next challenge, the next issue, or the next obstacle.  No wonder I make myself crazy.  I just push myself too goddamned hard most of the time in between periods of inertia.  I forget that this growth business is a process, not a product. 

I HATE PROCESS.  I like stuff I can finish up, slap a bow on, and say “Holy shit, will you look at what I just did?”  Process can kiss my ass.  I am a fan of the “TA-DA” moment.  As a result, I sometimes minimize the important gut-wrenching stuff that blows back the hair of most people.  My more “normal” friends often ask me what I did on a particular day, and I nonchalantly tell them all this heavy duty emotional crap (because it seems a little blasé to me now that it’s over).  My revelations are sometimes met with looks of incredulity, slack jaws, and “ You did WHAT?!?!?!” 

I’m determined that this dog thing will serve as Fred’s last hurrah. I hereby revoke his driving privileges.  Forever.  I’ve got his number now.  He no longer gets to drive the bus.

My point in all this isn’t to shock anyone.  I’ve been utterly ashamed of these actions, and I don’t really want to admit there is indeed a batshit crazy part that rises up from inside me if I’m pushed hard enough.  The only way to not be ruled by Fred’s rage is to deal with my anger as it comes up.  Find an appropriate way to express myself to vent the steam.  It’s no longer an option to let him loose on the unsuspecting world.   I’m sure I can figure out a way to rehabilitate Fred.  But even recognizing anger is sometimes a challenge for me because I’ve spent so much of my life trying to be “nice.”  I’ve denied that I feel angry through clenched teeth.  I’ve gotten headaches and a sore neck from the tension of holding all that shit in.   When I hold it in, it’s eventually going to explode.  I’m pretty talented, but even I can’t put ten pounds of shit into a five pound bag.

I never before understood the difference between being denied the opportunity of expressing my rage and expressing my anger APPROPRIATELY until the light bulb went off while processing this incident.  I went from a lifetime pattern of stuffing my emotions to spewing them all over everyone else.  I realized I had to stop swinging from one extreme to another and reach for some soft of balance.

And there’s another problem.  Fred used to be the only part of me that felt powerful.  Sledgehammer powerful that obliterated everything in his path, but powerful.  There’s always more work to do, eh?  I guess I might be done when I’m in the dirt. 

I am only as sick as my secrets.  By dragging this all out into the light, I have to recognize that I’m human.  And I have a new level of compassion for myself and for others that act out in anger.  Before this happened, I was one of the harshest judges when I heard of anyone harming a child or animal.  Now that I have walked in those shoes, I have a better understanding of the whole dynamic.  I trust that this whole experience will help make me a better person.