On the Road to Me

me

Sometimes it just gets real.

If you read my last post, you know I spent last month on a vicious cycle of partying and half-recuperating. While I joke about my age, I never felt it until last month. I’m definitely not in my early 30s anymore.

Anyway, that whole month of tired morphed into a period of discovery. It’s like I woke up and decided that I’d created a persona that I don’t enjoy anymore. I became someone who sought validation outside of myself. It sucked and I can now realize and admit that in some ways I was unhappy.

Okay… I need a second to get myself together. This makes me emotional. Sigh.

There was a period in my life when I felt at my prime. I don’t mean physically, but in my head, the place where I live all my waking hours. I liked everything about me: mannerisms, how I felt about my body, my hair, my sense of fashion, level of girliness and where I was headed in life. I was looking forward to The Kid going to live with his father (I did love him dearly, just knew that I can’t teach a boy how men interact with each other) and seeing what young, single and kinda free felt like.

Fast forward and I’m here in my early 40s wondering what happened to that version of me. It’s like I buffed all of my sharp edges out for safety. I talk waaaay more now than I observe. I wonder about certain opinions I have. Not because they’re outdated, but just because I’m curious if in my inner parts, they are the things I really believe. I’m exploring that. I find myself consuming so much social media, that I probably have some level of PTSD. And I’ve been marinating in all this for a while.

I’m a doer though, so I did something. I cut my hair. By Sunday, I’ll have some cold-crushing waves. I’m now going over my relationships with a fine-toothed comb. And my finances. And credit. And spending. And eating. And thinking about myself. I’m defining my new normal. Obviously my life situation changed since the bad ass phase. I’m figuring out how to incorporate that me into my current life.

Of course, I wish this was a fast process, but it’s not. I also wish I could go away for about a month to deal with it, but I know I can’t. I have to ride it out and see where I end up. Something different is on the horizon and because I want to see what it is so bad, it stays elusively out of focus.

Jerk.

Honey Smacks and Cartoons

adulthood sucks balls

I’ve been wrestling with writing for the last three weeks. I need to vent in a quasi-anonymous space. You know… when you don’t want someone to give advice or tell you what you’re doing wrong. Or how you used to be. Or who you could be.

It boils down to one thing: I’m tired. And I want to be a kid again, but since no one is willing to adopt and take care of a grown woman, I’ll reluctantly adult.

I feel like I’ve been physically moving non-stop since my birthday earlier this month. I feel like I can’t get enough rest to continue moving, but somehow I keep finding a way to push on. I need a good quality sleep.

I’ve also gained weight. No one seems to notice which means that I’m doing a good job carrying it or they’re liars. I’ll be positive and say that I rock the extra 12 pounds well. Still, that means that a nice portion of my closet is getting no use because I can’t fit certain items. That, of course, forces me to decide to lose the weight or buy bigger clothes. And we all know losing weight takes longer than gaining it.

I am emotionally drained. On any given day, three things are always simmering right below the surface of my emotions. When my life is in balance, these things are manageable. But since I don’t feel rested, they have become things that I’ve started to obsess about relatively often. They are things that I mostly can’t control – you know, other people’s lives and all – but I have a vested interest in two.

American society has also drained me mentally as well as emotionally. The presidential election circus. Police abuse. Terrorist attacks. I’m burned all the way out with everything. It’s sensory overload. I’m frustrated because there are so many things that need to be done, but I feel too small to make any meaningful change. Hell, the truth of the matter is I don’t know WHERE I want to work to make change. The intersectionality of every subject and their importance shift depending on how I feel on any particular day. The upside is that I become more aware of the -isms that I contribute to our collective existence. Or maybe that’s not an upside, but another thing adding to the lackadaisical feeling that’s come over me. I’m losing track.

On top of all of these, I’ve been questioning some of the very foundations of who I am. Is who I am now who I want to be? Is this the life that I see for myself 5, 10 or 15 years from now? If not, what do I need to change? What thoughts, values, morals no longer serve me? What adjectives have I used to define myself that aren’t true? If I look objectively at myself, do I like me? I mean I love me all day long, but do I LIKE me?

I’m starting to realize lately, that I know of a lot of people who have significantly higher tolerances to these things and maybe THAT also adds to the pressure I’m starting to feel. I simultaneously want to rage against everything while taking a nap snuggled in a comfy blanket watching cartoons and eating Honey Smacks. It’s a vacation from the blanket fort.

I don’t think I’m the only person out here who feels like this (see above). I think maybe I’m just not so good at disguising it.

Gratitude for the End of Life Experience

 

 

mommy graduation

I wrote this really deep post about how my mother was the greatest person ever to live. Then I deleted it. The words weren’t doing justice to what I’m feeling right now. Not. Even. Close.

This Mother’s Day, I celebrate a new type of lesson: gratitude in the way Valerie J. White Hale Johnson touched everyone else. This is not about me. It’s about you (or them if you’re reading this and have no idea who I’m talking about).

My mother was amazing. Not in an angelic way, but in that flawed, I’m-trying-to-do-the-right-thing-but-I’m-human-too way. She messed up. Sometimes she owned it, sometimes not. It didn’t diminish her amazingness. She elevated how a lot of us experienced God. She made good food and hosted great dinner parties (and you know I likes my food!). She was pretty (um… of course she is. Where do you think I get my good looks?!). She was the glue that held us together when she was alive and the bond that pulls me back to my family when I get too far away.

For four years, she was a fantastic grandmother. The grandkids don’t remember her (that hurts my soul), but we do. She was the reason The Girl wasn’t left at the fire station. The reason my brother isn’t a deadbeat dad. The reason The Kid, as… trying as he can be, is able to have the freedom to make all the choices he’s made. Through us, she set some standards. Yeah, we maybe didn’t really get the lessons at the time and maybe botched them up in practice (read The Kid’s formative years), but without her guidance things would have been a lot worse.

So this Mother’s Day, I’m sharing my mother. Thank you to everyone who helped shape who she was. Thank you to everyone who tells me what impact she had on their lives or how they are glad they have known her. Thank you to my brother. In each of us lives the Mommy we know and love. She understood how we needed to be loved and I now understand that it was not even close to being the same. Thank you to my aunts. You’ve taught me about young Val with your stories. I can’t thank you enough. And thank you to everyone who shared her back with me. Your love for her makes my heart pour over with pride for being her daughter.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Ma and Lauren.tif

The day The Girl was going to be left at the nearest fire station

 

 

 

 

The Pitiest of Parties

* Warning: Whining and randomness *

 

 

Seriously. A lot of whining.

 

 

 

 

 

There will be lots of pity.

 

 

 

 

You’re still reading? Random thoughts didn’t make you close the tab?

 

 

 

 

 

Last chance…. Wallowing and randomness….

 

 

 

 

No? You’re curious?

 

 

 

 

 

If you made it this far, I offer no apologies at all for anything after this sentence. None. Nada. Technically after the period, but you get it.

 

 

 

 

There’s nothing like having someone tell you about yourself when you least expect it. Especially when you ask and aren’t really prepared for the honest truth. So not only did I do something sucky, I didn’t pay attention to the same details that I harped on earlier. So right now, I’m feeling kinda crappy.

I tried rationalizing it. I don’t know about you, but when I’m already in my feelings, more feelings don’t have anywhere to go. So they need to be neutralized. Immediately. This takes a lot of energy. By that I mean there’s usually ugly crying involved, possibly some pillow screaming and the occasional conversation with self. Whatever gets the job done. When all else fails, go out and walk. At night. Alone. In a poorly lit area. Head down. Thinking. Safety? Noo… no one wants to be bothered with the androgynously dressed weirdo walking in the dark. It’s quite glorious. And you get to see how active your neighborhood is at night. Who knew so many people were coming home from work. I digress.

So those feelings. They ache. They hit me in places I didn’t really know existed. Middle of a butt cheek. Top of my shin. Bottom of my foot. Pit of my stomach (that one I knew about). It physically hurts to realize I’m so wrong. And it’s draining. I’m dead tired right now, but I can’t go to sleep. There would be no way I would rest. I’d have another creepy dream like I’ve been having since last week. Boo to creepy dreams.

What brings me here is I really have nowhere else to go. I sat and thought about my options. Who would get that I’m throwing this pity party and put the cabash on it without making me feel even crappier? My mother of course, but… she’s dead. My friends, but they take my side and I kinda don’t want or need that right now. Associates? Too impersonal. Counselor? They want me to do stuff and I don’t need to do anything. I need to work through the process quickly. Like… by 8 p.m. tomorrow quickly. Decades of issues need to be cleanly packaged and stored for a later date when I’m not so emotionally charged.

I think there’s something in the water. Seriously. I drink a lot of water, close to 90 ounces a day. All of a sudden, getting a grip on my emotions is like pulling wisdom teeth without meds. I have a high tolerance for pain, but even THAT is above my pain grade. See what I did there. Pain grade… pay grade…. No? Well, I tried. Did I mention I’m tired?

Seriously though, the issue isn’t being wrong. I’ve been wrong before. The issue is that I am wrong and holding on to a double standard. I overlooked/didn’t really pay attention to the same thing that I said (read: screamed) bothered me. And while I am in no way perfect, I strive to give what I ask to get. I didn’t do that. See why I’m feeling crappy?

When I say that in the past few hours I’ve cycled through just about all of my emotions, I’ve cycled through just about all my emotions. I’m angry at myself for not recognizing the wrongness. I’m sad because I thought I was better than that. I’m happy because at least it was brought to my attention and I can deal with it. And as I type, I can start to think rationally about how to address the issue going forward. At the pinnacle of my emotional meltdown, I decided to suppress all feelings. It seemed like a good solution until I realized that doesn’t benefit anyone. It does me a disservice by minimizing my feelings – right, wrong or indifferent – and it’s not a long-term solution that I can maintain. I’m a Cancer. I’m emotional, dramatic and hyperbolic. Can you really see me suppressing my emotions for more than five minutes? Didn’t think so. And for the other person, they get caught up in a nuclear blast of white hot anger because I let things build to the breaking point. And now they’re having an unnecessary WTF? moment. No bueno.

Sidenote: Ever cry so much that your neck hurts? Yeah, it’s a terrible feeling. I guess my head couldn’t go past 10 on the pain grade (I’m on a roll!) so it just sent the pain down. Yay coping mechanisms!

At some point tomorrow, um… later today, I will be able to look at this more objectively. I know this a snapshot in time and right now I just need to release some energy to get to that leveling point. Thank you, WordPress, for free blogging.

And thank you for reading this rant. I feel like you should get a consolation prize or something for sticking it out this long. But since I can’t give all 15 of you a prize, here you go. Don’t spend it all in one place.

grant-bill

 

 

Stadium of Lawn Chairs

lawn chairs

Y’all. Sigh.

I’m embarrassed.

I went ballistic about something that I misinterpreted and elevated to Def Con 4. What someone meant as a joke, I lost it over. My annoyance had been building over time and 13 variables went into my reaction. I won’t list them because you’ll be like ‘Dee… girl… Do better.’

But here’s what came out of that: in a very real way, I still have issues with being heard. And not feeling protected. Or respected. When I was younger, I just buried it. I thought I was insignificant and people not hearing me was what I should expect from life. There were instances when I needed someone to stand up for and protect me and they didn’t. I learned how to deal with it.

Somewhere along the line though, I realized that my voice is my way to communicate to the world exactly what I need and how I want to occupy my space. What Monday’s explosion helped me realize is that those were tools for dealing with my space. The place where I am the sun in my universe. I tried using my tools in someone else’s universe and it failed.

Hence Monday Magma Meltdown. And the lawn chairs. Lawn chairs because you know I’m not about to make myself have seats on a regular. I am going to deal with this issue.

We all like to think we are more sophisticated than we are. The Universe has a way of sending situations and people along and says ‘are you? let’s see.’ And in not being diligent, I had to answer no. THAT was and is a hard pill to swallow. No matter. There is work to be done.

I apologized to the people who got the full blast of my white hot anger. I didn’t feel good about myself until I did. I also removed myself from the situation. Can’t blow up anything if you don’t have access to explosives, right? And once I know that all of the residual feelings are gone and I can see clearly, I’ll work on being less petty. Hey! At least I’m realistic. There’s no sense in me saying I’m not going to be petty. Reasonable, people. I am reasonable.

So hopefully before the end of the winter, I’ll be giving away these lawn chairs. It’s not like I have room for them anyway and with summer and cookouts coming, you probably need some for your family and friends when they come over.

Look for the flyer on the site in the next coming months and a post about how I took the less petty road.

D

Giving up to Fear

keep_calm_and_say_yes__by_pikachu1452-d5bpojs

Two posts in one week? Wassup with me? Seriously!

The end of the year always makes me take a look at where I’ve been and where I’m going. This year is no different in that respect, except that it is.

This year I learned about my truth.

How could I NOT know my truth you may be wondering? Because I’ve always hidden it behind an inherent fear. Fear of the unknown. The cost. The social collateral. The financial collateral. Fill in whatever it is that people fear and I’ve probably used it. All to protect myself.

But what really is there to protect? My reputation is pretty good in areas that matter. I meet all my deadlines at work at a level that regularly gets me praise from others. I’m still confused about that as I’m sure I’m only giving about 55% effort and receiving 90% praise. Most people in my life think I’m useful in some way, even if it’s only to ask me to cook or bake them something (which can kinda get annoying, but whatevs).

You know what? I gotta go back a month or so. A friend of mine invited me to a virtual book club to read Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes. I’m not a fan of book clubs, but this particular friend made it to my speed dial, so I figured why not? What have I got to lose? If I don’t like the book, I’ll stop reading. I am a unabashed quitter when I don’t like something.

But Shonda is like a much richer, better connected version of my introverted self. She was the introvert whisperer. And something in the first four chapters hit me like a ton of bricks:

I always say no.

Let me rephrase:

I say yes, then find a way to change it to no.

I’ve been sitting with that for two days. Mulling it around in my mind. Feeling the bitter taste of the truth. I always find a way to say no when I’m afraid that people will see me for who I really am. Kinda awkward 40-year-old who starts talking and forgets the points she makes, sometimes has extremely unpopular or contradicting opinions and is always wondering what the lesson is. And that was all fine until I realized that I was shortchanging myself. Missing out on experiences. Relationships. Life.

So the Year of Yes coincides with the Year of You. The Year of Yes means saying yes to things that scare me, things that get me outside of my comfortable, little D box. Things that make me try life, even if it’s one tiny sample at a time. Because of all my fears, what I fear most is looking up and being old wishing I had done some things, wishing I had put in the work for more relationships. Wishing period.

So on this almost last day of 2015, I commit to more yeses. More opportunities to live and love life. To not be afraid to expose myself and see what life brings to my door.

Year of You

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Want to know what’s inspiring this post?

A bra.

Yes, a bra. A pretty, boobs-on-chin, leopard bra with lace and matching underwear to be exact. All my life I’ve purchased functional, but this one time, I said to myself ‘I’m going for sexy’. I was in that dressing room FEELIN’ MYSELF. Bought two sexy bras. Then got on eBay and bought four more sets. Then I bought a bunch of lipstick. Paid $25 at a quasi-swanky salon to get my eyebrows waxed (it was to change how I see spending on myself for beauty services). I started running and working out again. And the icing on the cake? Went to the beauty salon and got a cut and style. The salon, y’all!

All of that culminated into the second half of my D annual plan assessment. I realized that I plan for everything, except making myself look and feel beautiful for me. Not for anyone else, not for a special event or occasion, but for a Tuesday when I’m going to my regular job to do regular stuff during a regular week.

Enter Year of You. I’ve set up our paychecks that we both get an allowance: 10 percent for the earner, 5 percent for the spouse. Every week it re-ups because someone is getting paid. Anyway, Year of You was born from actually setting aside an allowance. Money that’s mine and I can spend any kinda way.

That’s how I bought the sexy bra you read about a minute ago. My allowance. Oh… and all that lipstick. Umm… probably the brows. Not the salon visit. The family paid for that.

I digress. Anyway, the second half of my year is about the Year of You. Of being selfish in a good way, deepening relationships with my girls. Buying gifts, stationary, a good ass pen, a banging handmade journal. The only reason is because it makes me feel good. It increases me.

So I give you a challenge. What makes you feel good about you? What would it take for you to declare a Year of You for yourself? What’s stopping you from doing it? I gotta say seven bras, 10 lippies, two eye shadow palettes and a pair of boots later it’s one of the best things I’ve done for myself to date.