Coming Out of Hiding

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Hello Present Project!

I am back 🙂

I know I have been gone for a while, but please know I have been continuing my work on this project behind closed doors all this time. I started seeing a wonderful therapist and realized that I was digging into some deep things and I needed some quiet, privacy and space to explore it.

I have made some big strides lately and although I will still be keeping boundaries around some of the work I am doing, I am ready to document my journey here in this way.

I am working on a new project for the next thirty days called a RUHCUS. This is a wonderful, life-affirming process developed by Sonya Renee Taylor, the founder of the Body is Not An Apology. Check it out, it is an awesome group and community.

The core of a RUHCUS is to shake things up in a radical way in order to heal. I’m pushing at my edges in a way that I have never done before, and although it is scary, I know in my heart that this is the perfect time for me to embrace a radical shift.

I learned in in the final months of 2012 that my body was falling apart. I ended up having an emergency colectomy on December 26th and I feel very lucky to be here. It was terribly painful in many ways, but the beauty of the experience was seeing the beautiful community of friends and family who rallied around me to help me heal. I went to this community to help support me on this new project and again am pleasantly surprised and humbled by their support and love.

I am feeling pretty powerful at the moment, however, I know that throwing myself into such radical work will bring up some tricky things. I am not looking forward to that but I’m ready to tackle what ever comes up.

I will be posting more regularly, especially through this project. Thanks for still being here. It’s nice to be back!

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In Synch

Synchronicity is the word of the day. I had an interesting time at the CEC conference today. I went to a couple great sessions and one really awful one. I planned on eating lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, but felt compelled to go into a small cafe instead. I met a wonderful woman from California who was here for the conference too and shared a nice lunch with her, discussing special ed and our place in it. This afternoon, I took myself to a movie, that wasn’t the best movie I’ve ever seen, but it did mirror an important relationship I am traversing in my life right now. Then I drove around in the rain, singing and soothing my soul. I came across a beautifully haunting song that I’ve listened to a bunch of times, yet tonight, it spoke to me in such a profound way that I was soon crying too hard to sing. Even that soothed me. The song pulled something out of me that I had been unable to process until that moment.

I have always believed in synchronicity, but lately it has been everywhere – all around me. I couldn’t ignore it if I tried. I also have been overwhelmed with what I have already begun to understand in therapy. I have only been twice, but it has been so enlightening. I am understanding why I tick the way I do, finally. It is an eye opener. It is shaking me up too. We had a pretty major break through this week and the ripple of this realization is still impacting me in profound ways  five days later.

It is giving me a new lens to view my experience. That has been a synchronicity as well. I got my first tattoo a couple of weeks ago. I had wanted one for a long time. I couldn’t decide what I truly wanted and I was terrified that my body would do something weird like reject the ink like it rejected the piercings I had tried in the past. It was such an awesome experience. I shared it with one of my soul sisters and the symbolism for the image seems to be endless. It is the perfect symbol for so many experiences on my journey – exactly what I think a tattoo should be. It was empowering to face something I feared, realize it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined and then witness my body embrace it, take it in and heal.

The picture above was spotted on my trip to New York in China Town, 48 hours after I got the tattoo. Maybe my willingness to learn how to love myself, my decision to go to therapy and unravel the layers of dust that block the real me from always shining through is making it easier to follow my intuition again. Maybe these synchronicities are always around me, but I only notice every once in a while.

Either way, I am happy to have these events or coincidences. It helps me to have faith. It bolsters up my resolve to keep working and learning and trying. It soothes me and helps me to keep going, even if I am afraid.

Stones in Pockets

I watched The Hours today. I have watched it once before, but I forgot how sad it is. I can’t get the image of Virginia Woolf wading into the river, her pockets full of stones, out of my head.

I have been filled with despair this weekend. Don’t worry. I won’t be wading in the water anytime soon, but this dark hole has reminded me of some old hurts that aren’t healed…not even close.

I have tucked away these feelings of unworthiness so well that I thought I had actually moved on and healed. I’m learning this weekend that my wounded heart is still beating, but this new gash brings my attention to the fact that I am still hurting. The good thing is that I am not in that protective coma anymore, but that is also the bad thing. I am feelings things, awful things and I’m not liking it. I want to return to my shell and hide REALLY bad.

I am having a ton of dark thoughts too – black strap molasses thoughts about my packaging and how it is less than desirable. What this really means is that I haven’t evolved and healed my negative body image stuff like I thought I had. I knew I still had work to do, but I am now painfully aware that I am essentially back at square one. I have to find a way to accept the person I am right now and know that it is enough.

I guess it isn’t fair to consider this a total reset – I am sitting in the discomfort. I’m not running away. I am not isolating as much as I would have in the past. I am establishing boundaries. I am trying to pick myself up and I will try again. Even though I don’t want to.

I’m sad and lonely. Even looking at that sentence depresses me. I want to erase this entire post and pretend that I don’t feel any of this, that everything is fine and I’m fine and to everything there is a season. I’d love to pretend that it all makes sense in the grander scheme and I have faith that it will be okay.

But tonight, it’s not fine. It wasn’t fine yesterday either. And it probably won’t be fine tomorrow. But on Monday it will have to be fine because I refuse to go back into the fallout shelter that was my old life. I will find a way to change my perspective and learn to love who I am, come hell or high water. But I will do it without stones in my pockets. I am stronger than I was before, even if I still feel broken.

Emotional Honesty and Exhaustion

Today has been a tough one. I went to a devastatingly sad funeral and I am emotionally drained. My eyes hurt and I will be putting myself to bed as soon as I click the “publish” button.

I also took my fate into my own hands today and committed a brave act. I am nervous about the outcome, but as I witnessed today, life is too short and I couldn’t just sit and wait any longer. There are still so many things I want to experience and it was time I looked my fear in the eye and took a risk.

I will elaborate more on Saturday.

Goodnight.

Ins and Outs

I have always been fascinated with doors and windows. I perpetually take pictures of them. I love them. I want to know what is hiding inside.

My friend pointed out that we are naturally drawn to ins and outs. I think he is right.

I am learning the ins and outs of being honest about my needs this week. I think I have a couple of potentially tough conversations headed my way, but I think I am finally ready to have them – no matter what the outcome may be.

I have no way of knowing what is on the other side until I walk through…

Yes, I’ve Been Avoiding You

I thought I would distract you, blog, with this adorable marebear picture and you will overlook the fact that I haven’t posted in weeks…

It was worth a shot.

I have been avoiding you, it’s true. I have a bunch to write about. More than I can get out in one post. I will fill you in this weekend. I promise.

 

Beginners Luck

Well I survived my big night. I got my hair cut and unfortunately my hairstylist just made a mess of it. I had to race home and try to comb out all the bird nest motif and try to straighten it. I was doing good on time, but then I couldn’t find the shoes I wanted to wear and I started to second guess my outfit. I ended up getting there about twenty minutes late, but people were just drinking and having appetizers anyway. I almost went back upstairs and out to the parking lot, but I marched myself to the bathroom and gave myself a pep talk. It was two hours of my life and I was already there…

I had two missions with this experiment:

1). Make a gesture to the universe that I’m interested in meeting someone and I’m willing to put myself out of my comfort zone to find them.

2). Be authentic and in the moment, whether I wanted to or not and not have any expectations – just try to have fun.

I was able to accomplish both last night.

Most of the men there were significantly older than me, but very nice. I am more than willing to be with an older guy, if he is the right guy, but some of these men were closer to my father’s age than my own. That said, there were a couple of cute guys, one in particular. We will call him Harry. He was cute, but painfully shy. He had two friends with him, who I am sure had good intentions, but they were more like bodyguards. I tried to talk to him a couple of times and he gave me some good smiles, however nothing much else. I ended up speaking to everybody, I had some nice conversation, a bit of flirtation and surprisingly some fun. I also won two of the prizes.

I met a nice man as well, who was funny and kind. We had easy conversation and I was proud of myself for being my authentic self with him especially. We will call him Will. Will was great, but there just wasn’t a spark. Once the event was over, I was trying to chat up one of the bodyguards for a better chance to chat with Harry, but then I started chatting with Will and before I could react, Harry and the bodyguards were leaving. I learned a good lesson, to take the time to pursue what I am interested in, because you don’t expect when the clock strikes midnight and you are too late.

Will asked if I had made a match and I confessed that I had been interested in someone, but that he had just left. We kept talking and I was open and warm – all the things that I had wanted to be. I was proud of myself for being brave, not sabotaging myself with expectations and flirting in good faith.

I didn’t think that Will liked me, but that became clear a bit later. I felt like I had led him on, but that hadn’t been my intention. I was just having fun with a nice guy…in hindsight, I should have spent my energy on a guy I was interested in.

For all intents and purposes, it was a very successful night. I can’t say that I have a date scheduled with a man who I like, but I can say mission accomplished and I finally feel more confident about putting myself out there again.

My favorite book is The Alchemist. In the book, Paulo Coelho writes about beginners luck. When someone commits to their personal legend or destiny, the Universe conspires to help them with beginners luck so that they have a taste of success and keep moving toward their dream. I felt that last night was just the hint of success that I needed to proceed.

I also unfortunately had to have a hard conversation with Will today, but even that was successful. I wasn’t sure what to say and I didn’t want to hurt him. I just said what I would have liked to hear. I was honest and that is always the best policy.

I recently finished the book  Meeting Your Half Orange that I had begun a couple of months ago for this project. Amy Spencer talks about the spout. That meeting men who are not exactly right is actually a clue that your on the right track. Like beginners luck, a sprout is a man or situation that proves to you that a great guy is out there. Will was a sprout for me. He was nice and fun, he was complimentary and affectionate – just not the right chemistry. I am grateful that I met him. He made me feel like a catch. He helped to believe that I am. Even though he wasn’t a perfect fit, he was proof that I am on the right track.

I am not sure what my next move is. I am not exactly sure I want to try online dating again, but I do know that I’ll be more open to the romantic situations that arise. I am going to keep being my authentic self and having fun. The rest will figure itself out in time.

Cherry On Top

Today has been a wacky day.

I haven’t slept the last two nights. At 6 am this morning, I finally went downstairs and turned on a movie. This afternoon, I thought I might be able to snooze, but no dice. I am in a fog. I hope things change tonight.

I had a wonderful conversation with my friend Warren this afternoon. It was awful and upsetting subject matter, but I am grateful to have a friend who can have these tough conversations. It is real life. It isn’t a sitcom where every issue is neatly tied up at the thirty minute mark as the theme song swells in the background. It helps to be vulnerable and know that the person on the other end loves you enough to listen and offer you support.

One of the biggest gifts of this journey, has been the opportunity to be open and vulnerable. It has been extremely difficult for be to be vulnerable in the past, even with my closest friends. Even though I haven’t made huge gains in all areas of my life, this is one element that I have had success in. I have learned that the world won’t self-destruct if I am vulnerable. I can be broken and survive. I can let people see that.

Sometimes, embracing that honest frustration and sense of brokenness that we feel helps usher in a new feeling. Warren asked me gentle questions and I had to admit that I’m doing all that I can. All of these areas of my life can not be controlled, not by me at least. I expressed that the only thing I can control is my attitude. I can think positive as opposed to negative. I can believe in my own worth and find a way to believe that other people will see that too. I have been worrying and stressing with all my might, but what I really need to do is focus on what I want to happen, not what I don’t. Like the Indigo Girls sing, ” The hardest to learn was the least complicated.”

Even on a day like this, when I think I can possibly have a happy ending, a little ray of light shines through and a prayer seems to be answered. As I was working on dinner I noticed a special ed job at an elementary school where another good friend of mine works. Obviously, nothing to report yet, but it can’t hurt to have someone who loves and supports me in the trenches to vouch for me to the principal. I got what I asked for, with such desperation as I tossed and turned last night – hope.

Now I plan to get a good night’s sleep and have a better attitude tomorrow. There just might be something sweet in it for me after all.

Breaking New Ground

I can’t believe it’s already July. I applied for a handful of new jobs today. I’ve been a bit frustrated lately, but I had to remind myself today that I am doing all I can do. I must have faith that I will wind up in the right spot.

I’ve also been reading The Gift of Imperfection and enjoying it a lot. I just started the chapter on worthiness and I’m hoping to find some helpful strategies. Even though I’m still working through feeling worthy right now, I’m feeling the fear and doing it any way.

I have been online and have been brave. It’s funny because the site I am on makes you message people before you can complete your profile. I am being pushed by the Universe and a computer program to step outside my comfort zone.

I’m also going to reactivate my profile on another site, mainly because I need to give this a shot and I am less busy this summer than I will be in the fall. It’s a good time for me to give this a try.

I met with a friend for breakfast yesterday who told me that she had recently read through my old blog posts and said it was fun to see my growth.  It’s harder for me to see it as an outsider might, but that’s one of the reason why I wanted to do this blog. It keeps me honest but it also serves as a record of all of this as well. I’m excited to sit and look back over a whole year of my life once this is over.

I know that it will never really be over, not for me. I am always growing and that’s a good thing.

Brene Brown writes, Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

I am working toward truly belonging and presenting my authentic self to the world.

Pieces Broken

And I’ll give you all my pieces broken
In your hands, there’s nothing that you can’t fix
My heart is frayed, my scars are open
So put me back together now, stitch by stitch
Put me back together now, stitch by stitch.

Javier Colon

I have been trying to recreate a conversation I had on Tuesday for this post and like most bursts of inspiration or epiphany – everything after those original words seems slightly hollow.

I have been very impressed and entertained by the singing contest The Voice and although I loved all four of the finalists, I was sooo happy to see Javier Colon come out on top! His original song, Stitch by Stitch is not only well written and beautiful, but it really speaks to me right now. I thought it was an appropriate anthem for this journey I’m on.

I have been learning a lot about behavior in summer school and I can’t help but connect it back to my own experience, especially in terms of my reluctance to go out on a limb and face rejection again. I’ve learned about positive and negative reinforcement this last week and how either reinforcement affects one’s behavior. I think back to past rejections or all the well-meaning comments and critiques from my mother as I grew and I’m starting to understand my own behavior much more – my tendency toward avoidance and my comfortable shell of fear.

One of my best friends commented recently that I turn into a different person around straight men – especially men I would be interested in. Like Clark Kent and Superman, I have been skilled at transforming into someone else to protect myself and stay out of risky situations, but at what expense. I don’t want to spend any more time living as a multiple… a shadow self.

A week ago, I had another epiphany after I was nudged toward the truth by a friend about a unhealthy relationship. I have been settling for less than I deserve. I’m sad to back away from this situation because I was getting some important positive reinforcement from the relationship, however I wasn’t getting everything I need. Not even close. Once I sort through my feelings and find my bearings, I think it will be safe to be open to this person again, but for now I had to get some clarity and give myself some room to breathe. I also was told that my time and energy spent on this less than ideal relationship was blocking a REAL relationship from coming into my life.

I started a new book called The Gift of Imperfection. I’m not very far into it, but I think it will offer some insight and strategies for dealing with my lingering feelings of unworthiness.

After some urging, I finished (mostly) my online profile on a dating site. I feel like I represented myself truthfully and I’m excited to see what adventures are ahead. I’m still scared out of my mind, but proud that I am no longer waiting until I get thinner, more successful, more together, better etc. to give it another try. I have only done it one other time and in all honesty, I didn’t give it much of a chance the last go around. I had a couple emails back and forth with a couple of guys, but I never accepted any offers for dates and quit before my month was up.

I’m trying to keep my expectations in check and have an open mind and heart. My pieces still feel a bit broken, but I’m taking time to get my real self put back together stitch by stitch.

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