Emotional Revelation – Friendship

It is December and this always leads to the ALL important hunt for Great Christmas Light displays. I remember a house a group of us went to over 10 years ago, but I haven’t been back to it in years, so I asked a friend if she remembered WHERE it was. After a series of back and forth texts, she sent me the location, I saved it in my phone and in my mind this was complete. And then she sent me this text, “We also took Josh there.” And without a blink of an eye I fell off an emotional cliff into a pile of grief.

I have discussed Josh’s suicide with the friends who knew him, I have privately written  about how much I miss him, and I have processed his death in counseling; so I truly believed I was DONE with feeling the HARD feelings. Then I have an instance like this one, that comes out of no where and leaves me emotionally raw. This time it sparked instant anger. I have been doing food delivery for the last 5 months and I have had an AMAZING amount of time to process other things emotionally while driving. Since I am in this journey of feeling the feelings I had to spend some time between deliveries asking the hard questions.

What’s going on? Why is this feeling so intense? Why did this surprise me? Why am I angry? What am I feeling? What is the connection?

In the grief class, they talk about honoring the person’s memory, but accepting that things will never go back to how they were before the loss. So I started to think about my friendship with Josh. How we became friends, what we talked about, what we did together.

Then I began to think about the last time I saw him. And that brought the tears because I had a genuine care for him that was deeper than most. I wasn’t aware enough to recognize the difference between romantic love and a deep intimate friendship love. So when I saw him for the first time in 4 weeks (I had been on a work trip), my heart swelled, my face lit up, and I desperately wanted a hug. In that embrace I said, “I missed you…” but in that moment I felt a deep revealing vulnerability that embarrassed me. So I quickly attached the word “guys”. I have been protecting myself from being really vulnerable with someone ANYONE for years and it is a habit that dies a hard slow death. So instead of telling Josh I missed him and venturing down the road of what that meant, I made it shallow and superficial. This is one of the only things I Truly regret about my relationship with Josh.

In my continued reflection on my relationship with Josh, I began to wonder if there are other relationships in my life like it. I have found if I can detect patterns it helps me make connections to feelings and potential hang ups. Determining whether there are beliefs or attitudes in my life that need adjusting.

Although I quickly realized I didn’t actually find a pattern, but rather the lack of pattern that caught my attention. I realized there wasn’t a single male friend I had been close to since Josh. No one I was truly myself with, no one I trusted, no one I felt free to talk with about anything, no one I had shared my hurts and struggles with. At least not in the way that I did with Josh and not in a way that made me feel safe and cared for.

As I arrived at this emotional realization, it became clear to me that I had done this on purpose. I had made an internal vow to never trust someone with my heart again. That I would strive to intentionally distance myself from any guy that seemed to care about me unless I knew FOR SURE that they meant it.

As a result of this internal vow, anytime I would detect ANY caring or loving feelings I would back away in fear. I would find some reason not to trust them, not to REALLY open up, not to be vulnerable around them for fear I would be hurt again. It wasn’t hurt by rejection (with which I am very experienced), but this catastrophic fear that some how I had allowed myself to care about and care for me would leave me. WOW… What an insight! What an irrational fear! What a way to live my life so separated from people who care.

I haven’t arrived at a place of knowing what to do about this revelation yet. But I know it is coming up because I have a new guy friend in my life. And I find myself constantly fighting with the want to share and the fear of the consequences of developing a deep friendship again. There is such a normal and natural comfort I have with him that I have not experienced since my friendship with Josh. So stumbling upon this realization was quite unsettling and unnerving. So much so that I needed to write it as best I could.  Now to ride the emotional roller coaster that follows, including the occasional emotional hangover

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Is Emotionally Hungover a Thing?

If the answer is yes, then Monday morning I was totally and COMPLETELY hungover.  Now granted it was a Monday work day, so sometimes I wonder if I am just being a rebellious teenager. My brain is trying to deny the realities of adult life by pulling my covers up over my head and screaming, “NO I DON’T WANT TO ADULT TODAY.” Meanwhile, my physical body as it attempts to move out into the cold screams, “HERE HERE WE CONCUR. NO ADULTING TODAY.”

However, today felt different.  I was going through the normal process of shaking the cobwebs out of my head.  Reminding myself of the goodness of life and that his is just part of the hard things.  Also attempting to motivate myself with gentle coaching, “IT will feel better with coffee.  You have things you do want to accomplish today.  It is always better once you get going.”  Now whether or not these are really lies just to keep myself from never leaving my cozy, comfortable, perfectly peaceful bed I do not know.

However, after coffee and breakfast and a little time had passed; my brain would still not engage.  Whenever something doesn’t work the way I want it to I start to ask WHY, WHY, WHY questions.  I have been accused of over analyzing things on a regular basis; and there is no point in denying it because that would take up an entire blog post all by itself. During my analysis I am realizing that the emotional revelation (still trying to decide if I can actually write about said revelation yet) I had last night has come at a cost.  I have been very fortunate in the last 2 years of blog silence to have been coached on feeling the feelings (another fabulous tangent for another day).  In short let’s say I have spent almost my ENTIRE LIFE, managing my feelings (which is code for hiding them, muting them, shaming them, and attempting to NOT feeling them).

So I spent my evening holding this emotional revelation in my mind.  It’s like holding a giant crystal with all the facets and edges and turning it around in your hand examining what it does in the light.  Turning it over and over looking at it from all sides and all positions to see what it is made of and attempt to see how it works.  So I did this with the emotional revelation: asking all the why does this matter, how do I feel, what do I think this means.  Then attempting to answer what am I supposed to do with this NOW question.  Which, just for the record, I do not have the answer for yet.  But this examination of the feelings and attempting to describe my connection to it is a new process for me.

My usual MO is to avoid, distract, run, hide, deflect, minimize, or explain away the fact that this is in my past no need to dwell.  As I examined this, I cried, I breathed deeply, I felt a pain deep in my body, which I have learned is where grief lives. It was taking me to a place that hurt, that was sad, that left a mark, that has shaped how I build relationships with people (even though I didn’t know it).  I stepped into the swamp of that grief and let myself feel it.  I let it seep into my thoughts, my emotions, and all the way into my heart.  Even now while I am writing I can feel that tense pressure on my chest, right in the center of my breast bone; which I now know is a sign for me that I am experiencing something deeply painful.  This didn’t take forever but I felt I gave it a significant amount of time to reveal all its “sides”.  And I know I have more to process on it until it is not so magnified.  I was also determined to not let this detract from the amazing weekend I had already experienced: Girls Coffee, Friends Dinner, Christmas Lights, New Church Visit, and Deep Talk Dinner.

But this experience has left me wrung out, mentally tired, dehydrated, physically drained, emotionally spent, spiritually wanting, and searching for a really good breakfast — That’s the same way a hangover feels, Right?

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PS – I am struggling with my perfectionistic nature (MUST DO THINGS THE RIGHT WAY OR NOT AT ALL) and my belief in linear story telling (IF THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE THEY WON’T KNOW WHY THIS MATTERS) with writing this blog again (And yes I used all caps because I feel these statements YELLING at me).  I FEEL there is so much to tell, there is so much to catch up on, there is so many behind the scenes pieces I HAVE TO SHARE; so please bare with me as I try to sort out what to say and how to say it and what to share later and what to save for a private space.  I appreciate knowing I have an audience: people I know and people I don’t who care about what I am sharing; so thank you for helping me share my story.  Even if it feels like I am not doing it right. 😀

I really AM a Feminist!

Words I found myself shouting as I was washing dishes after cooking an amazing batch of enchiladas.  Not necessarily something I would hear myself saying, but not necessarily something that would avoid either. To be honest it is a word and a movement I have struggled knowing if I belonged or if I didn’t.  So many ways I have heard the term used and the movement promoted that I just decided not to think about it.  It seemed complicated and full of crazy extremes that beginning to sort through it just wasn’t worth it.  More detailed in its components than being a Republican and more divided than the many denominations of Christianity where could one even begin.

There I was listening to one of my FAVORITE Apps these days (Umano-gotta love an app that will read to you), when I stumbled across this article, “8 Myths About Feminism Debunked.”  Just as I was worried that it would be dripping with things I didn’t agree with or aspects of politics I don’t agree with, I was pleasantly surprised.  And it all began with the definition of feminism:

The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes... someone who wants equality can’t hate the people with whom they want to be equal.

Yes… YES THAT!!! And without even getting further in the article, my thoughts announce, “I really AM a Feminist!” For as long as I can remember, I have been wrestling with boys for permission to do what they do.  To step up to the starting gate to compete with them on their level.  To challenge them skill for skill, talent for talent, award for aware.  To be measured the same by my work, contribution, and effort as just as good or even BETTER than the men I work with.  I remember this constant theme of my life, “You can be what ever you want to be, even if only men have ever done it.”  I remember stories of many women being the FIRST in many different positions of leadership in sports, in space, in politics, in business; and knowing I wanted to DO that.  I wanted to work that hard to stand out, be better, accomplish AMAZING things.

There have been moments in my life where I feel that intense desire to be a model in life of things a woman can accomplish.  That even though there are set backs and things aren’t perfect, there is a fulfilling life in hard-work and successful accomplishments that can be obtained as a woman that exist outside of marriage and motherhood (Both good things… I have MANY MANY amazing friends who are both). That there are accomplishments to be achieved as an individual based on effort and skill and drive; not gender and position.

I completely believe in marriage, I am hoping to be married one day.  I am falling in love with femininity and what it is like to feel sensual and pretty and glide through life in pretty girlie clothes and makeup.  (Something I didn’t think I could do and be competitive – I am learning more and more how false that is.)  I love gallantry and am extremely inspired by courtesy and chivalry not matter where it comes from.

This article really gave me the opportunity to explore some of my own myths and beliefs about feminism; as well as allow me permission to explore something I have been afraid of JUST because of what other people have said.  But don’t worry I won’t start acting ANY crazier or more hysterical than I already do; and I won’t be adopting the Feminazi title any time soon… IF EVER!!!

This post inspired by the #blogging101 task to Be a good Neighbor by commenting on other people’s blogs.

Because they won’t like me if…

Where would we be without boys?  I mean Men.  I mean the opposite sex.  I mean OH I don’t know what I mean.  It has been a life’s decision to call the guys I am attracted to BOYS in an effort to lessen their importance to my emotional psyche as to not obsession constantly about them.  This has been met with mixed results, but at least I am trying, right?

I find myself at home in post Super Bowl bliss because despite the absolute dominance of the Seattle Seahawks (I am a 49er fan), I enjoyed the game immensely.  And for none of the expected reasons.  It was a pleasant surprise and quirky turn of events; that led the joyful, energetic emotions I am experiencing.  Since it has been so long since I have written, I am feeling at a loss on where to start and what to say. So let us begin with the realization of last Friday…

I have a friend I chat things up with from time to time and we usually are deep into the spiritual and psychological brain teasing at what ever stage of life we are in.  Through all the discussions we had the one that hit me like a lightning bolt was the one about my bad habit of trying to PROVE how good I am to the boys I am interested in. Since I have not been exactly successful in attracting the opposite sex to even the step of asking me out, asking for my number or complimenting me; I figured it was time to branch out and try something new.  A lot like the Pink shoes.

As a result of some new boys in my circle, I am coming face to face with my emotions and wants and totally and completely CRAZY bad habits.  With each interaction, I am finding myself completely disturbed by my actions.  So I start to ask myself WHY are you doing that?  Why did you say that?  Why do you feel compelled to do this?  And the answer was always buried in the motive that I needed to PROVE I was good at that particular task.

I needed to bring a STELLAR dish because I needed to PROVE I was a good cook.  I needed to be witty and sarcastic to PROVE I had a good sense of humor.  I HAD to dress up to PROVE I cared about my appearance.  I had to offer up some deep spiritual insight to PROVE my relationship with God was real.  I was REQUIRED to help with EVERYTHING to PROVE I was a serving person. And on and ON the process went for my behaviors in front of guys I was interested in.  I was starting to see the pattern emerge little by little.   I had not quite DUG into the depths of the WHY and HOW COME or WHEN did that start until I had this REVEALING conversation with my friend in the Spaghetti Factory Parking lot at almost midnight.

He was describing some of the reasons he acted he did, and it sent my wheels a turning.  As I began to look at my actions through a similar lens it hit me hard and QUICK.  I do these things to PROVE I am a good woman, worthy of dating, deserving of a partner in crime because in all honesty I do not believe they will be attracted to me based on my appearance alone.  And since I have been told For FOREVER that Guys are only attracted to what they SEE, I must SHOW THEM PROOF; they can look beyond just the physical to all these other ACTIONS and BEHAVIORS to like me, want me, desire me, love me.

WHAM!!! There it is AGAIN, my self-worth or lack there of based solely and completely on my appearance.  That age-old struggle between believing I can be loved as is or only once I change. UGH, ICK, ARG.. really THAT AGAIN?!!?!!??!  It really is TAINTING EVERYTHING ABOUT ME ISN’T IT??? Okay maybe that is being a little overly dramatic (that is the drama queen in me acting up.)

But it was in that moment of clarity that I began again with the strategy for future self-talk.  And a decision to begin loving myself as I am. Being thankful for the body God has given me regardless of the flaws.   To become more at peace with who I am ENTIRELY and wear the confidence of acceptance each and every day.  So now it is just a matter of wearing that confidence around the boys, which leads me to two more life changes: Be in the moment and Just be yourself. To be blogged about later…

It was just an Awkward night… and then there was the Super Bowl

“What are you looking for?’  Which I believe was intended as a job seeking inquiry.

“I’m looking for a Red-head, Nice body, witty personality; like the Wendy’s commercial girl…”

Is kind of what I thought I heard.  Upon which it was quickly followed up with: “I have dated a lot of blondes and that never ended well.”

Only to hear one of the Married People chime in with my name and a point in my direction.

“HUH?”  Was the only reply I could muster, especially since I am not a natural blonde; but wasn’t in a position to share that with a room full of practically ALL strangers.  I am sure that it looked like there was a look on my face that resembled complete cluelessness or of the hamster wheel spinning to only produce NUTHING.  I had NOTHING.  Which is very uncommon for me.  I am usually very quick on my feet with the sarcastic witty response of the hour.  I consider myself a fairly confident conversationalist in almost any arena; only to be vested speechless in embarrassing or self-conscious moments.  SO this one was a double WHAMMY!!!

Now after suffering that little moment of AWKWARDNESS, the rest of the night was a total disaster.  I was actually trying to get some conversational time with another guy (don’t judge me, I’m single) The Comedian; but we just couldn’t get two moments together in the same room.  Not to MENTION I was having one of those awkward nights where I just couldn’t feel normal in my own skin.  I didn’t know what to DO with myself at any point in the evening.  So I loitered and wandered from room to room aimlessly gaining more and more frustrated as the evening progressed.

The newbie has recently moved here from Wyoming at God’s direction but with no friends and no job; I have no idea how he arrived at Horizon; but that is true of most people.  In personality and interests, I can definitely see some similarities; but he is a full 11 years my younger and I refuse to think myself a COUGAR, so friends seems like the best path.

A week later we seem to acquire the same general space at the Super Bowl party among the singles group.  He is from Colorado so the Broncos are his pick for the evening, while I am rooting for the Seahawks more in regional support than a TRUE die hard fan (born and raised a 49er fan). Even before the game began, we are talking about life, unemployment, Portland, Wyoming, etc.  I make a crack about the red head he is searching for, and he brings up the KISS Dating Goodbye book.  With sarcastic disdain and witty comments galore about how it ruined his good dating years in the Christian community and I INSTANTLY feel like I have a NEW besty.  We discuss the finer points of its colossal misguided attempt to help Christian singles and the WHOLE idea of masculinity in American culture and how the church has adopted this belief hook line and sinker. I make my usual comment about how we single people did it to ourselves by telling all the married people to stop meddling, setting us up, and having parties where we are invited without a partner.

At which point, I must bring up my favorite counter measure to that book which is Henry Cloud’s How to get a date worth keeping and discussing its finer points.  It was a great discussion; only to have a few people around the room agree and disagree with us as we seemed to have our own discussion with an audience. As usual, I blow off any contrary opinions believing their experiences to be the exception and not the rule.

I tried to keep my sarcastic comments about how badly the Broncos were playing, but they did it to themselves.  We laughed at a spattering of commercials and made comments in and among the plays.  At one point, I noticed we were both leaning toward each other on the OVER stuffed chair arm; which caught me off guard a bit because it was totally unconscious (at least for me). No fear, no paranoia, no uncomfortableness, no wondering what this meant, it just was.  Reminds me of the friendships I had back at Sunnyside with all the guy friends, we were just comfortable around each other and openly discussed life, God, the world, etc.  Oh how I miss those friendships, although not romantic in anyway; the ability to discuss, debate, and share life was AWESOME.

So I got to leave the Super Bowl party full of energy and a refreshed spirit like I have not experienced in a LONG LONG time.  And although the comedian was present during the 2nd half we still did not converse, only having a brief comedic exchange about the game.

New Year’s Eve – The Comedian has arrived

As I waited around trying to decide what to do with my New Years Eve the time was slowly ticking away. I don’t get a lot of invitations, but there is a regular standing event with the Singles group. And some how I just wasn’t in the mood to go, but the little voice in my head kept saying… You should go. And as much as I argued that I didn’t want to go, it was insistent. “You like the goals part” it would said, “you should go.”

So in an attempt to appease the voice, not because I believed anything good would come from it, I got ready to go. I decided to pull out the cute new jeans I had purchased a few months ago, but had not quite found the right event to wear them. So I tore off the new tags and added a sparkly shirt and called it good. Well maybe I also did a little curling of the hair and a dash of lipstick. I mean it was New Years Eve after all and there MIGHT be single guys. But I wasn’t holding my breath.

I arrive and find myself a seat next to my trusted friend Miss D just to take up space and wait for the goals time. I didn’t eat or socialize or really notice who was around. And leave it to Lisa to create a game and divide us into teams. It was a form of pictionary based on the New Years Eve theme. I wasn’t even really thinking, I wasn’t even trying, I wasn’t even really paying attention. But I like to win, I like to beat other people, so YES I am just a little competitive.

It was a pretty amazing game because with almost every clue I guessed the item within 30seconds. That was all except for the one guy who was attempting to draw a table of appetizers and all I saw was buffet, potluck, dinner, lunch, etc etc. Not a clue. It was in that one miss that we lost to the other team. But what seemed to attract my attention was the fact that he was truly amazed at my ability to guess. He was giving me high five’s and showering me with praises at my ability to figure it out. IT was a little confusing and almost contrary to everything I was feeling, but I decided to just GO with it.

So we get to the goals section where I get to see what I wrote down last year or was it the year before. It is what I expected, as I managed to move myself into the deep thoughts moment I was searching for, I wrote my goals for this new 2014 year. Not as many and a few way more specifically defined. Continuing on with the hard work and effort I have been making. I feel someone loitering over my shoulder but I allow them to stay there and I am almost not even trying to hide what I have written because I am not ashamed or even apologetic when it comes to the things I want to change about myself.

As I finish up and wander to the center of the room to drop off the tiny piece of paper in the sacred bucket (to be read next year); I feel a friends hand on my shoulder. “Don’t move for just a moment” I hear. It is the lovely Miss K proceeding to pull a sticker off the back of my pants. THE SIZE STICKER I realize!!!!! THAT GIANT LONG strip of plastic all the way down my butt and my thigh. I feel the hottest of moments of embarrassment and struggle to not allow myself to meltdown internally because of this one little instance. As I was about to return to my seat thanking Miss K for TAKING care of me, I hear this VOICE from across the room.

“IT WAS ME I SAW IT! I WAS THE ONE!” While I am totally perplexed at the moment with how to react and how to feel and how to respond. I some how manage to joking throw out there, “Thanks for looking out.” And mosey my way across the room back to my seat. Now I had done it. I had exposed myself to a HORRIFICALLY embarrassing experience right HERE and I didn’t even want to BE HERE. I fight tooth and nail with my psyche to NOT let it get THAT bad, to not DWELL on my crazy, to NOT spiral out of complete control from the moments of joy and fun I WAS truly having.

Then I started to question WHY would you do that? Why would you draw attention to yourself like that? Why would you want this perfectly nice stranger to KNOW it was YOU who detected this fatal flaw in her wardrobe? What could you possibly have to gain? ANd it was in that moment the BEST POSSIBLE REVELATION FLASHED through my mind.

He was looking at my Ass!!! He was checking me out? Oh MY Goodness!!! Now That is what that feels like. Now this is something I could get use to, sticker or not. The attention seeking, quiet funny, generously kind, cleverly creative, appetizer guy wanted MY attention on HIM even if it was for an embarrassing sticker. Everyone I’d like you to me The Comedian.

Beliefs equal Certainty

I hope I can, I think I can, I hope I can… begins many a conversation with myself when it comes to making changes to my life in a SIGNIFICANT way. While HOPE has often brought me a positive inspiration, I realize only HOPING for something is not a STRONG or COMMITTED as BELIEVING.

Today, this jolted me to attention:

A belief is nothing but an idea with a feeling of certainty…

So what have I felt CERTAIN about in life?  What are those things that I have walked into a room with confidence, clarity, and an UNWAVERING belief I knew, what I knew, what I KNEW?  The first thing that comes to mind is my work.  I have developed a confidence in my ability to train, teach, educate people.  So when asked to present, teach, train, speak in front of a group of people I may get the initial stage fright before the curtain comes up; but I KNOW I can do it and I’m EXCITED TO DO IT.  I know I’ll be good, and I KNOW I’ll enjoy it.

The next memory that rushes to mind is my most confident audition EEEEEEEVER!!! In High School, my senior year, we did Oklahoma! and our Drama teacher showed us the movie prior to the auditions.  It was in that viewing, that I saw the Aunt Eller character and in the core of who I am I said, “That one’s MINE!” And I worked as hard as I knew how to: prepare the audition, study the lines, practice singing, bring my personality into her character, be full of ENERGY, and PROJECT! PROJECT! PROOOOOOJECT!!!  And when I stepped on stage, I was so full of confidence I could touch each corner of the auditory with my voice.  I even forgot a few of the words during the song (Simon Cowell would NOT have been impressed), but I stayed in character and brought to life an aspect of Aunt Eller that the director had not seen in any of the other 8 callback actresses.  It was exhilarating, it was amazing, it was a belief I had developed, nurtured, produced in me so deep that even through my mistakes it didn’t deter my resolve.

Royal Family LogoThen I began to search my life for a more recent example, and I IMMEDIATELY pictured CAMP.  There is a Strange confidence that fills my soul when I think about doing camp and preparing for camp.  The confidence I have in regards to working with the kids.  I KNEW I was going to enjoy them, I KNEW I was going to focus all my efforts on doing it for the kids, I KNEW that this was my niche, strength, skill set, gifting, natural fit (however you want to put it), I BELIEVED: “I got this!”

Now most of the time, I was in constant prayer asking God for help, support, peace, wisdom, words, and ideas for how to survive.  But I don’t worry about Him not answering me.  He always gives me answers at CAMP, I feel his presence there and I am completely confident that success was right there within my grasp.  When the very next moment arrived, I would have the answers I needed. And this is the ONE place I am at peace that EVEN if it’s not perfect it’s not wrong.  Even when conflict arises and I didn’t do things perfectly, its ok because God knew and knows what’s next.  There was the general nervousness about the week, worrying about the new responsibilities (I was responsible for directing the drama) and whether I was gonna do it right, whether people were gonna like it, enjoy it, approve of it; but outside of that part of CAMP, my BELIEF that this would be a success was unwavering.

There truly is a shift in the inner most part of your being when you KNOW you are doing the right thing.  When you BELIEVE you are in the right place at the right time doing what you were created to do.  Insecurity has no place, worry seems to fade away, and negativity just seems absurd.  That is how I feel when I am AT Camp actually doing it.  I don’t just HOPE it will work out, I BELIEVE it will be amazing.  Of course, I work with a FANTASTIC team of people that allows me to flourish in my strengths and experiment with my ideas and support me in my imperfect moments.

So in my struggle with food, weight, exercise, new habits… How can I become certain about anything before I do it?  Need to create certainty for success.  Remembering my past does not equal my future. Actually view the success, feel the success, imagine the success.  What is it like to EXPECT that success?  How would I spend each day KNOWING I will have victory with my eating each day?  How would I feel if I BELIEVED I cannot fail, I am CONFIDENT that I will make good choices for myself to build a healthier life?