on loneliness.

I spent Memorial Day Weekend in bed (or in the bathroom rather) with a terrible virus, and for nearly all of the weekend, I was very much alone, something I’ve spent a decent bit of time at lately.

Now, this weekend aside, it’s generally not that I couldn’t have had company; I’ve just been needing to turn inward a bit. Because I’m lonely, and I’m trying to figure out why.

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on loss

At the temple there is a poem called “Loss” carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read loss, only feel it.

Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

 

When I sit with her on Thursday mornings, she generally asks me how I feel about things, in particular about my father–or more accurately my relationship with him.

I feel sad, I say. But it’s fine. I’ve gotten used to it. It’s not a pervasive pain. It’s just sort of always there. Just an ache.

And she always looks at me, with enough empathy to make me want to curl up in the fetal position and sob at her feet, and says, “Sad?”

Yeah, sad.

And then she does it again, and I start to lower my guard a little.

Because I’m not just sad.

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exactly this:

There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. It’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of the years. Most of these things will have to do with forgiveness.

-Cheryl Strayed

Once we fall in the service of being brave, we can never go back. We can rise up from our failures, screw-ups, and falls, but we can never go back to where we stood before we were brave or before we fell. Courage transforms the emotional structure of our being. This change often brings a deep sense of loss. During the process of rising, we sometimes find ourselves homesick for a place that no longer exists. We want to go back to that moment before we walked into the arena, but there’s nowhere to go back to. What makes this more difficult is that now we have a new level of awareness about what it means to be brave. We can’t fake it anymore. We now know when we’re showing up and when we’re hiding out, when we are living our values and when we are not. Our new awareness can also be invigorating— it can reignite our sense of purpose and remind us of our commitment to wholeheartedness. Straddling the tension that lies between wanting to go back to the moment before we risked and fell and being pulled forward to even greater courage is an inescapable part of rising strong.

-Brene Brown

One thing you who had secure or happy childhoods should understand about those of us who did not, we who control our feelings, who avoid conflicts at all costs or seem to seek them, who are hypersensitive, self-critical, compulsive, workaholic, and above all survivors, we’re not that way from perversity. And we cannot just relax and let it go. We’ve learned to cope in ways you never had to.

-Piers Anthony

I decided very early on that I would be my own patron, my own studio wife, my own sugar daddy and that I would never demand that my writing provide for me in any way other than the only way that I know it always will, which is to please me and delight me and make me feel like I’m more than just a bystander and a consumer in the world.

-Elizabeth Gilbert

Hi, I’m Stephanie…

…and I’m the Adult Child of an Alcoholic.

My brother had the same father, and I don’t think he sees it that way. The way I do I mean. And I think this has profoundly impacted our relationship. But his story is different than mine, and I think that has always been hard for me. I don’t think alcohol was less present when he was growing up, but I think our stories were different. Maybe because of birth order. Maybe because of timing. And maybe because he is just more of what they wanted in a child.

But truthfully, regardless of the reason, because Envy is a gremlin of mine. And God, my God, I do want want he has.

A dear friend of mine once commented, after he watched me interacting with my parents, that it was obvious my mom and I were close, but that my dad and I…we had moments. Moments around fire pits, with music, and sometimes, yes, whiskey. And I realize that there’s a sick irony in whiskey uniting my dad and me but…for a second, I want you to imagine that the moment, with the fire and the music, was what mattered more than the whiskey. Because in our moments, it wasn’t the whiskey. It was everything else. And that matters and always has.

And for me, it’s those moments that consistently make me feel like something has always been missing. And it has mattered because I can count those moments on one hand.

And I wish that wasn’t true.

But it is. And that is my story. And I own that. And I believe in it. It is my truth. Continue reading

there’s too much smoke to see it; there’s too much broke to feel it

tonight’s one of those nights when a song completely decimated me. by the third verse, i was done (Andrew Belle’s Pieces by the way). like makeup-running-down-my-face-dry-heaving-texting-through-blurred-vision done.

this happened a few weeks ago too.

one of my people, maybe my best person, played a song for me that he thought i’d like. and damn if it wasn’t my own personal Gideon’s trumpet. those bricks and mortar of made up of it’s been hard‘s and i’m fine‘s came tumbling down.

and it was hard to sit there in pieces.

because it’s hard to fall apart. because it’s hard to have to admit you’re not something enough to hold it together anymore. because it’s hard for a person to put themselves back together when their bones are laying all about.

but in the next couple of minutes, he was handing me my rib cage a tendon or two and helping me find all my guts. crisis averted.

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exactly this:

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

-Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

“I’ll never know and neither will you about the life you didn’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”

-Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough

closing the circle

i’ve been quiet for a few months, and as a justification for my absence, i can only quote Cheryl:

  Go because you want to. Because wanting to leave is enough.

i can’t promise it won’t happen again, but i do have intentions of being more faithful here, at least weekly.

anyway…

a few weeks ago, a mentor of mine sent me an article about a particular year-end ritual called “closing the circle.” although the blog itself is fairly faith-centric, this ritual is karmic at it’s core. essentially, closing the circle is about sitting down and considering the last year and the gifts it gave to us; let us note, that the gifts it urges us to consider are both the obvious and the hard. the logic follows that if we don’t learn the lessons we were to in the last year, they repeat themselves in the coming one. Continue reading

#lifelessonlearned: feel your feelings

If we don’t deal with our trauma, our trauma begins to deal with us. If we don’t allow ourselves to feel our feelings, they have a habit of peeking around the corners of our lives, breaking in at the most inopportune moments. And like most damage we experience – whether it was inflicted on us by another or by ourselves or just because this is life and, as Wesley said, [life is pain, Highness], it’s almost always rooted in our fears but it manifests for each of us different – rage, anger, self-harm, self-neglect, frenzy, numbing, whatever.

-Sarah Bessey, “The Sanitized Stories We Tell”

when give a Stephanie a sink to clean…

…chaos ensues.

Because I am not the kind of girl who knows how to gently dip her toes into the water. I’m the girl who goes hard. Who goes all-in. All of the time. And not always gracefully.

As a dear friend put it, I’m the fire-and-neon kind.

And that can be a very good thing. That sort of ambition, and passion, and rawness in a person is sexy. It’s authentic because it can’t not be, and that creates a sort of magnetic energy. Some very beautiful things are created by that girl. And a lot of shit gets done.

For the most part, I’ve always considered this aspect of myself to be a very special gift.

Until it isn’t. Until that girl makes a huge mess out of everything. Until things stop getting done, because I’m just done. Or until I think about how someone told me to clean my sink, and I do it only to decide that tearing my house apart (i.e., cleaning my entire apartment) is absolutely the best thing to do on the only Saturday I’ve had off in a very long time.

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#lifelessonlearned: clean your sink

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I feel like I’ve been at a dead run since mid-June.

I can see the finish line (boarding that plane to Vietnam on the first of November), but my ability to see it has done nothing to increase my stamina or decrease my fatigue over the last few months. So as my pace–in both my personal and professional life–has continued to increase, I’ve had to let go of things (or sometime hurl them away from me).

The things that went first were unnecessary obligations. And then unnecessary social engagements. I got more particular about my schedule. I stopped saying no because I was busy, but because I did not want to be busy.

But I still felt tired.
And I was still way overbooked.

So other things went–things that shouldn’t have gone: sleep, exercise, quality phone calls with my grams, weekly meetups with my friends, dates with my boyfriend, time to paint, time to write, time to be still.

Cleaning. My. House. Continue reading