Puppies with a side of clarity

I am 3 weeks into puppy motherhood. Kika has been a welcome energy into my home during the pandemic. I had been going back and forth on the idea of rescuing a dog since January. Ultimately I decided against it until I felt more ready and had a better sense of what this year would look like. Then COVID came and changed everything. I was now stuck at home struggling with my many hard thoughts. Doing my best to manage my anxiety and stress and feelings of loneliness. I thought this was the best time to get a dog. So I got myself on Petfinder.com and began my search for my fur child. 

It was interesting to see how my urge to swipe was fed by using this website. As I searched for the perfect furry companion I thought to myself that it was just like using a dating app. You look at pictures and make judgements about personality, temperament, and compatibility. Dude’s gym and travel pictures are replaced with pictures of puppies in baskets, wearing bowties, or even costumes. The profiles have the same useless information about background and age. Quotes or song lyrics or Myers Briggs personality types are replaced with simple statements like “I am a good boy” or “I love to play catch.” Just like on Tinder or Bumble, a statement like that is still not going to tell me exactly how many dumps this creature will take on my floor or in my life. For a moment I cried about this. I cried when I thought back to the many bad dates I went on and thought “this whole time I could have been swiping on puppies instead of insecure dudes, fuck boys, and weirdos.”

I always want pizza when I cry. There is something about the sauce and cheese that I find comforting I suppose. I wanted to order some but realized I just paid all my bills and so I was broke until pay day. I needed to make dinner out of whatever was in my fridge and pantry. To add to this complication, I hadn’t been grocery shopping in a week and a half. I got up and went into the kitchen ready to be disappointed at whatever thing I would need to prepare that was not pizza. As I dug through my stuff I realized something magical: I had all the things I needed to make something resembling a pizza. Then I was hit with another moment of clarity. I grocery shop the way I do for moments like this. I am smart enough, wise enough, awesome enough to have the ingredients I need on hand to make a pizza happen when I am broke. That is how much I take care of my future self! I thought “no man will ever have my back like that but a puppy might!” I prepared my pizza-ish dinner and continued my search on Petfinder. Over the next several weeks I applied at numerous dog rescues attempting to procure the furry love of my life with no luck. It was lots of obstacles and questions and bureaucracies and by the time I would get close to meeting a dog I’d get the same rejection: “oh we want this dog to go to a home with other dogs” and then I was back to square one. It was frustrating but I was trying to be understanding. I know that many animal rescues across the county have been seeing more applications to foster and adopt pets since the start of the pandemic. I decided to take a different approach. 

Rather than make a puppy happen via this website I was going to manifest one. Just put it out in the universe and let it come to me. So I made space for the dog I had yet to meet throughout my home. I put a comfy cushion in a corner and bowls with water and fruit on the floor. I told myself my companion was on their way and then I waited. While I waited I mentioned to a friend that I was having trouble with adopting a rescue pup and was giving up the search. Two days later she text messaged me two pictures of puppies and said “Both of them are girls. Which one do you want?” Her neighbor, and brother’s mother-in-law, had a dog who recently birthed a litter. Among them was Kika who is in my home now. I was immediately attracted to her caramel color, big floppy ears, and the kindness in her little eyes. There she was. My manifested furry companion who came to me the moment I stopped trying to orchestrate a connection. Yet another lesson I can apply to my dating life.

Over the last three weeks since Kika has been home with me I have been overwhelmed with emotion. Particularly at how much I missed having dogs in my home. When I was married we had two dogs, Guapo and Pippi. When we divorced I decided to let the ex-husband keep them. It was the hardest decision for me. I loved those dogs deeply but I didn’t have the heart to separate them. I was also devastated by the situation and in that devastation decided that I wanted no memories of the life I shared with this person as I moved into my new life. Looking back, I wonder if that was the right choice. I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that Kika’s puppy energy was always meant to be here. Its not coincidence to me that the way I ended up with Kika was the same way I got my second dog, Pippi. My co-worker’s mother where I worked at the time, had a dog who had a litter of puppies. One of those puppies was Pippi. She was the only girl in the litter and very shy. I picked her up from an apartment in east LA. I brought her home in a cardboard box at 12 weeks old weighing two pounds and nurtured her through all her puppy phases and beyond. She was my girl. She knew when I was sad. She laid on my stomach when I had cramps. She was nothing but love. I don’t know where Pippi is now, but I know that all I learned from nurturing her will serve me well as I care for Kika. I am also certain that Kika will have my future self’s back too. Together we will cuddle and watch TV and eat pizza like snacks I make from pantry ingredients. I plan to enjoy every minute of it.

Thanks for reading

-D

God: Please come get your flock

 

Some poetic thoughts on the pandemic, social distancing, protests, shelter in place orders, and the other hard news I’ve heard and witnessed this week.

These days the American dream feels more like an American nightmare
I sit and watch the news watching the talking heads
Pitting facts and science against opinions and politics
Governors walking us through pandemic data points at press conferences
throwing wrench shaped solutions into the ether of bureaucracy hoping to fix it
Our president the hot mess in chief fumbling through words
A pinnacle of inexperience and misunderstanding
The poster boy for white mediocrity
I can’t even find comfort in wondering what the founding fathers of this country would say to all of this, how their intent could give us guidance or a sensible answer
There was not a black or brown person or a vagina among them…
Their intent doesn’t have the answer anymore
I have already lost faith in the idea of check and balance
Protesters storming capital buildings with guns
or squatting in front of gyms with American flags
screaming give me gains or give me death
demanding to be given the freedom to make us all sick
Churches vowing to open anyway despite orders to not convene
emboldened by a sense of misplaced righteousness
God please come get your flock!
Give them a stern talking to about what is what 

Black men and boys are still being shot for jogging,
driving, playing, existing while black
brown babies in cages still separated from parents
their mamis and papis also in cages
And I don’t know what kind of prayer am I supposed to say for all this?
Where do I begin to unravel the ways we’ve lost our way?
How do I ask the god for clarity?
Too many parts of the system remain broken
White folks see movement towards equity and stop it, block it, defund it, supress it…
Some folks get asked to stay home to protect others and and they call it oppression?
Where do I begin to ask for help?
What can my tiny little insignificant prayer do?
The more aware of it all I am the more powerless I feel 

All I can do is give thanks
Thanks to cell phone cameras and the hands that hold them
for capturing the pictures that corroborates thousands of words
the data and evidence that what is happening to black lives in this country is real
not situational, not one time things, not just a few bad apples in police forces,
It’s a problem that keeps happening and so you film
May your hands be steady and you phone memory be abundant
Thanks to the nonprofit sector for finding ways to step in even when the odds are working against them and funds are dwindling for everyone
Thanks to the teachers and parents who are stewarding our babies
young minds growing up in a pandemic trying to learn about life
and fractions and history and reading and social distance…
Thanks to scientists and doctors and researchers who continue to work on bringing facts to the forefront… I don’t fear you, I admire you
You are in the business of documenting the proof that the divine things god created around us are complex, thoughtfully designed, and not up for debate…

God, the creator, Allah… whatever you choose to call the higher power
created all of this around us and made it complex on purpose

It was created to be studied
Created to gather proof
Created to give us answers
No matter what opinion or politics or religion say….
Nothing anyone says is going to change my mind about one thing:
This pandemic is the earth trying to right itself, make itself whole again,
and rid itself of the idea that science is debatable.
It’s not.
Its a divine creation 

So to those that say this corona virus is a hoax
Please tell that to the nurses and doctors and workers in ERs across the country
Tell that to the people who have lost loved ones
Tell that to the janitors and fast food workers who are now risking their lives
to clean the places you demand access to and cook the burgers you demand to eat
Tell that to the cashiers at the grocery stores that are out of toilet paper
Tell that to the cities running out of places to store the dead bodies they are collecting
Tell that to the creator and see what plague is sent our way next

Thanks for reading

-D

A Year of Ups and Downs

It has been exactly one year and one day since my last blog post. I have not posted a blog all year but I never stopped writing. Early 2019 had a domino of transitions that felt like they wouldn’t stop. I moved through from change to change never quite finding my grounding or feeling settled. During that time I continued writing stories, essays, and poetry. I also settled in to a new apartment, completed a year at my new job, and have been slowly working to feel at home in a new city.

Like many of you, I have had many ups and downs. I think every single person I have spoken to agrees that 2019 kicked a lot of people’s asses and 2020 has had a lot of WTF moments and we’re not even half way through it! For me, there have been moments that have changed me and challenged me. Especially now during this pandemic those ups and downs have been magnified tenfold. Though I have made many great strides over the last year, the last two months have reminded me that I still have a lot of healing left to do.

Vision board

The hardest thing has been determining what is the first step I have to take after the big leap I took to move to a new place to start over. Taking that first step has given me so much anxiety. It feels like I am just spinning in place rather than actually moving forward. Today I woke up determined to take a step toward whatever is in store for me. To do that I referenced the vision board that I made back in February at an event in Oakland hosted by Las Lunadas. It was a wonderful experience to be in a room full of strangers that became friends over the course of a few hours simply by creating vision boards and sharing their stories together.  It reminded me that finding community and making myself at home in a new place is a process that takes time. Luckily, I have already started to settle in even while spinning in place. Below is a poem I wrote inspired by my vision board:

A vision of home

Be ready
Flow
Reach
Your inner compass knows the way 
Surrender 
You are whole
You are enough 
From this day forward 
Rooted in the sweetness of your life 
You will bathe and swim in honey 
Slather the building blocks of your new life with it 
Your destiny will stick to it 
Rise as both queen and worker bee
Maker and creator of your magnificent hive  
Laugh for it
Reach for it
Breathe for it 
Discover life in color
You will be pleased with it  
Brown and blue like soil and sea
Grey and green like sky and tree 
Your life will be a garden
blooming flowers and bearing fruit 
years of labor will be rewarded 
Rising like suns and mountains 
You will shine, mija, you will shine 
The life you built will be a work of art 
so live loud and be free woman 
You are powerful and already home

Whenever I feel lost and out of sorts (which has been a lot recently) I look at that board and read this poem. I do that in hopes that it will remind me of what I want in life and give me the push I need to finally take a step and stop spinning in a circle. Today it was just what I needed to pull out my Instant Pot to cook in and FINALLY write a new blog post. I am excited for what is to come and what I will be able to share here. Stay tuned for some exciting things and, as always, thanks for reading.

-D

Letter to a Tiny Heartbeat

Dear Tiny Heartbeat

This week has been a lot. It was a busy week at work with lots of ups, downs, fun, and feelings. A little over a year ago, I took a leap and shared my miscarriage story. I shared a lot in that painful post. I am still making sense of what kind of toll my body and my mind took in dealing with the many layers of that loss. Now, a little over a year with that same pain in tow I am now alone, divorced and working to start my whole life over. It has been a struggle to wrap my brain around the idea that my path to becoming a mother is not going the way I would have wanted or planned.

Certain things and moments still hurt and sting.

When I see my beautiful lucky friends have their children, make their pregnancy announcements, and invite me to the various celebrations they have for their little ones. When it happens I am simultaneously hurt and happy. Hurt because of my situation and happy for them because being able to create life and the keeper/steward of a little soul that is a piece of you is a beautiful blessing. I wonder how I can explain to them that I don’t show up to those celebrations because I am not ready to be there because the pain I am in over my own situation overpowers the happiness I feel for them. So in an effort to not rain on their joy, I skip it.

When I am told by women that there are some things I won’t understand until I have my own children. A part of me understands what they mean, yet the other part of me feels excluded from being able to access motherly wisdom simply because, unlike other mothers, I never got to hold or meet my child. Sometimes I want to ask them: Am I not a real mother too? I felt a heartbeat inside me that was not mine. It was a life I created. I loved it. I lost it. I took breaths for it. I allowed my body to be torn apart for it. I haven’t been the same since. Is that not exactly what a mother does? Do I not have enough of a foundation to understand whatever it is they think I won’t get?

Learning that my ex was expecting a child just a few months after we separated hurt. I recall a conversation we had right after my miscarriage and getting the news that we’d need to undergo fertility treatments. I told him that I feared he’d leave me for someone who could give him children in a faster and easier way. It was the first time I said that fear out loud. At that time he reassured me that he would never just leave me for someone else who could have kids faster than me. Perhaps at that moment, he meant it. Perhaps at that moment, my intuition suspected that this would happen. Saying that fear out loud may have simply confirmed what was already going to happen. In any case, here we are, him on his way to starting the family he wanted, and me alone and trying to figure out what to do to start over again.

I remain committed to healing in every way I can. Expressing myself through written words has been an outlet and saving grace for my heart. On the one year anniversary of my miscarriage back in October, I wrote a letter to my unborn child. At that point, I had been separated from my ex for a couple of months, I was still struggling to function with a broken heart, and trying to make meaning of all the hurt I had been ignoring. As I sat in tears at my desk at work that day I turned my brain off and let my fingers weave together the things my soul needed to say. Here is what they came up with:

Dearest Tiny Heartbeat,

Pequeña vida you lived in me and I was forever changed by seeing you, feeling you, walking for you, breathing for you. After all the scare and discomfort I looked up and there you were, a tiny little piece of me. Radiating and beating furiously. Playing hide and seek with the doctors so they wouldn’t take you from me. You were the essence of the most beautiful parts of me. You made my flaws pure and full of possibilities. When I saw you I had never felt a love so all-consuming. It was the most beautiful three minutes of my life.

You gave me the wisdom of a mother in every breath I took for you. I was ready for you. Ready to protect you with my momma bear fury. Ready to love you with my whole being. Ready to be a guiding light for your spirit and let you be mine. I was ready to give you the life of my ancestors dreams. I lost you but you left me enough strength and radiance to last me a lifetime. I know you came to me with messages and lessons about myself, about my self-care, about my health, about my marriage, and about all the things I was forcing.

I know now that my soul cannot be the steward of another until I am at peace and at calm with my demons and scars. That is what you came to show me. I will do the hard work of clearing the trauma in my womb so that you can guide me to birthing the creative baby that will be your sibling. The creative baby that will honor you, highlight the essence you left living inside of me, and help me become the mother you deserve. Now I am living for you. I am creating for you. I am writing to you. I am crying for you. I am searching for the kind of love I deserve for you. I am here in life working daily to bring meaning to my life in order to honor the part of you that has stayed with me.

I love you. Thank you.

Thanks for reading friends.

-D

Cats and Pawn Shops

IMG_2824So much has happened since my last post. I have taken the last few months to think about the rest of 2019. I know for sure I want to continue healing. Yesterday, I manifested some healing in two very unlikely places that made for a deeply intense day that I need to write about. It had been a heavy week emotionally – lots of highs and lows on the life rollercoaster. By Friday evening I was drained and needed to go inward. I took that evening to recharge, to think, and to ask the universe to send me what I need most. I set an intention to be open to receive it when it revealed itself to me. When I woke up the next morning I felt a deep need for a cynical touch point – someone or a group of someones who would just “talk shit” with me about all I have gone through because their feelings of collective indignance towards my situation would be rooted in their love for me.  

I then get a message from one of my favorite cynical friends. The first time I met her, I was late to a sorority meeting. She called me out and talked shit about my lateness in the most direct way I have ever seen anyone speak to a stranger about their values.  She was honest, direct, and funny which I really appreciated. I wondered: if she is this honest with a stranger, how honest must she be with her friends? We’ve been friends ever since. She told me that she had an extra ticket to see Cats at the Pantages and invited me. We made plans to meet up at the theater and that is where things got interesting…

The Musical Cats: just people dressed as cats introducing themselves. 

I’d heard of the musical Cats but had never seen it and was excited to go because I love musicals. I was so excited that even getting there was fun. I walked in the rain to the metro, the rambunctious little girl inside of me splashed in puddles on my way there, I got hot chocolate from my favorite coffee shop, I had Gloria Estefan bumping in my headphones for the metro ride, I admired the fun art in the Hollywood and Vine metro station, I made cat puns about what I was going to do “right meow” – all of it was an extension of my excitement. I get to the theater, we grab a drink and catch up quickly before the performance begins. Still fun, still excited. Then the music starts. Here we go… CATS!!

Through the first song, I was admiring the costumes, the feline movements in the dances, the creepy kitty makeup. In the second song, I noticed the scenery – it looked like a dirty kitchen or maybe it was supposed to be an ally? I don’t know but I thought “they will do some sort of narrative set-up” between songs so we can follow along with the story. Maybe after this song? Nope. It was just another song – more cats introducing themselves, more dancing, still no story. This went on for 3 more songs. I turn to my friend – the look on her face was a cross between confusion and disgust. “Do you get it?” she said. “It’s just people dressed at cats introducing themselves,” I replied. “I mean I’ve done that at work meetings – maybe we’ll get some context about what this cat meeting is about at some point?” She looked at me, she looked at the program, she looked at the stage, and she looked at me again and said: “the second half of this is just more of the same.” We made a plan to endure the rest of the first half, grab our drinks at intermission, and then decide what to do. The last song that played before the intermission was Memory – even though I didn’t get anything until this point, this song was beautiful and moving. I found myself breathing deeply into each lyric and admiring the way the cat moved along the stage reminiscing, grieving, and trying to be hopeful all at the same time.

At intermission, we grabbed our drinks (which we had prepaid at the start of the show – best idea ever!) and continued to debrief our confusion. “I still don’t get it,” she continued, “I just don’t get why people love it.” I told her how the last song felt like it resonated but that like her I too was lost and was ok with leaving. She said “so we’re leaving. What do you want to do after this?” I thought about it. What would be a good thing to do in Hollywood with one of my closest, most honest, and most cynical friends? The first thing that came to mind was the perfect thing to ask a cynical friend to do with you, a thing I was putting off doing alone because I was just not cynical enough. “Let’s go find a pawn shop and pawn my wedding rings,” I said. I had been carrying them around in my purse the last couple days with the intention to do it myself but never did. Then my friend said the most perfect response to that request, one I will never forget: “Down but let’s finish our drinks first.”

When deciding how much you love someone ask yourself: would I sit through the second half of Cats for them?

As we were finishing our drinks, we saw the couple that was sitting next to us. My friend went over to them and said, “Hey are you guys staying for the second half? Because we don’t get it so we’re leaving. You can have our seats if you want.” They looked at us and then the husband responded, “Oh my god we don’t get it either! We were just trying to figure out the story but it’s just cats singing.” His wife was shaking her head and laughing. At that moment we bonded instantly with this nice couple on the second-floor bar of the Pantages. The four of us formed a passionate coalition of collective confusion about Cats. We drank and ranted together trying to come up with an answer for what the hell we just sat through and came up short. Then the husband asked, “so where are you going instead of sitting through the rest of Cats?” I responded, “we’re going to go find a pawn shop and pawn my wedding rings.” This couple’s reaction to what I said was like facial expression equivalent to a record scratch that stops the music at a party. I then proceeded to tell this couple my one minute story of how I got here including all the painful milestones: miscarriage, infertility, depression, divorce, ex knocking someone up, and now not getting wtf Cats is about. The wife hugged me and said, “wow you’ve been through a lot.” The husband said, “well that is a good reason to walk out of Cats.” And just like that, the coalition of confusion came together again, this time to discuss the reasons why one would sit through the second half of Cats. We even came up with hashtags: #SitThroughCats or #WalkOutOfCats.

We agreed that when deciding how much you love someone the most prudent question you can ask is: would I sit through the second half of Cats for them? The couple was going to sit through the second half. Why? Because his mother made a whole plan to watch their kids so he and his wife could have a nice night out on the town alone. They love her and their kids enough to sit through Cats for them and figure out what the hell this musical is about. I, on the other hand, had my engagement right and my wedding ring in my purse weighing me down. I loved myself enough walk out of Cats to go get rid of them right now. My cynical friend loved me enough to walk out of Cats to go with me even though she paid for these tickets.   

So we leave the theater to find a nearby pawn shop. On our way to it, I reflected on the symbolism of being in Hollywood. This neighborhood held deep significance for the beginning and breakdown of my marriage. We took our engagement photos in the colorful alleys of this neighborhood with eyes full of love and hope over being on our way to that whole “I want to grow old with you” and “happily ever after” life. We lived here during one of the hardest years of our marriage where many, many things fell apart. This was a year when I saw my partner having a hard time, taking inconsiderate actions, and making careless choices that hurt me deeply. Choices that crossed the line and pushed me to almost end my marriage. I didn’t do it because when I got married, I did it for life, for better or worse. The year we lived in Hollywood was one of our “worse” chapters. I stayed because I thought our “better” chapters would be ahead. I stayed because this was the person I chose and committed to. Part of choosing a person to make a life with is also choosing to love them when they do things to you that make them hard to love. Part of keeping a commitment is staying the course long after the “nice feeling” you felt when you made that commitment leaves you and all that is left is hurt. I wish I could have said that my partner felt the same way. I wish I could say I had a partner who chose to love me during the hardest year of my life when I was a hard person to love but I can’t. Now here I was driving around this neighborhood looking for a pawn shop to leave these rings and all they represented behind. Before going into the pawn shop, my friend took a photo of me in front of the beautiful bright yellow walls. I thought maybe it was an omen for the sunshine that would be coming in my life after so much rain.

Pawn shops are like purgatory for the belongings of broken people, broken dreams, and broken relationships. 

It was my first time ever in a pawn shop. I looked around at all the stuff. I took in the smells, the music, the protected glass in front of the cashier, and the bars around the displays. It was like I was standing in a place that was a combination of a thrift store and a prison. Like purgatory for the belongings of broken people, broken dreams, and broken relationships. I walked up to the window and gave the man the rings. He said, “how much do you want for them?” I thought about this question for a moment. How could I put a monetary value on my pain, my broken heart, and over a decade of my time wasted? “As much as I can get for them,” I said. “Ok,” he said, “it helps if you give us an amount.” I thought again, I looked at my friend, she shrugged, I shrugged and then said: “I don’t know $800 bucks?” He said he would see what he could do.

He took the rings to the back to where he and his colleague examined them. I saw them pointing and discussing them through the glass barrier. Holding them up to the light, weighing them, putting them under some microscope thing. The man came back and said, “I don’t think we can do anything close $800.” He said he didn’t want to insult me by telling me how little they were actually worth. I said “this was my wedding and engagement ring. I am divorced which means I have already been insulted. I don’t want to keep them. So how much can I get for them?” He looked at the rings again and started to explain to me how the silver they were made of is not very heavy, how the diamonds they each have on them are small and too cloudy, how they don’t really have much resale value as they are so they’d probably just be scrapped to make something else. Everything he said about the light silver and cloudy diamonds felt like it applied to my ex: something that you hope will be valuable but lacking the substance and clarity necessary to actually be worth something. We settled on $50 for the rings. I signed some papers, collected this micro-fortune, put it in my purse, and walked out.

I burst into tears as soon as the door to the pawn shop closed behind me. The tears stopped me in my tracks. My friend held me for a moment and then said, “I might not have been invited to your wedding but I am glad I was invited to the end of your marriage.” Between breaths and tears, I did my best to muster up a hopeful smile as I said, “you’ll be invited to the next one.” Then I leaned against the beautiful bright yellow wall of the shop where she had taken such a joyful picture of me just a few minutes earlier and just sobbed with my whole body. My friend held me, she rubbed my shoulders, and she watched me sob until I got myself together enough to walk to her car.

Being the “bigger person” is a heavy weight to carry.

In the last 6 months, I had processed my divorce on so many levels. I am an overthinker, which is a blessing and a fault, so I had “thought” long and hard about my feelings, my reflections, and my next steps as I ended one chapter and started another. What I never did was just FEEL it all. I never felt myself grieve the loss of the emotional investment I made in this person. I never felt myself be angry at his duplicity, his selfishness, his cowardice in choosing to leave when things became “too much” for him. I never felt the pain at having my substance and clarity rejected. I never felt my rage at his search for greener, easier, and less complicated pastures. I never felt the grief of my family who was as upset as I was about being duped by a person we let into our tribe with open arms. At that moment all of those feelings came out of my eyes and framed my face in tears.

I wish I could say that I left all my tears there in front of that pawn shop but I didn’t. My body was not ready to stop crying and it needed a safe space to fully fall apart. Tears continued to flow out of my eyes the whole way home. I tried to hold them in so I didn’t look like a crazy person on the train and during my walk home. My chest was shaking as I rushed to get inside my house. The moment I closed the door of my apartment, my safe space to fall apart, I started to sob again. I called my bestie on FaceTime and she talked to me as I sobbed over all the feelings I hadn’t allowed myself to feel in the last six months. Feelings I didn’t let myself feel because I was too busy thinking, planning, and executing the tasks of my new life as a divorced, single woman. Feelings I didn’t let myself feel because I was trying to just be the bigger person through all of this. But being the “bigger person” is a heavy weight to carry. I had carried that weight for the majority of my marriage already so I knew it well. No matter how thoughtful, or diplomatic, or respectful I want to be about this whole situation – my feelings still needed to be felt and expressed. 

“You can’t keep walking around acting like he didn’t do you dirty,” my friend said. I know she is right, I can’t keep walking around like that. Trying to reframe all this pain and hurt into joy and meaning is noble but exhausting. My pain, my anger, my tears needed to be expressed and witnessed. I needed to make the time to do it so that my body wouldn’t just take the time without my permission like it was doing that day.  So there in my safe space, I felt my pain, tears, and anger. I accepted the truth that I was married to someone who took from me (took my love, my time, my money, my kindness, my trust) and when it was his turn to give me the same amount effort and time back because I needed it desperately, he bailed on me and that shit hurt. It hurt when he told me he didn’t want to be married to me anymore. It hurt when he told me that loving me was too hard. It hurt when he told me that I wanted too much. It hurt when he said that our marriage was too much work. It hurt when he said he didn’t want to have kids with me or ever. Then when he walked away in peace, left me in pieces, and had the audacity to say he was doing this all for me – that shit didn’t hurt it just filled me with rage. 

The day was a rollercoaster just as full laughs and good stories about the rain, the feline-themed musical we didn’t get, and a pawn shop that felt like purgatory as it was full of tears and pain. It was also full of love and gratitude for my friends and my family – who showed up to be my support system and my safe space to fall apart. Because of his duplicity, I walked out of marriage not knowing who the fuck my partner was. But I am proud and grateful to say that I walked out of my marriage and that pawn shop $50 richer and knowing exactly who the fuck I am. 

I will be using this $50 micro-fortune to see the second half of Cats. I love myself enough to do it for me. Plus after reading the lyrics to the song Memory, I have a feeling this musical has more to say that may resonate. I’ll leave them below just in case they speak to you too:

Midnight
Not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight
The withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan

Daylight
I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn’t give in
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin

Stay tuned for my reflections on the musical Cats in another post 🙂

Thanks for reading.

-D

Reflecting on Hindsight and Heartbreak

Hindsight and heartbreak

This week I found myself reflecting a lot on struggles and what they mean. How struggles can be dark and challenging but they can also be a catalyst for other things. They can be that kick in the butt or that spark that some of us (aka ME) need to finally get it together. The months following the end of my marriage have been particularly dark and full of struggles for me. As I looked back on the last few years of my marriage, I realized there were so many things, things that seemed minor then but so obvious now. Things that were like signposts toward the end of the marriage. Things that were clues to where we are now. It’s been painful to revisit but hindsight is an important and cruel teacher. A teacher that makes us reflect and find lessons even when it hurts and its hard. With matters of the heart, matters of love and losing love, it can be very challenging to find the lesson or see the silver linings. Going through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance are natural. Some days I feel like I go through them all in the same day, hour by hour. Other days I feel like I fully accept things like I am thriving again. Then something happens that triggers me back into anger or depression again. The stages are never linear. Another big stage for me has been the reflection stage. Reflection and hindsight go hand in hand. 

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I have been very reflective in the first few weeks of 2019. Reflective about the end of my marriage, reflective about my relationships with men in general, and reflective about how those relationships impacted my relationship with myself. I took a deep hard look because I set the intention that 2019 would be a year of gratitude, a year of rebuilding, a year of deep reflection, and a year of healing out loud. So in that spirit, I wanted to take a moment today to thank a few of the men that I’ve encountered in my life. Men who broke something in me that I’ve had to find a way to mend. Some of those mendings have taken longer than others. All taught me something about myself, who I want to be for myself, and what kind of partner I need to be. Men whose names don’t matter but who I must thank for their inability to love me, their insecurities, their issues, and their problems. I examined the damages they left in the aftermath of my relationships with them and made a list of the important lessons each of these men taught me. I wrote them each a little thank you below:

To the one who ripped the packaging off my 15-year-old heart and strung it along for years to make yourself feel powerful. You were the first person I ever loved intensely with the pure and innocent excitement that only a teenager could have. Thank you for being the first one to teach me that emotional distance isn’t always a mystery and that broken people only know how to break others. You showed me how much my heart could break and still function. You gave my heart a higher propensity for resilience than I could have ever given myself. That resilient heart served me well in future heartbreaks.

To the one who showed me love and affection in private but never in public. The one who tried to make me think being kept a secret was supposed to be cool and exciting. Thank you for being too insecure to own your feelings. Thank you for making me believe that the curvy package my personality came in was not worthy of being loved out loud for all to see. Your hiding me from your life set the foundation for the years of uphill self-esteem battles I had with myself in my 20s. Battles that other men easily exploited. I am still learning how to be comfortable in my skin and fall in love with my curves, my gifts, and my flaws. But I know now that I am worthy of being loved out loud. 

To the one who was my friend, a central character in my coming of age moments and memories. The one who was the quintessential platonic homie until the night you had too much to drink and forced yourself on me. Thank you for helping me understand what it feels like to be violated when my guard was down, for being the person who brought me face to face with my own shame, for showing me what it means to fear the familiar. Your actions put me in a state of permanent vigilance and fueled a constant need for control that I still lose myself in sometimes. But you also gave me the ability to raise my expectations and maintain clear firm boundaries on my platonic friendships with men so that I never again assumed that friendship and safety were one and the same.

To the one who connected with my soul but ran away before our bodies could do the same. The one whose actions and eyes couldn’t hide his feelings or lie to me even when his words tried to. I know you weren’t ready or brave enough to surrender to a love like me when our paths crossed. Maybe you were never going to be ready and timing was never meant to be on our side. Thank you for showing me it was possible to freeze time with eye contact and epic conversations. Thank you for showing me how words could feel like touches and stares could awaken butterflies in my gut and flutters in my heart. You showed me how to deeply connect with another soul. I have been chasing that standard in my future relationships ever since.

To the one who loved my gifts and tried to fix my flaws with your constant criticism and comparisons. Thank you for helping me understand that when a partner creates conditions that is not love, that is control. You were the casualty of my discovering what my standards were. Sure, I could have settled down with you but that would have meant both of us would be stuck with love we don’t deserve. You were the first love I ever walked away from and possibly the first heart I ever broke. You gave me the gift of knowing that I could walk away from a love that wasn’t worthy of me. That gift has served me well ever since.

To the one who I invited into my heart after you made me laugh, the one who said all the right things, the one who showed me love and affection in public for an audience but never in private when I craved it the most. You spent years just playing house with me while I was attempting to build a life with you. Thank you for showing me that words are meaningless without actions. Thank you for showing me that it is possible to feel completely alone in the company of another person. Your abandonment when I needed you most taught me that dark struggles can be beautiful when you have to fight them all alone. Thank you for showing me that you can’t force what doesn’t want to flow with you. You gave me the gift of your absence and in that void I found myself. That was the only thing I needed all along.

All of you together taught me many things. Collectively the most important lesson you all taught me is this:

No man can make or break my life because only I can do that. No man can complete me because I am already whole. No man can love me the way I deserve to be loved because I have to love myself that way first. None of you had that much power over me. You all only had what I chose to give you. Your actions were the sparks for all these lessons but in my own inner work and reflection, I found wisdom and healing.

For those of you out there dealing with challenging matters of the heart, I invite you to try this exercise. What can you thank those past loves for? What scar did they leave you with that can be transformed into a lesson, into wisdom, into a catalyst for your healing?

Thanks for reading.

-D

 

Healing via Text?

I spent the first day of 2019 contemplating how I am going to create the life I want where I can thrive the way I was meant to. The year 2018 dealt me some of the most painful lessons in my life. I am still trying to make sense of the wisdom of these lessons and apply them to my day to day. This year I didn’t make any resolutions though truth be told there is a part of me that things I should. The only thing I did was make one commitment: 2019 will be the year that I will heal out loud. Heal out loud. It’s simple and complicated at the same time.

To do this I thought it would be a good idea to enlist the help of my Higher Self. We all have one and thanks to the struggles of the last year, I have spent quite some time getting to know this part of me. I have learned that my Higher Self is just the right amounts of righteous, ridiculous, responsible, and ratchet. So as I work to thrive in 2019, I wanted to ensure I did something to channel her into my day to day life and decisions. There are lots of reasons to stay in touch with your Higher Self and lots of methods as this great blog post from MindValley describes. Taking this as inspiration, I wondered what would be the best method for me to engage in such regular communication. I was like “Self, how should I stay in touch with my Higher Self when life is busy and I can’t always make dates or plans with her?” Then I stared around my house. I stared at my sofa, my furniture, and my many thoughtfully curated belongings to see if the answer would reveal itself. Then I got hungry, as one does when deep in thought. So I walked to my fridge to get a snack. Then I saw the answer on this refrigerator magnet that features one of my absolute favorite quotes by Sharon Schuster: 

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“Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible.” I thought about that for a moment. What is the most absurd way that I can try to tackle the seemingly impossible task for self-healing? And then it came to me: “Text her. Text your Higher Self!”  

So last night I created a phone number, saved my Higher Self as a contact in my phone, and began this self-discovery experiment…

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We shall see how this unfolds over the coming months. Follow along as I attempt to use my addiction to texting as a way to go inward, reflect, and thrive in 2019. A commitment like this has the makings to be extremely profound or a total trainwreck of hilarious proportions. Both paths I am willing to walk down and share so long as it results in more clarity, compassion, comic relief for me and the world.  

You can support and follow along via the dedicated Instagram account I created for the project: @higherselftexts. Follow along and share with your friends!

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Thank you for reading, for your support in my journey so far, and extra, extra, extra thanks in advance for following along! This should be fun. 

-D

 

Freedom and Certainty

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With a few days left in 2018, I am finding myself contemplating the interplay of having freedom and having certainty. I am thinking of the metaphor of a child with a kite. Its at the front of my mind because I recently saw Mary Poppins Returns and the kite is a strong metaphor in the movie, just as it was in the original. Its a symbol of change, of hope, of things that need to be let go, and of new things that take their place.  It has left me wondering what it is that I need to let go of, what are the things I am holding on to that I shouldn’t be. Wondering how far I want my kite to fly and how much I am willing to let go of certainty to find freedom. This makes the control freak in my squirm with anxiety at the thought. It’s not easy to be free when your mind wants to control things to keep you safe from harm.

But if you want freedom, sometimes you have to be ok with not knowing, you have to be ok with just trusting that you’re enough, that the universe has your back, and that you may feel aimless as you float around but eventually you will end up where you are supposed to be. You also have to be ok with knowing that sometimes you’ll get stuck in places you are not supposed to be. You’ll be stuck in a rut, job, relationship, friendship or situation that like a kite stuck in a tree. Something will need to happen to get you out of it. Some form of help or rescue either from others or from yourself. It won’t be easy – you may need to climb. You may need to bend and you may get scratches or even fall. It makes take you multiple attempts. You may even start to rationalize that the thing you are stuck in is not so bad. That you can make it work. That you can find a way to be happy or content here. Rational thoughts won’t change gut feelings – they may quiet them for a bit but eventually, they come back. They come back in the most minor of discomforts that give you the loudest message possible – you’ll get sinking feelings in your gut. That job, friendship, relationship, or situation will start to feel tight, and uncomfortable -like a pair of pants that is too tight or a shirt you grew out of. That is the moment we are reminded that while we made the best of it for as long as we could, we are still stuck. We tried to control and create a reality that will not give us the energy and flow we need to get to the level of freedom and soaring we want and need to have in our life.

So in the last few days of 2018 that is the thing I invite you to contemplate along with me. How far do you want your kite to fly? What will you let go of to make it so?

Thanks for reading.

-D

Patience and Healing

Soul

A reminder for me and the world that healing is hard. Moving on without fear is hard. Trying to distinguish between what is a new possibility and what is an old monster coming to test you is hard. Today, I leave here a simple reminder to practice self-compassion, as best you can. To give yourself some grace. To be patient and gentle with your own heart – we are often the ones who hurt ourselves the most.

Thanks for reading.

-D

Stumbling means you’re doing it right

Healing is complicated. I am beginning to wonder if I know what in the world I am doing. Some days it feels clear and calming other days it feels like a hot emotional mess. Sure I am doing a lot of inner reflection and work and self-expression which has been great. At the same time, I have bad days when I can barely focus or function or get out of bed. One of my favorite Instagram accounts, @spiritualgangster posted a quote that said: “Be so aligned nothing fucks with your vibration.” While that is my ultimate goal I am working towards each day, that is easier said than done at this moment. The last few weeks all my triggers have come to the party to mess with my grounded vibration. With the holidays coming up it will be the first time in 13 years that I am spending them alone without a partner. It has been weighing really heavy on me, stirring up all kinds of emotional triggers, and really fucking with my vibration. All of this happening in my new home where I am alone clumsily trying to learn how to navigate my new love-hate relationship with silence and solitude.

Solitude is a weird thing. When I was married I craved it and sought it out all the time. I recall feeling so stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed at my ex’s presence on bad days. I remember trying to squeeze every ounce of goodness out of the silence and solitude I had before he’d get home from work.  I once told him, “I don’t know how to be around your noise” in the middle of one of our very bad arguments. Everything about him was noisy and, at that moment in my life, I needed silence and solitude so badly. I was working so hard to find peace in all the things I was grieving. I savored the moments when I got to be home alone with my thoughts in the silence. Now I am living alone for the first time ever in my life. I have an abundance of silence. Its like I won the silence lottery it is so freaking quiet. Now I have all the solitude I could have ever wanted back then. Now its so hard to be in this new little home of mine, just me, the abundance of silence, and my thoughts. My loud, painful, and judgemental ass thoughts. And I don’t know what to do with it all. I have even less of a clue of how this overwhelm will help me heal when the silence feels like I may drown in it. 

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That is the thing about healing. You never get the thing you want when you want it. You get it when the universe wants to give it to you. It is an imperfect process that feels like you go 1 step forward and 3 steps back. Even knowing everything I know about surrender and acceptance, I am still impatient with this process and with myself. Last week, I still stumbled hard. I let my anger and sadness get the best of me. I missed a family gathering because I was not ready to be there acting like the person I thought they expected me to be. In my family, I am the joyful daughter, crazy tia, and funny sister. I make the jokes and sing the songs and make people smile. But that day, I didn’t have it in me to be that person. I didn’t want to show up sad and broken because I didn’t want them to be disappointed at who I was that day. I didn’t want them to worry about me. As hard as it was I still showed up because I wanted to see their smiles and laughs even if it was not me who gave it to them. The minute I walked in the door of my childhood home and saw my family gathered laughing together, I broke down in front of everyone. I cried like I had never before cried in front of them. I just let it all out all the raw, snot-filled tears and emotions. I let them see me broken. I shared how sad I was about the holidays coming up. I was struggling to catch my breath between my tears. I told them I was angry at my ex, angry at my situation, and angry at myself for letting this negative emotion be louder than my intuition and wisdom. They consoled me with hugs and prayers and food. Then all the love got so overwhelming that I freaked out. It got too hard to be there and I needed my solitude once again. I drove myself back home, beating myself up for not being able to rise above these feelings. I beat myself up for not being able to be the daughter, tia, and sister I love to be around my family that day. I beat myself up for letting my anger shit on my joy.  In my solitude that evening after seeing my family, I made a confession to myself that I will make here to all of you: I have days where I try and fail to project manage my healing.

Confession: I have days where I try and fail to project manage my healing.

That’s right. Despite everything I know to be true about surrendering and manifesting and speaking things into existence and treating emotions like visitors with wisdom and all that. Despite having the full logical understanding that I cannot control everything no matter how hard I try. I still have this tiny little piece of me that is acting like my healing and grief are nicely laid out on a 10-page project plan with milestones and metrics for success that will prove that I am officially healed and moved on. There have been many days in the last few months where this tiny little piece of me is louder and more powerful than all the other parts of me that know better. 

This little part of me is half efficient project manager half Regina George from Mean Girls. She waits. She chills in the corner during my moments of clarity. She watches me meditate and do yoga. She watches me use my cleansing sprays and say my affirmations. She just waits. She is there when I am with family and friends letting their company and wise words give me solace. Then out of nowhere just when I think I am comfortable and finding my rhythm, she sees her chance and she swoops in with her judgments and hurtful words and throws me off. I go from being a resilient healing scar to a throbbing open wound. All the work I do to be centered and grounded goes to shit. I get triggered by the world and start numbing myself with time wasters, rushing all the things that cannot be rushed, and trying to control the things that cannot be controlled. When I fail at all of it there is she acting like none of it was her doing. The parts of me that know better stay behind and pick up the pieces. I know it’s only a matter of time before it happens again and when it does, I will not be ready for it. Perhaps that is the point.

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Heather Ash Amara talks about how healing is a cycle in her book, Warrior Goddess Training. She says there are some women who begin their healing journey and just when they think they’ve got it and figured it out, something happens that takes them back to their default setting of old behaviors. Some of us expect perfection to quickly I guess. When I read this passage in her book, I pictured an impatient 5-year-old in the back seat of a car saying “Are we there yet?” over and over. There (in this case) being over the hump of this painful end of my marriage, over the hump of learning how to live and be alone, over the hump of grieving. Obviously, I am not there yet. This road trip to healing is going to take a while. That impatient 5-year old represents all my emotions – anger, sadness, anxiety, fear. She is going to have to learn to be patient right along with me. We’re in for a bumpy emotional ride together.

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At some point in our lives, all of us will find ourselves on one of these bumpy emotional journeys. Thinking we’ve figured it out only to get slapped in the face with the realization that we know even less than Jon Snow in Game of Thrones does (for those of you non-GOT fans: please refer to gif above). At that moment we will stumble. We will be reactive. We will be triggered by our emotions. We may even take some of that out on the wrong people. But just know this: if you stumble during your healing process you are doing it right. Stumbling is part of the cycle of healing. There are some lessons we can only learn by stumbling through them. Some wisdom is internalized differently when you gain it through pain. Trust that and trust yourself. Even in the middle of a tornado of negative emotions, we are hardwired to have all the strength we need to move past it. Even if we don’t know it or believe it. This has been a hard idea for me to hold on to and embrace fully but I am working daily to accept it as a universal and undisputed truth.

Own your scars and bruises with the confidence of a little girl with scabby knees heading to her next adventure.

So if you are finding yourself struggling through your own healing remember: stumbling means you are doing it right. Give yourself some grace, embrace solitude if you need it, fall apart in front of loved ones if you must, fall apart alone so you can fully feel the emotions that want to emerge, and give yourself the gift of patience. As a wise friend of mine told me: being able to find yourself in the process is the greatest return on an investment of money, love, time, or anything else. So stumble my friends. Stumble epically. Own your scars and bruises with the confidence of a little girl with scabby knees heading to her next adventure. Cry when you fall with your whole body if you have to until you feel relief. Healing is imperfect and the only way to do it right is to fully embrace the days when you are a hot mess of emotions. If we want to go hard when we are healing, we must first go hard when we are crying and stumbling. So give yourself grace through your stumbling today. You will find yourself on the other end of whatever this hump is and that will be the best return on your investment of tears. 

Thanks for reading.  

-D