Therapy Thursday

I have swirled tonight’s post around in my head for hours, testing different ways to say all of what is in my heart and mind. It’s just not ready yet, though, so I’m going to let it simmer over the weekend and see if some quiet time off in the woods with some wonderful people helps me wrap myself around it.

A couple of items of note, though – this place is eerily quiet without Joshua. It feels okay; I don’t have a need to turn things on or do busy-brain stuff to keep myself out of my head. I imagine there may be some of that over the course of the week, but I’ve come a long way since the last time I was forced to sit in silence. This time, it can be a choice.

I realized tonight that this will mark about a year since the “official” end of my last “official” relationship. I was thinking about Joshua coming home from camp, and wondering if he might have some anxiety about it, even if he doesn’t realize it, because of what happened last year. I’m going to make sure things feel familiar and comfortable for him when he gets home; no big surprises.

Last year at this time, I would have reacted to the tragedy that struck my chosen family Sunday very differently. Tonight, it really became clear to me why codependent behaviors are selfish. That was a pretty huge breakthrough, and it felt good to know I’ve grown and am a better friend for it.

When we got the news, we were with people who are new in my life. Good people, I knew, but how good I wouldn’t know until they gathered us both up and held us close and took care without taking charge or invading on what was a very personal trauma. I am so grateful for new and abiding friendships and the kinds of people I am inviting into my life.

Now to wrap up the magical making of food for camp, throw some laundry in, and wash off the day and its sweat and tears.

Taking it in stride.

I’m beginning to learn the difference between getting over and getting through. I’m discovering that some obstacles are meant to be hurdled while others must be dismantled, the pieces shifted to the side of the path or picked up to be useful along the way. Knowing which is which isn’t as simple as when I’m traveling physically as opposed to metaphorically: the roadblock that appears to stretch as far as my mind can reach can be blown away with the gentlest breeze of self-worth, and the smallest rock that I wouldn’t even see gets underfoot just so and takes me down before I know what hit me. I could sidestep the rock, but I’m becoming more and more aware that it will find its way back in front of me before long, and that maybe there’s something I’m meant to take away from that one and I’m just not getting it. Conversely, I often see the vast roadblock and simply despair, not even considering how easily it could be avoided altogether; my actions place these types of obstacles in my path, and they can also remove them.

And that takes practice. All of it does. Recognizing the lies my brain has stored up and prepared especially for those days when I’m extra vulnerable and not being mindful. Realizing the potential for relief from anxiety I have caused myself. Identifying the elements that encourage the kind of thought that has me stumbling rather than striding. So in time, after much practice, maybe fear of rejection will be recognizable only as something from my past, and not something that stops me in my tracks and rattles off all of the reasons I’m not good enough for whatever it is I want. Maybe I’ll learn to relinquish control enough that a fork in the road doesn’t leave me paralyzed with indecision, but rather encourages me to contemplate, make a choice, and see it through. Maybe in all things, I will forgive myself my poor choices and dropped balls and missed turns, and trust that if the other path was the one I was meant to take, it will come back around.

While this train of thought was prompted by my discovery that another candidate will be offered the position I interviewed for a couple of weeks ago, it certainly applies to other aspects of life. I want to travel my paths – career, education, friendships, family, intimate relationships – smoothly, not because the obstacles do not exist, but because I have learned how to take them in stride, either sweeping them away or swooping them up, dismissing their poison or tucking their lesson away.

Femme Love.

I’m being a lazy girl cuz I have the best company in the world, but earlier today I shared this with a Femme group I belong to, and want to share it with you, too.

Two years ago this weekend, I attended my last San Francisco Pride. Tonight, my amazing Femme friend Lisa and her son are flying into Portland to spend time with my brother and me. This is the woman who, when I told her my ex informed me at the 11th hour that she wasn’t going to move back to Maine with me, said, “What day did you book the truck for? I’ll be there.” And she was. Two years ago, she flew more than halfway across the country to drive back with me, dropping and rearranging her entire life for me. My other bestie Melissa flew the other half to meet me and drive the rest of the way home with me and my cats. This is Femme community to me: two women who love me more than anyone ever has or ever will, stepping up to take care of me in a moment of great need, without hesitation. Thank you all for the community we’ve established here, and may you all be as lucky as I am, to have not one but two brilliant femme sisters who are always there for me.

Damn.

The hits just keep comin’ tonight, and each one has completely blindsided me. Joshua’s excitement about our visitors is mounting as the hours tick down, but it’s also prompted questions I wasn’t prepared to answer.

I try really hard to be completely candid and natural with him when our conversation lends itself to a mention of my ex who lived with us last spring/summer. She and Joshua had a really good bond for several months before she moved back to Maine, and while I know he felt the shift in her as time passed with us all living together, I know he held out hope even after she bailed without so much as a goodbye to him, that she would call to say hi someday. While I initiated the breakup and know it came far later than it should have (and really, there never should have been a second chance for this relationship to begin with), I too had hoped that the part of her that had broken down on the phone with me the day mom and I filed the guardianship papers, the part that claimed to long for us to be a real family, the part that put Joshua to bed over the phone every night for two months, would show up for long enough to reassure him that what I’d said was true, that she didn’t leave because of him, that she loved him and always would. Even if it was a lie. But instead, she said she didn’t see how that was her responsibility, and left me to comfort a confused and hurt 13 year old Aspie whose hero had walked away while he was at camp without so much as a note.

It took a lot for me to maintain a neutral position when the topic came up now and again over the months following the breakup. I cried harder telling him she was gone than I had at any point of my own process around it – for me, her moving out was just a formality, a finality. But he didn’t see it coming, and how could he? Just days before he left for camp, she was talking to him about what kind of dog would be best for us to get when we moved into a house.

I felt like the bad guy then, because I elected, one last time, to protect her – to say to Joshua all the things she should have, but didn’t. But this time, I covered her ass for his sake, not for hers. And tonight, when he asked me how she’s doing, and said he wished she would call sometime, all I could do was tell him I wasn’t sure, but that I think she’s doing really well, and that I was sure she would want to hang out with him and still cares, but it’d be hard because of the differences she and I had. I know they say people with Asperger’s lack empathy, but I’m here to tell you they just experience and express it differently than most of us do, because it was clear that he could read my discomfort; I only hoped that he thought it was sadness about the relationship ending and not at having to tell him what I wished, as opposed to what I believed to be the truth. To save him from the awkwardness of having to comfort me and not even knowing the real reason, I apologized and said, “Who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky and I’ll date someone cool again someday. Hey, it could happen!” And he laughed and I smiled, and it was done.

Then, unrelated conversation later prompted him to ask if we’d be going to Salisbury beach this year. Our family has camped there every summer for 30+ years, and Joshua looks forward to it (as long as he can bring or use someone’s handheld electronics while we’re there). I had to tell him I really don’t know, and then realized I’d not yet told him of our aunt and uncle’s very recent divorce. While my grandmother started and has maintained the beach/camping tradition all these years, my aunt and uncle have been the anchor site and the ones to take care of everyone and everything for a decade or more. I don’t know who’s going. I don’t know if this family trip has come to the end of the line. But I do know that once again, I felt like I’d failed Joshua for not being able to protect him from the painful realities life throws at us.

I know I can’t protect him from everything, and eventually I won’t be here to be a buffer at all. I know I need to prepare him to manage his feelings around these sorts of things and not try to keep him from feeling sadness or confusion. But I also know that this kid has been abandoned and neglected so often and for so long that I’m just not ready to throw him to the wolves just yet. So maybe my rules around me having company are a little too stringent, or maybe I don’t introduce him to as many people as I should. But I’ll be damned if he’s going to be hurt by one more person in a situation I could have prevented. The time will come when he will have to decide for himself if the benefits outweigh the potential hurts. This isn’t that time. Not yet.

Music time again.

I think you’ve all come to realize that this is what I do when there is either not enough or too much to write about. So here’s a list of songs that have struck my fancy since the last time I felt over- or underwhelemed. (Which always makes me think of that scene in 10 Things I Hate About You – you know the one. If you don’t, we are so watching it together.)

Adele, One and Only

Portishead, Glory Box

Call Me Maybe

Pretty When you Cry

The Fear, Lily Allen

Sideways, Citizen Cope

Alabama Shakes, Hold On

ALL THE CHAOS.

I could probably make an anti-gratitude list today because I have been a cranky, crotchety, pouty BRAT for the last couple of days and I’m not entirely sure I’ve worn myself out on those traits. Instead, I’m going to make a list of things to let go of. Because hanging onto this shit gets you NOWHERE, darlings. It can’t teach you anything, it doesn’t bring enlightenment, and it sure as hell does not lend itself to anything even remotely resembling serenity. So let’s talk about the shit I’m NOT gonna stress about, shall we? Yes, we shall.

Money stuff. Cuz you know what? We keep making it, we keep spending it. There’s no quick and easy way to change the velocity of the former, and I’m already pretty tightly cinched on the latter. What can ya do but hope for the best.

Other people’s stuff. It’s theirs, Kirsten. Let them take care of it. They know how. You can love and cheer and support without doing for. It’s true!

Job stuff. You’ll either get the communications gig or you won’t; the world will not end either way. Nothing you do – particularly STRESSING THE FUCK OUT – is going to change the results of the first interview. Next round is already decided.

Car stuff. See money stuff, but also? You paid nine hundred bucks for a vehicle that has kept you and the boy and (for a short while) the other boy mobile and safe for a year and a half. You found a fantastic shop that takes good care of Bessie and whose owner will be honest about whether it’s worthwhile to repair her or better to lay her to rest. You’ve done the bus thang before, and you can do it again if need be. THIS IS ALSO NOT THE END OF THE WORLD.

Program stuff. I’m not letting go of doing it – I’m letting go of my guilt around not doing it. I have barely talked to my sponsor, haven’t been to a meeting in two weeks, and feel like I’m back at square one. But I’m not. I just need to DO MY SHIT. It is not mentally challenging. It is not physically taxing. It just requires that I recognize that this powerlessness I feel around all of the above can be okay if I check back in with my HP and say, “Oh hi. I was gone for a minute, but now I’m back.” That’s all I gotta do. Would that all relationships were that simple.

Even Oscar knows it’s okay to let go of all this shit. He got like, two days of sun after a week of rain, and then the sun bailed AGAIN, and he’s all, “I’m gonna have 72 flowers and start growing all up over this office anyway, cuz that’s how I roll.”

The birthday, it never ends!

Since I am such a lucky girl as to have my birthday continue for days after the actual event, you are a lucky reader who gets not one, but TWO posts tonight. Don’t you feel all special and stuff? I sure do.

I arrived to work this morning to find these lovely ladies, along with a birthday Post-It in my darling coworker Maureen’s unmistakable bubbly writing. I’ve not yet learned their names, but they’re a little shy and we’re new friends; I’m sure they’ll tell me soon enough. I’m pretty sure Maureen intended one for a birthday gift and one as her “I’m sorry I announced my retirement before you secured a different job,” gift, but I think she’s banking on the interview tomorrow panning out well for me. We shall see.

After work, I met my friend Chelsea; I was a tired and slow-to-get-out-of-bed girl on Sunday when we’d initially planned this rendezvous, but she was gracious and accommodating, probably because she realizes that the 10+ year difference in our age means I needed more time to recuperate from birthday festivities than she would have. She surprised and overwhelmed me with one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received – she put together a collection of images from Pinterest, some of which I’d pinned, but many were her own, and had them printed on photo paper and bound in an album. I’d dearly love to share every page, but here are just a couple.

(This is the part where I started tearing up –  I know C didn’t know when she chose this one that it is particularly dear to me):

And one more – truly, every page is perfect; this is easily among my most treasured gifts.

So, here I am, about to enjoy a bit of a book and take a little “me” time to mentally prepare for tomorrow’s interview, feeling so fortunate and hopeful and above all, so very loved. Life is pretty damned good, y’all. And it just keeps getting better, in part because I’m learning how to let it.

It’s in the stars.

A friend shared this earlier and I’ve not yet had a chance to read the whole thing, but I wanted to mark it for later this evening. While I don’t necessarily believe everything astrologists claim, I do find that some cosmic junctures make for very… interesting times. Personally, Mercury Retrograde kicks my ass all over the place, and that revelation upon looking back at some particularly inauspicious bits of my past was what convinced me that while there are plenty of phonies out there, the Universe certainly does have its influences; they’re just not always properly or well interpreted. I’ll be curious to see what Venus offers up this week.

Perspectives From the Sky

And now…

…We have arrived at the point in the weekend where I attempt to see how many tasks I can perform concurrently so I can claim productivity. I actually don’t feel like this mostly-low-key weekend was anything but necessary, and am more concerned that I may have overextended myself in the week ahead. I have at least two commitments every evening until Friday, which has only one (so far). I hope the rain and my busy schedule and my new early-morning routine will all lend themselves to early bedtimes and easy sleeps.

I spent most of the last two days in Joshua’s company, and we had a lot of fun. We played wii games and phone app games together and against each other and went to the movies. I sometimes catch myself feeling like I’m failing him somehow by only being me, and not being or providing him with a grownup boy-type person who will do things with him and be things to him that I’m not. It doesn’t happen often, but when it hits, it has the potential to make me feel a little lonely for someone like that for me, too. I typically don’t dwell on it for very long – one of the benefits of hanging with a kid with ADHD is that you can’t really brood, since the next topic is coming at you before melancholy can set in. It certainly doesn’t change my current resolve around relationships, but it does make me take a moment to consider all the reasons I am, and Joshua and I are, just me and just us. And once I take the larger picture into consideration, I know things are just the way they’re meant to be right now.

And right now, I need to get banana bread in the oven before the laundry-changing alarm goes off. I’ll leave you with this vision of adorableness that is a happy kid before his first ever IMAX experience. He agreed that it was epic.

The wonder of it all.

I know I’ve been slacking on the blog, but it has been a busy few days, what with writing a zillion pages every morning and getting old yesterday and all that business. I have so many things on my mind and in my heart, but it almost feels as if to put them into words would be to rob them of some of their magic. It’s not even anything new – I’ve not won the lottery or met anyone new or discovered a cure for cancer. I feel like I have new eyes, I guess – eyes that have an extra lens, one that filters out the crap I’ve learned over too many years of self-loathing and perseveration, eyes that allow me to appreciate every little thing around me, and about me. Maybe it’ll work its way up to a genuine epiphany, but whatever it is, I’m grateful for it.