Emotional Work

Day 643 and Courage

My courage is uneven at the moment. I have a specific professional project that I am struggling to push myself on. I tell myself that it is something I want, but if the truism “having is evidence of wanting” is any indication, I am struggling to convince myself I really want it. Except I am fairly sure I do want it and I’m just scared.

I used to love it when people said no to me. I was the kind of “chip on my shoulder” young person that used a no to fuel myself. “I’ll show them” was somewhere between a mantra and a battle cry.

But now I find myself anxious to publicly go out and see just how many people will say no. I don’t know if I find it as motivating as I used to. I tell myself I don’t mind but perhaps some other unexamined element of reaction makes me afraid.

This could all be an elaborate ego protection ruse on my part. Maybe I still love the motivation that comes from no. Maybe I hate it. But I have not really done enough fucking around to find out yet to know one way or other.

My gut instinct is to simply declare in public my goals and a timeline to force myself into it. But then I’ve been working through my tendency to rely on willpower and force to motivate myself. Perhaps a big forcing function will simply send me back into my old coping mechanisms of addictive overwork.

I’ve always punished myself by doing things. If I am anxious I almost always find ways to kick a hornet’s nest to force an action rather than gentle build momentum.

Whatever I do I would prefer I do it with as much gentleness and respect for my inner child as possible. I am prone to abusing my inner child’s feelings by disregarding her fear or her desire to keep distance from the rest of the world. I deserve better than forcing misery onto my inner child.


Day 642 and Feast

WARNING: I am discussing food and my relationship to food for anyone that has any triggers around food, eating disorders, or disordered eating.

I accidentally didn’t eat anything of substance today. I had some coffee and a banana so just enough to break my fast but not quite so much that I had a meal. The weekend was packed with meals in huge portions due to slightly more socializing and being out of the house than was wise. I really felt it yesterday as we had two very hearty meals planned and I managed to eat maybe a quarter of it.

I have always been a bit of a feast or famine type. Some of this is probably related to some childhood incidents. I’d much rather eat as much as I’d like and then fast for a day or so. I like the feeling of choice and control.

Some of worst parts of having to combat an autoimmune disorder is sometimes being put on medications that need to be taken with food. I hate when any outside force interferes with my body. Even medication.

I also happen to buy into the research that fasting is a a generally positive force for good health. The intuitive notion that we evolved for feast or famine is slowly being proven out. Every major world religion incorporating fast as a component also reassures. Nothing is more lindy than fasting.

But as I come to the end of my day it is probably time to eat a proper meal. My stomach is rumbling. I can feel my focus faltering. I don’t have much of an appetite but I will need to find the middle ground between feast and famine today.

Emotional Work

Day 634 and Responsibility

The best part of committing to therapy and emotional work is taking responsibility for your feelings. This is also the worst part of doing any kind of emotional growth. I suppose this is how you know therapy is a worthwhile use of your time.

Emotional work has a bit of the “wherever you go, there you are” tension of acceptance. I’ve also come to appreciate the truism that having is evidence of wanting. We are always living exactly the lives we want. Attachment and delusions and self limiting beliefs are all part of the way we protect our ego.

I’ve got a lot of my identity wrapped up in my coping mechanisms. I’m sure this is quite relatable to many people. If you are willing to be a vulnerable you start to see just how many habits and behaviors are built to protect yourself.

For me I have found comfort in overworking. If I crash and fail I protect my ego by saying little stories like I’m fragile or have high standards or whatever else seems acceptable. When of course, I could have simply made different choices to accommodate my physical state or the expectations I had for quality.

But accepting that I am ultimately responsible for my strengths and weaknesses in equal remains elusive. Personal enlightenment is a minute by minute experience. Ego destruction isn’t easy.

I try to remind myself that any traumas I may have experienced that enabled the development of these coping mechanisms are in the past. I am now the parent to my inner child. And no one is responsible for her happiness but me.

Aesthetics Biohacking

Day 624 and Goblin Mode

A trigger warning for folks. This post contains discussions of poor eating habits, food trauma and possible eating disorders.

As much as I like being a bit of a loner, I am often comically inept at having to take care of myself. My husband has been busy with work and I have been left to my own devices to manage cooking this week. Let’s just say it went a bit poorly. Or at least it was comical. My husband is practically a chef and I can barely microwave a hot pocket.

I’m exactly the sort of person that Soylent, the tech bro reinvents NutriSlim beverage, was designed to appeal to. I am easily overwhelmed by the thought of even basic cooking. I’m extremely picky about texture, smells and presentation (thanks autism). And if I’m really honest I just don’t want to eat anything that isn’t perfect. So if it’s not exactly what I want, I might has well have a nutritional slurry. I hate to waste calories in unappealing food so I’d rather get in my macronutrients and vitamins.

I’m embarrassed to say that I did exactly that for a few meals this week. I tossed 2 scoops of protein powder, a scoop of vitamin mix, and some GI stomach support into a glass of water and called that dinner. Even lower rent than a packaged shake but probably healthier. I got 35 grams of protein out of this bad boy.

A protein slurry in water.

I realize this sounds like I’ve got an eating disorder. And maybe I do. Before anyone has a clue that I might be autistic I had some knock down drag out battle of wills with doctors.

One of the defining traumas of my childhood was my pediatrician telling my mother I needed to eat more dairy. I hated the stuff and refused milk & yogurt as small child. My doctor’s solution (and I am not making this up sadly) was to not allow me any food till I ate dairy

Julie Fredrickson from Day 368 Eating Disorder Season

That story doesn’t end well. I didn’t eat the dairy. I passed out. Starving kids into compliance is perhaps a bad idea. But it did leave me with a sense of comfort and control with fasting. If I cannot eat for any reason I know I will be able to manage feelings of hunger. So not a total loss.

I have enjoyed some of this feral goblin mode stuff but I’m glad that Alex is back at his cooking now that the week is over and it’s Friday. Pulled pork is definitely better than nutritional slurry. Well, sometimes slurry has its place.

Internet Culture

Day 599 and The Lamentations of Their Women

A bunch of people asked me about what happened to me on Twitter over the weekend. I’d been hitting a bunch of different niche communities like startup Twitter, finance Twitter, doomer Twitter, and discourse Twitter with a thread that has a bunch of extremely extra and occasionally outright hostile weirdos saying reactionary shit.

I think it all started when my friend Ashley wrote a post about the commodification of women’s bodies. She was responding to another piece of discourse and found herself getting dog piled by one of the most irritating but unavoidable portions of the the internet; reactionary angry young men.

I didn’t like that Ashley was getting ripped for functionally agreeing with right coded, socially conservative men. I thought “damn, you can’t win with them”.

Entering the Fray

I decided to jump in and tease some of these boys. My inner child loves to shitpost as she finds humor and playfulness protective. I promptly got blocked. I went about my business. Now that I live on our homestead in Montana, I’ve got a lot of chores.

But I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I kept discussing the damn discourse. I expressed my concern that we’ve got such an intense population of reactionary young men who act as if they are perpetually victimized. I expressed empathy for how men are getting screwed and mostly got told it is women’s fault. It did some numbers but it wasn’t going into a context collapse situation just yet. Basically another day on Twitter.

The thread started out with all of the empathy and good faith I’ve come to expect from niche Twitter. We avoided purity politics. Tucker graciously discussed his own journey and how he let go of anger and began taking responsibility for himself and his family. Jack made some jokes. A number of internet friends discussed the varied ways they handled the systemic discrimination that some masculine virtues experience in modernity. Much wisdom was shared about how different they had grown up to be men.

Later that night I wrote a throwaway post about how we’ve got a crisis of masculinity and maybe only other men can get through to angry young boys? I suggested that perhaps right coded men who discuss modern masculinity would have an easier time reaching them. I tagged Tucker Max and Jack Murphy as men who seem to have done a good job taking responsibility for their own lives.

I basically went to bed with a sense that people had been good to each other. And I didn’t really notice being quote tweeted by a niche main character in groyper Twitter or what it would mean for my tomorrow.

It Escalates

His thread contained the following:

  • A very intense discussion of the ethics of doing butt stuff and posting about your experience with polyamory and cuckcolding.
  • The ethics of charging for coaching and clubs and whether one can have masculine virtue if your wife sleeps with other men.
  • A surprising amount of hysterics about what constitutes hypocrisy if one claims to be masculine.

Basically a bunch of people who haven’t figured out their own shadow lives told me exactly how uncomfortable they were with other people’s sex lives.

But honestly it was just so much fucking butt stuff.

Unfortunately that visibility of discourse meant I suddenly got flooded with harassment. A coordinated re-tweeting campaign began. People started digging into back posts and old news headlines. My direct messages got flooded with threats against me and my husband. It was definitely enough that we started thinking about security around the homestead.

I can only assume someone’s group chat or some message board was like “look at the phenotype on this bitch”. And to be fair, some people came with good jokes about venture capitalists moving to Montana. But then there was the graphically racist, as in, “oh we still have Nazis” plot twist. I realized I might need to actually start blocking people. I felt modestly disappointed as I hadn’t been dogpiled in a long time. But protecting myself was more important.


Now you can ask why am I even stepping into these spaces if they contain this kind of abuse? What can I say there is a part of me who enjoys a frisson of danger. The feminine urge to protect our menfolk often runs head long into the reality that they can be dangerous. Walking into male spaces has inherent risks if you take up space in public life.

I have to be honest honest with myself that there is a breed of men who considers all public spaces to be male. I am an offense to them even if I am in the process of lamentation for our men. The space I take up by existing with different preferences is proof enough I am an enemy to be subjugated.

So I guess I owe anyone I teased about blocking on Twitter an apology. There are some people in too much pain out there. And I am not in anyway responsible for their emotional health. Only they can choose to let go of the pain.

Emotional Work

Day 557 and Fixation

I’ve got a gift for generating momentum. If I can summon the energy and the willpower, I’ll put my total focus on unlocking whatever blocking issues hinder my goal.

The trouble is that this process doesn’t allow for multitasking. Once I turn my eye on a blocker, I’ll fixate on it until it is solved. I’m incredibly prone to tunnel vision.

I’m usually quite competent at prioritizing and ordering priorities correctly to take advantage of the is tendency toward focus. But sometimes I’ll get fixated on the wrong thing and I’ll stay stuck on a problem that shouldn’t be my first priority.

And it’s really hard for me to pull away from a problem if it’s an emotionally charged issue. Those typically involve my personal life. Problems with my friends, my family and my husband can easily hold my energy hostage. Even if it’s not a top priority, if it feels emotionally like it should be a top priority I’ll struggle to let it go.

Over the spring, one of my fixations was finding a stable living situation. In May when Alex and I went scouting for our second time in Montana I poured all my willpower and focus into removing blockers to purchasing a home. It was a grinding emotional process as where to live and when to make a major investment are hard questions.

Now that I’m less than a month out from the move, I can feel my focus shifting. The creative generative driving energy that secured us a homestead is now searching for its next home. It makes me shiver a little bit. Like I’ve got my own personal Eye of Sauron probing my reality for it’s next target. I know what it should be. But sometimes my focus isn’t well behaved.

Emotional Work

Day 535 and Daddy’s Girl

I hate Father’s Day. I find myself debating if I can get away with a text or an email marking the occasion. I do this as I’d like to make it through the day without crying. I almost never can. Sometimes I just ignore it entirely.

I’ll reach out to my brother and ask how he is doing. He’s the only one that seems to have a better grip on the “our father” feelings. They are complex for me and untangling them is always painful.

I am a Daddy’s Girl. Everything that’s good (and some of what is bad) about me is a refraction of my father’s ambitions, interests, desires and personality.

I got my love of technology from him. I got my career in startups from him. I learned to socialize and leave a good impression from him. I got my optimism from him. I also got my need for distance from him. My preference for keeping my loved ones a little further away is from him. My struggles with intimacy and emotional availability are his too. I am my father’s daughter. I suspect I’ve also acted as a proxy for what he wanted in a son as well.

Even after years of therapy, unpacking how I feel about my father has not made the tender feelings any less acute when I touch them. I merely understand that my trauma is my father’s trauma and his trauma is his father’s and so on stretching back to who knows when. We carry our heritage.

I tell my father I’ve forgiven him for his mistakes. That I understand he did his best. I don’t think he believes me. I hope he does one day. He done what he could.

I am the absolute best of my father’s good traits. I am also the absolute worst of them too. Most of the good I have is because of him and most of the bad too.

Which makes me so angry. The steam rising up that my mother did all of the emotional work, gave me all of the love, and yet here I am a reflection of him and not her.

I’ll never understand how divorced parents can live with that kind of betrayal. To have done all the emotional work of parenting and yet see their child as a reflection of the other one. Anger is usually just hurt. And I do hurt. Not on my mother’s behalf. She is fine. I hurt because I wanted my father to be there too.

My father tried so hard to be a good father. My dad paid the bills. My dad was funny and well liked by everyone but his immediate family. My brother and I love him, but for a long time I don’t think we liked him. Maybe I’m wrong as my brother has been working through his feelings longer than me. Maybe he always liked him. I know we always loved him. I still love him.

I like my dad now. I can see him as a human as I get more distance from my childhood. He can be an old man now and not the father figure that let me down. Which is a relief when I can hold that thought. I see all his good and how he passed it on to me. And I can see how even the bad, perhaps especially the bad, what made me into the woman I am.

He is smart and loves technology. He has never missed a Comdex or eventually a CES. He always has the newest gadgets. His enthusiasm for new things has never waned.

Like other Boomers, his belief in the future and in youth, let him retain a kind of enthusiasm for what’s next even in hard times. And that inspired my entire life’s trajectory.

There will never be a time in my life when I don’t seek his approval. He loves the future and I want to create the future for him. The new and the next will always be for him as much as it is for me.

Which is impressive as the “new” hasn’t always been kind to him. He suffered for his optimism. I have no fear going into this recession because I saw him be broken by one and come out the other side. He is still the same enthusiast he was before the markets crashed and bankruptcy hollowed out his American dream. He got it all back and more. And that belief that we can build back always stuck with me. I’ve never been afraid of hard times because of him.

I’m moving to Montana soon. He moved there first. He’s like that. Always seeing one step ahead. I fought against the idea of Montana for a bit as I wasn’t sure I could make the same decisions he did. Even though I often do.

But I do believe he is right about the last best place on earth. And true to our preferences for distance he will be a comfortable five or six hour drive away. Neighbors in the end but with plenty of space.

Fathers and daughters have it tough these days. Sexism and expectations for how to live are in flux. My father did his absolute best to never let me see myself as anything less than equal. Which isn’t always an unqualified good but I’m still grateful for all of it.

If you’ve ever felt let down by your father even as you know he’s buoyed you up your entire life, then this post might make perfect sense. If not then it may seem offensive to codify the complexities of a familial relationship in public. How could she write something like this? To which I say sometimes the only way to love someone is to say your truth out loud.

Happy Father’s Day Dad. I love you. And I know that to be true because love is having someone betray you, utterly let you down, or even do the unforgivable, and yet you still love them all the same. I forgive you. I am still Daddy’s Girl.

Emotional Work Travel

Day 530 and Social Burnout

The week or two before I attended Consensus in Austin I could barely talk about anything else I was so excited. But I’ve barely said anything about the actual experience after the fact I feel so burnt out from the social exertion.

A friend of mine was a little hurt I didn’t tell them anything about my experience. They pointed out that it was a bit like watching a movie as it built up to the narrative climatic scenes and having it cut straight to credits. They were invested in my trip and then I didn’t do anything to tie up the story.

And boy did I have a negative reaction to that. I felt like absolute shit. How dare they feel like they were entitled to hearing about my life on a timeline that would make sense to them. I waffled between anger and shame. I apologized. I thought I’d made them feel shitty by not sharing. Maybe I did owe them a narrative as it was happening.

I went into some of my core childhood fears. Was I actually being withholding and deliberately creating distance because I felt I had violated my boundaries by over socializing? Probably! But also my friend kindly realized I was freaking out said “chill bitch I’m kidding tell me when you are up to it.” And then the relief flooded my body. I could just say no and my loved ones would understand.

I am feeling so burnt out being being around people I spent the morning debating if I should use my energy on a shower or save it up for a doctors appointment. Which is clearly a stupid and chaotic other/or agenda I shouldn’t engage in. If driving to an appointment that is supposed to be restorative for my health is so overwhelming energetically that I am not showering I probably should go.

I suspect I’m going to need a few days with substantially lower social engagement to recover. If I’m ignoring you it’s because I quite simply can’t be productive in a conversation with you without compromising my own boundaries. I appreciate everyone’s understanding.

Emotional Work

Day 515 and Rules

I’d never really thought of myself as a rules follower. I wasn’t a particularly troublesome kid but I had a healthy disdain for authority. I made a lot of teachers really miserable and confused the fuck out of my parents with some fairly radical choices.

And to my parent’s credit they just absolutely rolled with the punches. My mother was a champion at the sport of coping with teenage girl shit. Which lets be real should absolutely be an Olympic sport.

But I do think I give way more deference to social mores than I fully appreciated. I’ve got plenty of shame about how I’m not doing things right and that I’ll be judged by everyone for utterly failing. So I try to abide by certain expectations so that I won’t be judged.

I’m sure this is wild to plenty of people that know me who don’t see any of this shame or fear. I’ve got a big loud public persona. Im a shitposter. I’m not exactly going along with a lot of popular opinions.

But I am still strangely really worried about being seen as too radical, too much, too angry, too crazy, too weird. I don’t want to follow all the rules but I am afraid I’d I deviate too far something bad will happen. Though what I am not entirely sure. And that’s probably an assumption worth questioning for all of us.

Emotional Work

Day 512 and Not So Glamorous

Remember that respite I had yesterday from the flu? Yeah me neither! I barely crawled out of bed this morning after some pretty gnarly dreams. My subconscious was going through it.

I had a three hour session of biofeedback yesterday working through some of my self limiting beliefs. It’s truly wild how you will just perpetrate the worst emotional violence on the people we love the most. Alex and I in particular love acting out various O’Henry stories in our marriage. Gift of the Magi is a particularly favorite where we will actively sacrifice something we love for the other only to discover we’ve destroyed the very thing that our partner loved. It’s a super fun cycle and every time I think we’ve found a way out of the cycle we manage to do it all over again. The problem is the glue.

So I was a bit frazzled today from working through all the emotional stuff. I need to stop giving Alex power by letting him take care of me. He needs to drop care taking me. You know standard marriage stuff. I can write whole love letters about it. Anyway I digress.

I was a bit fried today as I was recovering from pushing yesterday. I happened to have a friend that wanted to talk about how I was doing. I think he was expecting a more glamorous even sexy answer. People often think I’ve got a more interesting life than I do. Which is funny as I feel like I write about the mundane details of chronic disease with some frequency. But today I was not swanning about in Europe or writing love letters. I was in a dark cold room fighting off a migraine and some spinal pain. Because sometimes life just isn’t all that glamorous. And honestly that’s ok.