Categories
Emotional Work

Day 1072 and Say How You Feel

A twitter mutual (update: who I have now blocked for the time being) asked what I think is a reasonable question about social graces and your own instincts.

What is the socially appropriate way to deal with having a strong irrational distrust of someone in your community with mutual friends?

It is my belief that it is best to tell the person how you feel. Feelings are not facts. Everyone has emotional reactivity based on their family system dynamics, expressing how you feel is not a hostile act. Strong people appreciate, knowing how they their perceived. If they don’t, you now, have a valuable data point on how to interact with them in the future and how they may be reacting to you.

Many have the instinct to be concerned about how someone will react and let that color their intuition. You win either way by addressing something head on.

That’s the beauty of the approach. You will find out. They will respond and you can assess by their response and your own reaction to it if you want to continue with your instinct or update your priors.

Emotional reactivity is part of our autonomic nervous system. It’s not always right. It’s only sometimes right. And learning to tune it is part of the fun. You want to improve your heuristics over time. You will get more clarity on the world and your place in it. If you wish to persist in feeling anxious and uncertain being passive will have that effect. It literally hurts you. You have agency in deciding to address how you feel head on.

Categories
Community Emotional Work

Day 1057 and Grateful for Disappointment

Thanksgiving is one of America’s strangest and most utopian holidays. We take a day at the end of the fall harvest season, just as we head into the darkest time of the year, to give thanks for having survived the last the cycle.

Everyone who makes it to the Thanksgiving table is symbolically finding a place of security, abundance, friendship and family. Even if it’s just for an hour.

It’s within this bittersweet context that I think being grateful for disappointment is a worthy objective. I say the serenity prayer with that thought in mind.

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Serenity Prayer

While I am grateful for all of the things that went my way this year, I am as glad that I have been able to accept the things I cannot change.

The disappointments in life are endless and personal. Our own family stories are shaped by the intimate family dynamics of feeling loved, secure, safe and empowered. No childhood is without some emotional ups and downs.

If you feel disappointment it’s a privilege. You extended enough empathy and love that you could be hurt. The trust required for this is one of life’s most human experiences. To love people that have disappointed us is to find peace with forgiveness. May we invite that forgiveness into our lives.

I give Thanksgiving for being able to feel connection with full knowledge of its risks and rewards.

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Emotional Work Uncategorized

Day 942 and Goodbyes

My childhood was full of goodbyes. I moved every two years for most of my young life. I was not a military brat or a diplomat’s child, just a millennial surviving the instability of her Boomer parents. It is a common experience I’ve learned.

My parents did their very best to walk different paths than their own parents. Like any child, I watched them closely and adjusted my own feelings accordingly.

Now as an adult I see how I work to walk on different paths than my own parents. Families are always adjusting to the wisdom of our past as we chart our future.

And so I think about how comfortable I am with saying goodbyes and I weigh it against the generations that came before. And I think that all we can do is try to balance the equation of our own life.

Categories
Medical

Day 928 and Season of No

I feel like I’ve been caught in a loop of shitty things that has me in a “fight or flight” pattern that I can’t find a way to release myself from.

I’m having a very “if it’s not one thing it’s a other” summer. And it has to stop here. If I don’t let it all go I’ll be miserable and it will have been my own choice. I’ve got a choice to prioritize the well being of myself and my family.

I’m writing this at the oral surgeon’s office as my husband’s wisdom teeth removal is today. I’ve been given several lectures on how challenging his recovery will be as he’s so much older than the ideal extraction age.

Teenagers have a lot better bounce back rates than even late thirty something apparently. Fingers crossed being fit and healthy counts for something.

I’m stressed by the prospect of prioritizing myself and family. I like being open and available to the universe.

So I’m just going to start saying no to more and more things until I feel like I’ve got myself out of this misery loop. My priorities will remain my family, my fund, my founders and myself. Probably not exactly in that order but pretty close.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 916 and Safe Spaces

Remember when safe spaces burst into a whole discourse thing? Maybe it was when the timelines got crazy around Harambe. I couldn’t pinpoint it but somehow “feelings aren’t facts” turned into a slur instead of commonly agreed upon consensus reality.

And now everyone is slinging insults to land points instead of finding a way to incorporate the duality of feelings and facts into civil society. Some trickster Demi-god is probably very pleased with his work. Maybe a goat or a Loki type.

There are many spaces that can feel unsafe depending on the context and the person. If I am aware that one of my choices provokes a strong response in another person, I may lay it aside for a minute so we can find common ground on choices and values we do share.

My sense of self is strong enough that I don’t have to hold every piece of myself tightly. I can empathize with someone I disagree with and find my way back to myself. Backbones and core beliefs are important.

I am finding myself in a number of situations right now where I wonder if I am too accommodating. My desire to empathize must meet the hard reality that is some people don’t feel safe empathizing with me.

Some of my reactions and feelings recently have left me feeling a bit abandoned and alienated. I am grieving for a lost matriarch in my family. And my grief manifested as a focused gratitude for finally seeing that I could live her lessons on my own every single day. And I have been living more joyfully because of it.

My reaction hasn’t been considered appropriate in some corners. I didn’t feel safe expressing my gratitude and focus and the happiness it brought me to have her thoughts in my head every day. And I realized then that not everyone will be able to feel safe with all your choices and decisions and emotions. Not every space can be safe for everyone.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 902 and The Singer Lasts A Season But The Song It Lasts Forever

One of the matriarchs in my life died this morning. I am devastated. Because, of course, you are devastated when you lose someone you love. To not know the pain of mortality is to not know your own humanity.

We spend so much of our lives in the art and literature of the human condition that we can sometimes forget we are actually living it out right now every single day.

Your own life is just as rich a tapestry of meaning anything Dostoyevsky ever wrote. Losing someone close to you who really lived their life occasionally gives you sparkling moments of crystalline clarity on what matters.

All of living is struggle. We find the boundaries of the world through trial and error. We find each other as we negotiate the rhythms of each other’s lives.

The old cunt had the balls to die on the summer solstice. She was extremely Swedish so on aesthetics grounds I feel happy about her moment of passing. Midsummer. What a witchy thing to do. I love it for her even as I am weeping.

The last thing she said to me was so poetic it almost makes me angry. She told me that she had repeated herself a lot across the years. I said I knew and I appreciated that she’d helped me learn the tunes by repeating the songs with me even as I stumbled to commit things to memory.

Her response? Now that you have sung the melody with me, you can sing it on your own. Which is a very beautiful good bye worthy of anything I’ve ever read in a book or seen on screen.

But also the fucking temerity of that woman to deliver folkloric wisdom on the way out. Our elders know a thing or two.

The singer lasts a season long, While the song, it lasts forever

Unknown (to me at least) folk song

May your solstice be as bright and true as mine. I will be trying to carry this tune on my own and if you like I’ll try to teach you to sing along with me. May we have a chorus of love songs on our longest day in the sun.

Categories
Community Internet Culture

Day 901 and Self Regulation

I don’t know why I chose violence today, but apparently I dropped a chaos grenade onto my Twitter timeline. I hesitated, in extremely soft language, to ask if anyone has noticed that kids from conservative households seem have more pro-social behavior. I phrased it with a lot of ambiguity as I don’t know how I feel either.

Going to float a very controversial observation but anecdotally in my limited experience:
The children of my conservative friends are better behaved & more individuated & well socialized than the children of my liberal friends.
Anyone have takes on why this is the case?

Naturally when something pulls on a thread of social insecurity it will unravel quickly. I am a very gifted shitposter. I step on these third rails on purpose. I am not an activist for any cause so much as comfortable being uncomfortable. Alas I have already hit Godwin’s Law on the Tweet so for my own nervous system I’m done.

But I have noticed that as cultural pendulums swing, there is a distinct lack of appreciation for tolerance of other people’s constant dysfunction. Where we draw the line as to appropriate social behavior is a hugely contested space online. Much as it has ever been in literature and history. I hear Socrates got the death penalty for perverting the youth.

My point in all this is that we all benefit from having youth understand the world and their place in it. Our toddlers cannot be expected to have the fully formed rationality of a legal scholar.

Sometimes the answer is no because Mom or Dad said so. Not every social boundary is bad for us. A child throwing a tantrum is asking for you the adult to help them find the self regulation that their environment isn’t giving them. And it’s absolutely ok to be authoritative. It’s not the same thing as authoritarian.

The general consensus on the thread seems to be that multi-generational and multicultural spaces for consistent socialization combine well with firm boundaries. Knowing when certain behaviors are appropriate can often be a winning combination for learning to individuate into your own person. Feeling safe to be yourself looks different for everyone.

Now I’d read all of this mouthing off from me with a big heaping spoonful of that fucking libertarian-pirate-hippie-Silicon Valley-born-Rocky-Mountain raised salt. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just a very American kind of mutt.

I personally have found it helpful to be as accountable as I can be to myself while holding as much empathy for the experiences of other people as I can. I will disagree with you a lot. I’m ok with that because I have firm boundaries too. So don’t be an NPC ok? Let’s make civilization work together.

Categories
Culture Emotional Work

Day 893 and Somebody to Love

Today is my husband’s birthday. We aren’t doing anything specific to celebrate the occasion as that is his preference. But I want to mark the day personally by sharing my love for his dislike of making a “thing” out of traditional celebrations. I feel it is one of his finest qualities.

I respect that Alex doesn’t like to make a big deal about his birthday. He doesn’t really care for making a big thing out anyone else’s birthday for that matter either.

He will celebrate an occasion if someone else wants to do so but I’ve only ever seen him enjoy celebrating daily life. He’s loyal to the people but disinclined to mere symbolism.

Alex’s approach to marking an occasion has always shown me constancy and loyalty. He shows up for each day. Perhaps this approach isn’t a conscious effort. He shows up for the moment when asked. Over and over again. Which is quite a bit harder than buying a good gift even if it looks less glamorous.

My birthday celebration with Alex involved a 2 hour delayed cold pizza at 1 in the morning while staying in shitty hotel in London. That’s more of my speed than parties, gifts, or elaborate gatherings and more of his speed as well.

Maybe it’s that Alex doesn’t wish ask us to perform rituals that have no meaning to him. I perceive this inclination as gracious and masculine and steady.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t a shadow version of this preference. My suspicion is that birthdays require too much social pressure for it to be enjoyable. It’s burdensome for the return on emotional investment and a waste when one can celebrate at any moment one chooses.

In the spirit I’d like to wish Alex a happy birthday and a lyric from Queen. May you all find somebody to love.

Ooh, each morning I get up I die a little
Can barely stand on my feet
(Take a look at yourself)
Take a look in the mirror and cry (and cry)
Lord, what you’re doing to me? (Yeah, yeah)
I have spent all my years in believing you
But I just can’t get no relief, Lord
Somebody (somebody), ooh, somebody (somebody)
Can anybody find me somebody to love?

Queen’s Somebody to Love
Categories
Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 873 and Commitments

I have two conflicting commitments at the moment. Both are with people who I’d consider intimate relationships with as much access to my inner life as my closest confidants.

I made the decision to show up for both parties last week and this week. And while I don’t regret my decision at all, the choice has had consequences. I am accepting them right now. I’m in bed and in a fun spiral of inflammation. I’m in pain, and even more annoying, I’m fucking itchy as hell. My biometrics are screaming red across every dashboard from Whoop to Welltory.

The irony, of course, is that in being so committed to showing up for others I failed to show up for myself. I didn’t know what I wanted so I did everything I’d obligated myself to do.

I can’t blame it on anyone even though it’s so easy to consider the ways I can rationalize my choices. I’m committed to good and useful things that improve my emotional fluidity and contribute to my personal growth.

Being committed to others means being committed to yourself first. The better I maintain my boundaries, the more I can show up for someone else. Knowing what we want, asking for it clearly, and being accountable for the actions you took is the whole ball game. Everything else is details. And I bet you can manage that.

I am committed to myself as I’ve got to rest and get myself under control or else I’m not being accountable. And I’m not a victim to my circumstances. I chose this.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 862 and Separation

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. But I don’t feel absence in my heart. And it certainly isn’t positive. If only absence were so tightly concentrated and concretely clear. I feel it in my entire body. And it’s painful.

Perhaps it’s the new emotional attunement gained from my five week nervous system bootcamp but I feel separation from my loved-ones keenly. It’s an amorphous horror that traps me in sympathetic paralysis.

My throat closes up, my chest tightens, my jaw clenches and I gasp for air as I try to stave off the grief. I cry but not freely. It’s a poorly controlled gulping sensation as close to drowning as I can imagine.

I don’t know if it is a sense memory from childhood. But I register the subtle smells of abandonment, loss, and separation with the sensitivity of a hound. I imagine the pain to be a sort of umami. Another taste beyond the two poles of sweet and salty. My pain is savory.

That kind of depth usually means something is coming up from the very beginnings of life before conscious rationality. And I long to struggle against it. I want to fight it off with intellect. I hate the sadness that washes over me, bringing me despair I didn’t know was inside me.

And yet it is there. And all I can do is remember to let it out. I remember to stop the gasping grasping attempts at control and feel my way into the emotions of separation. And maybe then it will find ways to dissipate. The only way out is through.