Loss of Power

I am feeling big feelings and I’m going to write them. I have been crying. I honestly cannot tell you the last time I cried. Really cried. Mournful, soul-pulling, crying. This feeling is terrible, but I know it’s important to acknowledge them and see this through to the other side.

We lost power on Tuesday and my husband, son, dog, and I stayed with my parents until it came back today. A series of incidents occurred that made me reflect pretty hard on what it was like living there as a teenager. My feelings were too big for my skin and I felt explosive, misunderstood, and alone – like most kids that age. Experiencing this as an adult, though – this prolonged, high level anxiety of messing something up – gave me more empathy for myself. Without going into detail, my mother did not speak to me, my husband, or my SON for the entire last 24 hours of our stay.

Every day, I take an antidepressant, a mood stabilizer, and anti-anxiety medication. I am a recovering alcoholic. Looking back, I have definitely pulled the passive aggressive silent treatment in relationships. I think back to those times and shudder. I forgive that person now because processing emotions was never really modeled for me growing up. My father is even keeled 90% of the time but would sometimes pivot to a complete sudden rage. It was rare, but it was terrifying. My mother, on the other hand was very loving to me when I was a child but as soon as I became a teenager it seemed she wanted less and less to do with me. My hindsight analysis is that this was because I was having more mood shifts. Front that point on, I was mostly met with digging remarks or silence. We often have nice chats, but when we do veer into any kind of depth, it is made clear that she knows best and my opinions are too lofty.

As I entered into my teens, It felt like I became dirty and unlovable. I carried that into adulthood along with a total inability rationally deal with my feelings. I’ve learned a lot since then and am mostly content with my actions and reactions to difficult things. I’ve been through many, many years of therapy and even studied Psychology and Counseling in college. I have found my spirituality and read about it every single day. In my recent life, if disagreement or discomfort arises, I often want to nip a problem in the bud with honest conversation. With my son, I truly try to teach him that it’s ok to have big emotions and that he can talk to me about anything. My dad did that with me but the abandonment I felt from my mother affected me in such a spider web of ways that I am still digging through them.

I am a 42-year-old, grown-ass woman who is not about to blame my parents for problematic things that they, as human beings, may have done in raising me. Right now, at this moment, I often think about what I’ve already done to completely ruin my son’s adult life because I have no idea what I am doing. I extend that compassion to them as well. Parents are not perfect. They are not saints or deities. Parents are people who have no idea what they are doing. I acknowledge that these actions cause issues that are up to me to work through. I have to do my fallible best to do better.

Today, I’ll let myself be sad that no one rubbed my back and said it’s ok. I’ll take this floating-away sensation as the final tethers being cut. I am my own person and nothing will change that. I am totally cool with it. I mostly like myself now. I do, however, want to grab Teenage Me’s bony little shoulders and pull her in for a hug.

I often mourn my relationship with my mother. I’ll never have a relationship with a mother who is unconditionally supportive and emotionally open. It’s sad to think about, but I am not alone. All through life, we find mothers in our friends, partners, teachers, and mentors. I hope to be that mother, not only to my own son, but to other fledgling souls I encounter along the way. That’s life. All I can do is try my best to be the things I wish I had and to find those qualities in folks I choose as family.

Bless and release

I’m not crazy about the word “bless”. It and “journey” connote a fakey “Live Laugh Love” brand of quick spirituality… in my brain at least. That being said, the process of acknowledging behaviors that don’t serve us well is a valuable one. My life experience has been more of the “ignore it” or “get over it” variety. Bless and release encourages you to recognize problematic things in your life and empowers you to let them go.

I’ve been reading Eastern Body, Western Mind which is now officially my favorite book. The third chakra, solar plexus, is all about will. The root chakra is about being/ existing, the second is about feeling, and the third is about taking that stuff, being your own person, and going into the world. This is where I’ve been stunted all along.

I’ve often lamented my past seeming inability to take risks. Staying in situations long past their “best by” date because the devil I know is at least predictable. The third chakra is all about intention-driven action. Mindfulness. Responsibility. Not just blowing wherever the wind sends me.

I have Imposter Syndrome which is not a real syndrome but a cycle of thoughts and perceived reinforcement. I rarely think I’m qualified enough to be sitting at the table. This has plagued my work life. I am smart. I’m a good worker. I am easy to work with. But I doubt myself and tend to be deferential to those I perceive to be in a higher position than me.

I’m not so bad in the music realm. Most of the folks I work with swim in the same pool. We are good at what we do, expect our cohort to be up to speed, and we deliver. Singing professionally is one of the areas in my life that I do not feel like an imposter. I will sing your face off. Just don’t ask me to read sheet music because then I will crumble. I make light of it. I’ve come this far so it is what it is. But I somewhat secretly ashamed because I am supposed to be good at everything.

I take degrees very seriously. College degrees, not temperatures. I am constantly seeking graduate and doctoral programs that cost insane amounts of money and when I really soul search it, I’m just looking for a permission slip. I think I’ve talked about this before. I’m looking for a permission slip to sit at the table. Permission from WHO? I couldn’t tell you.

I also collapse at the idea that my parents aren’t constantly beaming with pride over me. Deep reflection has revealed that this is a big messy one. I need to consistently reach goals to check in with them and make sure I am still good enough. My inner critic has the tendency to be very judgmental and overbearing when it comes to what I should be doing, where I should live, how I should raise my son.

In my extended family, I don’t even know how to act. I’m 42 and I still feel like a child. I think it is because I feel that I cannot appear to have any cracks despite being full of them for that very reason.

I want to be clear that I am not blaming my parent(s) or family for any of this. I am a grown ass middle aged woman who is responsible for my own life and happiness. My parents are human and I am human and to throw a tantrum over things I may have done differently would not benefit anyone. That being said, establishing boundaries with them is extremely difficult. I find myself wanting to keep everyone happy and still feel unable to truly be myself around them. I hide my feelings because I do not have the strength to hear how I am wrong about them.

There is some regret in my life – not traveling and exploring more when I was young; staying in long relationships that were not serving anyone well; not really TRYING at music; going with the flow on so many music projects with bossy, obstinate people. I regret settling for the office job that I never fit into. I never fit in because I was never supposed to be there. I was too scared to take a risk and follow my creativity at 25, 30, 35 and here I am.

Here I am.

I can engage in a cycle of wasting more time mourning lost time and losing the time spent mourning. But I’m not going to. With each step forward I will focus on acting from within myself. I exist. I feel. And that’s all that is needed to know what is best.

I bless and release anything that stands in my way.

Day 190, 2020

I am feeling disjointed today. All over the place. I’m in my office now which is nice. It’s very, very quiet. I am very happy.

I am someone whose brain never stops. I mean… we all are. Mine generates ideas a mile a minute. Some are good. Many are very lofty and impractical. The lofty and impractical ones are the most exciting and feel the most genuine. The ones like passing an SEC exam for my job for no real reason except redeeming my failure last year, are less appealing.

Passing the exam doesn’t have much to do with my job. It’s something everyone else at my firm holds but their roles require it. Mine does not. I decided to take it last year as a step toward becoming a compliance officer and making my resume more marketable. My boss intends on retiring in the next 2-3 years and holding this Series _X_ would make me more valuable to whoever buys us out.

The thing is… I’ve more or less decided that I’m going to use this time to gear up for a career change. A career change that will likely result in an enormous pay cut. And no benefits. And now I’m panicking again.

Ok.

(I’ve been attempting to write this post for about 3 hours. I can’t even focus on completing it.)

ANYWAY… a thing I’ve noticed about myself is that if there is any dichotomy in my life, I shut down. Case in point, the Series _X_ is (from my perspective) in direct opposition of the studies I’ve been doing in yoga, art, and psychology. I guess the disconnect I am having right now is – why would I waste any of my mind grapes on Finance when the Transpersonal self-studies I’ve been doing energize me from the inside? Why not focus on the path that is lit up? You know?

As a side-note, I am also having a VERY difficult time giving ANY energy to music even though it very much falls under my creative umbrella. The project we are trying to release has become an albatross. This is not the fault of anyone working on or with the project, I’m just fucking over it. I like writing and performing and I LOATHE everything about releasing a record. I don’t want to agree on a font everyone likes. The hours spend talking about a website that I’m not sure anyone will ever visit is making my skull ache. It is the actual worst.

So back to the original point, the practical side of my brain keeps telling me that if I look at studying for the Series _X_ during work hours and as part of my daytime job, it should not eat into my creative brain space. The big, loud, colorful side is saying fuck it. Focus on the shit that feels right.

Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.

Day something, Moment.

I am FEELING things today. I am frustrated as hell. Instead of just stuffing down and moving through, I took a minute to acknowledge my feelings.

1. I was on a call for work for over an hour where the same two people blew hot air for 90% of it. This call is supposed to be a weekly check in to give an overview of what everyone is working on. It inevitably veers into granular territory of specific projects by one particular individual. It is especially frustrating to me because this stuff has nothing to do with me. My portion of the check-in is typically crammed into the last 1-2 minutes of that call.

As aggravating as it is to hear one person drone on for an hour, I am fine with folks delving into details. I remind myself that, at times, this is actually valuable education. Other times, however, I feel that it is inconsiderate use of time. It is clear that my update is treated with minimal importance. I have a good relationship with my boss and could bring this up to him, but I need to sort through it first so I don’t come across as whiny. I want my voice to be heard. Also, random “pro tip”: NEVER use the word “just” in business emails. EVER.

2. The MBA v. Artist thing. Taking my courses is becoming such an emotional chore. I am really at odds with whether I want to see this through.

The thing is, when I consider quitting, several faces show up who are either judging, laughing at, rolling their eyes, or are disappointed in me. Throughout my life, I have had a lot of false starts and big ideas that went nowhere. Like – here she goes again. What tends to happen is I make a big statement like – “I’m going to be an art therapist” and then I start classes and then I drop out. And a couple years later I say, “I’m going to open up an art studio” and I secure a space and then a global pandemic happens and the whole idea crumbles. So I think, “I’ll get my MBA”, and apply, get into a program and then second guess whether or not I am looking for a high five from my parents or for someone to finally fucking take me seriously. ANYONE. Because I am worthless without a secondary degree apparently.

Also, I feel like a lot of my accomplishments are out of spite. Hhahah. I’m not even kidding. I rage-succeed. Jesus. Oh you think I can’t do that??? WATCH ME. And I’m wondering if that’s what THIS is. Again. Quitting drinking was partially a rage-success. Improving my credit was absolutely a hate-fuck.

But back to work stuff, I started working in an office in my early twenties. I NEVER fit in. I’m smart but I’m not good at herd mentality and I am terrible at sucking up. I was typically doing “women’s work” as a receptionist or secretary where I did a good job but ultimately got bored and then unmotivated and I’d eventually become horribly depressed and quit. This cycle happened 4-5 times.

I’ve been at my present job for 14 years. I enjoy what I do and I generally like the folks I work with. I have a flexible schedule and I get to run things without anyone breathing down my neck. As far as office jobs go, it’s perfect. But it’s still an office job and I’m at a conflict with myself about it. Our CEO is going to retire in the next few years. Basically, I like working for him. I feel very hesitant about starting over under someone else.

3. I am also not feeling heard at home. This is a very large knot that will need a lot of time and patience to untie. Typically, just looking at it sends me into a panic so I just pretend it’s not there. It’s just getting bigger. Surprise?

I think what I usually do is get angry and snippy and then I isolate myself and get into a merry-go-round of resentment in my head. Today, I took a breath and thought about it and felt the feeling. I kept repeating “feel this” which was weird. But I did. And I connected with it. And now I’m writing about it. I will not be getting into specifics but this feels like a baby step forward – for my own healing at the very least.

I feel like a lot of what I am looking for is permission.

Day 140, 2020

I am all over the place today. I’m moody. I slept really late. I have sneezed no fewer than 1,500 times. Having allergies is like living in a constant elevated state of frustration. I just want to scream and go to bed and wake up in a month or so. To add to this, my cat, who I love and am also dangerously allergic to, has taken to napping on the windowsill where I work. You would not believe the cat wigs that float off of her. My lampshade is covered in Pearl fur. I digress because she is excellent company.

I have done the bare minimum for work over the past two days. This is partially because I put in a ton of work last week, so I can float a little bit. It’s also because my mental capacity needs a break I’ve been ramming into a wall over the past week. The guilt attached to not giving 100% to work, parenting, teaching, keeping my house together, art has been climbing. My brain knows it is impossible, but the perfectionist in me is still like “why can’t you fucking just do this?” or “why are you being lazy about this?”

I’ve been doing a lot of spiritual work and naval gazing during this lockdown and man, I am my own worst enemy. I am not looking for people or situations to blame from my childhood. I don’t care where it came from. I just need to fix it. (Even here, I’m trying to be a hero.) In any case, I’m trying to just be fucking nicer to myself. I’m not that bad.

Over the years, little mental wars about my physical appearance, my business accomplishments, my creative talent, my intelligence – have broken me way down. The upside of this is that I think I’m ready to rebuild.

I’m never going to be 120 lbs again. Hooray. I’m sick of fucking caring. I like potato chips. My belly wiggles. Not into it? Your call.

I’m sick of “sexy”. The whole fucking concept is bullshit. It’s objective AND subjective and fully based on whether the collective “men” want to fuck you. If you’re sexy, you move a dude’s dick. Gross. I hereby dismiss this as a basis of value in any universe. “But sexy is can be your mind or you energy.” Cool. But it’s still measured in YOUR genital response. None of my business. NEXT.

My hair is streaked with grey. I think it looks cool.

I will never be the up and coming artist to watch in music. That shit simply doesn’t happen to women over 40. It’s not going to stop me. But I’m also not going to give as much of a shit. I’m being choosier with what I invest my time in. I can’t do all of the things. I don’t WANT to do all of the things. I think I tried to be involved in everything in order to stay relevant. At this point, I either am or I am not. The opinions and whims of other people are beyond my control. I’m gonna keep doing me in either case. Time>Money. Naps>Exposure.

I came back from 2 nervous breakdowns and bankruptcy in my twenties with near perfect credit and pretty fucking solid mental health in my forties. Also I don’t drink anymore which probably has a lot to do with everything said in the previous sentence. Either way, mission accomplished.

All of this is not to say I’m this immensely evolved superwoman. I still have hangups.

I’m not cool with my face looking older.

I’m still battling whether or not I should go through with grad school or follow my passions with art, spirituality, and mental health. I literally do not know what my opinion on this is.

I’m still figuring out my voice and my authentic feelings and thoughts on a lot of things. I’ve developed a callus over my true desires over years of stuffing them down just to power through. Much of my life reflects the direction I have taken from others. And what I’ve learned (spoiler alert) is that you CANNOT please EVERYONE ALL of the time. That was my actual goal. Seriously. I mean, it’s nearly impossible to please EVERYONE even SOME of the time… unless you’re air. I am not air. Or potato chips.

Day 74, 2020

I am doing well. I mean there is a global pandemic and all but as well as one can do in this situation. We are embarking on having my son home from school for the next two weeks at minimum. I have a very ambitious schedule printed out during which I will have to find blocks of time to work. I have a feeling I will be pulling nights. I don’t mind. It all evens out.

I had a dream the other night that I drank. In the dream, I hadn’t realized it. I just drank a glass that was handed to me and continued to drink without thinking. Then, in a panic, realized that I had ruined everything. I was very upset.

In the morning, it took a bit for me to realize that I had not in fact had a drink. A good friend’s Dad who has been in the program for a long time reached out to me today and we went back and forth with stories. He was also a musician and acknowledged the very specific obstacle we have to endure being that alcohol is ever present in our industry. Aside from being exposed to it almost every time we play, it’s not only accepted, but expected to partake while we are playing. I digress. I told him about the dream and about how upsetting it was and he imparted that the longer you make it, the more precious it becomes. And that made a lot of sense.

We also talked about narcissism and alcoholism and how they tend to go hand in hand. It was a funny, honest, and much needed conversation. I am luck to have such people in my life.

Not sure if I mentioned that my neighbors are also program veterans and have been checking in with me. It’s nice to know that other people have gone through this and are living productive, peaceful, and fun lives. That normal changes.

Day 64, 2020

I past the two month mark and am feeling really good. Well, in terms of the drinking. The bigger picture is a little more complicated. I’m feeling really disjointed and tired from worrying about my cousin. I’ve started a GoFundMe for her and we have gotten a good response. I’m so concerned for what her life is going to look like going forward. The septic shock has caused irreversible damage to her lungs, kidney, and extremities.

Once she is released which is likely a long way from now, my aunt is going to take her home to care for her. My aunt was a nurse for many years but is in poor health herself. My cousin’s kids are good kids but they are young adults without much direction. I’m worried for all of them. This worry is taking up a lot of brain space.

I am all over the place with most of my commitments. At work, I’m managing to stay on top of things, but it’s a big task to gear up and actually get things done. As for mu music stuff, we’re on a relatively critical timeline and I’m finding that my energy and focus on it is practically nonexistent. My business opportunity and idea has fallen to the wayside as well.

I’ve kind of dived into art. It’s a sanctuary for me to escape to. I have been listening to a lot of Mari Boine and painting. It’s grounding and helpful.

I have many angel friends who have checked in on me. I’ve been taking time each day to think about how thankful I am for the flexibility of my job, the strength of my friendships, and the oasis of art.

I did not think I’d go this deep today.

3 gigs this week. Yesterday was a wedding showcase that I was DREADING. I felt aloof and unprepared. Lo and behold, it went well and I actually felt some joy in my heart afterwards. I really love that crew. Tomorrow, a group of NY/ NJ musicians band together at the legendary Bitter End for Hemopalooza, benefiting the NYC Hemophilia chapter, which is near and dear to my heart. Hi Max! Also, get it? Saturday, we are back at our “home bar” for a 3 sets. I’m a bit worried about this one since I’m usually in bed by 11 lately… and we start at 10. So that should be interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing my people but a little worried about my first 3 set gig at my favorite bar.

Also, I just got a call. I have to appear for jury duty tomorrow.

WHAT A FUCKING TIME. Bye.

Day 36, 2020

I’ve found my rhythm and do not miss drinking at my house after work until I pass out. I do, however, miss the idea of going to my favorite restaurant for my husbands birthday and not having the best sangria I’ve ever tasted. I’m actually on the fence about this. Like, can I have it one day and then go back to this? Probably not a smart thing to do.

I’ve been in a weird head space. I’m becoming very sensitive to other people and the way they treat me. As a Libra, I want everyone to get along. I hate discord and arguments. I often shut down when people want to argue or disagree or even boss me around. I’m not proud of this. It enrages me, actually. But I am finding how I easily kowtow to people to avoid any tense discussion.

If I’m honest, I’ve dealt with this my whole life. It’s a long-discussed topic in my therapy sessions. I was raised during a time when girls were better seen than heard. Even in the 80s and 90s. Sure there were women rising to power and fighting the good fight, but for most of us, especially those who were still young, it was still sit down and shut up time. ANNNNNNYWAYYYYY…

Between that cultural nonsense and my own internalized everything, I have a major problem with confrontation. I go with the flow and many times that drowns my wants and opinions. I’ve been making a conscious effort to at least say something if I feel like I’m being steamrolled. It’s hard and awkward.

Music has been a touchy thing for me because I’ve always felt “less than” as I don’t read music and have never studied an instrument. I’m self-taught and I make music through my heart. Sometimes I’m not taken as seriously because of this. I see it and feel it. And sometimes I’m bulldozed because I don’t have the language to back up what I’m saying.

At my daytime job, I also sometimes feel pigeon holed doing “women’s work” and it makes me nuts but I think I’m more apt to voice my opinion there. Maybe I have more confidence there? I don’t know.

This is going to be part of my peregrination.

Day 33, 2020

I have an old drinking friend from the time I was maybe 19. She makes delicious dinners and we sit at her table and drink and chain smoke and it is gloriously without filter or airs. I’ve been wondering what our friendship would look like if I stopped drinking. I am happy to report that I went to her house for a wonderful dinner with another friend, brought a six pack of Sprite Zero, and had a fantastic time. I went home quite a bit earlier than usual (10pm seems to be when I turn into a pumpkin) but it was a lot of fun. She had no idea that I had quit drinking. I told her Friday. I felt comfortable and relieved. I also was happy to be in my bed by 10:30.

Day 19, 2020

First of all, I’m proud of myself. 19 fucking days.

Last night I woke up at 3am with a horrid stomach ache and spent an hour with my head in the toilet. It reminded me of the MANY times I had experienced this over the years because of drinking. I kept flashing back to that feeling. The grindy brain, exhausted body, confused, Jeckyll wondering what Hyde had done and why. Hoping for some relief in vomiting.

Last night’s escapade was of course not driven by alcohol however I suspect it may have been a result of the chips, sour cream and cookies I decided to indulge in around midnight. Soooooo, as stated before, I still have some shit to work through. Why am I eating so much? To fill a void. But why? What is that void? I have several suspicions based on what my life is missing. I do not feel like getting into them now.

Today I logged my only meal. An egg with cheese on toast. And tea. I’m such a fucking Britophile. Does that count if you were raised mainly in that culture? Who knows or cares.

I’m going to do a barre exercise in a bit. It’s literally the least I can do. More later maybe.