The Happiness Manifesto Blog

How I Beat the Living Hell Out of Suffering and Made It My Bitch

Archive for the tag “cleaning”

NaPoWriMo VI

I stand beneath the waterfall, the miracle of indoor plumbing

And watch as the dirt and crusted blood

From old wounds washes away

In the torrent of cleansing

I scrub at the floors

Dust every shelf

Burn sage in an old glass jar and watch

The smoke curl as I fan it with a feather

I eat green, healthy, real foods

Soak in a mineral bath

Release negativity through my pores and

Shed some of that protective layer we call fat

I dress myself in ritual garb

Bells jingling against my bare foot

I am prepared to face

The rest of eternity

I open the front door

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Spiritual Detox

I’ve mentioned before that I viewed discovering some old emotional/spiritual wound, feeling its pain as I processed it, and then ultimately letting it go as a sort of spiritual detoxification.  Those instances usually occurred rather unplanned: “Oh hey, what’s this?  A scar I didn’t know was there!  Christmas!!”  But today, boys and girls, we’re gonna talk about doing that quite on purpose.

When you detox physically, you usually plan it – sometimes a lot – with special recipes, supplements, baths, juicing, etc.  This usually involves a trip to the grocer for ingredients, and perhaps timing it to your days off if you think you might have a bit of a health crisis and don’t want to be miserable at work.  So why not plan our spiritual detoxification the same way?

Now obviously, you don’t need to head to the grocer -or your favorite religious/metaphysical shop, as it were – for ingredients (though planning it for your days off might be nice) in order to spiritually detox.  But a little intention goes a long way.

I recently made my first foray into the Akashic Records, and despite warnings from others to just “get a feel for the lay of the land” the first trip in, I felt driven to ask my guides to “bring it on.”  My guides get a kick out of that.  I heard them chuckling.

Bring it on they did.  And ever since then, I feel like I have been doing The Master (Spiritual) Cleanse.  Old, dusty, forgotten relics are getting expunged from my mental attic at such a rate that I very quickly stopped wondering why I was reliving this old feeling again and found myself just hanging on for the ride, like an old rickety roller coaster that bumps you around and gives you a minor case of whiplash.  It became evident that this was a detox.  A bring-a-good-book-to-the-emotional-toilet detox.  Don’t fight it; that will only make things worse.

After several days of just hanging on for dear life and squeezing my eyes shut on that roller coaster, I began to peek out of one eye.  I began to work on the physical purging project on overdrive, but was under no illusions that this was the purpose of my purge: this was merely a reflection of my inner workings.  Some people turn their outside lives inward; I tend to turn my inner life outward.  My cycles of messy chaos, focused organization, and pure creation have always reflected what was going on in my mind.  My packrat habits developed during the years that I was stashing away those emotional injuries so they wouldn’t hurt me in the present, only to be dealt with later; my purging project began when I started to unearth those old storage units and let them see the light of day.

Though I am still in the middle of this ride (I think presently my coaster is on the upside-down section of track), I can say this for sure: God, do I feel better.  And then worse, and then better, and then worse, and then better.  It’s kind of like when you have the stomach flu, and eventually you get to the point where you are just willing yourself to toss your cookies, just so you can get it over with and feel better.  And you really do feel better once it’s out.

…Doesn’t that simile just make you want to spiritually detox right now?  Eh heh.  I promise, it’s worth it.

So, put it out there.  Even if going to the Records is a little “out there” for you, or you just don’t feel ready for that yet, talk to your guides.  They’re listening.  Let them know you’re ready to start dealing with things that you previously couldn’t.  That you want to get rid of negative toxins in your thought process.  If we’re going to improve the world, we first have to improve ourselves.

But maybe do that meditation on your day off. 😉

The Best of All Possible Worlds

For those of you familiar with The Law of Attraction, you know what I’m talking about when I say sometimes it feels “forced.”  I feel a little Candide in me, repeating over and over again that I Live In The Best Of All Possible Worlds, until I truly believe it.  Kind of like when you’re in a foul mood, and if you force yourself to smile, even if you don’t feel it at first, the physical act triggers the emotional feelings that normally accompany a smile (science!).  Some days, when it’s feeling forced, I can get over myself and just keep at it, confident that it does indeed work (it does).  Other days, I’ve got my grump on and I feel like I’m allowed to be grumpy today, godd***it!

When I’m having one of those “Get off my lawn!” days, once I have reveled in my pissed-offedness like a rebellious teenager and can see the path I’m headed down, I try to step outside of myself and look.  First, examine the little things that are teeing me off.  If I was in a good mood, would that really piss me off or be laughed off?  If the latter is the answer, then I have to look for the real reason for the grump.  I try to think of the possible logical reasons why I’m grumpy.  Is my blood sugar low?  Am I sleep deprived?  After so many years of dealing with those issues, I darn well know they can tank a mood faster than you can blink.  Sometimes the solution is as simple as eating a balanced meal.

But sometimes, it’s more deep-seated than that – especially for those of us who very purposefully are examining ourselves, our presumptions, our sense of self, our beliefs, etc., on a mission, as it were, to grow and better ourselves and by extension, the world around us; releasing thought patterns and learned behaviors that no longer serve us (and shedding physical manifestations of that baggage, to boot).  Sometimes, we unearth an old wound that we weren’t even aware of before – not consciously, anyway – and much like any wound, it festers unnoticed until pain elicits us to examine it.

Sometimes, that stubborn insistence of our right to be angry is the pain radiating from that wound we didn’t know was there.

It’s amazing how often I’ve discovered one of those old wounds, and upon examining it, gotten some message from the Universe relating to that very topic, seemingly out of the blue.  In my last post (linked above), I wrote about what I was feeling in the moment before I had had the “aha!” insight.  Shortly thereafter, while in tears to be perfectly honest, I got a message relating to that very thing that was so clear and blatant it couldn’t have been any more obvious if God had whacked me over the head with a baseball bat.  So there I was, having a low point, and I still got the positive response.  However, I was at the low point because I was “detoxing,” as it were.  For any of you who have done or have looked into doing a cleanse or otherwise detoxing, you’ve heard that as your body releases the old, stored toxins, sometimes it can cause what is known as a “health crisis” – that is, you feel sick from the icky things working their way through your system, but will be better off in the end as they will no longer be inside you to harm you in the future.  It’s kind of like that, which is why I figure the law of attraction didn’t attract negative things from my low mood.  I wasn’t letting the old pattern repeat itself – I was cleansing it from my system altogether.

Today I got another such message, from a friend’s Facebook post of all things, that wasn’t even directed at me, but it spoke to something I have been sparring with in my head for a while.  It was just such a perfectly relevant message, and put in just such a way that though I had “known” it before, it hadn’t truly “registered” – it pretty much floored me for a moment.  Sometimes you can “know” something, but not truly “comprehend” or “take it in.”  That was what this message was for me.  I can already feel the ripples making their way through my psyche, as the initial concept is accepted, and a domino effect of altering thought patterns occurs.

So though there are times when it may feel “forced,” keep at the positive thoughts.  When you hit a low, examine why, and be open to whatever reason may come.  If you’re spiritually detoxing, let the negativity be released.  You may have a health crisis of the spirit, but you will feel so much lighter and brighter in the end.

And don’t discount any source of insight as being “too trivial” – sometimes a Facebook post, a text message, or a tweet may be just the thing that gets the gears turning.

Your Body Is A Temple

Part of my spiritual upbringing included a whole lot of “Physical realm bad.  Spiritual realm good.  Must punish physical body in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment.  Physical body doesn’t count.” type messages (and yes, I imagine that being said like a stereotypical caveman grunt.  Though I suppose cavemen might have had wondrously complex languages, you get the point).  So for a very long time, even as I thought I was maturing and growing, I still treated my body like a trash heap, and thought of it that way, too.

You’ll recall my previously stating how I came precariously close to becoming a full-fledged hoarder until I moved into my current apartment, which caused me to look the problem square in the face and deal with it.  I still am, four and a half years later.  It is a long and sometimes difficult process, but so worthwhile.  I never fully realized until I started watching the show Hoarders what this said about how I thought about myself.  In more than one episode, it has been made abundantly clear that some of the people surrounded themselves with trash because they thought of themselves as trash.  They perceived themselves as not worthy.  They thought they were disposable.

That was me.  I thought I was unlovable.  Easily discarded.  Worthless.  Trash.

Having that revelation brought front and center planted the seed of thought that I needed to re-evaluate my relationship with self.

After reading the book The Secret, which was filled with a revolutionary concept for me at the time, I decided that instead of beating myself down with negative self-talk, I would beat the negativity down and squash it like a bug.  And so the process began.

At the beginning, I felt a little Stuart Smalley-like, as though I should have been staring in a mirror and telling myself, “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you!”  In other words, I felt more cheesy than the entire state of Wisconsin.  But I stuck with it, and after a while it became less forced.  I began to actually believe I was good enough, and smart enough, etc.  I felt less corny and more like I was having a deep psychological breakthrough.

Now, I had tried counseling a couple of times in my life, and other than it occasionally being nice to have someone to vent to, didn’t feel like it was helping me much.  This utter willpower maneuver of mandated positivity did more to repair my psyche than any outside person telling me that my thoughts were unhealthy ever did.  And I began to believe that I deserved love; I deserved happiness; I deserved respect.  Don’t all people?

But just recently this awareness took a new turn.  Even though I had been accepting that I deserved to be happy for a while now, I still wasn’t looking at my physical form with a whole lot of self-love.

Several months ago, I finally caved to months of pressure from my doctor to try easing up on my strict vegetarianism.  After over nine years of strident near-vegan “purity,” I agreed to try “a little fish” and see how I felt.  The doc felt I wasn’t getting enough protein or omega-3s.  She wanted to see if the omega-3s would help my mood, and the protein help balance my blood sugar (I was so hypoglycemic, I was crashing on a near-daily basis.  Sometimes more than once a day).

Holy mother of nutrition, did I feel almost immediately better.

The sugar crashing all but stopped.  I can now count on my fingers the number of times I’ve sugar crashed in the months since, instead of it being a given that it would happen regularly.  I had more energy, too.  Oh, and… the perpetual always-coldness began to let up, at least somewhat.  I’m still “the cold one” in a group, but there are times where I actually feel warm now.  That was nearly unheard of.

I quickly dubbed myself a pescatarian (someone who eats fish, but no other meat), and figured that was that.  But I had opened up the floodgates.  My body started having cravings I had thought were long dead.  It wanted more.

I fought it.  I already felt guilty; I thought of myself as a “failed vegetarian” or “weak” for giving in to what my body obviously needed.  I wondered why others seemed to do so well on a veggie diet and I didn’t.  You know how people are supposed to lose weight when they go veg?  I actually gained weight.  About 30 pounds.  I did not understand how that happened.  It brought up even more body-hate in my mind, because I used to be a stick.  Suddenly I felt ginormous.  I fasted as much as I could without putting myself in a diabetic coma, and my weight didn’t budge.  I restricted what was “acceptable” fare more and more.  I ate low-fat this and diet that.  Still fat.

So I caved.  All or nothing, right?  If I had already failed as a vegetarian, then I had failed.  Might as well go out with a chicken pot pie in hand and enjoy myself.

And I felt even better.  This was counter to every nutrition book I had read for the past decade (all aimed at vegetarians, mind you).  What really caused me to make the pescatarian-omnivore leap was reading a Jillian Michaels book on diet and nutrition.  She had recommended twice the amount of protein that one of my cherished veggie books had done.  Twice.  That wasn’t exactly splitting hairs.  That was a completely different take on nutrition.  So I started searching for more information online.

In addition to a mountain of blogs and websites I still find myself getting lost in for hours, I found an interview with Lierre Keith, a former vegan for twenty years and author of the book The Vegetarian Myth.  It got me interested enough that I bought the audiobook (I have found that I love listening to a good non-fiction audiobook, in addition to reading them normally).  I’m still listening to it, but so far it is proving to be one of the most profound books I’ve ever read in my life (and as previously noted, I’m a bibliophile of epic proportions).  This isn’t some machismo rancher looking condescendingly down upon the wussy vegetarians and telling us how silly we are; this is someone who had many of the same motivations I did (save the animals!  save the earth!), and struggled with many of the same moral issues, who recognized her own willful blindness to the truth about everything, and slowly – and not without a fight – came around.  I can’t even begin to do it justice by attempting to summarize it here; but truly, if you really want to know about saving the animals, saving the earth, our health, the industrial food system, and how things really work, I can’t recommend this book enough.  So many of the things we think we know are wrong.

Anyway… let’s get this Amtrak train of thought back on its rail.  Honoring my body.

So, okay, I’ve been now exploring the world of traditional foods, homesteading (if ever there was a thing that I get passionately obsessed with, it’s homesteading), and the like, and learning about the nutritional needs of my body from a non-vegetarian perspective.  I feel like a new student in a completely foreign field of study, with so much to learn, and so little time.  But this metric ton of knowledge was all pointing to the same personal revelation: I had willfully been ignoring the very basic, very human, very physical needs of my body, relegating them to “weaknesses” and “unimportant” in the name of some “pure” ideal that was impossible to attain (yes, vegans, even you are not eating without death.  Just because there is no meat on your plate, doesn’t mean animals weren’t killed as pests on the farm, or by a harvesting machine, or for fertilizer, or when farmland was deforested or prairie turned into farmland, etc.  Read The Vegetarian Myth.  I promise, it’s not condescending.  It’s someone who wanted the same things you want).

So why were my very natural needs being given the short shrift?  Because I still felt my body was not “worth it”.  Not worth what?  Surviving?  Thriving?  Did I truly believe I was put on this Earth to suffer?

I took a look at how I was treating my body otherwise.  I either was punishing it with exercise, or none at all.  Eating junk, or not enough.  I didn’t respect the food I was using to nourish myself: the perpetual load of dirty dishes, my hadn’t-been-cleaned-in-ages refrigerator, the splatter-covered microwave and toaster oven.  The kitchen wasn’t the place to create sacred nourishment, it was the place to throw together something convenient and get the heck outta there.  No attention was paid – ironically, as I thought of myself as “food conscious” – to the act of nourishing my body, even as I obsessively counted calories or ounces of water.  Allergy season caused me to look at my bed – covered in pet hair, sheets rarely changed, the mattress producing a renegade spring that had stabbed my hand and drawn blood once already.  A litter box right next to it, which was placed there to try and prevent one of the kitties from peeing under it (it worked, but she has shifted territory again, so it’s rather moot at this point).  In addition to the spring escapee, all my bedsheets are old and threadbare, hand me downs, stained, torn, and otherwise just as problematic.  Even my bed frame is almost as old as I am, and a hand me down that used to be half of a bunkbed.  I’ve never in all my 33 years had a bed that wasn’t a bunkbed, or part of one, let alone something larger than a twin size.  I had to throw out the egg crate cushion I had on it to try and make things more comfortable because a kitty peed on it.  I had a dream where I was told this was like sleeping in my own filth.  And you know, it’s true.  There is a literal litter box right at the foot of my bed.  How was that respecting myself and the place where I was supposed to get rest?

Being that I’ve been living off of savings and grace since I lost the day job last year, now is not exactly the best financial time to go to a furniture store and buy a nice new full-size bed with a comfy mattress and new thick sheets.  I accept that I deserve these things now, but to buy them would lead to a case of… aaaaaand how am I going to pay the rent?  So.  I did the best I could with what I have.  Washed the blankets.  Changed the sheets.  Vacuumed the mattress, the box spring, all the nooks and crannies, the heat registers around the side of the bed.  The litter box is getting moved this weekend (it will take some furniture re-arranging to find it a new home).  I’ll shampoo the carpet then, too.

I also went a little cleaning-frenzy in the kitchen and did the dishes, cleaned the fridge, and the microwave.  Checked for expired beyond use foods and tossed them.  Cleaned the floor.  Now when I open the refrigerator door, it feels so white and clean… and pure.  Because I’m honoring what I put into my body.  I’m honoring where my body gets rest.  My body isn’t the means to an end, or a sub-par vessel that doesn’t count.  It isn’t “a bag of water” as one of my friends terms it.  It’s a temple.  One that I am the proud caretaker of.

Lightening the Load

I have lived in the apartment I’m in for over four years now.  It’s a 600-some-odd square foot one bedroom with a balcony.  When I first moved in, I had had a bunch of stuff in storage jammed into my parents’ shed and front closet that was unearthed and moved in with the rest of my things.  At first I thought the chaos was just the natural result of moving, and thought it wouldn’t be long before I had the piles all unpacked and sorted.  I knew I had a lot of junk in there; I had always been a packrat.  But I didn’t think it was too unwieldy.  Eh heh.

Try as I did, I just didn’t seem to have enough space for all my crap.  I didn’t understand how this was possible.  I had never had a whole living space to myself before: I had always lived with family or roomates prior to this apartment.  SURELY after cohabiting with other people I didn’t have enough to fill the whole apartment all by myself, did I?

Oh, my dear Lord.  I did.

And we’re not talking big items, like furniture.  Oh, no.  We’re talking boxes upon boxes of books, piles of clothes that I hadn’t sorted for a donation bin since I was a teenager (I’m 33 now), and obscene amounts of mail/catalogs/magazines that had gotten unmanageable, and in a fit of “get it out of the way,” I had shoved in a box or bag always with the intention that I would “deal with it later.”  Those boxes and bags apparently multiplied like bunnies when left alone in a closet.  Now was later.  I had to deal with them.

For someone who has never been a fashionista, nor ever had much money to spend on clothes, most of my collection having been hand-me-downs or gifts, I sure had a TON of clothes.  I knew I hadn’t gone through those boxes gathering dust in my parents’ closet in forever, but it astounded me how much I had managed to accumulate.  In retrospect, I think I should have dumped every article of clothing I found into one big pile and took a photograph, so that I would be able to have a “before” and an “after” picture.  If I had done so, I could have sent the results to some producer at A&E and they would have thought me a candidate for the show Hoarders.  It was horrific.  I had been in total denial as to the level of my clutter and packrat ways.  If you had given me another decade or two down that trajectory, I might have actually been a candidate for the show Hoarders.

Why the hell did I save all that crap, people always asked me (OK, it was mostly my mother that asked me).  I would get defensive about it at the time and honestly couldn’t have told you.  Insecurity is a big part of the answer.  I do empathize with those reality-show sufferers, because I get that aspect of it.  It’s been hard whittling the piles down, and I’ve had years to work on it; those people have a weekend.  It’s a good thing those producers never saw any “before” pictures from me, because doing it that fast might have given me a heart attack.

On the one hand, I grew up poor.  As I said, I didn’t really have money for clothes and had to make do with whatever I had.  So it was kind of a security thing to hang on to every piece of clothing, because I probably couldn’t go out and buy more.  I had a hard time even letting go of items I had worn into the ground.  By that time it was a favorite object, which brings me to difficulty number two: I get sentimentally attached to all sorts of things.  Favorite old sweater now in tatters?  Sentimental object.  Book I loved but would never read again?  Sentimental object.

So how the hell did I even start to pare it down?  In stages.  At first I just focused on the mail-catalogs-magazines bunny family.  It was easy enough to sort through that, but even there I originally was hanging on to much more than I needed to.  I have since made further rounds into the files I thought I should save at the time and have been pulling more out that I now know is silly to hang onto.

It was about this time that I started discovering a huge motivator: apparently, the stuff at my parents’ house had gotten infested with carpet beetles (or at least, what I can identify as such through Google images).  I am a bugaphobe.  And a germaphobe.  And SACRED BOVINES, BATMAN they were everywhere.  I almost never saw a “mature” one – more often than not I found empty cocoons or squirmy little worm larvae things (ewwww).  But what do they like?  Books and clothes.  What do I own?  Books and clothes.

I can’t tell you how many things that I probably would have tried to save that I threw down the trash chute because it was beyond my willingness to de-louse it from the carpet beetles, or their empty cocoons.  Oh, God.  It still makes me squirm.

And they don’t just stay in one place, either.  They went from clothes that hadn’t been worn in a long time to the clothes hanging in my closet.  I have pulled everything out of my closet and dresser and washed my entire wardrobe because I found one worm on a sweater that was “in rotation” – or a few of them on something else I actually wore – probably three times.  The whole wardrobe, three times.  And again, this is before any clothes purging had even begun to take place, so that’s a lotta laundry.

I gave up on using my closet for clothes, and instead turned it into “storage,” to try and get the clutter and chaos out of my living space and once again hidden behind closed doors.  But that could only work for so long.  Even with the closet stacked high with boxes and bags of random crap, my space was still clutter-mania 2000.  My mind felt just about as chaotic as my living space did.  Oh, and I wasn’t going to get rid of the remnants of the #(&%^*$(& carpet beetles by stashing things away instead of cleaning them and sanitizing like my name was Mr. Monk.  So, the purge progressed.

While the progress was painfully slow in the beginning, the more I purged, the easier it got.  And it not only got easier – it started to feel great.  Every time I tossed a box down the trash chute or a bag of clothes in a donation bin (yes, there was washing), I felt a little bit lighter.  My mind felt a little bit clearer.  OK, I thought.  Once I get all these clothes I don’t wear sorted I will feel SO much better.

But it started to progress from clothes.  I started to give away other stuff, too.  Dishes?  Jewelry?  Books?

Oh, yes, the books.

When you’re as huge of a bibliophile as I am, AND a former borderline hoarder/packrat, you save every book your grubby hands have ever managed to own because they are PRECIOUS GEMSTONES OF KNOWLEDGE AND HAPPINESS.  Or something.  Even in my wildest purging dreams, when I was celebrating and posting Facebook updates like, “I threw out three bags of stuff and four bags of clothes in the donation bin this weekend!!  Yay!!!” (because I have a wild and interesting life, don’tcha know), I never thought I’d be able to part with books.  Any of them.  At all.  Ever.  I thought they’d have to make a memorial library with all my books after I kicked the bucket one day, because that collection was here to stay.

I started giving away books.

Now, bibliophiles, don’t freak out, I still love my tomes and am keeping a lot of them.  But I started with little kid books.  Then young adult books.  Then topics I’m not really obsessed about anymore books.  I even gave away some books that were cherished friends but I knew I had outgrown and someone else would get a lot of pleasure out of, so off they went to a new home to make someone else happy.

And for someone that used to stress over sorting a box full of mail, giving away some of my precious books made me actually quite happy.  It was liberating.

Now, I know y’all are thinking, this is a very wordy and very worldly discussion about purging physical items.  Really, is it relevant to a happiness/personal growth blog?

Yes, in so many ways.

For one, having a less-chaotic physical space does wonders for a chaotic mind and spirit.  I feel a lot calmer when my surroundings don’t look like a storage unit threw up in my living room.

For two, less stuff = less work cleaning/maintaining/keeping it free of *^%*&%$^ carpet beetles, and more time to devote to more important/pleasurable activities.

The third point takes a bit of explaining.  When I was a giant stressbucket of unhappiness and worry, I had more rules that structured my life than Leviticus and was terrified of stepping outside of my comfort zone.  Giving away things that had previously seemed so important was basically a giant metaphor for letting go of things in my mind and my soul that had seemed so important, but were not serving me well anymore.  As goes the mind, so goes the apartment.  Or vice versa.  This is why I use the term “liberating” to describe the act of purging material items.  It’s not just “hey I don’t have to cart around as much junk if I move,” though yes, that’s good too.  I was cleaning up interior space at a rapidly increasing rate, and my exterior space was just reflecting that.  The more mental spring cleaning I did of old attitudes and behaviors, the more I was able to clean up my living space.

There is still work to be done.  Oh, boy, is there still work to be done.  But now when I do it, it feels rather lovely instead of difficult.  I am quite happy now that my apartment has no storage space beyond the bedroom closet and a coffin-sized coat closet though I lamented it at first.  It forced me to deal with my issues.  And my mail.

So, purge, my friends.  Purge things in your life that no longer serve you well, be they physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.  It makes flying so much easier when you’re not weighed down.

Hold on, I’m totally getting a download right now

For the past week or two I’ve been brewing a blog post/chapter on not wasting your energy on negativity – be that places, people, situations, whatever it is that sucks you dry and makes you more miserable for all your efforts in the end.  But before that post/chapter came to fruition, my brain moved on to other topics (or so I thought).  Sometimes I have the focus of a laser and sometimes I’m the dog shouting, “Squirrel!!”  I figured an afternoon of wrangling my brain back a step or two was going to be in order, because books don’t get written just by thinking about them (why hasn’t that software been invented?  I’d like to make some movies that way, too… ).

But, ah ha, no, my brain hadn’t moved on after all.  The reason why I hadn’t been able to put the thoughts into words yet was that I still had more to learn on the subject myself (this is not to say that I have all the other topics I’m writing about figured out and will soon be dispensing advice from the summit of Pike’s Peak.  This is me writing from where I am at the moment.  I certainly hope not to stop growing here!).  I’m not going to be able to verbalize a thought that isn’t done baking yet.

I had all these witty metaphors ready to go and it turns out that perhaps they aren’t exactly how I would phrase things, after all.

A friend of mine suggested that I nix the whole idea of committing a book to paper and just make this whole experience a blog alone, because the downloads/updates/epiphanies are coming so fast and furious at the moment that I look at the first chapter I wrote just weeks ago, and it seems immature and contrived.  Eight weeks ago I was a proud book mama with a fledgling chapter I wanted to show off to the world!  Now I’m reading it and thinking, “That’s such simplistic, entry-level type stuff!  Did I really think it was profound at the time??”  Yes.  Yes, I did.

We now interrupt this blog post with a YouTube video that makes me laugh so hard, and if you’re following me on the term “downloads” then you might get a kick out of too:

Shit New Age Girls Say

No, I had nothing to do with making that video.  I just wanted to share it, because, well… it’s true.  ^_^

We now return my train of thought to its rail.  Thank you for your patience.

One of the first and largest changes that I have undergone in the past few years has been being able to say “no”.  Being able to express anger.  Being able to walk away from harmful people.  Being able to think well enough of myself to know that I don’t deserve to be hurt.  That seems pretty basic, but when you’re coming from the vortex of self-hating, people-pleasing, too-nice and too-timid punching bag-ness that was me just a few short years ago, it’s revolutionary.  I’ve walked away from people, situations, and securities that I never would have thought possible before.  How many of us are trained to suck it up and take it because the alternative – that is, the unknown – is far more scary than the devil you know?

Well, I started by telling people that hurting me was not OK.  If they continued to do so, I walked away.  If whatever I was getting out of the relationship wasn’t worth the pain inflicted, I was outta there.  And I’m not talking romantic relationships, here (I’m about as crazy cat lady single as you can get while only having three cats).  I’m talking friendships (and even a job).  I used to find every excuse for a “friend’s” behavior being painful to me.  They were going through a rough time.  They didn’t mean to hurt me.  Etc.  Finally, I said to myself, an actual friend wouldn’t want to hurt me.

Of course we’re all going to prick and poke each other occasionally; we’re cacti human.  The nature of being separate entities on this spinning blue marble means that we’re going to bump into each other sometimes.  I get that.  What I figured out was, if your friend does something especially hurtful to you, and you let them know about it (I like to presume unintentional whenever possible), and you don’t get so much as an “I’m sorry” or an “I didn’t mean to do that” or some other indication that that wasn’t their intent, but they double down and stab you again?  That’s not cool.

Revolutionary, I know.

So when I had people who did this not once, not twice, but three times or more – sorry batter, you’re out.  I saved myself and walked the heck away.  I felt like the lady in Fried Green Tomatoes who slams her car into the rude girls’ car in the parking lot and tells them that she’s older and has more insurance.  I was about to start screaming “Tawanda!”

And it became like purging my belongings (another endeavor that has been life-changing and oh-so-freeing that I shall have to blog about): the more I did it, the better it felt.  Thought I was going to say “the easier it got”, didn’t you?  Yeah, that too.  But mostly it felt better.  Hurt me again?  Goodbye.  Facebook friend?  Unfriend.  Every asshat I eliminated from my life was like ripping off a cast that had been immobilizing me for too long.  Scratch that itch, baby!  I’m done with that!

What more was there to figure out about this, right?  Purge the toxic people from your life and the the excess detritus from your closet.

Except I keep getting poked with the universal stick about one of the first people I walked away from.  I have the deep and unmistakable feeling that there’s a patch to be made there.  This patch could not have been made three years ago, or two years ago, or even one year ago.  But today?  I’ve repaired my sewing machine and have been crafting all kinds of new designs for myself.

OK yes, friends who are reading this, I know I literally have repaired my sewing machine and have been crafting all kinds of new designs for myself – but the analogy was just too perfect to resist.

So, how on Earth do I approach a patch that I’m not even sure the other party is interested in sewing?

Well, I haven’t figured that out yet.  Check back with me after I’ve had a few more epiphanies.

Hold on, I’m totally getting a download right now. 😉

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