It’s been a while darlings and everything has changed.
It might be the strangest time in anyone’s life. Or it might not be. For me, it’s definitely up there.
I last wrote when I turned 40 on my own terms.
When I turned 40 I found my voice. It’s been there all along of course, and from time to time it squeaked out and said tiny bits of what I was really thinking but most of the time it was strangled. As long as I can remember there have been nightmares of calling for help on the phone and not being able to talk. Or not being able to see the numbers to dial for help.
And then the truth, as it always does, set me free. It wasn’t a pretty process, the birthing of the truth. Kind of grisly actually. Lots of stitches, lots of scars. Still in the recovery process. Hell of a ride. But so worth it. As birth always is.
Mostly those nightmares have gone away. I don’t feel strangled or stifled anymore. I’m no longer aware of that constant lump in my throat of that brick like weight in my solar plexus, almost literally physically holding me back from…wherever it is I’m going or whatever it is I want to say whoever it is I am going to be. Now it’s just actual real life, irritating logistics that get in my way but those are a lot easier to work through. I can see the numbers to dial now and my voice works just fine.
Let’s talk briefly about that cringey “Letter to my formerly depressed self” about a year ago. I’m not even going to link to it. I am not. Ugh. don’t remind me. No seriously you guys need to stop referring to that shit every time I get low. Real talk: I hate that letter so much. I have thought of deleting it, but I’m not going to because it’s part of the record of my process. Depression doesn’t just go away. It never becomes “Former”. Neither does trauma. It circles you down the drain either forward or in reverse. That’s the quickest analogy I can come up with. At your worst, when you are trying to go it alone, you are right around the grungy hole of the drain, the abyss is echoing, you might have one leg and one arm already being sucked down into it. Maybe you are ever looking into the black nothingness of it with something like longing and relief.
Getting help pulls you back from the grungy hole, drags you away from the sewer system..the great unknown. Once you get help and while you work at it, the circumference of the swirls get bigger and further away from the black hole, but the black hole is there. It is always there. If you neglect the things keeping that force field in place the swirling suction starts to feel stronger.
Sometimes it has nothing at all to neglecting your self care. You can do everything right but life just sucks. I don’t know about every type of depression. I deal with PTSD and that can be fixed but it takes time. I’m really happy with my progress. I’m cruising along really well supposedly. Still. Triggers just happen, shit comes to the surface at unexpected times. It can suck but I’m learning to sit with that. Life is hard for everyone. Everyone has some sort of damage, some sort of battle. This thing is my basket of deplorable (to coin a phrase). I deal with it, I hope to deal with it less and less over time but I can do this. I got this. I don’t like it, but I got this. Probably. I hate to tempt blog fate. Blog fate can be such a little bitch. There are days when I definitely don’t got this. I get by with a lot of help from my friends. Moving on. Because enough already.
Ok wait. I have to make just more than a glancing reference to the Ultimate Shit Show.
So. Donald Mothereffin Trump won the election. It’s a total shock to the system on a daily basis. Honestly I still can’t quite grasp it. And most of you can’t either. There’s no big revelation here.
But what I do find fascinating is that in such a short time it has really had a part to play in reshaping my outlook, how I spend my time, who I spend it with. Which brings me to:
Hey! I was published in a book. Over the years, I have been published in magazines and newspapers, I used to have a paid column on a major internet network when that was still a really big deal. I’ve been paid for my writing here on and off over the years, but seeing my name in print between hard covers. For a book that mattered. Telling a story that I thought I might never acknowledge even to myself?
That feels..like an accomplishment. That felt good. I almost didn’t do it. And the fact that I pushed through and did do it feels even better.
Now. It’s not my book. It’s a collaboration of stories. We all met in the aftermath of aforementioned Shit Show and as women do, we came together, freaked the fuck out, then poured all that angst into something major and created a miracle. In three months, thanks to the grit and tenacity of a few and the bravery and love of all, 80 women from across the country had written a raw, an honest an often untold story of what the election of The Creature meant to them. For many it was a similar process as what it was for me…first the bad, ofttimes the pain, the trauma, the hurt and the unwanted feelings…and then came the fire, The resolve, the fight. Cliff notes: As women we have unified. This is our moment. This is our time. This is our movement and because we aren’t going down with the biggest, screamiest fight of our lives, we will ensure that future belongs to our daughters. It’s their turn. Our sons will be just fine.
I would not have survived the days since November 8th 2016 nearly as well without my new posse of fierce, funny, brave and brilliant friends and even so, it’s been a struggle for us all. But struggle is life. And life has been not boring. That is one thing I can heartily attest to. I hate boring and life…is. not. boring. in, 2017. I wish it were exciting in a less terrifying and disappointing way but the sparks of light and love that shoot up to the surface of this horrifying garbage heap do inspire and invigorate me. Every penny of that book goes to help other women. You should get it. We didn’t have a cent for marketing and that thing is holding it’s own. That book is a Nasty Woman.
So that’s good. That’s really good. But I sometimes miss my old life. This one is really noisy. I asked my friend if he thought things would ever go back to the way they were and he said no. I believe him and that makes me sad. I miss when I had more intimate relationships with the people on my facebook page. I miss the mundane silly things. I miss the friends I have become estranged from since the election and since I left the Mormon faith because I have spoken out about things. Sometimes with too much anger and too little measure. I have hurt people. That makes me sad.I don’t know if I regret it though. I can’t honestly say I do. I regret losing people I love but I don’t regret saying what I needed to say. Even if it was in a messy angry way. I used to say that above all else I didn’t want to hurt people. But now I’m different. I’m a bit darker or maybe more honest. Maybe I’m moving through something to get to the other side. And here’s the truth. I avoid hurting people. I actively dislike hurting people even if they deserve it and I abhor hurting those who don’t. But here’s what else. I am through with allowing myself to be the collateral damage in that goal. First do no harm. To Oneself. I’m on the list now. It was about time.
And sometimes, like maybe yesterday, I take a tiny bit of guilty pleasure (ok make that a lot) in the possibility of inflicting discomfort on someone who has done me wrong. But this is not about that either.
I find myself composing essays lately. As I run the wonky trails in the woods, I will have a big idea for one, it makes me quicken my step, catching a tiny little of air as I skip down the tiny hill. They come to me as I drive, turning the radio down as a thought carries me away and blooms into a topic. Then there is an essay, a series of essays. It won’t all fit…that’s going to have to be a book…
As I go through the motions of washing dishes, as I watch the morning’s wasted cereal being sucked away by the garbage disposal. As I methodically sweep the floor and push the broom into those weird little cracks between appliances to get the tortilla chip my youngest son leaves as his calling card every morning, I am far away lost in questions and words and ideas.
Sometimes I sit immobilized on my couch in my silent house gazing across the living room at my laptop, paralyzed with the agony of all I want to say and wondering how to say it all. All the questions I want answers to. I want to record things, I want to ask things, I want to explore things. And my process for doing that is by writing about them. I need to write about the things which shaped me as a girl, and a woman and a mother. About the community I walked away from, about the friends I have lost. About the friends I have gained. About the strange awkward numbness of estrangement and the unbreakable threads of enduring love between families devastated by lies and sickness and secrets. About when it’s better to forgive and work through things and when it’s better to let go so that you really can.
About how weird this idea of aging is. If the beauty industry didn’t tell us that we needed to start looking out for “seven signs of aging” would we notice it when we were in our 30’s or only when we were much older? In some ways I guess it’s good. To become acutely aware of your own mortality. So that you can stop wasting time. I want to talk to other women about how 40 has made me love being in my own skin. About how there are moments when I hate looking in the mirror. How can I feel feel so healthy and strong, probably physically better than I have ever felt before yet look like the crypt keeper. What the ACTUAL HELL?! And then there is another moment when I am laughing and unconscious of myself and I look up into the mirror visor in my car and am surprised to be staring into the eyes of a woman with a such a confident and lively expression on her face. How for the first time I see a woman who I would like to be friends with. A woman who looks..well like a woman, not a little girl. I love that look. It’s a subtle change. I don’t know if it’s a change in facial structure or something less concrete but I’ve seen it more and more over the last year and I do believe that it’s my favourite look. Even if it does come with “fine lines and wrinkles”. Why is there this this incredible shift at around 40. When we suddenly own it .Hormones, experience? It’s magic is what it is.
And sex! I want to explore why so many people think most women don’t like or want sex after they have kids. And why for some reason everyone is down with that. It’s a total crisis when a guy stops wanting sex or can’t make it happen but women…well they are so tired after all. What the hell? Sex is awesome. It’s really awesome and I think women should be enjoying it until they die or are close to dying just like it seems that men do. I mean. What on earth not? We have all that equipment designed solely for enjoyment y’know? Seems like a terrible thing to waste. Not just sex. Pleasure in general. Why are women so afraid of pleasure. Why are they so into self deprivation? What’s in it for them?
I want to talk about friendships. The ones we have from cradle to grave, the ones we have for certain seasons, the ones we have that fulfill just about every emotional and intellectual need and the ones that fill only the shallowest of them. Why some of the most intense and lovely ones can just fade away after time and why that can be ok sometimes and why some that shouldn’t die do, and how sad that is and maybe what we can do to rekindle them.
I want to talk about parenting relationships and the weird social constructs we have imposed on those. The ideas of how we should be communicating with our kids, or not. The limits we should supposedly be imposing on them. How I have defined my role as a mother and how I don’t actually give a damn about what people think about me in that regard anymore and how much it is has improved my relationships with my children. (OR HAS IT? I want to talk about that!)
I want to talk about why I left the Mormon faith. Because sometimes even I get confused regarding the reasons. I want to talk about why life is so much better for me and my family since leaving. (OR IS IT??? I want to write about that!)
I want to talk about how much I hate where I live and how much I love it. I want to talk about how I have grieved and celebrated the circumstances of my life and my fantasies for the future.
But I don’t want to just talk about all these things with reference to myself. I want to talk about them with other people. I want to have conversations. I have gravitated to facebook because it is a place for conversations. But there are so many limits. Today I wrote something that had come up in the LDS General Conference. It made me mad as so many things regarding the LDS corporation do. Somebody I have known for many years responded. I feel her. It’s something I might have done from her side of the fence not long ago and I respect her for it. I think it took a courage of convictions and I admire her calm confidence. She prempted by saying she knew she would be ridiculed and torn apart on my page for expressing herself. Initially I found that fairly irritating and I resented the accusation. I don’t allow bullying. I do allow vigorous debate with a no nonsense style. I accept that tensions get high and people aren’t careful about feelings. I’m pretty comfortable with that in a debate scenario. But it doesn’t mean that everyone else is. I have lost many familiar and cherished faces from my facebook page. I know they think I have become a dark and cynical person. They would rather not deal with my brand of..whatever. I get it. And if things are going to turn ugly and personal I do think it’s best that they keep their distance. And yet.
I know that if they heard my voice and they heard me discussing these things with other people though, they would probably get a different sense. I am endlessly curious about the human condition.About how other people see the world. What makes them tick. I miss the diversity. I miss having people who are brave enough or thick skinned enough or to coin a Mormon phrase, contentious enough to come to my page and challenge me. I want them to change my mind as often as they reinforce my confidence in my own choices. But the written word has limitations.
Today I thought about doing a podcast. It seemed like the natural easiest solution. I even researched it a little bit. Logistics and technology are not my bag. I can’t think of anything I have less interest in. If you want someone to come up with content, to be engaged and engaging, to keep the conversation going though, I’m your girl. I think that’s going to be the next move for the blog but I need logistics people. And I need people who are willing to talk about stuff with me. And maybe we have 3 listeners. And they will be our tribe.And that will be enough. And that’s what I want to do.
So. What do you all think about that?
Well I’m out of time.
So ends the longest blog post of all time. Is anyone still out there? It’s ok if you aren’t. I understand. This is not a blog post I might want to read on someone else’s blog either. Or maybe I would?
Either way, I am satisfied. Satiated for now. Because I scratched an itch. I filled my craving. My craving takes many forms and today was a day to indulge. In the grey light of this morning I snuck out of bed and sat cross legged and started writing as a new friend recently suggested that I should. I hand wrote, stream of consciousness in a beautiful grey Moleskine journal. I don’t remember what I wrote but I remember that it flowed and that it was delicious.
I bought a pack of six of those journals last night. Tonight I will go back and buy 6 more and I will fill them all because that’s another craving I have denied for a very long time now, and indulging it felt sublime.. And perhaps I will end up with 12 journals filled with nothing of any type of substance but they will be meaningful to me.
Because I am a writer and I won’t pretend any longer that I am anything less.
Thank you for being my reader.