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high plains, high desert

The sky here in Alamosa, Colorado can sometimes feel so incredibly close yet so large, a giant glass fishbowl full of bushy desert plants and fine sand swirling around, piling at the bottom of a mountain.  Mountains are in all directions, optical illusions creating some to appear small as they curl their bottom lip of switchbacks and raise high eyebrows full of summits and passes treacherous in winter as snow that never sees the valley beats down on the chest of the high places.

 

The bowl of the San Luis Valley becomes soaked as irrigation and veins of water fed by the Rio Grande collect snow of mountain tops becoming all but dry in summer.  Rain becomes a welcome sign that miracles can happen in the desert and rainbows can form amidst the backdrop of peaks and valleys of Mount Blanca. The landscape and sense of place could keep me here for years as I begin to understand weather patterns and hear from the folks how the weather fits into their lives.

 

I don’t really know why I left Wyoming.  I know why I left Gillette–to go to college.  And I supposed I left Laramie for the same reason–to go to a different college.  I went looking for opportunity and here I found diversity in the short time I have been here. I become aware of myself as I observe my surroundings to try to understand how to be serve, really how to best empower those around me to serve themselves. I do not know what is best for those in the valley and it’s nice to become learner once again.

 

Some things change and some remain the same.  I travel with lavender oil and rub it on the foreheads of Coloradoans now and I teach yoga to students at this college campus.  I wonder about the prospect of taking the mobile model of yoga I started in Wyoming and try it out here.  How can I weave in the fabric of place through the stories of the people?  I suppose I can start by leaving the house.  I plan trips to trails and dream of backpacking trips up fourteeners but feel some tiny bit of flesh and bone is terrified while the spirit is bold and so I remain cautious.

 

I heard someone talk about the religious or spiritual connotations of the San Luis Valley.  Every religious figure or prophet spent some amount of time thinking about stuff in the desert.  The mountains provide a prompt to think about stuff in the desert and to slow down.  The fishbowl of the valley allows for integration in twenty minute intervals toward towns spreading out like petals from the Alamosa center.  I have arrived.  And will be here now in the high desert of Colorado nodding my head to the high plains of Wyoming.

 

“Night poured over the desert. It came suddenly, in purple. In the clear air, the stars drilled down out of the sky, reminding any thoughtful watcher that it is in the deserts and high places that religions are generated. When men see nothing but bottomless infinity over their heads they have always had a driving and desperate urge to find someone to put in the way.”

 

-Terry Pratchett, Jingo

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turning of the canyon walls

I’ve been waiting to write in my blog about all the things I’ve felt as I move to Colorado after 32 years in Wyoming.  16 in Gillette and 16 in Laramie, half grown up in the belly of coal country, half deconstructed in the belly of precambrian granite and feldspar crystals.  Every part of the journey brought huge questioning and regret.  I said goodbye to my best friends—the few friends I had let in during the 16 years of trying to reinvent myself.  And now I reinvent myself in the San Luis Valley.

I moved here for many reasons which bring about all the reasons I had stayed in Laramie.  I’ve run into a few folks here and they always say the same type of stuff—oh it’s not for everyone here.  They say its isolated.  Nothing to do.  I’ve become the patriotic Wyomingite, talking about how Alamosa is Laramie moved south six hours.  Yes, Laramie was three times as big but I make my life very small.  I hear I may get bored in winter and I think of my writing, reading, or yoga—I know I won’t get bored just cold in the arid winters of the high desert.

I climbed part of Mount Blanca yesterday and am starting to realize what Colorado might mean.  Mountains are bigger.  Instead of my hour jaunt around Pole Mountain in the Medicine Bow National Forest, I now embark on hours long journeys I stop in the middle because it’s becoming clear I will not make these 18 miles.  Plans begin to be made—have I become the lusty adventurer going after 14’ers?  They are just where we all start—I want to become immersed in the microsystems as well. I want to find the desert parts of this place, to run in the greasewood and think about spiritual shit.

I think that’s why I came here—spiritual shit.  Not to seek the Ram Dass ashram just down the way in New Mexico or attend the Course in Miracles group I found in the local gazette—but to take a leap of faith.  To let go of the narrative that I’m a fifth generation Wyomingite, that my blood runs with the buffalo, that my soulmate is in the aspens of Happy Jack.   Turns out aspens are here, too. I’ve not felt that connection yet but I know the petals of my heart will peel and shake away as I uncross my hands from my heart and let the wind of the valley sweep things clean.

“Life is too short for grief. Or regret. Or bullshit.”

-Ed Abbey

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grandma with her cigarettes

I haven’t blogged in a hot minute and I just let it ride like the seasons, they will come and go and I will write or I won’t.  I never used to notice the seasons when I was younger.  Staring at brown leaves from an elementary classroom feeling the cold wind hiss between the cracks of the art room windows, soon the wind turned blowdyer warm.  Before I knew it I was collecting dusty white horny toads in the small canyons of the undeveloped land behind our subdivision.  Time moves slower and faster all at once paradoxical like the feeling of a dentist tool poking at gums, painful but just a little bit satisfying.

I watched my Grandma die last week.  The whole thing was like a dream.  We all called one another and met up in Littleton and there was no rush to see her.  We ate lunch.  We talked. My uncle whispered an aside to me that Mom might be avoiding going to hospice.  I think there was a collective sense of hesitancy, but no dread.  Grandma had been preparing us all for her death in small ways for years. She softened my heart towards the aging process.  She was so simple, so brilliant, I could write books and still not capture her dynamic personality.

I was struck by the yellow tinge of her skin.  Jarring–the same color as my dead father’s skin  when I sat with his body after he had died.  I poked his bicep to feel the stiffness of death and now here is Grandma, dying.  Stiff grief in the hospice room as my Mom grabbed some scented lotion to rub on her skin.  We used to go see my Granny Annie and my Mom would do the same thing–rub her papery skin with Lubriderm and I would watch the sagging flesh sway back and forth and mold into different shapes under caring fingers. Watching Grandma’s skin under the lotion feeling frustrated at its scent knowing its not the scent of the lotion but the scent of another death.  My Grandma.

My Mom looked so vulnerable watching her own Mom.  Her eyes flashing to my Uncle and she looked like she must have looked as a child, lifting a gaze to her older brother her eyes asking what do i do?  What do any of us do watching a loved one die?  Mom continued to rub her cheeks and her hair and my brother held her hand.  I stayed seated waiting for my turn to hold her, to love her, to be with her.  Holding my hand she said how she felt so shaky, so shaky.  And she said I’m okay.  I’m okay.  My brother started to talk to her and she told him you are such a big boy.  Tears come streaming.  Then her last words to my brother were “go easy on yourself.”

Go easy on yourself.  I am okay.  Grandma is okay.  Today another article came out in the paper about my efforts in recovery and I feel like a fraud–what do I know?  My recovery is not abstinence but my Grandma’s was and I come more and more towards wanting to honor that space where I no longer need substances to process my grief.  I started out this whole thing trying to write about how stupid I feel with article after article about some stuff that’s meaningless anymore–I’m no hero. The important stuff comes out instead.  The love for my grandma.  The complex process of grief.  The changing seasons.  The town in which I live.  The work I have left in the community.  The addictions I will work to overcome everyday.

My favorite memory of my Grandma is when she came down to see me at some kind of honors ceremony for my grades.  Always managed to keep the grades up despite the drugs and feeling the guilt creep in as I recollect leaving the ceremony early to come home and shoot up cocaine into my wrists.  We ended up at Jeffrey’s Bistro and at the end of the meal Grandma grabbed the votive candle from the table and lit the charcoaled end of a half smoked cigarette and shook her head with pursed lips as we hollered “you can’t smoke in here, Grandma!”  She knew.  We knew.  And we were just a little family.  Grandma with her cigarettes, Mom with her lotion, Uncle with his wisdom, brother just so big, and I with my addictions.  Today, I will go easy on myself.

“I have learned, that the person I have to ask for forgiveness from the most is: myself. You must love yourself. You have to forgive yourself, everyday, whenever you remember a shortcoming, a flaw, you have to tell yourself “That’s just fine”. You have to forgive yourself so much, until you don’t even see those things anymore. Because that’s what love is like.

C. JoyBell C.

 

 

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spiritual vomit

I spiritually vomited all over myself last week.  I felt the panic and fear come on Monday and I ran out of my house to get away from my trembly dog who shows me my own anxiety through ear flapping and panting.  Running away in shame knowing that my frantic energy has affected him but these are the moments I spin out and cannot take any outside stimulation.  I feel out of control, triggered, scared, like a child.

I joke about this workbook I scribble in here and there designed to help me with my self-esteem.  Shit gets better every day but I still feel my cheeks burn when I’m told—you’re intense, you are too much, you intimidate me, you are loud.  I internalize all these things but I’ve always been big and loud and would come tramping up the stairs in my childhood home singing or speaking languages that might have been just of our family clan.  We would yell, giggle, the neighbors commented on our loudness.

We all sang and had rituals like most families I’m sure.  Some of my favorite memories are the songs we made for our pets. Our three legged dog: “Tripod—no bipod, he is a friend of mine.”  Or our black sleek lab mix Albert: “Ali-berto gentille Aliberto, je te plumerai.”  Then there was our sheep dog Buddy who we would provoke by making the letter O with our mouths and wailing up and down, up and down so he would sing with us.

These things did not seem weird or intense or intimidating as a child.  As I find myself interacting with children, much more rarely than I wished, I find that they are the most accepting of me.  They even appreciate my weirdness, my intensity.  They know my intentions without my having to say so they know I still speak the language of un-nuance, of simplicity, of utter straight forwardness. And they speak straight forward to me, sometimes in a cheek burning way—Miss Jen you are sometimes pretty but sometimes not pretty at all.  And I say thank you because all I see is not pretty at all.  And so I scratch in the self-esteem workbook.

I don’t understand some of the unspoken rules of the adult world and have professionally crippled myself numerous times—in school, at work.  Anxiety is supposedly rooted in low self-esteem and in my tradition of receiving high marks, I’ve got A’s in both.  I think every day how I know I’m intelligent but if folks are too intimidated to listen, let go of that achievement.  I can listen to NPR but I still sing nursery rhymes in the shower.

I used to get pretty stinkin’ drunk to deal with who I was because in drunk world, Crazy Jen (the name I obtained for myself in my asshole years) was accepted that way.  People found it fun.  I was a pretend extrovert, the life of the party sliding around drinking fellahs under the table watching them vomit beer as I challenged them to shotgun contests.  Slamming my car keys into aluminum, drinking, drinking, hoping someone would stay until the sun came up and I became my true introvert self so we could talk about books and God.

I will vomit again I’m sure.  Maybe beer, maybe this confusing stream of spirituality but sometimes it’s not too bad to have the warm insides come rushing out, to feel the relief and release of pressure that builds constantly in a world that isn’t ready for my vibration.  Lou Dog, who has many songs and phrases, will continue to show me when I’m off the ol’ rocker and then the choice Is mine to act on the fear or to laugh at myself and use the mantra I heard a child say this week–I am what I am.

“All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.” 

-James Baldwin

 

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wal-mart yoga

I ran into a friend last night and a few folks knew me from my work teaching yoga. I was able to talk out loud a bit about how I see western yoga as cultural appropriation and perpetuating classism, racism, ableism, extroversion, hegemony, and all other sorts of atrocities that we silently ignore in the modern American caste system.

Let me clear this up before I dive into an opinion piece: I do teach yoga. I do teach meditation. I call myself the “Wal-Mart of Meditation” for a reason. Yeah Wal-Mart is messed up, but I don’t have the privilege NOT to shop there. Most folks I know don’t. I didn’t plan it this way, but I am very particular about where I teach, who I teach for, and how I teach. In the 4 years I’ve dived into this spiritual realm, I’ve learned a few things about myself and yoga.

The first is—I doubt I will ever teach at a boutique brick and mortar studio again. I’m not a business person, hardly a capitalist, and would not ask others to do what I cannot do myself. I cannot afford an $18 yoga class. In 2009 when I got out of jail after several DUI’s, I had nothing. Some fellah at the soup kitchen gave me $20. The last thing I was going to do with that money was walk over to a studio to be confused by Sanskrit, incense, and a person who is trying to tell me everything is love and light. Bullshit. I just got out of jail and have no home. Life will never be all love and light so we can all surrender that fantasy.

Secondly, I hope to always teach at a community college. In my years of teaching I have NEVER encountered a person of color in a brick and mortar studio outside of one instructor and one teacher in training—both privileged socioeconomically. In my classes at the community college, I’ve had men and women of color, non-english speaking folks, folks with disabilities, folks struggling with obesity, children, teenagers, deaf and hard of hearing folks, folks who I let in because they could not pay, felons, drug-users—you name the area of marginalization and I’ve been able to recruit at least one person to try it out.

Before I prepare my speech for social justice lady-face of the year, let me relate that I, too, am a part of the appropriation of yoga. I am in the space of privilege. I am the subject that relates to the object of yoga. I’ve bastardized the heck out of yoga (i.e. Walmart Meditation) I’ve copied elements from a minority culture and these elements are used outside of their original cultural context—sometimes even against the expressed, stated wishes of representatives of the originating culture.

I do not take communion in a Catholic church. I do not attend Mormon seminary. I do not pray with Muslims. Why do I think it’s okay to teach yoga when I know nothing of Hinduism? Because—it’s all I’ve got. I want to show folks that the light exists so they can choose their lamp. I know I do not know the right way to do anything because the only right way is the authentic way in one’s own skin. That will look different for everyone.

I can reduce the harm be being aware of the roots of the practice, and giving credit where credit is due. I can respect and honor the religion of Hindu and the Eight-Limbed Path by shutting the fuck up when I enter a sacred space. I can become more sensitive to myself and others through intentional practice. I will have to practice my whole life because it will not end with a headstand, heck, it won’t even end in this life. It is important we understand what yoga is and why it was created so we can honor the practice, others, and ourselves.

“Do your practice and all is coming.”

― Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

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cracks and stripes

Sitting in the plush couch across from Asian decorations staring at large red plates and sticks of bamboo creating geometrical patterns and shadows creating the backdrop as I relate the geometrical patterns of my life. I blandly tell my counselor how life is a dream, a projection, a fuzzy version of reality. A veil has dropped. Maybe it dropped a long time ago. I watch the plot, the characters, the scene, the story line with only mild interest. Mostly apathetic.

A familiar story for the thinkers, the depressed, the analyzers. Life a dream. Waves of light, color, emotion, people. A familiar story for those in trauma. Unable to fully open up to life undulating between numbness and extreme pain. I’ve told my story a hundred times and it’s really nothing special as folks die and individuals reinvent themselves over and over again, purifying in the fire. In each reinvention, the dreams, the disassociation becomes greater and greater and I go to matching lengths to ground down, to find the soil of my existence once again.

April 25th, 2014 a friend hung herself and I once again sank down, went deep, and struggled to decide on the appropriate response, the appropriate way to be with myself, to be with the world. And so I ran. I went into the physical body and the breath for stability, balance, to let the power of my thoughts dull in the burning light of my physical being. On Pole Mountain every day, moving slowly over rolling hills stopping to smell, take pictures, dance, stare at the sky, stare at the ground, and sit in the mud. I would bring friends, we would bring drink, I would bring drink alone. Playing with that point when the substance can enhance physical awareness and open up the senses to deep experiences while dulling the mind just enough to justify the tall bullets of barely pop.

I let go of expectations for myself. I walked away from the holistic practice of yoga doing only what felt good—run, lift, stretch, drink, sleep. I would push myself at times but found in the letting go of the practice of yoga I was able to truly practice yoga through direct experience, an opening up to the trails of life, the trails of my own veins. I felt like a crucible with ashes in my belly, appearing like clay but red hot on the inside. And so I buried myself in the cool ground to recalibrate what this all might mean and how to find my meaning.

On the trails, during the runs in forward motion and in the tiny catches of slowing down, I begin to see the patterns of nature. The times, ways, and slopes where the wildflowers grow. The ripple of the snow from the way the wind blows, the creak of the trees, the sound of thunder near and far. I begin to feel the sunrise and sunset and anticipate in some familiar way what to expect in this place and on these runs. The weather becomes a part of my system the breeze my own breath.

It becomes harder and harder to come back and to see the patterns in others’ behavior, the same patterns of nature. Only to know the patterns will not be seen. They are obstructed, fuzzy, blended with lies on the part of the person who has not yet accepted his or her own behaviors. They do not see what I see, and this is just perception, this is just human nature. They are not who they think they are. I am not who I think I am.

On the hikes of the human mind, I feel the wind of thoughts, the dark clouds of brooding, and the creak of the heart. Anticipating the seasons of the soul from unspoken words and intense observation I feel the sunset coming knowing that it may go unnoticed, go unfelt. It does not matter. All experience, good or bad is grist for the mill. Fuzzy, painful, manufactured, in nature, all a path to spiritual growth, a way to God.

“Sometimes I reason my life is a hideous illusion, and I dream of disappearing into the wilderness, leaving behind my past, my present, and all plans for my future, the hustle and bustle for a materialism I care little for, propaganda, politics, phonies, and all the patterns I’ve encountered from their words unspoken, that alert and alienate me to believe that this surely wasn’t meant to be my playground.”

-Unknown

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the lies we tell

So, I’m single.  I’ve been in some committed relationships but I messed those up just like I tend to do with things of an intimate nature.  I don’t know how to shut up.  I don’t know how to keep things to myself.  I don’t know how to always keep the peace.  But I love these things about myself.  I am authentic. I am genuine.  I am Jen.

I cried the other day, the chest collapsing, stomach folding, breath catching tears because I realized I am simple and I am like everyone else.  I want to be loved. I just want to be the love of someone’s life.  Or one of the loves of someone’s life.  I want to at least be an important part of someone’s life.  I want to be worth the risk for someone.  I want someone to tolerate the anxiety of growth, of riding a huge wave of uncertainty.  I think I am worth it.  But I always question this and retreat back into my salty, crusty, self.

I will lie about some things.  I will pretend to be happy for someone because my real feelings aren’t appreciated.  I become so frustrated with the lies that people live to be part of the status quo, to be perceived as hip and contemporary, as totally normal yet edgy.  The marriage. The house. The car. The child, or children.  The investments. The 401k.  Store treasures in heaven, I say.  Store them in the heart.  Because we all die alone with nothing.  An inheritance is just sentimental perceived power.

I am poor in terms of American capital.  I have what could be perceived a middle class salary but I’m a product of a generation ridden by debt, paying tens of thousands of dollars for degrees that are marginalized daily.  I’ve been accused of spouting psycho-babble if I discuss theories of change.  I’ve been told I could never fully understand how to work with children because I am not a parent.  I still try to defend myself.  To what end?  I have stopped practicing clinical counseling because I don’t know if people change.  I don’t talk about books despite having a degree in English.  I am rich in my mind and heart but no one wants that currency.

I thought I had changed at one point but really I feel I floundered from who I was and then came back to the same person who would argue with teachers on principle, share my faith and religion to others with bravery and compassion, work hard and play hard.  I used to say I was like black licorice and hard to handle.  Why do I have to take on others insecurities because I stir up shit for others?  It’s exhausting being called a strong woman, which as all feminists know is a cover up for bitch.

I feel self-involved for writing this.  I am feeling spiteful today.  Yet, as I run to contemplate and meditate, I realize the world owes me nothing.  Folks may not love me.  It’s my job to love myself in order to create a loveable person.  I certainly do have some pathological tendencies.  I could be called a narcissist.  I have created the life I want.  I am a teacher. I am a writer. I am a friend.  And I can tell you even without the house, the car, the husband, the kid, the 401k, my legacy will last far into the future.

Folks don’t remember the quiet, well-behaved individuals who they have come across, just as they don’t remember the boring paintings in the dentist’s office.  What is remembered is the art that moves, the art that disturbs, the art that pushes buttons.  My life is a painting and with each stroke I will offend, I will repel, I will love, I will welcome, I will be.  And it’s the choice of others to love me, and it’s a choice I have already made for myself.  Salty, crusty, and loveable.

We tell lies when we are afraid… afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.

-Tad Williams

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day five and six-my proudest moment and what I’m most afraid of

I missed yesterday. That will happen! I went to the UW basketball game and its always neat to watch the sport I used to love so very much. (I used to make my dad VHS record every and any game in the college men’s championships, and lose my mind in the basement watching).

I was going to try and cleverly tie the two topics but I don’t have to be clever at all. My biggest accomplishment is directly related to my biggest fear. I thought about detailing my college degrees—I’m a first generation student and it was a good thing to get done but I didn’t walk in commencement for either my bachelors or masters. It’s not something my family really values. I’m not upset about that—these degrees are to leverage social currency to help others, not to tack on my wall.

After the two paragraphs of porch talk I’ll get into it—my proudest moment was graduating from drug court. Well, Albany County Court Supervised Treatment Program. Nothing has been harder in my life, I’ve never failed over and over so many times trying to get something right, and I’ve never been so happy to have my life back.

When I was younger, I didn’t picture myself living past the age of 29 and “live fast, die young” was a lifestyle for me. I truly feel like drug court changed my life. It was really new to me to be so crappy at something—I’m hardly the best at anything I try but with hard work and guidance I can complete most tasks. Not drug court. I relapsed all over the place, finding myself smoking meth with other drug court participants all of whom are in prison now.

When I graduated I wrote a few lines about each person in drug court and the people who helped me graduate—including my probation officer who became human to me, the bailiffs who were always more kind than necessary, my counselor, lawyer, and even the judge who I had gotten crosswise with on numerous occasions. I now count many of these professionals as colleagues and friends. They helped me to see my own worth.

And now to my worst fear. I fear I will relapse heavily and go back to jail. I fear I will decide one night of fun is worth throwing my life away. I fear my job will find me out and let me go because I am a liability. I fear that I am bat shit crazy and I am just kidding myself that I could ever be a professional and help anyone. This is why I am not using my degree to be a counselor. Who am I? Who am I to help folks when I feel I am walking a life tight-rope? I’m afraid of being alone forever, in a cell, lamenting what I could have been.

But, I refuse to let these fears motivate me all the time. Of course I’m human and they pop up here and there. I have shown myself and others I am capable of rising from my own ashes. I am capable of my version of recovery. Fear is no motivator and I’ve been crippled too long by what others might think. And so I blog about my past. I blog about my future. And I give thanks for the now.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

-Fran Herbert

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an open letter to my body

Dear Body,

I am very sorry for the way I have treated you lately and in the past.  I want so much to have a good relationship with you but I become jealous.  I become insecure.  To come to intimacy with you I must practice unconditional love.  I’m not there yet.  I stare in the big mirror in yoga class and words HATE HATE HATE HATE just keep popping up over and over as I notice thighs like trunks of trees and flat saggy bottom pulled down by gravity.

I ask you how many squats I must do, bottom, to make you like a shelf and you say that is not how it works, you say you are like my ski slope nose and are just a part of me.  And you ask me, why must I change when this is who I am?  I turn away and avoid looking at you in the mirror but sometimes see you flopping around in my shadow as I run and I despise you for hurting my ego.

I know the shape of my skeleton is only slightly different from the shapes of bones around me but when I got a DEXA body scan and saw pillows of fat around my hips I cried.  I cried myself to sleep 30% body fat even as I restrict my diet and workout four hours a day.  Please leave my bones, fat, please go away and help me to sleep better at night with your weight lifted from my hips.

And you, small breasts, what of you?  I thought you would grow and yet you remain the same small shape, barely a handful, appearing like small bumps in comparison to my thighs. I have no trust for the man who says he likes my huge bottom and small breasts.  I cannot believe that. You are a sociopath anyway and this just compounds the problem as the external world validates what I already think—no one could possibly love this body and he is lying.

Then others speak of body acceptance and these are the same folks who have bodies of fairies or who are so obese that to continue to accept means horrible medical consequences.  It’s very hard for me to hear them say breathe, love, change your thinking, eat for nourishment.  I do these things and yet the feel of any bra or pair of pants sinking into pockets of fat is enough to drive me to punch the walls of my home. I see these holes knowing where they came from.  Self-hate. I fix the holes until the next time I become so irritable with weight gain i scream and cry and punch. Do you hear me yet, body?

I meet men who say they love me but manipulate me telling me how very unattractive my insecurities are and I sink deeper and deeper and tears become more and more frequent as I tell him I am human, we are all insecure about a few things.  He walks away saying I text too much and he has worked on himself too long that my unhappiness with my body would make him feel uncomfortable.  I know the faulty thinking in this, body.  This has gone beyond knowing and my soul is bruised.  I let my spirit become deadened by the weight of you, body.

You, body, have always been my enemy when you grew out of control when I was just a 12 year old girl.  Growing, growing, out and up over six feet tall.  And no one was like you, body, no one was as tall as you or wore the same size jeans.  The dysmorphic tendencies grew worse and worse and when I see another tall female we are strange cats.  And I feel she is always skinnier than me.

I know the faulty logic.  Skinnier is not better.  Overtraining is rough.  Counseling is to manage the myriad of problems I create for myself outside of body image (there are many) and I keep close to my heart the things I do to you in private outside of just screaming at you.  I write this public letter to you not for pity, not to be told I have a problem (this I know) but so we can begin to mend, forgive each other and grow healthy again.

I know I can love you again.  I know we can grow or shrink and that these small steps are what matter.  I took off my shirt in yoga the other day wearing a sports bra to cover my tiny breasts and pulled up my spandex over my large hips and I closed my eyes.  You, body, are the shell.  I’m fortunate to have you in the transient lifetime so let us make peace.  Let us love each other again.

Jen

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
― Mary Oliver

Archetypes, Body Image, character study, Death, depression, Dharma, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Fear, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, Non-Fiction, poverty, privilage, PTSD, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Sex, Suicide, Universiality, Wyoming, Yoga

the most selfish person i know (a biography)

Every day is filled with tiny baby setbacks and tiny baby victories and I’ve been putting off blogging about it because I realize how much I exist in my own head.  My head is not in the bell curve, it’s not appealing to many folks, it would be cancelled after one season.  I am so very selfish and spend so much time alone.  My world is all I have.  My thoughts are my friends, my thoughts are my enemies. As I work to share my world I create experiences to validate that which I already believe—I don’t understand intimate relationships.  I don’t understand friendship.  And I certainly don’t understand the intimate/friendship combo of a long term relationship.

I set the stage for my lonely, tragic, existential play at a young age, ready to be analyzed over and over like an awful Shakespearean play that I have to pretend to like because it seems to be what I ought do.  What ought I do?  It was Valentine’s Day and I was sixteen.  We skipped school and filled a brown, sticky, stained bong with snow and took rips of the dirtiest ditch weed a kid could get their hands on.  We skipped from house to house where parents would have us or where parents were gone and we could drink stolen brandy or Bud Light and listen to Tom Petty.  We would often drive around the dirt roads that connected coal mine to oil rig to ranch to old schoolhouse.  As we passed the same plastic bong around I thought—this is it.  This is all I need.

We arrived home and my parents had tried to show me love.  They sent me flowers only to find I had skipped school and had come home smelling of booze and weed.  My parents had never sent me flowers, all of us had trouble understanding these human relationships.  My face felt hot and I bit the pieces of skin around my fingernails that smelled like Marlboro Reds.  Harsh words, questions, and raised voices.  I swung my hair over the tie dye shirt I was wearing and told my parents:  I wanted to spend the day with someone I love.  That one is drugs.

Drugs won’t purposely miss your call.  Drugs don’t give you an STD.  Drugs don’t say that you text too much.  Drugs don’t call you insecure.  Drugs don’t avoid eye contact with you but stare at your overdeveloped thighs and hips.  Drugs don’t tell you that you remind them too much of an ex and would-you-just-quit that.  Drugs don’t stalk you for seven years.  Drugs don’t punch you so hard during sex you lose your hearing for three days.  Drugs won’t fuck you only past 10 pm because you are the other woman.  Drugs won’t take money you left on the counter.  Drugs won’t ask you to suck their dick for blow.  And yet, drugs take you all these places emotionally.  Maybe I ought treat them like an ex.

My uncle once told me that my brilliant grandfather experienced setbacks in his career because of the fire.  The crazy.  That which runs in our family which I have seen firsthand and experienced even more deeply firsthand.  I knew I was round the bend when I seventeen and I shot up a half gram of meth that had been cooked up hours before.  I lost my vision.  I lost my hearing.  I barely made it up the stairs.  When I had finished lying on the bed staring at souls circling above me, I walked to the bathroom and looked in the mirror.  I had switched, something had turned.  There goes the screw.  Like Alice, I had gone to the other side.  Manic.  Depressed.  Crazy.  Gifted. Touched by fire. Out there.  Ridiculous.  Ludicrous, preposterous, risible, farcical.

Will I ruin my career?  Will my soul mate be crystal meth?  I don’t believe in either of these things, because maybe I’m crazy enough to understand that while my attributes aren’t valued by all, or many, or a lover, I am not unworthy.  There is no manual of human contact and we create just miniature projections of ourselves.  Some cells want to be with others.  Some organs stand alone.  But no part of the human body is wrong, and no part of me is wrong.  I am selfish.  I am crazy.  I am the most beautiful person you will ever meet.  I say the ugliest things you will ever hear.  Will you still love me?  Because I sure do.

“I do a lot of crummy things, and I do a lot of beautiful things, and I’m neither good nor evil, I just am. There is good, and there is evil, and here I am.”

-Ram Dass