Good morning on this Monday — are you settling into this new time? Now the dark is earlier in the evening and the light comes sooner in the morning; the pup and I were just getting acclimated to morning ball-catching time by the half-light. Full sun is cheating!
For you Nanowrimo-ers reading, have you already reached your word count goal for today? Listen for me cheering you on from your sidelines! I’ll be joining you later this morning, pushing out my own 1670 words.
Today I am in this new life all the way. Friday was my last day at my day job at UCSF. The goodbyes felt complete and honest, and today I’m here wondering how all the pieces are going to come together. That perseveration isn’t at my surface, though. A calm has lifted in me, one that I’m not sure yet I can trust. One that feels like — like what? Faith? Is this what faith feels like? Continue reading
Change sometimes feels like catastrophe, doesn’t it? Even if my conscious mind understands that what we’re going through is just transition, learning curve, new growth, my body/psyche/other parts are battening down the hatches and armoring up, trying to hold their ground, ready for battle. If change provokes anxiety, if we’ve got something at stake in this new learning, the inside selves run around in circles, worry the underside of my eyes til we’re blue with bags there, send out the old voices: why are you so weak? why are you so tired all the time? why aren’t you working harder?
I understand that those voices, once upon a time, just wanted to keep me safe — to get me to start questioning myself before anyone else started to question me. Didn’t that give me a sense of safety, or rather, a sense of control?
So I breathe into the questions now, and check in with my friends a lot: what’s the matter with me? nothing’s the matter with you — you’re just doing some new learning.
"the moment of change is the only poem" -- Adrienne Rich (artist Karen Rustad created this image for her freshman year 'graffiti wall)
I should be getting in the shower right now, not just starting my blog post.
"props to soup + soil" -- love that!
There’s a mourning dove outside my window; I turn off my quiet morning music to listen. It’s mostly just that harmonious throb — whoo, whoo, whoo, in a breathy thrum.
I am thinking about boundaries, about elasticity, self care, and about perfection.
It’s moving day today, and we are leaving. Wasn’t I just writing that line? Last time it was Oakland; this time, it’s San Rafael. I barely got the time to learn the skin of this place, never mind put my ear to its heartbeat.
The photo is one I took on my walk to the bus stop one morning, past the dog park. Dangerous business, putting your fingers into the greenery next to a lamp post in a dog park, but that four-leaf clover was worth it. Wasn’t this place supposed to be lucky?
This is the last morning in our new house. This is still our new house — we’ve just barely been here a year. I woke up and looked at the walls, the light fixtures, I remembered just how I felt when we walked in and I so longed to live here.
“The unconscious is structured like a language” – Jacques Lacan
“We are in no way obliged to deposit our lives in their [the Lacanian fathers’] banks of lack, to consider the constitution of the subject in terms of a drama manglingly restaged, to reinstate again and again the religion of the father.” – Hélène Cixous 
Today I woke up from a dream about us living in a house here in town, one we haven’t been able to see inside of yet: in the dream, I could see the big, fat calla lily in the front yard. I’ve been having a hard time getting enough sleep, and somehow managed to wake up, get out of bed, when my 2nd alarm went off just after 6. I spend most of the morning spinning about my to-do list, which I am best able to tackle early in the morning. With this day job, I spend the bulk of my best and most creative working hours either getting ready for work or in commute — by the time I get to the office, the yoke of the day has set in.
What would it be like if this were my priority, the workshops, writing about the workshops? Have I told this story already? The person who controlled and sexually abused me/my family from 1982 until 1996, when he went to prison, my mother’s second husband, was a therapist — both he and my mom worked with kids who had been sexually abused. This has meant that I have been suspicious of all therapists — all therapists. Even my sister, now, I ask myself — yes, maybe even her. And this is why, named just this week by my former employer: because of my prejudice. I myself have felt it to be a fully-justified prejudice, but it’s a prejudice nonetheless, a preconceived opinion about every therapist I meet, at least momentarily, that isn’t based in any knowledge about that person. Yes, there are lots of shitty and manipulative therapists — and there are lots of shitty and manipulative and abusive teachers and clerks and computer programmers and… abusers aren’t limited to the realm of the transformative/healing arts.
Let me be gentle with it: this prejudice, like an armor, kept me safe — I needed to question and work to trust anyone who called themselves a therapist; I didn’t want just anyone thinking they could get at my brain. I still don’t. I know what they can do — ok, what some people who call themselves therapists can do with the skills and knowledge they have been entrusted with.
It’s freezing in the office this morning — welcome to winter! It’s hard to type when you want to keep your fingers wrapped around the cup of nettle-mint-green tea.
This morning I’m thinking of harm reduction, and how it’s self care. Right now, I have an agreement with myself: I can eat whatever I want, as long as it’s not wheat. That means, yes, I can buy the chocolate or the bag of popcorn that I’m going to eat all of, in exchange for not buying the piece of cake with the slab of frosting that will make me feel like a shaking sugar-wheat mess. I have not made this arrangement about sugar, just wheat, and just for right now. Just for right now. Just for today. Each day I can decide if I want to continue. My body is happier when it doesn’t have as much wheat to process — of course, it’s also happier when it’s not processing all sorts of sugar and not packed in and overfull, as can happen when I decide to feast on popcorn. But harm reduction is about choosing the lesser evil and going with that for awhile, to make it easier to live without the worse evil. And it is making it easier for me to transition away from wheat for a bit — and for that, I’m grateful.
Mostly, I think about harm reduction in the context of drugs and alcohol: let me smoke instead of taking a drink, right? But it’s a constant self-care practice and possibility, especially on the hard days. Let me watch just 3 hours of tv instead of 10. Let me be late for work because I did some stretching rather than beating myself up all day and living with this tension headache (that’s not really harm reduction practice, but it is reducing a harm). For some people, it’s let me give this blow job without a condom if I’m not going to fuck without one. Or, let me fantasize or write about this person it would be very bad for me to have sex with (maybe for emotional reasons, or because there would be other consequences) rather than having sex with them in real life. Sometimes a self-care practice is about incorporating the ‘bad’ decisions, in layers and ribbons, rather than deciding to be all of a sudden completely virtuous and perfect (then failing at that, then beating myself up). We all know that there is no perfect: There’s my imperfect humanness, right there with me every morning as soon as I open my eyes. Sometimes it’s eating the chocolate instead of drinking the four glasses of wine. And then later, maybe the body and mind are more accustomed to moving through the difficult process without the four glasses of wine, because they had a chance to practice. And for some people, the four glasses of wine are going to be the lesser evil compared to something else. For a long time, because I wanted to re-learn to touch myself and be ok with it, I would “let myself” fantasize about things that I felt sort of awful about after masturbating, rather than fantasize about the things that I felt really awful about afterwards — and then, later, my harm reduction was about moving away from things that I felt sort of awful about fantasizing about. Harm reduction is relative and always in flux, I think. It’s about being easy with yourself. Sometimes you can choose a kind of abstinence (I’m not going to do this thing at all, again, ever) and sometimes you can choose a harm reduction strategy.