Friday, March 18, 2022




Out on a run/walk/wander I remembered what I thought on a recent early morning: I am separate from other people. It really struck me that what I feel, think, decide, am... it's all mine. And that other people's those things are all theirs. Like I am a cloud, and you are a cloud, and we are each our own weather systems that can also create weather together. 

I spend a lot of time thinking about humans- how we behave, our histories, our family histories, our behavioral legacies, our training, choices, conditioning, changing, stagnating- it's all fascinating to me. I think about myself and how I got sober and what it took to get there. 

What it was like to live the life I lived before I quit drinking. 

What it was like to live that life. 

What it's like to live this life. 

The things I have learned and how much I still have to go. I remember being out on a run in the beginning of my recovery and thinking "What if I never finish?" and starting to cry because then I thought with relief and joy "I will never finish!!!" 

I realize periodically that something I do unconsciously pretty often is: I try to not make any mistakes by being me the individual. I really guard myself closely, collecting myself, looking for loose threads or flyaways of self. Oh this? That's nothing! And I scoot that part of me you might have seen under the rug. It's weird for someone who is like me- I am open to talking about your behaviors or your life so I seem like I am open and revealing, but just try asking me about myself and I will probably clam right up like a... clam. I'm so good at it you may not even notice that I change the subject or that I'm very brief and that I rarely talk about myself. 

I am working on this. It can feel like being pushed out onstage naked when I talk about myself. I watch the audience closely. Was that my line? Am I saying it right? I watch for signals. Did I mess that up? Am I in the right place? Did I hit my mark? Your mark? I try to be palatable. Too much of me and I start looking around for you, but you coming from me. Talking about myself makes me feel afraid. I don't like it. I worry you/the world won't like it. 

My afraid is the fear of being ridiculed or looking foolish, of making a mistake. My therapist and I have discussed this for several years now and I am at this place where I really love and trust myself inside. How to put that on the outside? It's like if you had a beautiful treasure but you keep it hidden. I love my beautiful treasure and I'm afraid if I show you you'll make fun of it or tell me it's stupid or that I don't know what I'm talking about. So it's much easier to live inside myself where I'm safe. 

Vulnerability is hard. 

Except.. I want to connect. I know I'm mostly not breakable fragile like that anymore, and I'm working on remembering that I'm a 50 year old woman who made my own recovery (don't we all?) and I've been purposely living and studying human behavior for almost 10 years in my own cool way and I have pretty terrific things to share about that and about me. I have mothered and run my own business and been married and separated and/or ended and/or repaired signifiant relationships- like my marriage, my relationship with my parents, a couple of friendships. 

These boundaries, the separation from other people is not a wall, it's a defense mechanism. A coping skill. I was thinking about how I tend to think people in my life think like me, but it's more like I try to guess what people are thinking and then I make myself like them. Writing that makes me think about how I don't really do that as much anymore but I feel like I do and I need to catch up to where I actually am. 

The idea that I am separate from other people means that we might be in relationship but we aren't the same person. 

What a relief. And what a mind fuck. For a lifetime I have thought that if someone was in my life it meant we matched. A strange sort of branch of codependency. Gaining the understanding that we can be in each others lives and differ vastly feels like maturity. It feels like I'm responsible for me, you're responsible for you- and we are responsible for each other too, but not dependent on similarity to function. 

This gleaning of personal separation feels like a wise expectation. 

As in: 

I expect me to be like me, and you to be like you. 

That seems real, and honest, and much less confusing than thinking the people in my life are mostly like me but I actually have to be mostly like them. It was a blind spot. It feels validating to see myself in the pool of that insight. 

I was reading something somewhere about how lately these days we all think we are unique and separate and individual and that's what's getting valued- that the collective has become the pieces, not the picture. I think it's both. 

It's the permeability. 

The ability to allow things to pass through you. To keep your self while keeping community. A frog's skin is permeable to water- but the frog does not become water, and the water does not become frog...they exist together, and apart. The frog is a frog, the water is a water. And there is the frog in the water, and there is the water surrounding the frog. 

Putting yourself - the youest you- out into the world as yourself is crazy: hard/easy/hard/easy on and on. There are so many ways we are bombarded with different options and do you know? And then how do you not short circuit when rejected or laughed at or made fun of- even if it's only in your own mind? Being the "right" frog in the "right" water- it can be exhausting. 

And such an unconscious habit to be absorbed instead of be permeable. 

When I am absorbed I do not have boundaries. Something I have started noticing is that I do have boundaries, but I tend to set them and then erase them. It's wild to watch. I'm learning that if I am permeable I don't lose myself, or my boundaries- and it feels healthy and care full. I know where I am. It's kind of like always telling myself the truth and being willing to stand with that truth, and knowing that truth can change. That it isn't a threat to know more or do things differently. 

Taking it apart- here's me in a situation:

Me deciding what feels wisest for me. 
Wanting to erase it (oh no! I didn't mean it! never mind! it's okay!), but not erasing it. 
Feeling totally uncomfortable in the itchy scritchy sweater of not erasing it. 
The sweet nugget of warmth that comes, a bit of confidence, of trust, of love. 

I have to do things in these kinds of instructions because then it makes more sense: I slow down, recite my practices to myself- whatever they may be- First you do this, then you do that. It's not about right or wrong. Please slow down. You don't have to go fast. 

There's a sense of recognition and congruency that arrives. I am me, and I am here, standing next to you, apart and together- permeable. 

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