Summer of Change

I had such a fire to write yesterday, but now that fire is gone. Can I stoke the flame (ha….originally, I wrote “blame” and I wonder if that’s a Freudian slip) if I sit here long enough and let my fingers wander across the keys? It’s hard to muster up the desire when all that lingers is dust.

This is my view while I write, so perhaps I will get inspired after all.

Burnsville, NC

How does one rewire 41 years of engrained neural pathways? Hell if I know. But it’s the ever so fun journey I’ve chosen to walk right now so let’s get to it.

This spring/summer I took my first travel contract in Norfolk, VA with a friend. Overall, it was fine. We got a kick ass three story condo in Virginia Beach (by the beach!) which felt like a win, but the landlords were fucking nightmares so that really darkened our experience. We bought bikes and I cycled all over that boardwalk, saying hello to my man Neptune, watching the sunrise, running my errands, and listening to numerous bands putting on free shows. I love bike culture and really wish I could do that here in Asheville, but – tradeoffs. Turns out I still hate being a nurse. However, we worked with phenomenal people who welcomed us with open arms, and the connections I made there continue to bring me joy, even though the job has ended.

I also met someone there. It seemed at first that it would just be an innocent summer fling with a fun man. He WAS fun. And a great dancer (gets me every time). What I didn’t anticipate was how his sweetness, his attention, and his affection would crack open a part of me I have kept inaccessible for years.

This man will probably never know how his tenderness allowed me to open up to a part of myself that I have ignored since childhood. He will never know the role he played in my journey to live a life unencumbered by fear and judgment. It leaves me in awe – the tiny amount of time we spent together but the massive amount of influence he still weaves to this day. He has so much of my gratitude.

I remember an English girl I met at my favorite hostel in Buenos Aires. Upon first glance you wouldn’t notice anything extraordinary, but the moment you engaged with her it was a constant ride of enchantment. She and her husband only stayed for a few days, but the hostel was small and intimate and all the guests became well acquainted. She delighted all of us with her kindness and infectious joy. Everyone was drawn to her like a magnet. We craved her light. I can’t remember her face, but I remember her energy, and how it felt like a gift to be in her presence. That was 16 years ago but I can still reach out and grab the memory it’s so close. One evening we were sitting in the common area having drinks and she told me a spellbinding story about her adventures in the Perhentian Islands. The picture she painted was so magical, so ethereal, that I seared the location into my heart and vowed one day that I too would go. I have not forgotten this promise to myself. Bonus that most people have never heard of this archipelago, since I prefer to hit the places less traveled. I smile with delight every time I think of her, and she probably wouldn’t even remember me. It’s so surprising how life can place you into the hands of someone, and the time you spend together is as brief as an exhale, but their impact continues to ripple through all your years. I hope she has everything she wants in this life.

It makes me wonder who else is out there, sending silent prayers of thanks up to the Universe for having briefly crossed paths with me. It would be so cool to know the tiny things I did without knowing that may have led to huge transformations in someone’s life.

I digress.

Over many dates with Summer Boyfriend, and countless hours of self-reflection, disturbance started to bubble up. Great. There was something inside I needed to handle. It was calling my attention, and I couldn’t ignore it. Smash cut to the present moment, where I am now acutely aware that I have repressed the emotion of anger since I was a child (thanks, childhood traumas). This has led to infinite tears while confronting this truth, writing countless pages in my journal, meditating my face off, and diligently working through Mindful Anger which has turned out to be one of the most powerful books I have ever read.

This. Shit. Is. Heavy.

My default emotion has always been sadness. There was nothing else on the spectrum. The author of Mindful Anger speaks a lot to us “anger repressors” and how our notable trait is to take anger and transfer it into something more fun – like depression, anxiety and migraines. Hello!? This summer has been a deep dive into my psyche, excavating the false beliefs I have held true since a child. Beliefs buried so deeply that unconsciously they still properly fucked me up, yet remained hidden enough that I wasn’t aware of them. Well played, guys. I have also learned that I am allowed to feel other emotions besides sadness. I know some of you are like “duh!”, but anger repressors are very different. We have lived our lives shutting off a significant part of ourselves that very much needs (and deserves) attention. Not having access to that part of me meant any uncomfortable feeling was automatically placed in the “sadness” file. It should be no surprise to anyone that I’ve been on antidepressants for years. But by going through the exercises in this book, I am learning to pay more attention to my feelings and emotions. For example, where I always defaulted into sadness and then would spiral into darkness, my awareness is changing. I am discovering that I can also feel disappointed, bummed, annoyed or irritated. Those emotions are so much lighter than sadness, and I am learning to identify them accurately. I can own them, give them a voice, then let them go. When I do that, the cycle is complete, and nothing is lingering.

Truth is, I’m in the process of accepting this is going to take a while. In this moment I am fragile and need to be handled delicately. I cry a lot. I sleep a lot. I feel very lonely. I am peeling back so many wounds I wonder if they will ever end. I have mountains of forgiveness to climb. A lot of unpacking the “why” of my repressed anger means going back and revisiting painful experiences I have suppressed. I feel like I’m exposing the soft underbelly I’ve spent my entire life protecting. But I’m staying the course. I am sitting with my feelings of discomfort even though my first instinct is to run and numb out. I continue reading the anger book. I continue meditating and writing. I continue being honest and authentic with my most basic self so that she feels seen, heard, important and worthy. This is some of the most difficult internal work I’ve had to do in my life, but I know on the other side is freedom. So, I keep going. Send good vibes my way if you would.

As far as work news goes, I signed a contract in Vermont and will be there Oct-Jan with my dear friend Melissa! Thrilled to bits to have a New England fall and Christmas. And to work in a union hospital. Who knows, guys. After this assignment I may end up liking my career after all. Post Vermont I’m heading back to Texas/Mexico until March as it only took one winter in Asheville to know I will never do that again. You can take the girl out of Texas….


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4 Responses to Summer of Change

  1. E2daMily says:

    You’re an amazing, beautiful, smart, funny woman. No doubt you’ve touched lives as well. No doubt!

  2. Wendy says:

    In awe of your words and how you are able to express them! Vermont, it’s people and all the easy to reach New England charm will be a big culture shift, but I know it will be another cool part of your journey. Your (old Yankee) Auntie will be following along.

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