Writing to Know Me


I, like many, write to grow myself and grow knowledge not only of all that’s out there but also of all that’s on my mind.

Novelist Judith Guest in the Foreword to Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones writes: “It is easy to lose sight of the fact that writers do not write to impart knowledge to others; rather, they write to inform themselves.”

That may seem egocentric, but isn’t that all that anyone can be? I read writing advice daily: write for others, give readers something to chew on; enrich them. Well I, for one, know that I may never sit down to write with my readers’ benefit in mind. That I could not do. I would write not one word (and did not for decades) with so much burden, so much expectation.

Besides, it’s presumptuous to believe I have anything to offer my reader–knowledge, advice, tips, beauty–beyond my human experience. I offer one person’s view of one person’s observations.

After I have sent something out there–to be read–then, that is when I send my hopes and wishes that someone somewhere finds something in my words, something worth the time spent reading them. But if I wrote with that same desire, that my recollections reach a reader, I would not write for fear of disappointing.

Anyone out there? (sound of crickets)

GHOSTING: Passive-aggressive discourtesy can be a lesson in manifesting the self


A piece I fleshed out from a sketch I posted earlier on this blog, this personal essay on The Mindful Word was published yesterday. I hope you enjoy it.

The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is…(read more here)

Happy Anniversary! Now Let’s Break Up.


Today is the first anniversary of this blog. I embarked on the WordPress train a year ago on a whim, an undeveloped plan and foggy urge to write in hopes of something undefined. Having never blogged or even read blogs much before, I plunged in, posted a few portraits, a poem or two, and left it for six months, life having ramped up ridiculously like a nightmare on steroids. Some of the hardship of the last year–my world upturned in too many ways to list–inspirited and compelled me to pick up the strand I left six months prior for this endeavor, consciously choosing to capitalize on the lessons learned and the beauty that is born from horror sometimes.

Like anything, even getting up each day, it takes faith and courage to believe all will be all right, so long as I conduct myself with open heart and mind sprinkled with a little savvy. To illustrate more concretely, I was approached by a woman at the gas station adjacent to a Motel 6 today. She was a fairly well dressed young woman who asked me with polite but firm insistence for a ride to a mall 20 minutes from there. I knee-jerk declined, pretending to another appointment destination in the opposite direction, but she persisted–not with tears or sympathy, as she gave no reason for her request, but with sheer calm insistence.

She forced me to that place of challenging my beliefs. She needed help, I had time and means to provide it, but I had an in-built reaction of mistrust. After a quick assessment of my motives and her size (I thought I could take her in a fight), I leapt in faith that helping another human being in need (or even no need) was worth the assessed small risk of harm befalling me, and that my instinct was correct in her sincerity.

The choices we make tell our story to ourselves and others. Some might tell the story of picking up a stranger as a lucky escape from potential danger, one that would be terribly lopsided in risk to benefit. My children could have been orphaned over something terribly easy to avoid, had she robbed or killed me. Others might tell the story of picking up a stranger as a good deed, one performed in calculated risk, which is contributive to the larger world–mine and others’.

If I live in mistrust, my world is less free. If I help others when I am able, those I help may teeter over the edge of consideration, airing on the side of helping too, expanding rather than contracting connection. My choice reflects who I am, and knowing who I am determines the choices I make.

Reflecting on yesterday’s question of befriending an ex lover, the adage of knowing self, having faith in and love for the self, is requisite to loving another. Sometimes the same gut instinct, knowledge of a sort, that agrees to chauffeur a stranger in faith chooses to end a relationship in faith. Breakups are called breakups and not pauses or hiatuses when it is time for a relationship to end. Whether amicable or not, breakups are painful, making friendship nearly impossible.

How many people are strong, logical, self-aware, honest and forthright about their own shortcomings and strengths as well as others’? How many know the difference between self-delusion and following true desire, loving the self like no other? How many would live lonely rather than enjoy the comfort of the familiar company and intimacy regardless of the potential for danger, justifying it as compassion?

I read an article about breaking up first thing this morning on my daily journey through the Internet.

Rebekah McClaskey, an intuitive relationship counselor specializing in breakups, according to her bio on elephantjournal.com says breakups are hard in The Laws of Breaking Up & Getting Over It. No shit.

She says more, however, offering intuitive advice, which appears to be a combination of homegrown knowledge, common lore, and researched Internet offerings. Of 29 points, 14 interest me, in particular:

1. The grief you now feel due to the separation has less to do with the past and more to do with grieving over what could have been, which makes moving forward seem near impossible. Also known as: Break-ups kill the future dead.

Fantasy is a powerful motivator and critical component to our pleasure and pain, and I don’t mean just sexually. To make things work, whether we are poring over in our mind the prospect of a new job or a new lover, we imagine ourselves happily or at least contentedly in that imaginary place in order to choose that position or partner. And once we choose, we continue to construct the relationship by filling in what’s not there, pushing some things to the shadows and others to the forefront. In other words, we craft our world to fit our needs. That makes for prettier pictures but hard letdowns when the painting turns out to be a poor imitation of reality.

We try to make things work especially if we see shiny objects that attract our attention and desire. I have loved men who read poetry or debated philosophy, deeply affecting my heart and desire, while I sublimated those other traits I saw but didn’t measure as highly, like their propensity to fuck other people, or their lack of ambition or care for my safety. I closed my eyes until they were forced open, and the relationships eventually ended.

2. You did your best. No, really you did and continue to do your best. Your personal best can also look way different than choosing wisely.

This speaks to forgiving the self for being human. Yes, we do fool ourselves often despite our best effort to make the best choice with as much information possible. I have stayed with partners who could not give me what I needed by rationalizing that there were so many other good things the person brought to my life, have allowed myself to be fooled into believing I could overlook another’s crucial incompatibilities, even as I knew better, and had suffered hurt because of the selective blindness. It’s easy to self-flagellate for the sins of loving the wrong people, but accepting our own imperfection, that we are all just trying to make things work the best way we can, is much more difficult.

3. ….we are all just faking it.

Yep. We think we have the answers, got it together, but in braver moments, sit down and face that we are all frauds to a large extent. We don’t know shit. All we do is try to figure things out as we go along to get what we need.

6. Unconditional love is just letting go of what could be or could have been by appreciating what you have now.

Acceptance is hard–not just word dedication, real acceptance. This is self-love. It alleviates the crazy making of she will change or I will change or learn to live with this or that because it is a worthwhile trade off to something else. We bargain when we should just open our eyes and see, to accept.

7. There is no cure for pain. It is just a part of living.

Enough said.

10. He is not coming back. She is not coming back. And if they do it is just part of a cycle and not actually a new beginning. (That is a hard one to admit out loud.)

AKA the extended breakup. The scales tip for or against staying with someone, and at some point the liabilities outweigh the benefits. When it’s time, the breakup should be fast but is too often prolonged for that most evil of betrayers–hope. And some people love to pick scabs until they bleed. At least they can control the pain, as opposed to one that overtakes and overwhelms uncontrollably, like loneliness.

12. A friendship that occurs within the first year after separation is not going to be functional. It just won’t be. I’m not joking about this. What I am saying is that a full year must go by before a healthy friendship can take place.

I have known this to be true and untrue. Some people just didn’t bring me anything more than they already had and so had to disappear from my life.

15. There is no replacement for sex or intimacy or intimate sex. It is okay to miss these things.

It can be borne. Hold out for more than a quick fix.

16. We learn by being in relationship (even after it ends).

Yes, we do. So long as we keep our eyes and ears open.

18. Having sex with your ex is like sticking a fully loaded heroin needle in your arm. It will kill your soul.

Ahhhhh, yes, it will kill you slowly but surely. Only, heroin is a real physical need, sex with an ex is imagined. But the analogy hits home hard.

20. At some point, everyone is immature; not just your ex.

It’s not true (stomping my feet)!!!! 😉

25. It could take your whole life to learn to love yourself. The best time to do it is now.

To repeat, knowing the self is foundational to knowing what to expect in others. Since life is lived in our heads telling ourselves lies we believe, knowing the self takes work, a tremendous vigilance and attentiveness that is exhausting for its subtlety and dividends paid in agonizingly barely perceptible increments. It takes a life-long practice to unfold yourself from what has been socially constructed to find the real you, your voice. You are your relationships.

27. Contrast is our greatest teacher and similarities are what bond us together. Everyone is both all the time to different degrees (brain warp!). A.K.A Right person + wrong time = wrong person.

But what’s logic got to do with it? We’re talking love.