“Smart impresses me, strength of character impresses me. But most of all, I am impressed by kindness. Kindness, I think, comes from learning hard lessons well, from falling and picking yourself up. It comes from surviving failure and loss. It implies an understanding of the human condition, forgives its many flaws and quirks. When I see that in someone, it fills me with admiration.”
-Lisa Unger, Beautiful Lies
Lately, I’ve been letting go of things that went before. At the river, I cast them off, to tumble downstream and away to new adventures, new people, new lives. New, without me, because I can’t move ahead carrying those things either. I felt a lightness spread across me as they slipped away, a warmth that didn’t fit the weather of that early December afternoon.
I am looking to new, beautiful things to fill my heart and life. It’s a joyful process.
Symbolically releasing those weights – the people, the events, the outgrown dreams and ideas – is therapeutic. Going to nature to do it gives me a beautiful moment immediately with which to start the process of filling those empty places.
I am rebuilding the girl into something stronger. Better. Happier.
Forty nine years of life and I still have so much to learn. I am full of flaws but also the best of intentions, I swear.
My self-doubt is my biggest flaw. I have sabotaged beautiful things because I couldn’t just stop thinking I was messing up so bad that I became a self-fulfilling prophecy. And then I second guess all my interactions because of that fear that gets reinforced by the letdowns of the past.
No more. I can change this.
I’ve been working so hard to reprogram these thoughts to be constructive, positive – and to trust that taking action towards what I want is much more effective than talking myself out of it.
No more self-fulfilling prophecies anymore, Xiane. You’ve got this.
*lyrics from Mazzy Star, So Tonight That I Might See
The Word of the Year tradition is one that I haven’t really done before – I’ve always appreciated the idea, and thought about it, but I had my own ways of ushering in changes… but you know what? New year, new directions, and new traditions all go hand in hand, so I’m on the bandwagon.
Fulfilled is the word that I chose, after much deep thought on the subject and the direction I wanted.
I’ve spent a lot of time investing in other people, in helping them find their happiness. This year, I hope to move forward in finding some of my own, as well.
Not that it’s been unhappy across the board, but 2015 was pretty crap. That stopped as of last night.
I don’t feel like I should be having birthday #49.
I feel much younger; the years don’t feel like they’re piled that high. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for the changes and the knowledge and the trials and the love and the pain and the laughter. All those things have contributed to what I’ve learned and the new paths I’m taking.
Life is scary, and hard.
Life is exhilarating, and beautiful.
Every treasured face that has stayed on my road with me, and every new face that I’m still learning… thank you for being here. Thank you to those who have moved on, you taught me so much.
See, that’s the biggest gift that birthdays bring: lessons. A way to mark what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown over time. People sometimes ask me if I got what I wanted for my birthday, and the answer is always. I always get exactly what I wanted, as long as I’m not afraid to look deeply within to find that gift inside me.
2015 was very, very tough. But even now, in the depths of winter [even though winter this year so far is more like spring, where I am!] there is the promise of what will come… the chance to bloom.
*if you ever saw my band The Violet Dawning perform, you might have seen me sing this, a capella, perhaps as an encore. It is a song that has meant the world to me for so, so many years. I hope it speaks to you.
Yes, I know… I always write from the heart, from my personal stories. But this one is really close to home, and it’s a thing that has really been bothering me.
I think that one of the saddest things that can happen in life and love is when you let someone into your heart, and they come in and enjoy that space and what you have to give… but when it becomes obvious that they are now in a position to do the same, the fear [of past hurts returning, of being vulnerable, of losing themselves in someone else] shuts them down, and they withdraw.
No one wins from this. Everyone’s left lonely and sad. Fear wins, love loses, and all those quiet whispers that tell us how unworthy we are, how no one will love us, how we deserve to be alone… those gather strength. Self-fulfilling prophecies, for some of us.
The second half of this year has been filled with these instances, for me. I keep dating people who are afraid. They don’t necessarily reveal that in the beginning, or even consciously know it. What it comes down to is that they’ve been hurt before – by the world, by a love, by their family. Someone they trusted, someone they wanted to trust. And that hurt has made them afraid to be vulnerable again.
That’s all well and good, the drive to protect oneself. I get it.
But the problem is that if you withdraw from every situation where you feel a possibility of getting hurt, of having to open yourself up, how will you ever truly stop being alone? It’s obvious that these people don’t want to be alone. They wouldn’t reach out if that wasn’t the case. But as soon as that possibility becomes real, the reality scares them and they shut down.
Then they go on to do it again.
Things won’t change if you don’t let them. This applies to every single thing in life.
You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.
And you have to be vulnerable in order to allow love in.
EVERY GOOD THING IN LIFE REQUIRES YOU TO SAY YES.
It doesn’t have to be with me. [though there’s been a few cases where I really wish it had been. Heavy hearted, but risk is part of life.] But if not with me, choose someone – carefully, yes, but CHOOSE. Choose to live.
Have the cake.
Then go for a walk.
Go on the date.
Try the scary thing.
Travel to the country where you don’t speak the language.
Talk to the stranger.
Laugh out loud.
Just go do it. Life is too short to be scared, y’all.
Things you said and the ways you lied
made me read the writing and see the signs
The clock is ticking in your inward mind
soon the flower fades and you’ve lost the time
Not comfortable, by any means, but it’s infinitely easier to let that sharp, stabbing feeling dig in than to fight it off, to reassure ourselves that this is normal and it’ll pass and it’s worth pushing through the dread to the other side… that even a feeling of failure will ebb in the end, but without forcing through the trepidation to whatever the outcome will be, all that’s left is the unknown. All that remains is the uncertainty – could it have been good? Might we have made it? Should I have taken the risk after all?
Fear steals that possibility from us. It leaves cold remains of what could be, both good and bad. No fire, no failure, just a tepid whimper of unfulfilled potential in either direction.
I am constantly pushing through that fear. I know that I often look fearless, because I try hard not to let anxiety show, I try to keep my game face going. But here on this blog, you know that it’s all blistering honesty, and I’m here to tell you: I’m afraid all the time. The trick is that I try my hardest not to let the fear rule. I tell myself constantly that I cannot let the fear win, I cannot let it hold me back from the things that I desire, the dreams that I want to achieve, the people I want to meet.
The whisper of fear is seductive: you aren’t good enough. He isn’t really interested in you. You are so fucking boring, everyone thinks you’re a fake, you will fail at this, at your dreams, at EVERYTHING.
LIES. That’s all that fear knows how to do! It lies, and it does so skillfully – because that’s the only trick it’s got. It plays off of reasonable worries, it knows how to get into your head and mess you all up if you let it win. It especially knows that it can be quite valuable sometimes, and that occasionally it’s got a message that you need to hear for your own good. And it takes that occasional usefulness and it plays it up for all it’s worth.
Fear? You are such an ass. But you don’t get to rule me.
Maybe I’m not good enough sometimes. But a lot of the time? I’m great. I’m skilled and kind and funny and smart.
Maybe he isn’t interested in me. But if so, then someone else, a better someone for me, will be.
Maybe I am boring sometimes. And sometimes I will fail. And maybe people sometimes do think I’m a fake, but those aren’t the people whose opinions will matter, in the long run.
What matters is that I try. What matters is that I am kind. What matters is that I keep going. What matters is that I keep my heart and mind open and ready for all life has to offer.
Even if I fall in this moment, I know how to get back up. That’s what matters.
[post title: lyrics from Acid, Bitter and Sad by This Mortal Coil]
I will not compel you
to take the steps towards me
it is not my place
to convince you to reach out
you will have to find words
that show me what you’re wanting
we can share the dreaming
but only side by side.
I have waited lifetimes
but time is growing shorter
perhaps i am just destined
to walk this dream alone.
I’m beginning to wonder if there’s just something really wrong with me, after all.
I try to be upbeat. I really do. Most of the time, I am up, so it’s easy enough.
I don’t like to drag people down. I like to lift them up, too.
But it’s hard when the times are darker and I need someone to confide to. No one wants to hear about your low points, even if they usually tell you to “share all of you!” and “you can tell me everything!” and “it’s safe, you’re safe with me!” and “I understand, I’ve been there too.” Those, the last ones – they’re the trickiest, because they understand but then they often get scared or resentful or cautious or something – afraid they’ll get pulled back in. And they’re often the first to say “share, be truthful” and the first to say “you’re depressing me.”
And then I feel sad AND guilty.
Best not to tell anyone anything, I swear. Just the happy face forever, even if it’s bullshit.
…no, that’s not happening. I am 100% myself, truthful, honest about what I’m feeling and how I’m dealing with it. If that’s not okay, get out now. If that’s too much to deal with, then maybe I’m not worth being around for you. If I have to hide my truth in order to be your friend or lover or be in you company… well, that just ain’t gonna work for me. I will be there through high and low for you, I deserve the same. I’m a complete person, not just the happy-go-lucky parts.
I haven’t felt this alive in a while. I want this feeling.
I saw this, unattributed, on Facebook yesterday, and it fully summed up my attitude about things that have gone down of late:
If my absence doesn’t affect your life than my presence has no meaning in it.
I want people who will work hard to keep me around. [I have some amazing friends who fit this bill and are probably more than I deserve.] I want people who miss me when I’m not there and won’t just replace me with other people, video games, alcohol, etc. I want those who are enthusiastic about me, in good times and bad. Otherwise, what’s the point?
And most importantly, I want someone who will let me lean against them as much as they want to lean against me. I want the hug to be deep and reciprocal. If there’s more, I want that to be as captivating and exciting for both of us as possible. One-sided doesn’t work. Let us meet in the middle and strengthen each other.
So much change has happened in my life lately. Nothing much that the casual observer would see, but for me, the entire landscape of my world has been shifting. I’ve lost people from my tribe. I’ve had a prodigal return. I found something that feels beautiful and full of promise. I have been moving through disappointment with my head mostly held high – I mean, you have to mourn when you have losses, but the trick is to do that and keep moving, else you get bogged down there.
It’s easy in those moments -when you’re losing, when you’re watching another person walk away because you’re not what they wanted – to feel like it’s you, like you’re the one who ruins everything.
But LISTEN TO ME. Please?
Most of the time, you’re not. You’re not the one ruining it, it’s not ruined at all. It’s just that you weren’t the right person at the right time. You didn’t fail, you just weren’t where you were going to thrive. You haven’t run out of options. You have so many great things to come.
This is to me. This is to you, whoever you are. The world is big and confusing and exciting and dirty and magical, all at once. People are lovely and ugly and kind and mean and so very fucking HUMAN. That’s the curse and the beauty of it, you know. You don’t get one without the other.
Take a chance. Love. Live. Dance, sing, explore, dream. This is it, this is what you get – don’t waste that.
You know nothing, you know nothing at all
How could you know, you’ll never know anything at all
SWANS – You Know Nothing
You had a chance to know me. I stand here, open hearted and ready to be by your side in every part of life, if only you wanted it.
You became a ghost.
You chose another who will never choose you.
You got scared and ran away.
You dismissed me because I don’t fit a preconceived mold of what you think you want.
You just weren’t paying attention.
You took me for granted, because you thought I’d always be there.
I am bigger than that. You cannot break me. You cannot extinguish the light in my eyes, the small light in the darkness that is me, just because you were too blind to see it. You have nothing in your hands that you can offer me, because you missed what was right in front of you.
And I will keep moving forward until I find those who DO see me, and I will be happy. May you find happiness as well, even as you move away from the galaxy in which I reside.
Soon I’ll see your light like a pinprick in the sky, like the other stars that I see when I look up at night. I’ll wave at you as you pass overhead.
A large part of life is taken up with the Struggle.
That’s neither good nor bad: it just is. That’s how life rolls. On the good days, everything is pretty amazing. [even when it’s just okay and everyday… I’m still pretty enthused by it all, I really am.]
On the bad days, I try really hard to not let it get to me. Even though it doesn’t seem like it sometimes to the people around me, I swear I am trying.
Thing is – and this is one of the things that keeps me going – I know I’m not the only one who goes through this. I can’t say that everyone does, but I have evidence [testimonials] that tell me that I’m not alone here. And that, my friends, helps immensely. I also have people who do wonderful things like talking me through the bad times, too.
Lately, I’ve needed more support than usual. It’s been rough over here in Xiane-land, with a pile of various trials happening at once. That hardest part, honestly, has been dealing with some blows to my self-esteem, which when paired with stress and feeling down, really managed to work me over. I am so, so grateful to my friends, who tried so hard to lift me back up and encourage me to believe in myself.
Things I discovered this week: that I have spent so little time caring for myself lately that I couldn’t even name what my favorite food is. Like – I can tell you a bunch of styles of things that I like, but I couldn’t name a single dish.
I need to invest in myself more.
I need to speak up [out] more.
I need to say no. And yes. When appropriate. With gusto.
And I need to insist that people who want the good parts of me give me access to their good parts, too. Because all too often I give more than I’m given in return, and it’s not right nor fair. I deserve better, and that’s only going to change if I put my foot down. Because I can’t trust people who get those things and aren’t reciprocating to respect the idea of giving from the heart.
And I have a LOT of heart. The right people should be getting access. [and giving it too]
They offer things that sound so good, too good to be true.
Those things: they are. It’s a lie. It’s a bait and switch. It’s preying on dreams and hopes and trust and honesty.
Promises almost kept
Everything that you once said
Seems to be just a lie
I am a vital woman, full of life and love and energy and creativity and excitement. I deserve better than lies and broken promises and runarounds and bullshit. So I’m not tolerating it. You? You shouldn’t either.
It’s all about setting a higher standard, because we deserve better than what a segment of the world will offer if allowed. I’m not here to fulfill a fantasy or an urge or a quota. I’m not here to entertain you. I’m not here to make you feel good, or give your life meaning.
I mean, I might serve those purposes in your life, but that’s coincidental. It’s not why I’m here. And it’s not why you’re here, either. It’s all about being awesome on your own, so that we can share and enhance each others’ lives without pretense and greediness and expectations – because we can trust that we’re all interested in being as good to those we care about as we are to ourselves.
And if you aren’t interested in being as good to me as you are to yourself? Well, then I don’t wanna. Let’s just not.
Let’s be excellent to each other, shall we? The payoff is AMAZING.
Underneath the veil
I saw a stirring
Underneath the veil
everything is too hard right now. i have no ambition, no joy, no desire to get up and move around and engage with life.
i’m tired of fighting, of struggling, of pushing against the idea that doing what my heart directs me to do will keep me forevermore poor and needy. i’m tired of every year being an onerous stretch of disappointment and struggle. this is the Modern World, and i’ve lost all my spirit.
so this is what it’s become
i am so fucking done
i can’t talk to pretty much anyone. everyone wants or needs that fake face, the look of “of course i have everything together and nothing’s wrong” because having issues means that you’re making it more difficult for the rest of the world, who is also struggling. i get it, i do. i know that no one wants more on their plate to worry about. and i don’t want it on my plate that i’ve worried them. stalemate. i’ll keep quiet. and no, no one’s said that i should shut up. but i’m not a kid, i know how the world works. no one wants to hear my whining, everyone else has it hard, too.
and then there’s that worry that i’m making it “all about me.”
because humans are intrinsically selfish
because i’m an only child with no kids so of course i make it all about myself
because i’m a fucking crybaby
because my only options seem to be bleed for everyone else or be an egomaniac
because my brainweasels lie and i have no sense of proportion anymore
i am broken, broken, broken. something must break, and that something is me.
Simultaneously riding high and skimming the surface.
Feeling invincible… and untouchable.
How can I be irresistible, so enticing, so desired one second – than the next, feel so low?
I know why. I do. It’s that letdown after a high, the crash after the cresting wave of an awesome moment.
But in that nadir, I have to try and remember: I was sparkling. I was lovely. I was beautiful.
Make me beautiful again
And feel like I am special still
And remind me how to smile
And feel like diamonds
Make me beautiful again
Cry my tears and vanish them
Whisper in my ear as I run away and hide
Pretend to be lovely
I hate conflict. I am not avoidant, exactly, but I will work hard to make sure that things don’t escalate to a point where drama ensues. I have anxiety issues, I know this – I have a strong urge to please people and make things smooth running and pleasant. As soon as people-related stress starts to escalate, I can feel the anxiety build.
I rarely get so frustrated that I actually achieve anger. And anger for me is swift and hot and then over, like a spectacular flame that burns out in one big burst. Usually afterwards, I feel like crying for hours. Yay for that. I can’t even manage a good, righteous angry without having guilt after the fact.
It’s funny – one of the reasons that I knew that I had to get off my depression meds was because I was having bouts of irrational anger. I know myself well enough to have caught that side effect pretty rapidly, and I was hating how I felt every time it happened, because it’s so foreign to me.
The weird thing is that I felt like that again this week. I think it’s the first time I’ve felt flashes of anger for more than a moment in a long, long time. I hate the feeling… the hot surge, the adrenaline, the tightening all over my body as the feeling rushes through me.
…at least I’m feeling something, I suppose. For a good while, I didn’t feel anything.
Now, I think, I feel everything. Maybe too much, sometimes.
This is the first exercise in the Winter Writing Workshop, hosted by Do What You Love. You can join in by clicking on the image in the sidebar, or here.</p>
It all began when…
she found the cheaply printed, black and white magazine at the record store. The record shop was already a place of magic for her – a place to find the obscure, moody tunes that were often completely unknown to her before she bought the tapes or CDs, cases chosen purely on the strength of their cover’s imagery. Was it dark, was it creepy, was it ethereal, was it spooky? Off to the listening booth it went, if possible. Often she would just take them home anyway, because her ability to guess if she would love it just from the cover was acute.
The magazine was filled with articles and pictures about the bands she loved or didn’t know she loved yet, and the followers of those bands. And there was poetry and short stories, all eldritch and horrific or somber and brooding.
Of course she paid the money for the magazine. It went into a crisp paper bag with several CDs and a thin package of incense – nag champa – and all of that went into the candlelit recesses of her bedroom to be poured over in private, in great detail. The CDs were all exactly what she’d wanted – one was atmospheric tones and scratches, reminiscent of mice trying to break into a haunted house. One was the latest droning masterpiece from SWANS. And one was deep male voices, droning acoustic guitar, pounding kettle drums, and swagger. She loved them all.
The magazine… she devoured every page. Every band she’d never heard of was written down in her journal for future investigation. Every model’s outfit was inspected closely, notes taken about what she might incorporate into her own style. And then she found it, in the back pages.
The penpal section.
You see, she lived in a small town. She used to live in a big city, and she’d had lots of friends who shared her taste in music and lifestyle, but escaping the bad parts of that city had left her in a safer and quite lovely place – but one where she had no soulmates, no true friends to whom she could really relate. Here was a list of people who all were, quite probably, in her very same situation – and they even had lists of the things they liked! The Cure, The Smiths, Sisters of Mercy, Percy Shelley, black lace, drinking tea at midnight – a list of esoteric pursuits that spoke to her soul in the most essential of ways.
She scribbled out a dozen letters to people, on plain paper that she decorated with her own drawings and doodles. She mailed them off, and days, weeks, months later, she found responses in her mailbox that thrilled her to her core.
Letters traded, and mixtapes, photos cut from magazines and copied from books. Little pamphlets with the names of other potential pen friends. Lace scraps and beads and sticks of incense and antique buttons and dried leaves. All the frustration and dreams and poetry scraps and secret wishes, all scribbled out on paper with colored inks and glitter and hope. So much hope.
Twenty plus years later, and she still has some of these friends in her circle. The methods of communication changed over time – from letters to email to Livejournal and MySpace to, now, Facebook – yet they didn’t lose each other. And they all grew up and some grew into other lives, but that connection of shared dreams and hopes never broke. It is still strong and I suspect that it always will be that way.