right now

I am staying in a tiny house. In a quiet little neighborhood in Atlanta. I have opened the door to hear the birds and the wind and, I suppose, to let the May heat come in and join me. I imagine myself pouring tea (there is water boiling as we speak) and pulling out my computer to write the novel I so want to write. Or maybe just a blog post I may or may not share. I imagine spending all kinds of mornings in this little house writing. All by myself.  The walls filling with research. My fears dormant for a little while.

 And simultaneously I picture my bare feet on the floor (sorry Mom) and picture myself going to the screen door and yelling out to a five year old who looks a little too much like me. Lunch soon? I got strawberries. I don’t imagine us being in a tiny house really, but I imagine a porch and an open door.

Neither of these are my life. Not really. Even the idyllic-ness of this moment is haunted by the last time I was here—when being alone in a tiny house made me feel, well, really alone—or even haunted by last week when I spent a lot of time alone in my own apartment and also felt less than stellar. This week it seems the quietness of the tiny house is wanted and is…okay. I honestly think it may be the yellow blanket they brought out. You know how I feel about yellow…And, of course, there is no five year old and I have not gotten strawberries and who knows if there ever will be a moment like this in my real life or if it’ll just find itself on the page. 

But for now I stare outside. I try to identify birds I learned in school in the 7th grade. I think about getting up to actually make the tea or starting to rewrite any of the plays I need to or… 

All I want to do is sit and listen, let the air come through the screen door. Let different versions of me and my life come in too.

like a penguin stuck in a ravine

i am someone who has trouble saying things aloud (there’s a reason the art form i’ve chosen is one that allows me to sit behind a computer mostly and type…there’s a reason i’ve always found it easy to talk about how i feel in a blog post rather than in front of most loved ones…there’s also a reason why i haven’t been writing here as much. if i can’t say it aloud, should i write it down and share it here? i don’t know so i haven’t been writing here…but…here i am now so…). my head will be spinning with words and there i am, a stump. too many words and thoughts in my head and nothing comes out. it is a challenge for me to sit and formulate the words that accurately describe what i’m feeling in the moment (to myself or to others). communication is probably one of the most important things to, like, being a human and the older i get, the more i realize that i actually suck at it.

maybe it is that i am scared to communicate because communication, truly telling folks how i feel, has led to some painful situations. or maybe it is because somewhere along the way i’ve learned that it is easier to stuff my thoughts and feelings deeper inside because at some point i got some memo that said my feelings and thoughts didn’t actually matter as much as anyone else’s. i know that is wrong. like intellectually. but emotionally…five year old charly on the inside is like nope that’s the truth that’s what i learned and so you are going to have to pry this belief from me.

i love five year old charly, but i actually think she is physically stronger than 33 year old charly because i cannot get her to let go of that belief. and yes, i also realize that this belief was at some point protective. maybe what i was feeling was too much and it was safer to stuff the feelings away. maybe i didn’t feel like anyone was listening anyway. i honestly don’t know and don’t remember but it does feel like five year old charly is doing her best to protect me and as much as i tell her, sweetheart this is causing more harm than good now. she is like nope. sorry.

but i’ve been trying. baby stepping my way to releasing that belief and letting my feelings just be and sharing them. i’ve been trying to feel my feels. i’ve been trying to let myself feel my feels and just let them be. i’ve been trying to find the words for them so that when someone asks me, i have the words and am not a silent stump. i tell you this feels like the hardest thing ever. it feels impossible. i feel like a failure most days because i fail at this most days. but, hey, i dust myself off and try again. and so this morning on the subway i tried to feel my feels. i’ve been told that my urge to understand them, verbalize them also allows me to avoid them so i tried to just be sad. and after a little bit i tried to ask myself why i was sad because i can’t help myself. and then once home, i cried and i sat on my couch and tried to tell an invisible person how i was really feeling, what i was really thinking about, and why.

and within a few minutes, i heard myself say a phrase that someone said to me a year and a half ago. a phrase, a notion, an idea that really hurt me probably because it was already a big fear of mine. a fear i’ve had for as long as i can remember.

i was listening to a podcast on the plane last week and someone said that growth can sometimes feel like four steps forward and ten steps back and when i heard myself say the phrase, i was like damn. and i saw myself slowly walk ten steps back. or…i saw myself as a penguin—hear me out. i watched this show about peguins last night with my boyfriend and some penguins got stuck in a ravine and it was really hard for them to hold onto their chicks and climb out. and they would take a few steps and slide back. get a little further and slide back. i can’t even tell you about the baby chick who had to be abandoned…BUT MY POINT IS that you can think you are nearly out of the ravine and then you slide back and you realize it is going to be harder to get out of the ravine than you thought.

the point of this post is not to talk about that phrase or why the fear associated with that phrase has been lurking inside. that, my friends, is what actually needs to be said, shared, communicated with other people in real life. [speaking of which, i’m looking for a new therapist. any recs?]

i guess the point of the post is to admit that the phrase, the notion, the fear is just one piece of a larger picture. and the larger picture is this belief that there is no point in sharing what i feel because what i feel is ultimately wrong and/unimportant and will only cause bad things to happen.

five year old charly has been trying so hard to stuff all these emotions down, but then she becomes a mess because it is too much to stuff down and she doesn’t have the tools to deal with it. and 33 year old charly is like what is this emotional rollercoaster happening in my chest, omg am i about to cry? and sometimes i get so tired of this. i am tired of this mess. and i want to abandon five year old charly and say you are annoying and thank god i don’t have kids because i could not deal with you. but then i realize that is exactly what five year old charly already feels. she is expecting that from everyone. that’s why she is a mess. she’s terrified of being the one no one wants to deal with. and so i sigh. because i can’t really get rid of her anyway. she is me and i am her. i love her. i can’t get rid of her. i have to take the place of the belief and become her security blanket and tell her she doesn’t have to protect herself so much because i got her. which means i have to believe that i’ve got myself. i’ve got this.

there is no pulling myself out of the ravine without her.

in the show about the penguins, there was one mother penguin who did not give up trying to get out of the ravine. she held on to her chick and took itty-bitty steps and used her beak and she’d slide back and get further and slide back again…but she made it to the top. she and her chick made it out of the ravine.

it is hard work to get over the beliefs we have that don’t serve us. it is hard work to get over our fears, especially the ones that helped us at some point. but i am so uninterested in being in this ravine any longer so i look up at the icy slopes, look down at my 5 year old self, and try again.