ThxFriday, I Am A Champion Edition.

Final Friday night studies; the detailing of the Precious; running all the errands; knocking out them rekkid reqs; finishing up assignments; the return of the bear on his last weekend out; shopping for fancy pants; getting all dolled up; opting for the Superman Chucks; celebrating the love of two wonderful folks on what couldn’t have been a more perfect day; that look when he saw her for the very first time; befriending an ex’s ex and laughing it all away, swapping stories and telling truths; further confirmation of functional gut feelings (and the realization that it truly no longer matters); being in the company of the very best one; sushi Mondays, chili Tuesdays, and half-priced wine Wednesdays; the acceptance of Grace and all that it entails; sweet little love notes left around the house; flowers of appreciation, third time’s the charm; celebrating grad school graduates; being given the loving space to be human, and cranky, and sad and moody and whatever else may come our way; submitting that final post and welcoming a month’s respite; men who cook (and do it well); Big Rock Candy (Yogurt) Mountain sweetness; tenderhearted lamentations holding presence with the joy of looking forward; waking up – together! – on a Friday; and looking ahead to a night of joyful preparation, a Saturday of celebration, and a Sunday of whatever dreams may come.

Also, this Katy Perry ear worm ain’t so bad.

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More on (moron?) triggers.

I’ve been thinking a lot about triggers lately. Like, there are seemingly random, generally innocuous things that will send me into outer orbit, either angry or anxious or panicky or whatever, but basically my fight/flight/freeze response kicks in, and with it comes tunnel vision and a complete inability to process the situation like a “normal” person.

An example: I live in a duplex. My 2-BR apartment only has one entrance, the front door, that opens out onto the front porch of the house, with steps that lead down to the driveway and two parking spots in front of the house. My neighbor’s 1-BR has a front door and a back door; the back door leads to the back yard, as well as 2+ parking spots, because the driveway goes all the way to the back. In the 3 years I’ve lived there, the front spots have always been for my apartment, the back spots for the other apartment, since they’re the only one with direct access to it. For some reason, though, my new neighbor sometimes feels the need to park in the front, either in one of my two spots (which, you know, whatever; unless C is coming over, my car only needs one spot, and I get that), or they’ll just park in the driveway blocking my car in, because they want to use the walkway to the front porch and their front door.

I should mention that when she moved in, we talked at length about the parking and she was totally fine with parking in the back, so it’s not like I’m expecting this without expressing the expectation.

Anyway. Every single time this happens – which I should mention isn’t THAT often – I am overcome with anxiety and being PISSED. Like I’m going to have to fight for my life over this stupid parking situation. You know, instead of just knocking on their door and asking them to move the car. I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO DO THAT AND WHY ARE YOU SO RUDE AND DISRESPECTFUL AND FFS YOU’VE GOT PLENTY OF ROOM IN THE BACK AND YOUR OWN DAMN ENTRANCE WHY YOU GOTTA TAKE MINE TOO.

Like that.

There are other things, too. One time I had the wrong appointment date/time with Noelle, and I sat in the waiting area as the minutes ticked by, getting more and more worked up, thinking either she’d disrespected me by not writing our appointment down, or that I obviously wasn’t worthy and she didn’t want to meet with me, or something equally NOT TRUE, but man. I had to talk myself off the ledge and do a lot of deep breathing, just so I could respond to it like a sane person. Which meant leaving instead of sitting there stewing, and then sending her an email asking if I’d written down the day/time wrong, which it turned out I HAD.

Sigh.

So, she and I talked about this a little bit during our last visit. She said something that struck a chord, and I believe there’s a whole lot of truth to it for me.

When you grow up feeling like you’re not enough and don’t really deserve space in the world, like you and your autonomy don’t really matter in the grand scheme, and then when you’re modeled that behavior and are never encouraged to be your own best self, to speak up and out, to have opinions and to value who you are and to be your own person, then you end up feeling like a victim of everyone else. At their mercy. Unable to stand up for yourself because you don’t really think you’re worth defending.

And that lends itself to finding yourself in relationships where you’re taken for granted and taken advantage of, where you allow yourself to be treated poorly because you don’t really trust that you deserve any better. You’re easily manipulated, easily abused, easily led astray, and then all the bad things you’re told and shown feed into the narrative you’re already telling yourself.

In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz talks about the poison that people feed each other. And that we only accept as much poison from others that we feel we deserve. But once we reach the point where we no longer feel like we deserve the levels of poison being injected into the interaction… that’s when we raise up, and we no longer accept what a person is trying to feed us. “Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make any assumptions. Be impeccable with your word. Always do your best.”

I described it all to Noelle like I’ve had a lifetime of trying to make myself small enough to fit within the parameters of what other people thought and expected. Small enough to fit in THEIR existence, instead of exacting my own, and demanding my own space in the world. Backing myself further and further into a corner, until one day I no longer fit, and I finally stood the hell up and started pushing my way back out.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anaïs Nin

Last year, I think I just took on the last vestiges of toxicity and poison that I could handle before the cognitive dissonance of my own beliefs of my worth (and all the choices I made in keeping with that – relationships, jobs, friendships, etc.) came into direct opposition with what the world has been trying to show me all along: that I’m smart, competent, capable, and worthy of what’s good in the world.

I think starting school was the first big step in the right direction. I think severing ties with toxicity (people and work environments and social situations and that relationship) was the next huge multi-faceted step. Instead, I now have a great (albeit stressful) job where I am obviously valued and appreciated and we’re doing great work with the intention of helping MORE, as much as we can; I’m kicking ass in grad school and learning all about the things that matter most (and showing myself just how capable and smart I actually am); and I am dating a man who is honest, loving, kind, supportive, and good for me in every possible way.

Talk about blossoming.

Anyway. Back to the trigger thing… Noelle seemed to think that when I have this reaction, it’s because I am feeling threatened in some way, like my place in the world is being devalued, and my gut reaction is to raise up and defend what little I have. Which, of course, is that fight or flight mode going into overdrive, and I think THAT is likely due at least in part to genetic programming, because that apple doesn’t fall far from the tree at all. It was modeled, certainly, but I also think there’s some epigenetic switch flipping going on there, too. And the only way I’ve learned to manage it is to 1) take a whole lot of deep breaths until the overreaction passes, 2) determine root causes and conditions, and then 3) stand up for myself in a reasonable way. That’s how I can learn to trust that I’ve got my own best interests at heart, and that I can, and should, and totally know how to defend myself if I need to.

It seems silly to get so worked up about such little, insignificant things, feeling like I have to fight for myself and what’s mine. But when it’s tied into the bigger picture, it all makes sense. All the little things add up. I’m just grateful I’ve got some insight, and that it usually doesn’t leave me – at least not completely – while I’m in the throes of a visceral response. So whether it’s about the parking, or missed appointments, or passive-aggressive comments and behaviors from people who don’t ultimately matter, or perceived slights or threats to my safety and security and livelihood and happiness… I don’t have to hop on that trigger and let it take me to a place I’d rather not be.

It’s no horse, and I’m no Roy Rogers.

ThxFriday, Sunny Saturday Morning Edition.

Friday nights and SHJ sushi; the glorious peace & quiet of the office on a Saturday, paving the way for a better week; the very timely return home of my sweetest sweetheart; getting to be here and available and able to show up for a family member in need; laughing our way through the trauma; late afternoon porch sitting, complete with homemade raspberry puree cocktails; when chicken works just as well as pork; moving forward with filling a space and multiple viable candidates; when squeaky wheels no longer need the grease; dinner date nights with the very best man; the second to last week of school for the semester; rocking the hell outta them grades; taking time to mourn and remember, with Purple Rain on the brain’s repeat; flashers and car chases, all in a Thursday’s work; chips and tacos date with a friend I haven’t seen in 15 years and her cutest little one; reaching the point of resignation and the willingness to do whatever it takes; seeing behavior for what it really is; being self-aware enough to call out the conflict and let the silly misplaced insecurities go; a good night’s sleep more than two nights in a row; and a weekend ahead of restoration, reclamation, and the ever-important celebration of love.

ThxFriday, Rounding the Corner Edition.

Quiet Saturdays for reading (and diagnosing, ahem); Consuelo of the magic hands; Sunday Sounds to kick off opening weekend with sunshine, good friends, the very best man, and all of the fun; middle of the night tending; morning stretches; absence no longer being needed for the heart to grow fonder; flowers of appreciation; making it through that public speech; visiting uncles; visiting babies; completion of papers without pulled overnighters; kindred work spirits; the cognitive dissonance from holding on to old, untrue beliefs about yourself and being confronted on the daily with what’s right and real and true; using that discomfort to shed the old skin and become; and a weekend ahead of dismantling semester stress, handling all the business, and the Sunday return of my sweetest heart. ❤

ThxFriday, It’s Actually Friday! Edition.

Longtime friends who gather for an out-of-towner visit; much needed laughs and hang time; impromptu road trips to one of my favorite cities, to spend a little time with my favorite fella; cream of Havarti cheese toast with pickled onions and a Last Word (or two); some hours being better than none; back outages serving as much-needed reminders to do stretches (and exercise and yoga and stress management and self care and and and); parents of roommates necessitating additional overnights; the silliness of Snapchat; garage beers and Thomas the cat; 2am phone recovery missions and a relocation; making peace with the simplicity and ease; better late than nevers and the promise of cupcakes in our future; falling asleep to the sound of thunderstorms; waking up to the sound of birdiess chirping; the season of bun-buns; feeling my feet; making those videos; a renewed determination to keep it positive; and looking forward to a few days of quiet, calm, restorative tending to all of the things.