Oh sweet mercies the roads I have traveled these last two years.
Ups and downs.
Joys and disappointments.
I will say this isn’t my usual kind of post. At least not of late. Not that I’ve posted much lately, but you know. I meant to. Being distracted by a side dish of crazy makes it really difficult to write anything that matters.
Yes, you read that right. I haven’t been writing because I got distracted by my own crazy. I can’t write that so and so will be upset. I can’t write about this because that will upset someone else. I can’t write about….
I’m in a new writer’s group and it’s time to break this cycle, take off my water wings and swim again.
There are also some things you should know about me if you are new around here: I cuss some times, I’ve been known to drink whiskey on occasion and while I’m considered a bleeding heart liberal here in the bible belt, the truth is I’m really more of a moderate. I do love horses and cycling, I’m just banned from both until my broken leg finishes healing. I love rockin open comedy mics, I play banjo for fun and believe it or not, I am really happy you are here.
I’m not going to tell you how to get everyone to like you (you can’t) or how to be a better Lutheran, I left the Lutheran church three years ago, which is when this whole mess started so you know. I’m not even going to tell you how to be a better wife. As for gardening, well… that’s what nurseries are for so go find a master gardener and have a ball.
I want to have fun writing again. So this is just me raw, mildly edited and hopefully offering a side dish of humor.
I’ve been through a lot of changes over the last few years. Some great, some notsomuch, but changes all the same.
I am going to tell you the cold hard truth that some people won’t be happy with your changes, your choices, or even your hair. And I am here to tell you that you will not die from that. And I know that because I didn’t.
I’m writing this because there are several of us in my new writing group who have faced this same dilemma. They feel alone like I once did. Together we are sharing our stories in hopes they find their way to other women like us. The hope is to be an encouragement for those who are afraid they are too much. Too loud. Too smart. Too outside of the lines for humanity.
We aren’t lone rangers. We are women who care about other women. May our strength become yours.
My blog did great in 2012 and then something unthinkable happened. The very people I believed would be excited for me, weren’t and I got upset by that. Not just a little upset either. Think literally shake whenever I met someone new upset. Super sweet oh please be my new best friend, upset. Mad at you to the point I thought my skull would burst and still not say a word about it so that you will still like me upset. Obsess over every nuance, phrase or contact to see where I stand on everyone’s “HOW MUCH I LIKE DEANA TODAY” Chart upset.
We are talking full frontal crazy my friends.
There were those who told me I needed to repent of all this dreaming about writing a book and doing stand up comedy and just go back to being small so that they could be comfortable with their own choices. I hate to admit it, but I may very well have given in to the pressure at least for a little while. I lost my voice. I got scared. I almost let my blog die and clung instead to the tattered shreds of their garments hoping they’d like me again. It was nauseating.
I didn’t even realize it was jealousy. I started thinking that maybe I really did deserve being the one to bring cookies to funerals and nothing more. Maybe they were right. Maybe that was the only thing I really deserved. After all, I must be an awful person if they are reacting so violently.
I even considered releasing my first book under a pseudonym so that I wouldn’t lose any more friends. Or worse, not writing it at all.
I wish I could change those two years, but I can’t. All I can do is learn from it and move on.
It never occurred to me that jealousy was behind it all. Not once. Here’s the deal, there will be people who will be jealous of you. Impossible you say? Nope. Gonna happen so get ready.
Someone finally put it this way. You put a bunch of male lobsters in a pot of boiling water and they will help each other climb out. Put a bunch of female lobsters in a pot, they’ll pull each other back in. Don’t get pulled back in!
Yes we’re taught to play nice and be relational, but the truth is you can’t nice jealousy away. Allowing another person’s opinion of you to become your problem is no solution.
Let it go, trust your gut and follow your heart.
Do you remember that comedy judge who called bullshit on my set two years ago saying “if this is what you believe about yourself, someone lied to you.” and then told me to go find the real me and bring it next year? Yeah well — turns he was right. I did believe those things and someone DID lie.
The biggest lie I remember being told – It’s your fault if other women reject you.
Can I tell you a secret?
My Facebook friends list used to include women I know hate me. Crazy right? Do you know why? I thought if they got to know me — the “real” me (as if FB is ever real) and saw all the stuff my husband and I did, they might eventually like me.
You know what?
What a colossal waste of my time.
If I knew then what I know now I’d tell you to hang in there. It gets better. I promise. I hung in there long enough to learn that not all women are petty and fearful and rejection isn’t always caused by anything I did or didn’t do. Being uber sweet and playing small won’t help. Let’s face it, I bet there are women out there that hate Maryann from Gilligan’s Island. Even Ginger was jealous of her – remember that? Now who hates Maryann? People do.
Sometimes rejection is 100% about the insecurity of the other woman. There are women who see someone they deem beautiful and the walls instantly go up and the teeth come out.
I remember being blindsided by a cat fight a many years ago while getting ready to sing in a local presentation of The Messiah. It was my first year, and I was afraid.
“Oh wow a leopard print dress in The Messiah, how appropriate.”
“It’s not leopard, it’s wood grain. My friend made it for me.”
Insert eye roll and huff as she walks away.
All I remember about her is she was a pastor’s wife and a friend of a friend. She’d been at the same retreats I had. I liked her right up until that moment.
This was right before we headed upstairs to start the program. I started hyperventilating and someone grabbed my hand and stood there with me until I caught my breath. Not that his fiance’ appreciated that either though. Even so, I didn’t care and I was thankful for the kindness.
See the problem is, I didn’t realize yet that I hadn’t done anything wrong.
It would be wonderful if I could tell you I was in high school when this happened. I wasn’t. I was 34 and miss indignant was in her 40’s.
So here’s the deal girlfriend. Being nice isn’t going to fix this.You can’t nice someone out of jealousy. I know because I’ve tried. It makes you look icky. Really it does. That plus it’s just pathetic.
Catty women know no age limit and I want you to remember something. The right women will like you no matter what so to hell with the catty and insecure ones who need you to play small.
Did you hear me?
I know that sounds harsh — and it sounds harsh because you are still hanging onto the false hope that the woman who gives you grief, who bullies you, lies about you, whatever will finally like you if you just try hard enough. I’m ripping that band aid of denial right off of your heart. I do know the more spiritual answer is to let them go with love and leave them to God. That’s great but I know you. I know me. If we sugar coat this, we’ll have the false hope that they’ll come to their senses.
It’s just not going to happen. Let’s accept that and move on.
Put this on your refrigerator if you have to.
You are beautiful.
You are smart.
You are brave.
You are a child of God.
You do not have to play small around women who matter. The right women will encourage you to grow bigger and stronger along with them. Trust me on this.
Print this picture out and post it on your bathroom mirror. You are beautiful. Own it like you mean it. Be brave sweet girl.
I performed in a comedy contest two years ago. One judge told me to never perform comedy again after my first night. I had two more sets to do after that. Honestly all he did was piss me off — I may or may not have semi-intentionally torched that bridge while I was still standing on it. I may receive the grace at some point to make that right and I may not. I don’t know yet.
A second judge watched all three sets and then called bullshit on 90% of my jokes.
“If who you are communicating on stage is who you really think you are, then someone lied to you. Go find out who you really are, she’s the woman I want to see in your comedy next year.”
I then went home and promptly broke my ankle, had two major surgeries on my leg and was left without my go to for approval places, giving me 14 months to think about what both comics told me.
Neither judge was wrong.
I let fear rule my choices in jokes.
I wanted everyone to like me.
That was my first “big” comedy deal and I played it safe and I played it weak. I played “cute” to win people over.
It’s no wonder they didn’t like me, I didn’t even like the woman I pretended to be on stage.
I spent 14 months taking more than my comedy set back to the studs, I took myself there and I ended 2014 with a lot of letting go.
My trash pile includes:
Friends on Facebook who were only there because I thought I had something to prove — They were there as a see, you should have believed in me – look at me now kind of thing. Some were people I used to know but am no longer friends with and others weren’t even people I actually like in real life.
Names I’ve been called, things I’ve been told. Words like “lazy”, “Slut”, “Bitch”, “unwanted”, “stupid”, “bossy”, “Controlling”, “Bastard”.
Filling that wound with applause and achievements.
My need to control people by being cute or overly submissive.
Mind reading. I suck at it anyway.
Places and friends that are not safe.
Tilting at windmills — wasting energy and trying to change what cannot be changed. Controlling others.
Purposefully giving people a reason not to like me if I think they already don’t. Burning bridges while standing on them.
The desire to be known being over run by the fear of being found out. — that’s a big one and I’ll write more about that as the year unfolds.
Now you’d think after 30 years in a recovery program, I’d have all of this down cold. Notsomuch. One of the worst tag lines that’s going to take work for me is being told,
“I can’t wait for the day when I can prove to the world what a bitch you really are.”
That sentence alone has been the root of so many choices. That’s the sentence that I’ve allowed to define my actions and word choices for so many years. It also defined my sets and choice of jokes.
That’s the fear both comics saw manifest itself in that small theater in Indiana.
I learned a lot at The Cove. I learned that I’m not a bitch and that seasons pass just fine without my interference. I’m not any of those other labels either.
I’ve learned that I can know that for myself without having to inappropriately lean on those who already knew that for me.
So, I call a do over not only in my approach to comedy, but my approach to relationships as well and 2015 is just the year to do that.
Happy New Years you guys.
It is the goofiest things really that give me courage; like that time I discovered that Bob Goff (Love Does) and I were wearing the same socks at a conference and I so badly wanted a selfie of our feet but didn’t ask because that would be weird and I got a hug instead.
The Random Dude I met on the airplane last year who flirted with a housewife and reminded me that I’ve still got it. Whatever “it” is.
Meeting Donald Miller and taking a photograph during his book signing for Scary Close at the Storyline Conference in Chicago. And then publishing said photo even if I’m thinking, “not my best.” (I’ll write more about that later.)
A chance meeting with Howard (an old time blues musician) while walking down the streets of Broken Arrow and making a new friend. Howard not only sold me his old banjo, he gave me all of his books as well. “Don’t worry about playing like Scruggs, play like you.”
And I do now.
Like I said, it’s the goofiest things.
A stranger on a plane.
A fun picture.
A music man.
What things give you courage?
She’s lost it.
Did you hear she’s a Democrat?
She left our church!
I bet she left God too.
I didn’t lose it.
I didn’t run away from home like you think. Truth is, I ran away a lot. Just not like you think.
I ran away in my dreams and to the lake where I could learn banjo undisturbed. I ran away from the noise to find my voice. I ran away to Nashville and to the stage. I ran away from old lies that were holding me back. I ran away from things whispered in the dark, “you aren’t enough.”
I ran away from people who would dare tell me I wasn’t a real Christian because I wasn’t raised in the church like were.
I can’t leave God. My name is written in His hand and nothing can snatch me away.
I have been on a journey and it’s been glorious.
I found authors who dare tell the truth.
Friends who see and know ME.
I found my best friend, or she found me. Either way.
I’m still married by the way and we love each other now, more than ever.
“There is music you never hear unless you play it yourself.”
― Marty Rubin
People usually make fun of banjo. My thoughts are if Neil Young plays, it must be cool.
Having a broken leg has it’s advantages. I was so busy last year that practicing my banjo was usually an after thought. My teacher can probably attest to that. I’m pretty sure I annoyed the snot out of him many times by showing up without the songs memorized.
I’m presently on week 30 of my “12 week vacation” and I’ve found a lot of time to practice.
Today, I spend a whole lot of my day sitting and picking and learning and I love it.
I especially love the fact that I can pick up my banjo and create something that didn’t exist five minutes ago.
That is too cool.
Unless we know how to be alone on purpose, not in a runaway alone, but an intentional pilgrimage, we’ll never learn how to be with people.
That’s why I wrote yesterday’s post. Not everyone knows how to be alone. I thought I did. I used to look forward to my days at the lake – until they spread out to over 200 of them. That’s when I discovered that I have a limit for alone.
That’s okay. We are created for relationship. We aren’t created to stand alone. One aides the other, but one should never exclude the other.
I admitted something yesterday that is really taboo in my circles. I admitted that I don’t always like myself. Everyone goes through seasons like that, but not everyone admits it really. We’d rather hide behind an all’s well mask.
I’m not much for hiding really.
Unless I want to, and then I’m killer at it.
I’ve shared many things over the years with you guys. We’ve talked about fear, about courage, about death, about being tired. I’ve even shared stories about things I’d just as soon forget, like the *real reason I hate being called “darlin'” (see bottom of post) and about my past experience with depression.
I do want to clarify, I am not using soul-tired and depressed interchangeably. They mean two different things to me.
I’ve been depressed, I know that black night of the soul. It sucks.
Thankfully, I’m not there today. But if I’m not careful, soul-tired can become soul-sick very easily. It’s a slippery slope really.
What I honestly didn’t realize, before heading on this adventure is how tired I really was last fall. I slept the first three weeks I was here and blamed it on the surgery.
That wasn’t the problem.
I had some big emotional items on my plate. Things I don’t share here because it would harm others. But trust me, just because I don’t share them does not mean they aren’t real. They are very real and they weighed on me because I confused myself with Atlas and thought it was my job to carry it all on my shoulders.
I’m kind of egotistical like that.
I had pushed myself beyond my limits and did not do the things I know to do to stay above water.
Now it’s true, life is not without it’s problems and we can’t always escape them. We do however have choices and can take right action to help ourselves.
The first thing we need to do is not be victim of this guy:
They didn’t even know they had trouble until he came along. And the truth is they didn’t have trouble – he just wanted to sell some musical instruments. He had a motive, and an agenda to create a FEAR BASED need. The town bought it, hook line sinker and tackle box.
That happens today – just look at Facebook or Twitter, MSNBC or Fox News — Town Criers everyone proclaiming trouble. Turn it off once in a while. Use discernment.
If you’ll recall, I posted a bit of an emancipation proclamation a few days ago – the whole Best Friend or worst enemy thing. I’ve had to consciously remove myself from manipulative circumstances for my own sanity — that’s a sign of health. I’m no longer willing to blindly follow fear based leaders.
Charisma is a turn off to me today.
As are threats of abandonment — do this or I’ll leave. Okay. Leave.
Cold? Maybe, but not really. It’s the most loving thing I can do for both of us today. Took me years to learn that.
I have HUGE attachment/abandonment issues. I’ve spent the past 200 or so days facing them. You know what I learned? They aren’t that hairy after all.
Other things I didn’t do during my Let’s go out and conquer 2013:
1. I didn’t exercise. Oh sure, I planned for it, wrote about it, bought things and signed up for clubs, but I never pulled the trigger. Exercise is important. It released endorphins and gives oxygen to the brain. Yes, I got injured, but I spent so much time staring at closed doors (Cycling) that I didn’t look for new doors.
2. I didn’t face my problems head on. That’s not like me. I’m a deal with it now and get over it kind of woman. I value my relationships. The trouble is, fear kicked in. I’d done such a great job (tongue in cheek) cleaning house in 2012, I found myself not wanting to rock the boat in 2013. That made me dishonest. I hate dishonesty. That hurt some very important, to me, relationships. Rather than honestly deal with issues, I internalized them and created a wedge with more than one person.
3. I cut off my spiritual arm to spite my face. I had my mentoring group and we studied scripture and whatnot, but that is not the same as being in fellowship with other Christians. I wasn’t even reading my bible if it didn’t pertain to my classes. I let my well run dry. That made me thirsty.
4. I caught myself wanting things that I didn’t have instead of being thankful for the things I did. I started filling up a spiritual void with junk food. Wrong relationships, wrong motives, wrong everything really. Wishful thinking replaced right action mostly,
While it is true that I didn’t necessarily do something permanently stupid just because I was temporarily upset, I did hurt myself with my own unrealistic expectations of how it was supposed to be.
I refused to own my feelings. Or my thoughts. Every time something unpleasant bubbled up in my life – whether a relational conflict, or a fear, or hurt, or anger, I stuffed it and got busy doing more. The conflicts went unresolved.
I was alone long before I came out here because I’d already gone inward and withdrawn into myself.
The one thing I’ve wanted most in this life after kids is to live an authentic life.
Authentic lives are messy. They involve people. And before I can fully introduce myself to that equation, I have to deal with me first. And that is why I’m here.
*There are people in my life today who are allowed to call me Darlin’. They’ve earned that right. They are what Henry Townsend calls Safe People. They know that trust is earned and are gentle in the earning process. They tell the truth in love. (they call me on my bull) While they don’t always like me, they do express a kind of love that is endearing. They have boundaries and they respect mine. They give me a chance to make amends when needed and they own their own side of the sidewalk. Always a good sign.
So, dear readers — have you ever gone into the wilderness of alone, whether on purpose or out of necessity? Would you like to share something you learned?