Thoughts to End 2010

2010 was an interesting year. Major changes in my life this year. I quit my job and came back to school. I lost an uncle who was very important to me. I've been forced to actually deal with my ex's death. I've gained some friends, and wish I'd lost others. Felt the ease of knowing that you're doing what you were created to do and the discomfort of not being sure what the hell is going on.

However, as I read back through my posts from this year, I find myself having some of the same feelings I had at the end of 2009. Feelings and thoughts I swore I wouldn't take into 2010 and I guess I did, but did a damn good job of acting like they weren't there. So I sit here, a little upset with myself, but really trying my best to work through these things for real so that 2011 can be a great year for me.

I don't want to still be mad about the same stuff I've been mad about for years now. I'm ready to get through some of this baggage so I can start being the best person I know how to be. One way I can do that is to acknowledge that though 2010 really had some awfully shitty moments for me personally, it also had some SUPER awesome moments that I should hold on to and move into 2011 with. I can take my lessons from the shitty times and be thankful for the good moments.

2011 will be challenging. I already know that, as I look to what I need, but don't have yet, to make it through the year. However, I'm also going to complete 2 more of the 4 semesters necessary to get my Masters, in 2011, I'm going to expand my talents, be open to amazing opportunities and, hopefully people. I'm going to be in counseling, as required by my degree program so I know that will yield some interesting results. I'm excited for all the things 2011 can be. I went into 2010 unsure of things. I knew I was ready to move to the next thing, but I was definitely playing loose and fast with how to move to the next thing. While I'm all about flying by the seat of one's pants, I'm realizing that sometimes, having a plan isn't such a bad idea.

So let's see how this goes, shall we? Here I come, 2011 -- ready or not...

Top 10 of 2010

For the last 2 years I've wanted to highlight what I think were my top 10 posts of the year. Less for comments and more for content. I never do because it's a chore to read through all these posts, some of which I can't even believe I wrote. However, because I've not much else to do on this New Year's Eve, I read all 96 posts written in 2010 (down from 2009) and below are the ones I think make the top 10. Feel free to re-read these as we prepare for whatever's coming in 2011.

10. Reflections

9. What Do You See in the Mirror

8. Playing Games

7. Long Distance Relationships

6. Something I Regret

5.Control Issues

4. My First Love

3. Grief

2. An Open Letter to My Friends

1. Beefs, Frenemies and BFFs: Ever Evolving


Good Morning Family

As I'm getting older, Christmas is getting to be less and less... Christmas-ish.

Mom hasn't put up any decorations in years and that's never fazed me. We buy stuff for each other all year so by the time we get to Christmas there's nothing to buy. She usually gives me cash and mentions an item or two she wants.

And now with me being back closer to home, I'm here frequently so even just the fact that I'm here is no... well... big deal.

But that doesn't change the fact that what happened between us this morning was ridiculous. This isn't what should be going on during this time of the year.

One of my favorite quotes about self is, "I'm checking for what you're not saying..." in other words, I'm big on tone of voice and body language. My mom thinks she's slick or maybe she doesn't get tone of voice and body language, but I can ALWAYS tell when she's on the verge of having an attitude. I can't get her to see what the warning signs are and over the years, I react just as strongly to the warning signs as to any actual attitude. That's what occurred this morning.

For the first time ever, my mom told me to go to hell and I responded to her by saying "you first..." It's not what she said, it's that she said it. It's that whenever we argue she's always going for the low blows. Anything to piss me off or hurt my feelings. She doesn't fight fair.

I'm not better, I'm fighting back in the same way because it's almost all I know to do and that's absurd. I have tools and techniques for how to deal with this, and with almost anyone else I employ them without a second thought. Her? Nope. No dice. She's almost the only person in the world who can get to me on that level.

I think it's all only made worse by how different we are when it comes to dealing with this. I want to talk it out. I wanna be heard. She's content to being mad and moving on. You can't talk to her when she's mad and you can't talk to her after she moves on. So basically you can't talk to her.

I remember once we got in a physical fight. A friend came and got me and later I went back home to pack some stuff to leave for the night. I expected her to ask me where I was going when she saw the bag or call me that night when I didn't come home. I don't think she even noticed when I got back. That's a lonely feeling and it's how I feel every time this happens and I need to talk about it but she won't.

What a way to wake up...



So maybe the best and simultaneously worst thing about being in a counseling program is how often you have to take a minute (or days) and think about yourself in terms of what you are learning.

At the end of the semester, my professor in my Developmental Theories class assigned an immunity map.

It's not a complicated thing, but it has several parts that are most likely uninteresting to most of you and definitely not necessarily important to the point of this post, but in sum, when you do an immunity map you identify something about you that you want to do better/differently and through prompted self-reflection identify the things that stop you from already doing that thing(s). When you know why you don't do something you can make a better effort at doing it.

For my immunity map, I said I wanted to have healthier relationships. As I worked through the map, I didn't find myself writing down anything that I wasn't already aware of. Probably the most revealing portion of the immunity map is when you have to ask yourself what you're afraid of -- what are you scared will happen if you do x, y, z... Basically the immunity map asks you what you want to do, why you don't do it and what you're afraid of happening if you do it and then says -- go test your theory.

One of the things I must begin to do, and do so forcefully, is set and keep boundaries. Not too long ago, I asked a friend to keep me out of something because it made me uncomfortable. I set a boundary. He ignored that request, even though when I asked it of him, I explained what my concerns were. I've been here before: set a boundary and had a friend ignore it for their own reasons and usually I just deal with it. This time, though, I reminded him of my request and told him anything moving forward concerning this situation would be ignored.

He sputtered a little bit, but he left me out of it. Not the response I'd been expecting. It did not confirm my theory that if I set and hold boundaries that are inconvenient to people in my life they will get upset and make it a bigger problem for me.

Success 1.

I have one friend who hasn't been single for longer than about a day in 10 years. She continuously gets into relationships with men who are not good for her (not that they are bad, just that they are not good for her) and whines and whines to me about how unhappy she is with him. She has to stop that. But moreso, I have to stop allowing it to happen. I have to set that boundary and stick with it. She is not the only one in my life who does that: several people find themselves in the same situation over and over and instead of working to get out of it, want to just wallow and feel sorry for themselves. It becomes a cycle and I'm dizzy with a lot of them.

I think I'm most afraid that my friends will think I don't care about what's going on in their lives and that's not true. I'm just over being too exhausted to deal with my own stuff and as I move forward in my counseling program, dealing with my own stuff is far more important than making everyone around me feel free to whine.

I'm here for my friends, but not for their same situations over and over. When I get to a point where I literally have nothing else to say because I've said it all, over and over, it's time for us to stop talking about that and if that's all we have to talk about, it's time for us to stop talking. I don't anticipate this being easy for me at all because I want to be there for my friends all the time -- but boundaries, boundaries, boundaries....


One Last Moment

Wow... took me forever to get to this last day. I think I did pretty good up until now.

During the last post where I shared "a moment" I talked about how I sometimes feel on the "outside" of things. As if I'm window shopping through life.

One upside to feeling that way, though, is that even when I'm in a situation that's not all the way right -- not all the way a good fit -- I can usually power through it and get to the other side because that feeling isn't all that different from what I frequently feel.

The other upside is that I also am SO aware when I don't feel that way. When I feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be doing what I'm supposed to be doing with the person/people I'm supposed to be doing it with.

Recently I was sitting in my class on Developmental Theory and my professor was talking about a particular theory that really resonated with me. It made total sense and really was something that I'd long thought to be true about the way humans grow and develop. In the same week, I was in my pre-practicum class and something we were learning again deeply resonated with me and I thought, "I am exactly where I'm supposed to be..."

In these last few weeks, it's been confirmed for me that I'm doing this with the people I'm supposed to be doing it with, as well. I really am beginning to truly love and cherish my cohort and I imagine that I'm making some lifelong friends right now.

Anyway, the moment that I realized I am supposed to be a counselor, this is making the best use of my strengths and abilities and I'm even doing it in the right place was a special moment for me. As I'm sitting here typing this to take a break from studying for what will undoubtedly be the most stressful exam I've ever taken, it's reassuring to think that at least I'm on the right path.


My Aspirations

I was just thinking about this earlier today (okay, earlier yesterday...) without knowing I'd be doing a blog post on it.

I've never really been one of those people with long-term plans. My mom always asks "where do you see yourself in 5 years?" I hated that question 5 years ago, and I hate it now. Maybe it's because I feel like I should, but don't have an answer. Or maybe it's because I don't have an answer and I don't like feeling judged for that. She always tells me that if I don't have a plan, I'm destined to fail, and we know I'm afraid of failure, right?

I'm open to things happening as they do. It's how I've been exposed to so many different things and been able to meet so many different people. Some of the best things that have ever happened to me, happened because I somehow ended up in the right place at the right time and was open to the opportunity.

Now, is that to say that if I had a 5 year plan I couldn't still be open to that stuff? Nope, but it sure doesn't inspire me to get out there and come up with a plan.

Now don't get me wrong, I have dreams and goals. We've talked about all that stuff. But my aspirations? Where I see myself in 5, 10, 15 years? That's a whole other ball game that I haven't exactly suited up to play. I don't know, maybe I have commitment issues or maybe I"m just flat out lazy. In this "grinding" society we live in these days, where people spend more time talking about how much they hustle and grind than actually hustling and grinding, it's easy to feel like you're not about anything if you're not "grinding." I'm here to tell you, it's just not true. I've done more in my 23-soon-to-be-24 years than a lot of people twice my age who claim they've been grinding since before they were born! Of course, I don't mean to diminish any accomplishments of anyone -- I think we see right here in the blogosphere what grinding can mean. Several bloggers went from no-names to having red carpet events doubling as their birthday parties and bringing out big name stars. If you want it, get after it... and yet, for as much as I'm behind all that, it just doesn't translate well into my world

I actually prefer to frame it as just being wide-eyed and fancy free. In Christianity, it's a big freaking deal to be doing God's will. To be in tune with his plan for your life. Doesn't mean you know what the ultimate plan is, but it means that when God says move, you jump to it. That's actually not all that easy to do, but sometimes I wonder if maybe all that grinding and hustling just ain't necessary all the time, if'n you're on the path you're supposed to be on. Not that there won't be challenges and mountains and walls and all types of things but maybe those stumbling blocks just appear instead of you having to go after them. Maybe I lost you in this one...

In any case, where do I see myself in 5 years? I don't know. Making a difference somewhere, I hope. Hell, I could be married by then with 2 kids (let me erase that... I can't be speaking stuff into existence all willy nilly like 'at)... But I do know that where I am right this minute is exactly where I'm supposed to be and so that gives me a good feeling for where I'll be in 5, 10, 15 years from now...


Something I Miss

Remember this post? I still miss all those things, but I think I'm better at distinguishing between what I miss and what I think will just make everything "right" again. Or rather, I can distinguish when I'm legitimately missing a way my life used to be and when I wish I had it back just so things could be less whatever they are in that moment.

And yes, I still miss high school and undergrad and predictability in my life.

I genuinely miss J. As I'm moving through my counseling classes and learning about pacing clients, helping them find their own holding environments and so forth, I'm realizing that in a lot of ways, J acted as a holding environment for me. I'm realizing more and more the things about me that he seemed to intuitively understand without me having to explain the way I have to explain to so many, now.

I miss having my idiosyncrasies without consequence. :)

I don't miss J without remembering that it was for the best that things between us ended the way they did, but I would love to have him around, now, as a friend who just got it. I don't know for sure that that would be possible, but I would've loved to have had a shot at it.


My Favorite Place

This is a tough one... I have a lot of places I think of fondly and love going back to.

I love going to where my mom is from. There's a lot of history in that little town and I feel like it's so rich with a culture I'll never fully understand.

I love going to the apartment building my godmother manages. She's been there as long as I've been alive (longer) and it's a building for the elderly. I grew up with a lot of grandmothers and grandfathers. Lots of warm memories.

There's a spot on top of Signal Mtn that J loved. I like to go there and think about him.

I love Best Buy. Music and gadgets. Doesn't get better than that.

I love my mama's house. It's not the house I grew up in (love that place too) but it's where my mama is and I really like the house.

But maybe my favorite place isn't really one place. I like to be where people I love are. That can be almost anywhere. I guess I buy heavily into the idea that "home is where the heart is..." I have a lot of homes. Lots of places I know I can go if I need a break, or a re-do, or some advice, or even a knock upside the head.

In my classes we talk a lot about holding environments. People who confirm, contradict and show continuity. I've found that in several places and with several people and that's why it's hard to nail down one favorite place. I just like to be where my heart is.


My Fears

Knowing what someone does or does not believe can tell you a lot about them. Knowing a person's fears, though, can really get you inside how a person thinks. On the whole, we fear what we can't control and it's telling what a person doesn't feel in control of, enough to then be afraid of it.

I fear losing my mother.

I fear failure -- that means that sometimes, I don't go after something because the possibility that I might not get it scares me too much. I can tell you that this has never applied to anything dealing with school or career (and I'll leave that right there).

I fear betrayal.

That's really about it. I'm not fearless at all, but most anything else are minute fears in comparison to these.


A First...

Christmas of 1999 "Remember the Titans" came out in theaters and after our traditional dinner with my aunt, uncle and their children my mom decided we would go to the movies. I, actually, was surprised the theater was open. In my 12 (I turned 13 5 days later) year old mind, everything shut down on Christmas.

As we sat in the lobby waiting on the movie to start, I saw a large family come into the theater as well. There were easily 8 - 10 people in this group and they were all talking. I was enthralled by the thought of what their Christmas dinner had been like. This entire story began taking shape in my mind -- how had they decided to come to the movies? And how had they decided what movie to see?

When I got home, I sat down at our home PC and tapped out a 12 page short story called "The Best is Yet to Come." The narrator is loosely based on me and she recounts the story of her Christmas with her grandmother (loosely based on my mom), several of her cousins (of course, loosely based on my own cousins). That short story was the first short story I ever wrote and, to this day, is one of the only short story I've finished. The other finished short stories are posted on this blog.

Sometime during my freshman year in high school (the next year) I gave it to my English teacher to read. He had really nice things to say about it and made me feel good about my accomplishment.

I lost the digital copy of the story eons ago, but I have many hard copies. At one point I was intending to re-type it so I would always have it... I need to get back to that and make some edits to it that my 12 year old self wouldn't have seen the need to make.

Anyway, that first short story set off a chain of short stories. Like that one, I mostly base my characters and the stories around what's happening. I've explored what might have been in a couple of short stories and even what I wish would be. On the whole, I've started and deleted a number of them, but I've not been proud of any like I was proud of that one.


Something That Makes Me Cry

I don't cry very much. I joke and say it's because my tear ducts don't work. That's not true, they work just fine, I just hate to cry. Call it an aversion to being vulnerable or having had really bad experiences with how I'm treated when I cry, but I don't cry very much, and when I do, you can be pretty sured, I'm probably not in public.

However, thinking about life without my mother makes me cry. I love my mom and she's so much a part of my life that trying to imagine it without her makes me cry. I just don't know how I would function and I just feel terrible for folks when I hear they've lost their mom. Hell, I feel bad for my mom because she lost her mom and that in April of next year, that will be 20 years ago.

My mom and I have not always had the best relationship, but I've always been very very aware that she loves me and only wants the best for me. My mom has sacrificed so much for me and I"m eternally grateful. Sometimes she gets on my last nerve but I really do appreciate all she's willing to do for me, even now. It's easy for me to think of the things she didn't give me when I was younger, but as I've gotten older it's become important for me to see all that I had. I had a single parent who made sure I reached my potential. Being a single parent is not easy but my mom really did make it look that way.

Maybe it's because I know that no matter what my mom's got my back -- and it's becoming clear to me that that's next to impossible to find in folks these days. Maybe it's because sometimes my mom really does know me better than I know myself and the thought of doing every day without having that one person who will care no matter what is nerve wracking, but I know that life without my mother would be a scary place and the thought of it brings tears to my eyes every time. Took me a minute to get through this post, even.