ask leahpeah

White Privilege

img_5767When I wrote my guide for white people about systemic racism, the main feedback I’ve received in emails and direct messages from white people is some variation of, “I’m not racist. Stop calling me that. My life was/is hard. I don’t have white privilege.”

There’s a big misconception out there of what it means to have white privilege. Having white privilege is not a “bad” thing. It is a responsibility. I tell you this with all the love in my heart, white people.

Here’s how you know if you have white privilege: Are you white? Do you have white skin? If the answer is yes = you have white privilege. You cannot disown it. You cannot decide you don’t want it. You cannot spend your whole life doing good works that somehow erases it. You can *never* get rid of it. And having a hard life with white skin on does not mean you don’t have white privilege. It means you have a hard life and you might be challenged economically or otherwise.

White Privilege exists because this country was built by stealing and kidnapping people of color from other countries, forcing them to come live here, and making them slave laborers to build our country because we could. White Privilege exists because as white people, we slaughtered millions of indigenous peoples who lived here before us because we wanted their land and we could. White Privilege exists because we rounded up Japanese people and forced them without being accused of any crimes to live in interment camps because we could. White Privilege exists because we don’t have to declare war but we go into Vietnam and kill as many people as we can find because we can. White Privilege exists because we depend on thousands and thousands of Mexican people to do the jobs we don’t want to do and yet we get to look down on them and yell at them to get out of Our Country because we can. And White Privilege exists because we, as a country, can focus on a religious group like Muslims and threaten that we will catalog all of them in a registry so we can keep a governmental eye on them. Because. We. Can.

You, as a white person, don’t like or promote any of those things? Great! But, that does not erase your white privilege. You, as a white person, lived in an area that was predominately Black and experienced prejudice against you for your skin color? I understand, that has happened to me, too, but that was not reverse-racism nor was it Black Privilege, because neither of those things are Things That Exist because of this thing we call Systemic Racism.

Allow me to explain.

Because of the way we built our country and our constitution, non-white people were not thought of as Real People. They were livestock who could be owned like cattle. I mean, think about that for a minute. No, I mean FEEL about that for a second. It sucks. It’s really, really bad. And in our own constitution where we discussed the worth of people, our founding fathers decided Black people were worth oh, about 3/5th of Real White People.

We built our education system with white people succeeding in mind. We built our business systems with white people succeeding in mind. We build ALL of our systems with white people succeeding in mind. And in cases like Brown VS Education, we took what was working for Black people, meaning schools that were successfully educating their students, and we squished it by TRYING TO DO SOMETHING GOOD like eliminate segregation, and we forced those folks into environments where not only were they not wanted, but the entire system was set up to help white folks succeed and not them. Brown VS Education highlights just how much we, as white people, screw things up that we don’t understand because we aren’t willing to look fully and unflinchingly at our own white privilege. Segregation? Bad. Yes. Let’s agree that dividing people solely on the color of their skin is bad. But forcing people into a SYSTEM where ONLY white children will be successful because we aren’t willing to truly listen to what their needs in education are or to train our teachers to understand the deep and soul-rocking after-shocks of what generations of slavery have done to their families is unconscionable. Why not get rid of the white schools and put the white kids into the schools where the Black kids are learning? That’s not even an option because White is the Gold Standard. What is White is what everyone should want. I would bet good money that as the discussion went forth on how to integrate the schools, it was never even a question that they wouldn’t take the Black kids and insert them into the white schools. And this is a pattern that is replicated in every single system in our country. Hence = systemic racism based on white privilege.

If you have white skin, are you supposed to spend the rest of your life feeling guilty about it? <-- actual question I was asked. Well, I guess that's up to you. You can choose to feel any way you want about it. But, I can tell you that your guilt isn’t helpful in making anything any better. It’s going to keep you stuck where you are in your feelings, and your feelings don’t get any work done. I feel great about having white skin because that’s how God make me and I look for opportunities to use it for the benefit of those who don’t have it. God also made tons of people around the world in beautiful other shades besides white and they are all just as good as I am, but they might not have the same opportunities that I have. I go out of my way to look for people who don’t have white skin wherever I go so I can kind of monitor out of the corner of my eye if anyone is going to give them a hard time so I can intervene, especially now since Nov.9. And I try to recognize in all situations where things come easily to me how it might not be the same for others. That’s my responsibility because I was given this skin I did nothing to deserve. No, I don’t feel guilty about having white skin. I look at it like a sacred responsibility to use it for others. I’m no saint. I make a ton of mistakes. I have so much to learn about my own white privilege still. But, that’s ok. I’m trying, I’m teachable, and I’m paying attention.

See also: Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

From the Mailbag

Here is a precious letter from a reader I’ve been hanging on to for a bit, holding it close and letting it fester. It says so many things that I secretly think in my dark hours that it’s almost like this person just reached inside my deepest fears and pulled it out. I’m usually so disciplined about ignoring meanies (especially while United States of Tara airs. Man, my tribe of the Mentally Ill folks can be cruel.) but when my confidence is low, it’s hard to just move through it.

“you know no one reads your blog anymore, right? god your writing is all over the place. You used to be someone that people cared about and now I’m sorry to say it but you are rally just pathetic. I guess if you go back to the oh my god I’m going to kill myself well too often, no one wants to hear it anymore. do you get it! I’m just telling you what everyone is thinking. I’m trying to help you. And what is whith all this crap you are trying to sell? It’s ugly and everyone has bills these days so why do you think someone would want to buy the crap you are trying to make us buy! I don’t come here to buy some stupid fugly crap you made! Your art is ugly!! Stop trying to make money of me. and I’m sure people have told you this before but god you are fat and you should probably wire your jawshut or something because it’s looks really bad. I’m just trying to help you and someone should tell you.”

First of all, thank you for considering me your god, but I must happily decline the position. Secondly, I read this incredible post from Gluten-free Girl this morning. I say incredible because I started bawling and by the time I was done reading, I was reminded why I do this, this writing online thing. Because it makes me feel good.

This website is 9 years old in a few weeks, friends. I’m a grandma around these parts. And at times I have no idea why I keep writing. And months go by when I don’t because I don’t want to be open to the haters for awhile. And then I feel stifled and stabby and low and SAD because this is MY space, my online home. If I’m feeling low, I write about it. If I’m feeling positive, I write about it. If I’m in the mental hospital or thinking about my career as a meth addict, I write about it. And if I painted something and need to pay the electric bill, I’m going to try and sell it because I’m more comfortable with that than a Donate button on my website. I can’t work a full-time out-of-the-house job. I’m getting comfortable with the limitations of having Lupus and creating things at home makes me feel good.

I’ve struggled with my body and its size and my mind and its weaknesses for so many years and it took me until turning 39 that I finally got it. I could finally, FINALLY, turn to my daughter and tell her, and MEAN it, “I’m so happy to be myself! Like, right now! Just like I am!” I won’t spend any more time wishing I could have done that years ago for her sake. I’m just so happy I can do it now for both our sakes. Like Shauna said, “For the first time in my life, at 45, I am relaxed into my body. What am I going to do, spend until I’m 75 wishing someone I was someone a little bit different, a little less, a little more conforming? Hell no.”

I told my husband last year that I didn’t want to spend one more second of my time with anyone who didn’t love me for exactly who I was. No more time spent with people who are “trying to help me” by changing who I am because I’m not good enough. Well, horseshit. I AM good enough. Better than good enough.

I am enough, full stop.

Ask Leahpeah, United States of Tara Edition

Did you meet Steven Spielberg?

Sadly, no. That is definitely something I would have mentioned on my blog and elsewhere had it happened.

What was it like to work with Toni Collette?

I’m sure it’s great. I didn’t actually meet her, either. I really always went through Diablo Cody.

Were your transitions between alters as dramatic as those depicted in the show? Are they always a complete personality change, or can it be more subtle, like a mood swing?

I’m not sure what you mean by dramatic. I haven’t noticed any head twisting or body convulsions during the switch, which is how I think most people assume it is like. Tara just closes her eyes and switches, maybe with a tilt of her head.

Or do you mean a dramatic difference between who she was and who she became? In that case, sure. That’s the way it works. That’s why you have alters, because they are so different. But, if you are in public, chances are you aren’t going to switch in an obvious way unless it’s pretty dire and unexpected. And mostly, everyone inside would want to try and act like everything was normal, and try and imitate whoever was out last, especially if you are with other people. People staring and asking questions can be really uncomfortable.

That being said, if you switch to an alter who doesn’t have co-consciousness with the other alters, and they were triggered to come out by something traumatic, they might not have the knowledge or ability to act like who was just out. And that could look pretty strange to others and be confusing for the alter.

Is it possible to transition to another alter and not have the other person (husband, kids) know?

Sure. If you have a few alters that have been really working to communicate and agree for awhile and aren’t holding resentments against each other and pretty much know the secrets of the other ones, they can act like each other pretty well. If you having DID is something your family doesn’t know about, they might just think you are having pms or something. Or that you are maybe on drugs. You never know.

When one alter is dominant, are the others aware of what’s going on at all?

Sometimes. Maybe. Yes. No. It all depends. : ) Everyone’s internal system is different. They might have some alters that are aware of some, but not all. Or all. Or none. It can be very complex. Or not. It all depends on the person.

When you become integrated, do you remember everything that happened to all the alters?

Pretty much. The reason you can become integrated is because there are no more secrets from any one inside. If you all have the same information and you are all the same age and you all want to become one, you can. I don’t know if I know EVERYTHING that has happened in my life previous to integration, but I don’t know if it matters.

Since your mind split again, do you think all the personalities you had growing up will come back or how about new ones?

I have no idea. I was surprised as hell that Claire was back again. I assume that she is back for a reason. And I guess if there was a reason for the rest of them to be back, they would be. But I can’t think of a reason. And as far as new ones showing up, it could happen. My mind automatically creates these alters for me in times of great stress or when I have overwhelming feelings that I don’t know how to process. I don’t ever know when that will happen, so I can’t prepare for it. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Do your kids know you are a multiple again?

Yes. They all know. Joe and I thought it was the right thing to tell them. They have been through so much with me and if there was a chance that I would be switching in front of them, and they weren’t prepared, I believe that would be a worst case scenario for the trust we’ve built up between us.

What does your husband think about it? Is he mad?

Joe has always been a very understanding and supportive husband. He married me knowing that the future could be uncertain. He suspected long before I did that my splitting again would be possible. I’m sure he is worried and sometimes anxious about what this might mean for our relationship, but mad? No. Not as far as I know. But it might be best to ask him.

Why are you being public about it?

Since 2002 I’ve been online and public about my mental health issues. I don’t hold things back because I know there are many other people out there who suffer from some of the same things. Because mental illness carries such a stigma with it and it’s been a taboo subject to mention, I wanted to go where few were daring to go and be a place where people could discuss it. Ultimately, that was the reason for starting RealMental.org. I wanted more of a community feeling centered on mental illness and the real people that live with it every day.

When I split again awhile back, I was unsure what it meant and unsure if I would stay that way. I didn’t talk about it for a long time in case there was nothing to talk about. But, when it became obvious that Claire was back for good, it was something that had to be included in the conversation. Keeping secrets is always detrimental to my mental health and I really try to not have them.

Is your life going to be worse now?

Worse? Different. More complicated, maybe. But, every alter I have is a part of me. I’m just being myself. And I hope that doesn’t mean it’s worse.

I went to buy Not Otherwise Specified and it’s not there anymore. Why?

UPDATE: Get it here.
I’m working on reworking all my journals, adding in missing years, and making it into what I hope will be a really great book. I don’t know when it will be available, but you all will be the first to know.

Thanks for all your support over the years, Leahpeah family.
xoxo

UPDATE: More on USOT

Ask Leahpeah, A Collaboration Letter

Dear Leah,

Your interviews rock!

I love your interviews!

Are you still doing interviews?

Why aren’t you still doing interviews?

Will you interview me?

Why won’t you interview me?

I know someone that would be a great interviewee!

If you don’t interview me, I’m going to tell everyone you wet the bed.

Sincerely/Best Wishes/Warm Regards/Love/Later,

Your Readers

Dear Ones,

Thank you for your email! Thank you for liking the interviews! I’m sorry, I won’t interview you, even though you are AWESOME and INTERESTING!! This is not because I don’t like you or think you are pretty. Because I do. And I like your brooch.

It’s because I’m not doing the blogger interview series any longer. There may be a few straggler interviews that could possibly come in from last year, but at this point it seems highly unlikely. However, I would certainly post them if they did show up in my inbox because everyone that I asked and emailed questions to, I love and would love to include in the series.

I’m working (and when I say ‘working’ I mean the term very loosely) on the group painting and some video interviews. I’m also working on interviews and articles for print magazines like the ones I recently did for LAB and CRAFT. Also, Alphamom will be posting all the video interviews I did last year on their new website once it launches. Additionally, new projects get posted to my website homepage as they get launched.

Thank you for reading and liking the interviews! I hope you like the next stuff I do, too. If you are an interview-reading craziak, could I suggest two places you could go get your fix? Ransom Note Typography is starting a series and of course, Matthew from In The Air who interviews an awesome variety of people.

xoxo,
lpc

Ask Leahpeah

From my email:

Hi Leah. I have a daughter that is 9 and a son that is 7. They are beautiful and smart. In fact, that is why I’m writing you. They are so smart that I think they are catching on. I can’t always make sure I am the safe adult parent when they are around. Not that any of my personalities are mean or harmful. If that was true, I would have given them up a long time ago. It’s just that some of my personalities are not as helpful for kids or able to take care of them as well, if you know what I mean. And I’m pretty sure my daughter has figured out that I’m not normal. And I’m sure that my son won’t be far behind. How did you handle this? I know you are integrated now but what about before? Should I tell them the truth? I worry it will just scare them or confuse them but I don’t want to lie to them, either. My mom used to help out but she died last year and I don’t have anyone else to help take care of them. My husband left me right after our son was born. Thanks.

Hey there. I’m sorry you are in the situation of taking care of your kids all by yourself. Do you belong to a church group or have any good friends that understand your situation? Or siblings? Their father’s family? Or can you get connected to some group through your therapist (if you’re seeing one, and I hope you are) that offers low-cost care for kids? I ask because if you don’t have any help, then you are potentially not taking the best care of your kids.

When you say that you don’t have any harmful personalities where the kids are concerned, I think I do know what you mean. None of mine were angry or hurtful towards children, either. But on the other hand, there were a few years when my kids had to basically take care of themselves for hours or days at a time when some of my other personalities were in charge, which is really neglect and shouldn’t be happening. I’m positive that you are doing everything you can possibly do to take good care of them. I’m positive that you are doing the best you can. But please consider finding outside help that is supportive of your situation. Because even though it’s hard to trust others with inside knowledge of your situation, your kids are worth it. And you need it, too.

Kids are way smarter than most adults give them credit for. If you suspect that your daughter knows you aren’t ‘normal’ then I would guess that you are right. It’s a hard situation to figure out how much information is the right amount but yes, probably she needs some. And she can let you know how much she needs if you let her take the lead. One way to do that is to use a modified version of play therapy. I used play therapy with my two older kids when they were old enough to wonder what was going on. We acted out our life using dolls and stuffed animals. My husband traveled extensively (we were in the military) and the kids let me know in play how they were feeling and I helped them know that I heard them in the same way. It might be odd at first if you aren’t used to using play time as therapy but if you keep at it, it can be really healing. This page has some info on how it can help. And this page and has some helpful info with some tips. Here are some books you could look for at your library.

I’m glad you asked this question because it means you are thinking about how you are affecting your children. And even ‘normal’ (have I mentioned I hate that word? 🙂 ) parents affect their kids in ways they wish they didn’t. Parents can’t help it. We set examples in every department by what we do and don’t do. Your kids are watching you and evaluating and setting their gauges about what is right and not right and what they will accept and won’t accept by how you treat them and how you let others treat you. So it would make perfect sense that they would want to understand why you seem to be so different at different times and why sometimes you are seriously invested in their well being and why other times you seem to hardly care at all and they have to fix their own dinner. It might feel monumental to them that when they fall and skin their knee, sometimes you kiss and cuddle and give the love only mothers can but other times send them to get their own bandage.

I should interject a side note here, that not knowing anything about how your internal structure is set up, I don’t know if all your personalities cooperate or not. If not, I would say it’s time to take that into serious consideration. The more you all work together, the better for the kids. If you do work together, it’s possible to make agreements with everyone on the inside to put the kids first. That might mean that if someone else is out and one of the kids gets hurt, they invite you, the mom personality, back out immediately until things are under control again. Alternately, you could get agreements that whenever the kids are with you, that you are out, period. I also understand that could create resentments between your selves, but hopefully, you can figure out the best way to do things with your therapist. If you don’t currently see one, I would suggest finding one and soon.

The way I spoke about my situation during play therapy with my kids when they were those ages was something like this: “I know that sometimes Mommy seems different. Sometimes she seems to pay attention to you better and sometimes she doesn’t. That’s not fair! You are important and special and deserve to have Mommy always care about you more than TV or sleeping or anything! I think there is something going on in Mommy’s brain that makes it so she can’t be like so-and-so’s mommy. So I’m going to tell you the magic words that you can say that will always make Mommy stop acting so different right away. Ok? Here they are! These are the magic words: Mommy! I need you to look at me right now and love me right now! and when you say that her brain will work better and she’ll stop painting or reading or sleeping, OK? Now, try out the magic words!”

Variations on that theme worked well. Understand that I did have an agreement, though, so it was a serious promise I was making with my kids. It helped them feel empowered but it only worked because my personalities were all bound to comply and did. Because it created an environment where they could tell me how they felt, using the dolls and stuffed animals, I got to hear all about hurts and pains they had been saving up for their Mommy when she had been ‘gone away’ or ‘busy with her paints’ or whatever it was they told themselves, and there were many hurts and pains to talk about and relive and go over. But I do think it made a tremendous impact on the quality of my relationships with them which I benefit from today. It opened a dialog with them that continues and I’m sometimes amazed at the things they are comfortable talking about with me, because I never would have talked to anyone in my family, let alone my parents, like they do with me. I’m very lucky.

Remember that while in play therapy mode, it’s important for them to not ever be ashamed of what they say or do. And believe me, there are moments when you’ll want to sink into the floor or become defensive or run from the room. But in order for them to truly heal and connect and understand, you HAVE to be open and honest and make room for them to tell you just how angry or scared and let down they feel. And it is your job to validate every, single, solitary thing they say they feel. Feelings can’t ever be wrong. It’s the action, after the feeling, in a harmful or un-nurturing vein that needs to be stopped and redirected. But the feelings – they are always just feelings and should be validated. It is in this way that you teach them to trust in their instincts and to listen to their gut and to learn to take good care of themselves while creating healthy boundaries. The worst thing you can do is invalidate their feelings by saying, ‘No, mommy didn’t do that or say that. You’re wrong.’ because that is teaching them to NOT trust in their feelings. Even if you disagree with what they are saying because you know it didn’t happen that way, save that talk for another time. In that moment, tell them, ‘I’m sorry you felt so scared and mad. That sounds really hard!’ Later, when you are out of play therapy mode, ask them if they want to talk about it. If they say yes, try to explain what you remember happening. If they still insist it happened different, it may be that you both experienced it a different way. Our recollections, or memories, are easily swayed by all kinds of factors and you could both be right, as odd as at that sounds.

A great example of memory being tricky is that one of my sons distinctly remembers that when he met my husband, Joe had very long hair. Ty was 9 at the time. The fact is that Joe had cut his hair to a very short length before I or my children met him but his driver’s license photo shows him with very long hair. When Ty saw that photo way back when, it somehow ingrained in his memory that Joe had long hair and he still thinks to this day that Joe’s hair was long when they met. Another example is pretty much any family gathering I ever went to. I have 7 siblings and you sometimes get 8 different accounts when talking over things that happened a few years ago. Throw in my parents and a few nieces and nephews and you’d be hard pressed to find 3 or 4 accounts that match in their entirety. So, who’s wrong? The important things are the feelings behind the memories. Sometimes, the time is better spent talking about those than the facts of the accounts.

It’s a big job, taking care of kids, even when you have a partner to lean on in the hard times. By yourself it becomes much harder and when you add in the mental issues it grows exponentially more difficult. I would say it is next to impossible for you in your current situation to give yourself or them the care you all need all of the time. Please look at this as part of your job as their mother. Whatever you need to do, whomever you need to talk to, whatever agencies you need to go through, do it to find the help you need. And how awesome that you care enough to think about this problem and figure it out! Kudos to you. Your children are lucky.
xo

Ask Leahpeah

Question from the comments:

Hi Leah,

This isn’t about knitting, actually. My name is Caitlin and I’ve been reading your site for the past few months. Sorry for lurking, I just never know how to say hi. Hi! Probably just like that. I have not experienced multiple personalities but I have experienced a lot of what you describe in your archives, which I hope you don’t mind that I read. It helps so much to know that there are people out there with lives that are just fine who suffer in some of the same ways I do. I have always been fascinated by your blog tagline: “Flawed but authentic.” One of the things I find most beautiful in your writing is that you do try do embrace flaws as human. And you certainly seem to be striving each day towards an authentic life. Here’s my question: How do you do that??? 😉

I suffer from depression and anxiety disorders and am learning that there may be a large part of my childhood that I have blocked from memory. My biggest struggle is trying to be authentic. With mental illness, how can you even find you self in there to be authentic to? If you have the time, any advice would mean the world to me.

Thank you for you writing, compassion, and beauty.

Hey Caitlin,

The archives are there for the reading. Please feel free to help yourself. I don’t think I feel comfortable answering your question as an authority of authentic-ness since I’m just barely getting by these days. Seriously, I just keep getting up every day and trying my best. I do, however, have some really awesome readers that are super authentic despite depression, illness and sometimes mental disorders. I’m hoping some of them won’t mind chiming in with any tips.

Take good care of yourself.
xo

Ask Leahpeah

Dear Leah Peah,

I watched Medium last night. Did you know it was back on? And Heroes, your Beloved, is off for a long few more weeks. I bet you are dying.
You watch too much tv. It’s rotting your brain.

Signed,
Anon.

Dearest Anon,

So nice to hear from you, Sunshine! I do so appreciate you keeping tabs on my television watching. Alas, you are a few weeks behind. I haven’t had time to watch anything, as my domestic handiwork has taken over. And yes, I was aware that Heroes was off and would continue to be off for a few more weeks. *sigh* But I’m never too busy to hear your updates and I thank you so much for thinking of me, Toots.

Although I had general aches and pains and flu like symptoms immediately following Christmas (it was NOT the fruit cake!!), I can’t image why you think I’m dying, Muffin. Who said that? Cousin Sally?? She’s always hoping she’ll outlive me for the inheritance but I’ve had my eye on that antique thimble set ever since I found out Great Gramma Thistle used it to darn President Eisenhower’s socks. I’m due, dammit! I’m due at least one happiness in this life.

Your gentle coaching and non-judgmental admonishment has shown me the error of my ways. From henceforth and ever more, I shall watch only Ellen in the afternoon three times a week. And never on a religious holiday.

Toodles,
Yours Truly

L.P.D. (Ed. Note: I’m assuming the D is for Dearest? Or is it Diarrhea? I’m not apposed. It happens.)

I just wanna say you rock. I read you. I like you. And I’m going a keep on reading you no matter what anyone says because you rock.

Anyways, that’s more than I said for a long time so I guess I’m done.

Rock on.
Don

Dearest Donald, (can I call you Donald?)

I’m so happy to hear that you read me and that you like me. The feeling is mutual. I’m going to reread this sweet letter each evening before retiring to my damask covered boudoir with tassel trimmings.

You mention that conversation may be one of your struggles. Forgive my boldness but I notice you have an affinity of the geological type. Have you considered going into that area as a means to stimulating a friendly conversation?

For example: ‘The Cenozoic Era seems to be my favorite as it was teeming with new life including flying animals and flowering plants. I find I prefer it to the Paleozoic, which was basically a bunch of slimy reptiles running around willy-nilly in a much less pretty fashion.’ This just might win you friends and influence people but I leave it to you to carve out the particulars.

Sincerely,
LP and yes, D (although not since I got over the fruitcake.)

PS. I’m not sure whom these ‘other people’ are that you allude to, but not being swayed by peer pressure is an admirable quality. I commend you for it.
PPS. If you want to tell me who it is, I’ll keep it a secret.
PPPS. Just kidding. Don’t tell me.
PPPPS. You can if you want.

Top Three Questions in My Inbox

Variations of #1:

I thought you were from Utah?
Are you in Missouri?
Where did you grow up?
Did your parent’s move?

Answer:

I did not go to Missouri, although there is nothing wrong with that. Some of my favorite people live in Missouri. My parents have not moved and still live in Utah, where I went to visit them. Now I am happy to be home.

Variations of #2:

What are you working on? Is it a secret?
Did you get a new job yet?
What did you decide to do with your life?
Where are you working?
Do you remember me? I wrote you last year.
Tell me what you’re doing!

Answer:

Yes! Of course I remember you! And thank you for writing me again. I haven’t told you about what I’m doing because everything is kind of ‘in the works’ and not solid yet. If I told you the part I could actually tell you, it wouldn’t be much and we’d all walk away like addicts without our fix. But, since you are so insistent, I’ll try. I’m working on some book stuff that I can’t talk about yet, except to say that I’m not alone in my working on it and some other people are involved and things are getting done way too quickly but not fast enough. And I’m finishing up some paperwork and stuff for doing some interviews that will not just be done through email.

See?? I told you. Totally unsatisfying. I’m going to go gnaw on my arm now.

Variations of #3:

You suck!
Why do you suck so bad?
Why do you delete comments I leave on your blog that tell you how much you suck?
Do you remember me? I wrote you last year.
And – you suck!

Answer:

Yes! Of course I remember you! And thank you for writing me again and again and again. In your last email you told me you wished you could be here when I read it so you could see my face. Well, that is so sweet. I wanted to show you what my face looked like, too. Because, it is so sexy Bershon.

Good Days

I wake up in the morning and before I even open my eyes, there it is: a weight resting squarely on my chest. I cautiously feel around my thoughts to see what this weight is before jumping to conclusions. It’s possible that I just had a bad dream.

Oh, right. I’m just not quite awake yet. Sometimes when I first wake up, I have left over thoughts flying around in my mind. And some of them could be left over from years and years ago. They are just shadows, tiny endings of experiences that hurt me or things that made me very sad. But they aren’t happening right now and that is what I need to focus on.

I imagine a light. Yellow and white but not too bright. It’s warm and healthy. It’s healing. It starts in my chest and expands until it fills my body.

Some of the remaindered and leftover thoughts try to stick around. They pop up and tell me, ‘You are such a failure’ and ‘Nothing you do matters’ and ‘Nothing will ever get any better.’ Some of them go far, far back and are more like, ‘No one cares about you so you better concentrate on surviving’ and ‘People want to hurt you and take advantage of you’ and ‘Everyone is a liar.’ But as soon as the thoughts come up, I look at them, evaluate them and see if they are true or not. They aren’t. What a relief. And I send them on their way.

I know that if I think too much about what I have to do today, it will feel too hard. I’ll start feeling overwhelmed and probably not get out of bed. Once I allow myself to go down that downward spiral, it’s very hard to climb back up and could take me days. The best defense is a good offense. Some days I do better than others.

There are days when catastrophic thinking is hard to shake off, but it doesn’t happen very often. I thank God for that. And The Universe. And Love. I know my meditation routine by heart and slip easily into a place where I feel only Love and a connection to everything and everyone. It’s beautiful. I stay as long as I need to and then climb out of bed.

I don’t think about getting up or showering or even what I’m going to wear. I don’t think about any of those things because I don’t really NEED to think about them. I know how to do them all without thinking. And if I make the mistake of thinking about it, I might not do it. So, I just do it.

As I finish up washing my hair and shaving my legs, I smell the soap. It smells clean and invigorating. I’m looking forward to the coffee. I grab an outfit from the two that I laid out last night: one is for slightly warmer weather and one for colder. That way, I don’t have to think about it when it feels too hard. Of course, I can always change my mind and get something else from the closet if I want. And sometimes I do. But mostly, I stick with what I prepared the night before.

A thought of work will come up and for a second my heart starts to race. I feel behind. I feel like I’ll never be safe and secure. I feel like everything I’ve worked so hard for could be taken away in a second. My breathing gets faster and faster. I start to sweat. I can’t breathe. I’m going to die. But then I catch myself. I tell my heart to slow down. I remind myself to take some deep breaths. And I tell myself that I’ll think about all of that in about an hour when I’m more awake and I’ve eaten some protein and had some coffee.

I go downstairs to begin my day and do stuff.

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