I didn’t know this is what I needed

If you recall (the two of you who have read this since the beginning), at the end of last year, I made a few goals for myself. One thing that I wanted to accomplish was to do more yoga. I have struggled so much with yoga in the past, but it was something I really wanted to figure out how to enjoy.

That was my first mistake- trying to figure it out. But that’s how my brain works. I took a personality test a few months ago, and my result was “Logistician.” I’m the kind of person who scoffs at the internet memes posted by yogis on Facebook. You know- the ones with uplifting quotes on a background of a grassy field at sunrise with the perfect Instagram filter. I ask why…. a lot. If something is “good for you,” I need someone to give me the reason it’s good for me using citable fact. It’s obnoxious, I know.

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What I’ve realized is that most things take on a different meaning for everyone, and this is no different. And another thing- THAT’S OKAY! I really struggled with what I was supposed to be feeling when I practiced yoga. I had been occasionally practicing yoga in my apartment using a YouTube video as a guide, and maybe I would find it in myself to go to a class about every 6 months. I couldn’t get excited about it. I couldn’t get over my anxiety about being good at it or not. Then one day, something clicked when I went to a yoga class taught by a friend of mine after a night of battling insomnia. On that particular day, it offered a kind of focus and control that I needed to feel better. (You’d think I’d have figured out how to feel like a human on little sleep at this point, but I definitely haven’t.) That class, the sense of belonging and community that my friend offers to her students was a game changer for me. I was instantly hooked. I started going to class once a week, then twice a week, and now I catch a class as often as I can, and I crave it.

To be honest, it was a little bit surprising that I suddenly had this thing that I desired to put work into. I haven’t felt that way about anything in a really long time. It didn’t come without challenges, and it still doesn’t. I still bargain with myself every time I head to class. Sometimes, as I sit in a room before class begins and look around at the thin and athletic people there, I have the urge to bolt for the door. I am neither thin or athletic, and I never have been. But then I stay. Sometimes I’ll lay on my mat and close my eyes and remember that this time is about me and no one else. I’m reminded that I have a friend who teaches this stuff, and she thinks I’m awesome and have great form. Ha!

There are days my body doesn’t do the things I want it to. My hips lock up, my feet cramp, or I can’t fold over and grab my feet as comfortably as I could yesterday. I get frustrated because I’m the “Logistician,” and I just want things to work. It’s all part of the ride, and unlike most things in my life, I’m somehow okay with it when things don’t go the exact way I want them to. It’s all about how I respond to it, which is something I can take with me.

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I’ve only been practicing yoga consistently for about 6 months. I’ve noticed changes both physically and mentally in ways that are more noticeable than any other period of my life. I have muscles I didn’t know were hiding under my skin. Sometimes I make Harrison feel my biceps- just for fun. I feel strong in my body like I never have, and I like that. I have a better relationship with sleep than I used to. I still fight insomnia sometimes, but far less often than I used to.

The mental changes I’ve noticed have been far more surprising than the physical mostly because of what I said before about scoffing at the uplifting memes. I still do that, and I probably will for a long time, maybe forever. I make unfair assumptions, I’m cranky sometimes, I’m cautious and sometimes suspicious of most people. I’ve been described as negative and misanthropic (mostly by people that don’t know me very well or as a joke, so I try not to let that get to me). I know people who are more comfortable being unhappy than happy, don’t do anything to help themselves, and subsequently make everyone around them miserable. I do not want to be that person. I want to be someone who respects others, treats people with kindness, and has the capacity for compassion and empathy. I am becoming the person I want to be – day by day, class by class. What I’ve realized in the last few months is that being nice does doesn’t mean that you can’t have boundaries, and being open is not same thing as being naïve. Being happy does not mean you can’t take time to recognize the unhappy feelings. Being positive does not mean that you can’t also be realistic and logical. Yoga has allowed me a safe environment to work through my personal shit in a way that I completely doubted could be effective for me. What I’m saying is that all the angry and sad people should probably try yoga.

Also, my sister (she plays soccer) said to me, “I’m running the whole time when I play soccer. You’re just standing.” I’ll let you know what happens when I get her to a class. It’s going to be AWESOME.

 

My relationship is really a prison of judgment

Me: Can you get me a La Croix (pronounced La Crotch, which is what my co-workers decided on since no one seems to know how to actually pronounce this) out of the fridge?

Harrison: Ugh, I don’t know if I like that (meaning how I pronounce the brand of delicious sparkling water). Are you up to like three of these a day now?

Me: So? It’s zero calories.

Harrison: The only thing you’ve done more than drink these is watch this show. (He’s talking about the almost 4 whole seasons of Billy on the Street I’ve watched this week.)

Me: That won’t be the case much longer because I’m almost done with it. Also, they’re short episodes, and there’s only like 10 episodes a season.

Harrison is really judgmental.

P.S. I bet someone will judge my relationship based on the contents of this post. It’s a never-ending cycle.

It’s Pride weekend in Denver, and it feels a little different.

This week has been a little off for me, and if you’re a living, breathing, human, maybe you’ve felt it to. When I woke up last Sunday and picked up my phone to see the news of what had happened in Orlando, my heart sank. I spent the morning crying, and the rest of the day was spent trying not to cry.

I spent a significant part of my early 20s in gay bars with my gay friends. They are the people who I’ve shared some of my life’s most complicated and fulfilling friendships with. What happened in Orlando may have been on the other side of the country, but it felt so close and so personal. I could picture what that club looked like at that hour. I could picture the people waiting to get one more drink at last call or pay their tabs. I could picture the clothes they were wearing, the dancing, the smiles. I could hear the laughter. When the names of those who were killed started being released, I felt like I was hearing the names of people I know.

I’ve spent a lot of time this week thinking about the ugliness of the world and trying to figure out how I can channel how I feel to something positive and helpful. It can be so paralyzing for someone who just wants to fix things. I’ve thought about what more I can do. I even felt guilty for not being as present and involved in the LGBT community as I once was. When Paris was attacked, I wrote about how easy it is to feel helpless, and the one thing we can control is how we treat other people. That’s still true, but it only goes so far.

I don’t want to make this a political post. The only thing I’ll say is that getting rid of hateful ideas is near impossible, but it is possible to get rid of or severely restrict the tools that hateful people use to unleash their hate on innocent people. I’m talking about guns if you didn’t get that. Write your representative, and most of all, vote in November.

It’s been a few years since I’ve been a full participant in Pride festivities because I have a harder time with crowds of drunk people in 100-degree heat than I did in my early 20s. I still think of my friends every year. I hope they are having fun, not getting too hammered, and staying hydrated. Seriously you guys, it’s called water. Drink some.

I want to wish all of my LGBT friends a Happy Pride. Know that I am in your corner, and I am here for you. I may not see all of you as much as I used to, but nothing has changed about my love and support for you. I will support you with my words and with the way I  cast my vote. I vow to never allow anyone to speak hatefully about you in my presence and to promote love in all its forms.

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It must be true love

This is an actual conversation that occurred between Harrison and me. The names of the friends I was talking about are changed to characters from Daria to protect their privacy, but also because I feel like it.

Me: I know I talk about keeping the house clean a lot, but it’s because whenever I go to Jane’s house or Quinn’s house, everything looks so nice. They even make their beds. I feel inferior.

Harrison: You don’t think they feel the same way about you sometimes?

Me: What do you mean?

Harrison: You’re in a stable relationship.

Me: You think we’re stable? So you don’t want to break up anytime soon?

Harrison: Do you know what a pain in the ass that would be at this point?

He loves me.

It’s okay to feel all the feelings, not just the happy ones

A little over a year ago, I was having dinner with my parents to celebrate my 28th birthday. I was scheduled to have surgery a few weeks later to remove an ovarian cyst that had been found unintentionally during an ultrasound purposed with locating missing IUD strings (because there are exactly zero birth control options that do not entail some sort of bullshit). During dinner, I mentioned how annoyed I was with the impending operation, its interruption to my routine, and the general unpredictability of recovery time and whether my doctor would have to remove the entire ovary or just the cyst. I don’t like not knowing things. Underneath my irritation, I was also very scared, but fear is not something I generally admit to.

My stepmom looked up, seemingly annoyed with me, and said, “Well, you just need to think positive about it.” The way she said it was quick and biting. It was as if to say, “Shut your mouth, you big baby. You’re ruining my street taco trio with your harrowing negativity.”

Communication 101: This is the WORST way to respond to someone who is upset about something. If you can’t think of anything to say, just say something like “I’m sorry, that sucks.”

I didn’t know how to respond, and I think I kind of froze. I felt judged, and that my feelings were in some way unjustified and invalid.

Please let Parks and Recreation show you the way…

 

My parents came to my apartment the day after my surgery to bring me some food and things to keep me busy while I couldn’t do much else but sit around with a lengthy Netflix queue. Side note: Laparoscopic surgeries are actually fucking terrible despite the shrugs they usually get from people. “You’re having surgery? Is it laparoscopic? It is? Oh.” *shrug* Sometimes it felt like my skin was about to rip apart at one or more of the four incision points including the one in my belly button. Not to mention not the inability to use your core to support yourself and the stress that puts on your arms and back.

The care package included a book about unlocking human motivational drives…or something like that. There was a note inside the book about how I deserved the best and could have it with “positive action.” I knew this gift was given to me as a result of the dinner conversation. Maybe I’m being an asshole about this, and my stepmom just gave me a book she read and enjoyed. But getting a note about positive action a few weeks after being barked at to “just think positive” was a little too obvious and very passive aggressive. It was clear someone thought this was a problem that I needed a self-help book to fix. It made me realize how little my parents know or understand how I process things, and they certainly don’t know that I have a pretty good handle on it. Maybe being understood by your parents doesn’t matter anymore when you’re almost 30, but if you’re going to give someone a gift like that, know your audience. I haven’t read the book yet, and I’m not sure that I will.

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Yes, the note is sweet, and I might be an asshole.

I stumbled upon a quote recently that made me stop for minute. It read, “The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said this. I’ll be honest, I’m mostly unfamiliar with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I know he was a poet, and that’s about it. I also don’t know what rain represents here, but for me, the rain is my feelings. In a way, this helped me figure out how to articulate to others how I feel about my feelings.

I’ve noticed that the willingness to acknowledge and sit with your feelings, however difficult they may be, is often misconstrued as being negative or pessimistic. It’s even worse if you tell the wrong person how you feel. It’s one thing to uselessly complain (we all know at least one person who does this). It’s another to tell someone how you feel because you’re looking for someone to trust and treat your feelings with the respect they deserve.

I’ll admit that hyper-positivity (I don’t know if that’s a phrase that people actually use) irritates the hell out of me, mostly because I have my doubts about how genuine it is. It’s like there’s happiness broom sweeping all of the shit you don’t want to deal with right now under a rug that’s supposed to hide all that is undesirable, but eventually, nothing else will fit under that rug. Then you have a big fucking mess to clean up when you could have dealt with it before you swept it under the rug. Maybe it is genuine and incredibly naïve at the same time. It’s the person who says, “I thought the world was a better place,” after a tragedy occurs, and you look at them with your head cocked to the side, like they are brand new to the planet and respond, “Oh, honey.” Then you feel like you need to hug them because, let’s face it, these kinds of people are huggers, and you’re doing okay (sad and angry maybe, but dealing with it) because already knew what a shit place the world can be. Except you’re not a hugger, and you kind of want them to suck it up and deal with it because that’s what you’ve been doing for basically your entire life.

Only the people closest to me know the extent of my optimism. I believe that most people are good, some are well-intentioned but uneducated, but the bad people who do exist can cause irreparable damage. I believe in the power of kindness and treating people with respect, and I hope with all of my soul that love and goodness will always win. I look for the good people who emerge in bad situations because they always do. I am also willing to acknowledge when things just suck and let it be for a while until I figure out how to make it not so.

It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be annoyed. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to feel however you feel because you always work through it, and you’ll be okay.

After all, it doesn’t rain forever, but you can’t force it to stop. Eventually, the sun comes out, or better yet, a rainbow appears among dispersing clouds. Then you know that everything will be fine.