Wednesday, December 31, 2008

goal-setting...according to me

I want to be clear. I do not think that I suffer from any form of BPD. Because I have been exposed to those who suffer from BPD, I think I have some learned (and maybe genetic) tendencies to that behavior. My mother suffers from a disorder—of that I am sure. But she is getting help, and she is improving, so I see that improvement can happen. Change can happen, if people want to change. I can change. I am able to change especially because I am able to recognize what needs to change. It might take me a while to figure it out, but eventually I do, and then I can decide to change it. I am not stuck in a hole with no way out, even though sometimes that’s how it feels.

Many years ago I gave up on setting goals. I don’t think it was because I failed to reach them, or got overwhelmed and decided to quit. I accomplished some. I think the reason why I quit is because I set goals based on what I thought I should do, not on what I wanted to do. I knew I should pray and read the scriptures every day, so I made a goal to do it, but simply making it a goal did not motivate me to pursue it. I think what motivates people is desire, not obligation. If you want something badly enough, there’s a way to obtain it. So maybe as I consider this new year, I will think about what it is that I really want, and set my goals around those things.

Of course there is a spiritual aspect of goal-setting that I cannot help but mention, because I believe it. I do think that in really determining what it is that we want, we also have to consider what God wants for us, accepting that He knows better than we do what will make us happy.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Okay, so here’s a theory. My mother and my grandmother have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). My niece will probably be diagnosed with it when she is old enough to be. This is obviously a brain disorder that runs in the family. My sisters and I all exhibit symptoms of the disorder, whether from being raised by my mother or because we have a little bit of it in our brains too. Doesn’t it make sense that we would? Whether it came from genetic or environmental factors, it’s there. It needs attention. The medical world tells me it’s treatable. My mother is receiving counseling and treatment, but all I’m doing for me is taking medications that offer some relief and give me some coping skills. What about the root of the problem? Here’s what I’m talking about:

As quoted from the DSM-IV, the first criterion of BPD indicates "frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5."

"Individuals with BPD make frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. The perception of impending separation or rejection, or the loss of external structure, can lead to profound changes in self-image, affect, cognition, and behavior. These individuals are very sensitive to environmental circumstances. They experience intense abandonment fears and inappropriate anger even when faced with a realistic time-limited separation or when there are unavoidable changes in plans (e.g. sudden despair in reaction to a clinician’s announcing the end of the hour; panic or fury when someone important to them is just a few minutes late or must cancel an appointment)."

Take Thursday night, for instance. I went over to MJ’s house to see her Christmas presents. I wasn’t completely comfortable there (I never really am, but I can put on a good face), but I enjoyed the short visit, I saw that they were preparing for dinner and I excused myself. As soon as I was outside, I just felt this overwhelming sadness. I felt empty. I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to stay, with a friend who has detached from me and with a family where I don’t feel welcome. Why? I couldn’t really figure it out.

So I don’t have BPD in all its severity, but maybe I experience some of its effects. I do fear abandonment, whatever that may mean in my specific experience. I don’t like it when I have to go separate ways from someone I love. I fight it, I try to deny it, I reluctantly deal with it, but my emotions are affected by it. I hold onto people with white knuckles, or I refuse to get close to them at all. Is this the behavior of someone with a normally functioning brain?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

what I miss

I feel a special connection to music, especially when I can relate to it. Dido’s new album is about loss. At least right now that’s what I’m hearing.

What I have lost recently is not MJ. MJ is still my friend. In fact I think now about what we really have in common and it isn’t all that much. A lot of what we did together was me getting my stuff done and her coming along for the ride. For example, we used to take walks, and then I found out later that she doesn’t really like to walk—she’d rather run. We both like movies, but I don’t really consider that quality time. What I saw in her was myself. She needed what I could give because I knew what I needed at her age. She needed someone to listen to her and consider her amazing and interesting, which I did. And she met some of my needs too. So I still have a friend, she’s just not the same friend that I used to have.

What I’m lacking is connection—that fragile, magical state of feeling close to someone, of giving your heart, of feeling vulnerable yet safe. I think it’s that precarious balance between vulnerability and security that makes me feel alive and happy. When MJ was around I had no occasion to feel lonely—not the loneliness that comes from lack of companionship, because like many of us, I have lots of people around, and even when I don’t I don’t mind being by myself. I’m talking about that loneliness many of us feel when we have no outlet for all of the affection bottled up inside of us, when we want to share ourselves but we don’t have a desirable target. Friends are valuable, and friends can help us with that outlet sometimes, but they are no substitute for that one individual that we choose—the one who also chooses us—who we can connect with, share with, feel interested in, feel completely accepted by, and love with what we believe is all of our heart. It’s a nice place to be. It feels good. And unfortunately it feels like it will last forever, even though your mind tells you it won’t.

So that’s what I miss. I even miss stuff that I haven’t experienced, if that makes sense at all. I miss having a hand to hold, a body to lean against, someone I can just look at and they’ll know what I’m thinking. Someone who knows me. It’s all that stuff we take for granted when we’re with someone.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Becoming friends with MJ wasn’t wrong. I think both of us have determined that her joining my family for a while was what she needed. And apparently it is now no longer what she needs. I guess the reason this has been so hard for me is that to some degree, I let our friendship become the axis of my existence. I let my identity be defined by “us,” instead of me. This wasn’t visible to the masses, is what I am learning now. Most people who know us think it’s cool and unusual that we are such good friends. But I’m seeing it in hindsight. Instead of doing my own thing, I tried to find things that we could do together. Both of us suffered from low self-acceptance and self-worth. Both of us are struggling with that now. It’s evident by the fact that we bonded so securely and with such strength. And now that she has made the effort to break free, I am feeling the void. It’s like I put a lot of myself on hold, in the background, and let her come to center stage, and now that she’s left I have to invite the rest of me back, only it’s dormant. It needs to be reawakened. I’m having trouble finding it. I’m having trouble keeping myself occupied by anything as interesting as obsessing about MJ.

I suppose the key is just to keep trying, and I will find myself again. Maybe I will find aspects of me that I never knew.


How to evolve from being a deeply emotionally-involved friend to being just an ordinary, casual friend:

  1. Plan to move as far away as possible from friend.
  2. If #1 is not desirable or possible, pretend the friend has moved far away.
  3. Avoid the friend. Time and distance seem to be the best remedy.
  4. In the time between the time and distance settling in, make every effort to be otherwise occupied, thus preventing self-pity.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


She sent the following text about 10:00 AM:

“I know I’m being a snot job, and the weird thing is, I’m only being that way towards you. (That makes you feel better, doesn’t it?) Why? I’m not sure. It may be that it’s how I detach. It makes it easier for me, that’s for sure, but I don’t want to be mean to you because that’s just not how I think I should treat my friends, especially close friends. I just don’t know how else to do it. So I apologize to you. And the next time I become a poop towards you, kick me out! You don’t deserve what I’m throwing at you, so it’s up to me to find a new way to deal. Again, I apologize.”

I guess that makes me feel a little better. At least she’s trying to communicate about why she’s acting like that. I know I shouldn’t analyze, but I have never been referred to, by her, as a “close friend.” I was always “best friend.” Is that trivial? She is trying to detach. I guess I can’t continue to be her best friend forever. But the title sure made me feel important.

An ensuing text exchange:

me: Did you read my email? [It said: What happened last night? What's bugging you? Is it just the situation? Don't know how to fix it? You're not communicating with me. Except in the sense that you're saying negative things, which indicates you're unhappy or frustrated. My friend, I love you even though you're being a jerk. I excuse it only because I know you're dealing with inner turmoil. But I wish that you would talk to me. It's more effective.”]
MJ: I don’t know how to communicate what’s going on in my head, nor do I think I should. I’ve found [that] sharing my deepest thoughts with you reverses what I’m trying to accomplish and makes me feel more codependent.
me: Understandable. If you’re feeling mean, just stay away.
MJ: But I don’t feel mean until I see you.
me: Because you’re fighting the opposite feeling? Because that’s what I’m struggling with. I want my MJ back and it’s a hard thing to accept that I’m not going to get what I want.
MJ: I don’t get the same feelings when I see you, and I think that’s what pisses me off.
me: How did you do that? That’s what I need to do.
MJ: That’s a bit hazy. I don’t really know. And I’m struggling with dealing with it.

This is my worst nightmare and my greatest fear. That someone I love will suddenly and without warning change how they feel about me. Am I catastrophizing? Is this what happens to codependent relationships? They start with such intensity and then fizzle out when one or the other loses interest? Maybe it’s a good time to move to Australia.

bump in the road

MJ came over last night. It is evident she is still struggling. Maybe struggling to figure herself out, maybe confused by her feelings, maybe unsure of what to do about our relationship now. I don’t really know, because she’s not talking to me about it. And maybe she doesn’t want to. Maybe she doesn’t need comfort or reassurance from me. Or maybe she doesn’t think that would be helpful for the detachment process. Whatever her reason, her comments were negative and without tact. I wondered why in the crap she had come over. I told her that if she wasn’t nice she could go home.

I was on my computer when she arrived. I had brought it up to the TV room, because my room downstairs is so cold this time of year. I was looking at Home Depot’s web page, trying to get some ideas about how I could improve the organization of our kitchen pantry. Its disarray drives me crazy. When she asked me what I was doing and I told her, she made some comment about how people’s lives just get more boring as they get older. I didn’t appreciate the insinuation. Then she went on about how old I was going to be next month, as if I needed to be reminded. I told her she was pushing buttons and she knew it, and that she’d better stop. We turned on a movie and she settled down. I think she was feeling bad about what she had said. At least I hoped so. I tried to watch the movie and ignore her, but the movie was terrible and I really didn’t care to watch it.

Maybe I wanted attention. Maybe I wanted her to know that I wasn’t mad, and that I understood she was experiencing something hard and that it was okay to feel whatever she was feeling. I started bugging her. Then the two young girls in the movie said something about how they would always be friends, and she said she doubted it, which was obviously meant to be heard. I got up and started poking at her, because she was sitting on the other side of the room. But she didn’t want to play. I didn’t want to watch the movie anymore, so I took my laptop and went downstairs. I felt like crying again, and I wasn’t sure why. Because I wanted to help and she wasn’t letting me? Because I wanted some acknowledgment or positive attention and she wasn’t willing to oblige? I don’t know for sure. I got ready for bed and I heard her go out the front door.

Normally she would have come down to my room to say goodnight. Maybe she thought I was mad at her, and I was, a little. But her coming down to my room to announce she was leaving would have been a better choice than just leaving. I don’t understand her reasons, but it hurt.

Monday, December 01, 2008


As my great-great-grandmother Placie Gehres used to write in her diary, yesterday was a “lovely” day.

One of the first surrogate mothers I found in my life was my Mia Maid advisor at church when I was 15. At age 15 I was not content with life. I was looking for attention, struggling with my mother working full time, with her dating, and marrying dad #3, and turning that awkward corner from adolescence to young adulthood. You could say I was a mess. But fortunately, we lived in a nice neighborhood where I made a lot of friends, and one of those treasured friends was Sister W. She accepted me, but more importantly, she loved me and gave me the attention I sought, which at the time made me practically worship her. I feel like one of those movie characters who swears devotion to another character who has saved my life. I will always be devoted to her. Because I can be sure that she will always love me.

I was thinking about her last week. I thought of calling, but talking on the phone is so awkward for me. I prefer to email, but last time I talked to her she did not have email. So instead I wrote her a note on a postcard and sent it off, basically asking if we could get together and catch up. She called on Saturday and left a message saying that she and her husband had just returned from a mission in Nauvoo, Illinois, and that they would be speaking in their church meeting on Sunday, and she invited me to come. The desire to see her overrode my shyness at attending an unfamiliar ward, and I knew that her children would also be there, so I decided to go.

She and her husband are not the most amazing speakers, so sacrament meeting was okay. But theirs is a family within which I can feel almost immediately comfortable. I enjoyed reconnecting with their daughters and seeing all of their grandchildren, and just feeling loved and accepted in BW’s presence. They had a little reunion at their house after the meeting, and it was nice. A little food, some pleasant family interactions, and I could not help but feel satisfied.


I did take something else away from that therapist this last week. During our conversation, I mentioned my lifelong habit of looking for surrogate mothers—expecting, I guess, to be chastised for it. But this woman said that it seemed only natural, given my circumstances, and she could see how the hunting had even been beneficial for me to do, because instead of believing that the mother I had, who could not provide the nurturing that I needed, was what mothers were, I looked for better role models. In effect, this behavior changed my perception about what a mother should be, and maybe what kind of a mother—or mother-figure—I wanted to be. It also provided me with the nurturing and attention that I needed at the time.

I have spent my life believing that looking for mothers in people was a bad thing. I’m pretty sure that my mother’s attitude had something to do with that. She did not at all like the idea of being replaced, and frequently expressed anger at my attempts to attach to various friends in whom I found maternal qualities. It didn’t stop me, however. The need was too great. I just existed with this unnecessary guilt. And embarrassment, because some of my friends were able to witness her rage.

So with this new understanding, do I really need to keep looking? Hopefully I have reached a point in my life where the need for “mother” stops because I can learn how to mother myself.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

faux therapy

Well, last night was interesting. I went to the clinic hoping to feel better, and that’s actually what happened, but not the way I expected. I have met with a few therapists, but I don’t think I’ve ever met one like this one.

Her name was Jennifer, and when she came out to get me I thought maybe she was just an office person. She didn’t have the presence of a professional. Her appearance was…frumpy. That’s the best word I can think of to describe her. She spoke without really opening her mouth, and her expression was like she was half asleep. It was like talking to someone who was tired and wishing they were in bed. She was overweight, but just around the middle. Her appendages were normal size. And she did not really have any sense of style about the way she dressed. I tried not to be put off by her appearance, but it was hard not to be. She was just a strange-looking creature.

There was really no structure about the visit. I expected her to ask questions, but there was a lot of silence. She would ask very vague questions, like she was expecting I was a talker, but I am not, and I don’t just talk to listen to myself. I talk if someone is interested. And she did not seem genuinely interested. She probably would have rather been at home with the seven year-old boy she mentioned a couple of times.

I kept wondering why I was there. What had I paid for? Did this person actually possess the skills to help me, or was she the one who needed help? We got through a little of my background, but I also heard a lot about hers. She grew up with an alcoholic father. She had some knowledge about Borderline and other personality disorders, and she explained a lot about their behavior, which was not really enlightening for me. I’m the one who has lived with them all of my life. I know how they are. She told me about her day job, working with convicts in the justice system, trying to help those who do not want to be helped. I kept wondering when we were going to get to the purpose of my visit. After an hour, when my patience could stand no more, I had to say something. “So what are we going to do?” I said. “To raise my self-esteem?”

And then she gave me an assignment. But by then I had already decided I was not going to return and pay another $70 to feel like I had accomplished nothing. I accepted the assignment, but I wanted to just get up and leave. I did finally have to end things after 90 minutes. She would have let me sit folding paper airplanes for another half hour otherwise. I finally just stood up and thanked her for her time and let myself out.

It was so weird. It was the strangest counseling session I’ve ever experienced. Walking out to my car I was relieved and reassured that there is just not that much wrong with me that I can’t work on myself. I have prayer, I have scriptures, I have good friends who listen and care about what I have to say. There are people with more complex problems than I have. I’m in pretty good shape.

I still feel like there are some things I need to change and behaviors I need to work on, but after that session with that strange woman I feel much more capable of finding my own solutions.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I’ve always found it rather tedious that my body requires food every few hours. Without it, my blood sugar gets low and I either feel sick or irritable, so it’s worth it to me to have something on hand, to be prepared in case I start to get hungry. I’ve wished that I could be like an animal that hibernates, and fill my stomach once every few days, or even once a day, so that I don’t have to deal with the chore of finding something to eat. Really, a good feast like Thanksgiving should last three or four days. And yet, we have to get up the next morning and eat again.

It occurred to me today that maybe Heavenly Father designed our bodies that way—for many reasons, I imagine—but to also teach us symbolically about the importance of regular and consistent nourishment. And here I refer to spiritual nourishment. As members of the church we’re told repeatedly that we must nourish our spirits daily. I wonder if part of my problem—this general dissatisfaction I feel about myself—has anything to do with that, or if it’s just my feelings of inadequacy. Even if I did take the time to nourish my spirit every day, would I feel “full?” Or would I still feel like what ever effort I was making wasn’t good enough?

And if malnourishment is part of the problem, maybe I would benefit from learning to recognize my spirit’s hunger pangs as well as I know my body’s.

100 things

I saw this on Shark Bait and thought I would play along. Why not?

You are supposed to copy the list and bold the ones you have done (but instead I'll make my deeds a different color. It's more fun.):

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band orchestra
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted drawn
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book short story
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined Started a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Totally copied a post from someone else's blog to your own

my reality

MY reality: I miss my MJ. But maybe what I really miss is having someone to focus my attention on. Melody Beattie says, “What if you could be feeling anything you wanted right now, and feeling that way wouldn’t make you a bad person. What would you be feeling?” I like this game, and I want to play.

Something inside of me isn’t right, and I don’t know what it is. I don’t feel at peace with myself. I don’t feel like any of me is good enough. My job doesn’t provide me enough money. My friends are not as attentive as I would like them to be. My body doesn’t look like I want it to. My clothes don’t fit comfortably. My appetite is never satisfied. I feel frustrated. I feel like I need help, but I don’t know how to help myself.

I do, however, have an appointment with a counselor/therapist tonight. So I can allow myself to feel realistic hope.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

the grief process

I learned something from Codependent No More last night. Chapter 12: “Learn the Art of Acceptance.” There’s this process we go through, called the grief process, which happens whenever people experience any kind of loss. “When this process begins, we usually feel shock and panic. As we go through the stages, we often feel confused, vulnerable, lonely and isolated. A sense of loss of control is usually present, as is hope, which is sometimes unrealistic.” I have experienced loss lately—the loss of closeness with my good friend MJ. As I read through these steps, I could clearly see how I went through each one.

The first is denial. There were many times when I tried to tell myself it wasn’t really happening, that her detachment was a phase she was going through, and that she would either get discouraged or she would miss the way things were, and she would be back. “Denial is the shock absorber for the soul. It is an instinctive and natural reaction to pain, loss and change. It protects us. It wards off the blows of life until we can gather our other coping resources.” I did not want it to happen, and so it wasn’t happening.

The second is anger. There wasn’t a whole lot of this for me, but I do remember feeling tired and fed up with it all. The roller coaster ride was getting old, and I just wanted to forget about it, bag the whole deal and move on. I guess this was partly denial too.

The third is bargaining. “We are not attempting to postpone the inevitable; we are attempting to prevent it.” I thought if I was patient, and kind, and gave her her space, that she would realize that she was powerless to retreat, and she would be back, and things would resume as normal. Or, sometimes I’ve thought that if I went about my own business and she felt me detaching, she would panic and come running. The ol’ reverse psychology trick.

The fourth step is depression. No need to elaborate here. I’m very practiced at being depressed. “When we see our bargain has not worked, when we finally become exhausted in our struggle to ward off reality, and when we decide to acknowledge what life has socked to us we become sad….This is the time to cry, and it hurts.”

And finally, acceptance. “After we have closed our eyes, kicked, screamed, negotiated, and finally felt the pain, we arrive at a state of acceptance.” Here is the reality: MJ has moved on with her life. She has severed her attachment to me and is ready to look into preventing the same from happening again with someone else. She is growing up and making decisions at a turning point in her life. She is deciding where the rest of her life will go. “[I am] at peace with what is. [I am] free to stay; free to go on; free to make whatever decisions [I] need to make. [I] have accepted [my] loss, however minor or significant.” To me, it was significant.

Friday, November 21, 2008

still detaching...

Why does this hurt so badly? I never expected separation from MJ to be so difficult. There was a time, back when I tried to initiate it, that it would have been welcome for her to be busy doing other things. Why is it so different now? Did I lose myself somewhere, because I’m still doing the things I’ve always done, on my own. My own projects still call to me from my bedroom and I’m engaged and productive. But depressed.

I have been tired, so I decided to go to bed early last night. Fortunately the whole house had decided the same thing, because it was quiet by 9:00. I was in bed reading when MJ sent a text message that she wanted to watch the last episode in the season of Ghost Whisperer we’ve been trying to get through. I didn’t mind getting out of bed to do that, but my sister likes to watch it too and I wasn’t going to go drag her out of bed as well. Besides, I was reading Codependent No More, about taking care of myself. So I figured if I was tired and in bed already, was it taking care of myself to get out of bed and watch a show that would keep me awake until at least 10:30, when my goal was to be in bed earlier than usual? Not really. So I sent back a text that we could not watch it tonight. She complained and wanted an explanation and lamented that she would not be able to wait until next week, but she really could not win this one. If turning her away was supposed to make me feel any better, it didn’t.

I’m supposed to pay attention to my “inner child,” and listen to her and find out what she wants. What does she want right now if my stomach hurts and I want to cry? How do I console her?

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Facebook has introduced a new dilemma to my life. Well, maybe the dilemma isn’t exactly new, but it puts a new twist on an old dilemma.

If you're unfamiliar with how it works, each Facebook member has a profile, and one can invite any other Facebook member to be one’s friend, thereby giving each other access to each other’s profile page. This information can include status (married, single, etc), interests, religious affiliation, hobbies, pictures, and anything else the user wishes to make public. Once two users are “friends,” not only do they have access to each other’s information, but if they are active in the Facebook community they can see what their friends are doing day to day, or however often they update things. So it’s like getting an answer to “What are you doing?” everyday, from all of your friends. One can basically keep in touch without having to actually keep in touch.

There have been people in my life that I have not wanted to keep in touch with. I’m sure there are some who would rather not keep in touch with me, for whatever reason. For the former, I just ignore their friend requests, and they can deal with that however they choose. But for the latter--and I can’t be certain about who these people are-- I never know how often to try and contact someone who does not respond. My college roommate FD is a good example. She obviously cannot manage to communicate clearly about whether or not to maintain a relationship with me, and since I got tired of trying without getting any encouragement, I have given up on her. And yet there are others…

There are people that I would love to maintain contact with, but since I don’t feel the same desire from them, I get stuck knowing how to proceed. Do I continue to try, hoping they’re just too busy with life right now but later on they might have time to catch up with me? Do I assume that the desire is there? Or does a lack of response simply mean the desire is not there, and I should not waste my time?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

shifting focus

Last night may have been the first night in perhaps years that MJ left my house without giving me a hug. And it’s usually she that says she needs it. We watched a TV show and when it was over she got up and wandered over to the kitchen closet where she hangs her car keys, ready to take off. Usually she follows me down to my room to get her hug, then lingers in my doorway while I make my bedtime preparations. I think it’s official. She is ready and trying to detach. There will be no going back to how it used to be.

Of course today I am obsessing (not as much as I normally would—it hasn’t upset me) about the lack of hug. It was always very important to her. Now I’m naturally wondering why. Is this a conscious decision and part of her plan to detach? Did she not smell very good and didn’t want me to get too close? Is this how it’s going to be now? She did say something about how JP hugs everyone and often. She doesn’t like that—says it makes them common and less important. But in the past she rarely missed a day without a hug from me.

She’s trying to figure herself out now—trying to determine why she attaches herself to older women. And how to break the habit. I’ve been trying to figure her out for years. But maybe it’s time to leave the investigation in her own hands.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Viva Las Vegas!

Well, the weekend was good overall. Since I like to make lists…

What I liked:
*the seats we had at the concert
*seeing Alanis again
*the hotel room
*the hotel location in proximity to the Hard Rock Hotel
*the weather!
*listening to Alanis’ CDs from the first to the last, in the car on the way down – a whole different experience from listening to just one at a time.
*time away from home/a break in the routine
*visiting with my family in St George
*the price of gas – lowest = $1.85
*driving through “The Strip”
*counting wedding chapels on Las Vegas Boulevard
*that I own a reliable vehicle

What I did not like:
*10 hours of driving
*MJ’s attitude = the phrase “spoiled brat” comes to mind
*Las Vegas
*cigarette smoke
*having to hear (and see) Marilyn Manson in the restaurant at what seemed like 500 decibels

So since the positive outweighed the negative, one might conclude that the trip was not a disaster, and I would concur.

Friday, November 14, 2008


A very interesting thing happened yesterday. The interesting part has to do with me and my reaction to what happened. In an email around noon, MJ wrote, regarding JP: “…as for that boy, I think we will just be friends. I'm not feeling much of anything with him anyway. :)” I had been feeling okay about everything, but with that announcement, a very tangible burden lifted itself off of me. Suddenly I felt happier. Because JP was no longer a threat? Because subconsciously that meant to me that she would no longer be preoccupied with him? I don’t know exactly why I felt better, but I did. And then, when she came to our house, she was calmer, more at ease, more relaxed. And since I was feeling better too, we got along just like we had before all of this transition stuff even took place. I mentioned it to her too, that she seemed more relaxed, less stressed, and she agreed. So now I wonder, is she back? Is she “mine” again? All of these positive changes that were going to happen--is my love affair with codependency going to just shrug them all off and I’ll just find myself back in my comfort zone? Heaven forbid! As painful and as frustrating as it has been lately, it was the beginning of a change that both of us needed. How can I abandon that path now?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I keep a journal pretty regularly. I say that I do it because I can't remember things, but it's really because I like to write, and because I like to read what I have written. Sometimes, just for fun, I like to turn back the pages of time and read about what was on my mind a year ago, or two years ago, etc. It's a way to remember how I felt about a period of time when I can't presently remember. Take three years ago, for example: November, 2005. I was just getting to know MJ.

"I’m guessing the devil has found a loophole. In MJ he’s found a new way to get to me. I find myself thinking about her...wondering when I’ll see her again and when I will receive another of her letters. He’s twisting something friendly and fun into something sick, which is his way...

"I often experience adversity like this and I feel an uncommon sense of gratitude. Somehow these experiences will make me stronger, if I continue to make the right choices. Struggle is invigorating to me. In other words, because I feel things in the midst of struggle that I don’t normally feel, I revel in the unfamiliar but welcome sensations. I’m grateful to feel them, whether they’re difficult or not.

"...I hoped that she would still be [at my sister's] when I returned. I hadn’t seen her in a week. And she was. She was there on the couch, in her usual silence, holding [one of my nieces] who was sick. I started to play with [another niece] over on the other couch, stealing glances at her. She didn’t seem very happy. I just kept feeling this desire, this urgency, to be in contact with her. I just wanted physical contact. It was a strange and fascinating feeling, and I actually had to fight it."

It's almost like the situation was brand it had never happened before.

the frustration continues

I seem to do better when MJ doesn’t come around. Then I am not reminded of how different she is. Then I don’t subconsciously analyze her behavior. I don’t wonder what she’s thinking about. I don’t wonder who is sending her text messages. There was a time when she left her phone in the car, or at home. I liked that better. It’s very teenager-like to read and send text messages while you’re talking to someone else. Perhaps I have been guilty of that too.

I can’t help wondering what this weekend is going to be like. For her birthday (in August), I bought tickets to see Alanis Morissette in Las Vegas. We’re driving down on Saturday morning—just the two of us—to see the concert that evening. Then, because it will be late at night, I’ve reserved a room at a hotel. Then we’ll drive back on Sunday morning, probably stopping in St George to visit some family. Is all of that time alone with her going to make me crazy? I don’t want to be frustrated. I want to enjoy the time, and the concert, and the fun of going somewhere different, and visiting my sister. I don’t want to expect anything from MJ. Maybe if I prepare for her to be emotionally distant, preoccupied, busy texting on her phone…then I won’t be disappointed?

It’s hard because I want her to need me again. I want her to enjoy the time alone with me. I don’t want her wishing she was somewhere else, with someone else…

"Frustrated Ferdinand" courtesy of Shag.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Let's add another ingredient to this picture of myself I am painting for you - this stew of characteristics that makes up the Alex you've come to know and love.

My mother was diagnosed a while back with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It's kind of like bipolar disorder in that their moods go up and down and they struggle with their sense of self. I've been reading this book that has contributed a lot to my understanding of the illness, which I find is essential to surviving in my family, because it's not just my mother who struggles with this. All of us are affected one way or another. The book is called Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship by Christine Ann Lawson. After reading this book, I see that my grandmother probably has BPD, my niece does, and my sisters and brother all have symptoms of it. It's in the brain. It gets passed down through the genes. Aren't we lucky?

I am reminded of the existence of this illness every time I have to talk to her. Interactions with her can be frustrating and depressing. But I have found that understanding the illness better has helped me have some patience with her, and has helped me understand who she is and why she does the things she does.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Turns out codependency makes you pretty selfish, because all you tend to think about is how much you hurt and how much change hurts. You just feel like a martyr.

I was reading some of MJ’s journal entries last night, from last year. She was so frustrated, so conflicted, and so lonely in her distress. I imagine she shared them with me so that I could see how she was feeling. It makes me feel bad now, because she’s happier these days, with her changes. She’s found some direction and some peace, and I should feel so happy for her. Except that she has me to deal with. And she’s been so patient and kind and considerate. I should feel nothing toward her except gratitude. She’s being the mature one now.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

the source

The source of the pain is the emotional distancing she’s doing. I'm not mourning that I won’t see her or spend time with her or that we won’t be friends anymore. All that is still intact. But she’s not in the same frame of mind. She doesn’t crave me or my attention, my touch, my glance, anymore. But will it return? Because sometimes I was like this with her (and I can feel regret for the way I made her feel, but I don’t think I could control it, and neither can she), but it always came back around again. Maybe she is stronger, and maybe she’s made her mind up about what she wants, and so it has no chance of returning. And one part of me hopes that it does not return, so that I can be free of the lure of her, so that I can move on too. Of course the codependent part hopes for it to come back—just once more. Because I miss reaching for her hand and feeling her response. I miss knowing that I’ll get the response I expect. Now, not only do I wonder if it would be there at all, but I refuse to try, because I suspect she doesn’t want it and I can’t handle feeling that rejection.

So it makes me wonder, would it better to cut myself off from her completely? Instead of carrying on, pretending we’re still friends the way we used to be? Would it hurt less if I didn’t see her, didn’t spend time with her, didn’t look at her and wish she would still look at me that way? Or would it hurt more? Because I’ve done all of this before but I can’t remember.

At the same time, I find myself prowling for someone else. Watching people, listening to their voices, imagining interactions with them. The euphoria is gone and it feels so empty without it, so I’m seeking for it again. Will the cycle just keep repeating itself? Will I ever learn how to redirect it so that my life and my relationships can be different? That was a question directed at me from a friend. I didn’t think to ask it. All I could comprehend was that I was looking again.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


The earth is trembling under my feet again. Just when I thought it was feeling steadier. This text came from MJ this morning:

I had a dream about JP last night, that he was missionary weird.

JP is a very cute red-headed boy in our ward who will be returning from his mission in a couple of weeks. MJ is very excited about this. Another kid just came back about two weeks ago, and her interaction with him has taught her about missionary weird—that social awkwardness that return missionaries are plagued with as a result of focusing on missionary work and abstaining from interaction with the opposite gender. I assured her that he indeed would be missionary weird. To which she replied:

MJ: Not around me he better not be.
me: Like he can help it. What are you going to do—attack him?
MJ: If I have to.
me: Oh boy. Look out, JP! (Best to keep the topic light…)
MJ: I’ve told him that in letters, so it’s not going to be a surprise.
And what else, exactly, have you told him in letters? This disturbs me. I would never want her to know how much. Didn’t I just do this? With AG, when her friend Cory came home from his mission? It doesn’t seem like that long ago, now that the same situation is staring me in the face again.

Before his mission, JP was very affectionate with MJ—with everybody. It’s not like he singled her out. But I know that affection is meaningful to her. It may have annoyed her at the time (or at least that was what she expressed), but she has admitted that she’s missed it while he’s been gone. Everyone teases her about marrying him. They practically grew up in this ward together, and they’ve been friends and rivals for a long time. I’m a little envious of something like that. JP’s mom was president of the young women’s organization when MJ was a laurel, and they got to be good friends. I was teasing her one day about being on such good terms with her future daughter-in-law. Although she loves MJ, she wasn’t too hopeful that JP had any specific plans about her. I remember feeling a little sorry for MJ, because if that was true, she’s getting her hopes up only to be disappointed. I’ve been there and it’s not fun. But how many young men tell their mothers who they’re interested in? The point is, none of us knows what’s going to happen.

Not knowing isn’t what bothers me. It bothers me that she’s dreaming about him, that she’s thinking about him so much that the thoughts are running over into her subconscious and manifesting themselves in dreams. I wonder if she dreams about me anymore.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Isn't it just a little bit nice that fuel prices have gone down? I found this web site (I truly could make better use of my time) and was pleased to discover that it costs me $4 to go to work every day. Awesome, yes?

Friday, October 24, 2008


So now the inevitable occurs—that part in the cycle where I start to detach to try and protect myself, so that her distance won’t be so painful. Only it’s not the kind of healthy detach, where I occupy myself with other things and feel grateful for the opportunity. Occupying myself with other things isn’t currently keeping me from feeling depressed.

It doesn’t help that activity at work has slowed way down, and customers aren’t sending me the money they owe, hence I am having a hard time paying our bills, hence our vendors are calling and asking for money. That’s just stressful.

So that stress coupled with MJ stress plus my niece getting into bed with me last night, is probably responsible for my neck and back being tweaked again. So I’m not only experiencing emotional pain, but physical pain too. Oh, the joy of mortality.

(photo courtesy of Mike DeSantis)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


It smells like winter now. There was frost on the grass this morning, and the leaves are falling off the trees. The seasons are supposed to change—that’s how it works.

MJ is detaching. She’s trying to tell me she isn’t, in an attempt, I guess, to make it easier for me, but she is. And she is right to be trying to. I admire her, for being intuitive enough to know what this codependency thing is all about at age 20 and for doing something about it. She’s trying to move on and make something of her life, and I would be selfish to get in her way. I have been feeling selfish. I have been thinking of myself, and basking in self pity. Because suddenly she has direction and I seem to have lost mine.

This is a good opportunity for me. When I decided I was codependent and not gay, I embraced the idea because it was so much more acceptable to me. It was something I could work through, and talk about, because it didn’t seem so shameful. But instead of just theoretically embracing it, I literally embraced it. I let it define me. And now I’m trapped there temporarily, until I find my way out.

I’ve actually been feeling bad about myself—rejected and unattractive—because MJ is moving on. Because her world is not revolving around mine, I started feeling unloved. I’m actually looking for acceptance from outside of myself, without even realizing I was doing it!

Maybe it’s time to read some Melody Beattie again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


If I don't see MJ on a particular day, she requires me to say good night via text when I go to bed. Just saying good night gets repetitive and boring, so I try to mix it up. Last night I quoted some lyrics from Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed." But she wasn't familiar with the song, so it confused her. She felt the need to reassure me.

MJ: If you’re just spouting lyrics, you can go ahead and go to bed. But you don’t need me. You just think you do.
me: I only spew lyrics when they apply.
MJ: Even so, you don’t need me as much as you think you do. But regardless, I still love you as much as I always have. (Here is some reassurance, knowing I've kind of been feeling insecure lately.)
me: Why does it feel different? (I decided to plow forward at this point.)
MJ: What? My love?
me: Yes, the bond. There’s distance in it.
MJ: I can’t deny that, but you will always have a special bond with me, no matter what the distance. (Admittance plus reassurance. It's exactly what I would have done. I've taught her well. ;) )
me: So I am not imagining it.
MJ: It had to happen eventually, right? If I wanted to move on with my life?
me: Yes. It just threw me off. You’ve always been the consistent one. I’m the one who fluctuates.
MJ: Yes, I know. It threw me off too. I didn’t expect it.
me: What happened?
MJ: You know, I’m not sure. I just got busy with other things and found myself wanting more, for me. So I started getting consumed with what I wanted and it felt good for a change—putting myself first. It just sort of happened.
me: What are you doing that you weren’t doing before?
MJ: Trusting the Lord more, and trying to picture what I want my life to look like in the end. (What the crap can I possibly say to that?)
me: Well then, how can I complain? I know it’s good, what’s happening. I just have to adapt.
MJ: I know what position you are in, and to be honest, I didn’t like it at all, which was probably obvious. But if it weren’t for that, I’d probably still be just as messed up as when I was 16. So really I should be thanking you. Thank you. You still mean everything to me, and that won’t change. I’ve already promised you. (More reassurance. Good girl.)
me: You’re thanking me for the times when I pushed you away?
MJ: Weird, I know. But just so we’re clear, I’m NOT pushing you away.
me: Just reprioritizing.
MJ: Right. I need you to stay in my life. You’re one of the puzzle pieces.
me: I’m happy to stay. I’m just not ready for things to be different.
MJ: How much different can they get right now? Not much.
me: It’s already different or we would not be having this conversation. I’m just feeling resistant.
MJ: Well, we can still do our crazy boring stuff. (What is it that we do again?)
me: I’m glad we talked about it. I was afraid to.
MJ: Does it makes you feel better about it, or worse?
me: Better. It’s out in the open.
MJ: OK. I’m glad you asked because I didn’t know how to bring it up.

Her communication skills have vastly improved since

she was 16.

I think what I will miss the most is the affection. The time won’t be such a problem, because I live with a busy family and there will be a new baby next year and I don’t ever worry about being bored. I’m sure I will miss her. Especially when she moves away, which will probably happen next year too, when she turns 21. Her parents have said she needs to be out on her own, and I agree. It will just be hard to have her farther away, even if it’s only two cities away. I can’t see myself going to hang out at her apartment in college town, with roommates around. It just makes me wonder what we will do to remain friends. It makes me think it will be just like Amanda. She’ll get involved in school and make new friends and end up getting married and we’ll grow apart and never talk anymore. It makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it.

But why did I ever think it would turn out any differently? Of course that was what was going to happen. I always knew that, always expected it. She would not believe it, because she hasn’t done this several times already. But I have done this before. I know how it works.

Why does the cycle keep repeating itself? Isn’t it time that I moved on with my life and found someone nice and masculine to settle down with? I want someone whose life I can share, whose family I can be adopted into, who will be accepted and loved among my family, who does not have a separate life apart from me. I want someone who does not need to make life decisions without me and make me less of a priority than I once was. I want to be first! Well, second to God. That’s how it’s supposed to be. I would be thrilled to be second.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


MJ has been distancing herself lately. I want to say that I wonder if it’s a conscious decision she’s making, or if it’s just circumstantial, because she has homework, and family stuff, or whatever. But if she is like me, which she is, it’s a conscious decision. It’s good. It should be good. She’s not as available as she used to be, she’s busy with school, making decisions about her life, her career—she’s being more productive, which is what I want for her. It used to irritate me that she wasted so much time, that she would just come over here and watch us, entertained, but mostly bored. I hate being bored, and I didn’t like feeling like I had to entertain her. I’ve become used to it now, but I did continue to believe that she needed to be busier, and more productive. Idleness is not happiness, and is actually pretty dangerous.

She used to drop anything for me.

My family is going to Lake Powell this weekend, so I made arrangements for someone to come and clean the carpets while they are gone. I sent MJ a text and asked if she would help me move couches. I expected a typical answer, something like, “Sure, just tell me when.” But instead I got that she wasn’t sure, that she had to make sure she had her reading done but that it should work.

She used to come over every night, or at least three nights a week.

This week I’ve seen her for an hour, which was last night about nine. I don’t know what to feel. The codependent side of me wants to be hurt, to confront her and ask her what she’s up to. But the healthy side tells me that she’s doing what she needs to do for herself. She’s a lot younger than I am and has a lot to do. Her life could go a little differently than mine did. JP will be home from his mission next month. I know she’s looking forward to that. Maybe she’s preparing for a mission herself, and she knows that the separation will be hard, so she’s starting now.

I used to get text messages from her periodically during the day.

This week, I only get a message if I send one first and she responds. There’s no conversation, no random thoughts. Did she get tired of sending messages and not getting responses from me? Or is this just part of her master plan of gradually pulling herself away?

I have to wonder. When you’re used to things the way they are, and they start changing with no explanation, you have to wonder.

Monday, September 22, 2008

the door

So I think one of the keys to keeping Rachel on her leash is to keep the door closed to influences that will lure her out. And there are so many.

For instance, this morning I logged into the Netflix web site. For the last few years I’ve been getting my video rentals that way. It’s just easier for me. Now they have this thing they call “watch instantly.” There are certain movies that they will let you watch for free with your membership, anytime you want. There isn’t a wide selection, but every once in a while there’s one that catches my eye. All you do is click the link and the movie starts.

I had logged in just to update my queue, just to see when the next one would be mailed, and I got this page of recommendations. I like their recommendations; they’re usually pretty close to what I would choose. This one popped up under comedies called Miss Conception. The cover looked interesting so I hovered to see what it was about, and the name Mia Kirshner caught my eye. I wasn’t so thrilled about the lead, Heather Graham, but Mia… she’s just one of those I have a hard time resisting. If I was flipping channels on the television and happened to see her face, I’d stop. Even though I know she’s an actress who chooses “edgy” roles, which usually means risqué, and for me, dangerous, I love to look at her. She just has one of those presences that commands my attention.

So I stopped. I read the description, and it really didn’t sound that interesting. In fact it was probably a story that was a little “worldly” for my taste and (professed) morals, but I hesitated. I thought about when I might have some time to watch it. And that red flag went up inside my head, telling me this was indeed one of those influences mentioned earlier that I should avoid. I don’t know how long I sat there, trying to justify it, trying to make it all right. I even thought that maybe I could just watch it until I got bored, or until there were parts that I objected to and then I would turn it off, which is denial of the worst kind, because I know myself and I would not have turned it off. I’m not that strong. In reality, when I open that door, I just don’t have the strength or the will to close it.

So I left it closed. [Whew!]

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The quandary has been dormant for a while, thank goodness. But I just don’t feel too happy today. Maybe it has something to do with hormones. Listening to Alanis Morissette always gets me thinking. The song in the car this morning—“Giggling Again for No Reason”—made me think about how long it’s been since I felt peaceful like that—just quiet and calm and grateful, with nothing worrying or bothering me. I can’t remember when that was. I know it hasn’t been years or any ridiculous length of time, but I can’t remember the feeling, and it’s a feeling I really like.

Oh, and I have always wanted to drive a Jaguar up Highway 1...
To listen, click here.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I have to confess. I've been throwing Rachel a few too many scraps lately. It all started because I heard that Alanis Morissette made a guest appearance on Sex and the City (I know it was many years ago, but I'm not a fan of the show, so back then I didn't care), but then I learned that in this particular episode she kissed Sarah Jessica Parker's character. Well. I had to see this for myself, so naturally I went to You Tube.

Let me just insert that You Tube is not a safe place for someone like me. You can easily see anything you want, and you can justify it because it's not a porn site, so it's not as bad as that. But, it is. As bad. I found what I was looking for. And then, you know how they have all of those other little clips on the side similar to the one you're watching? You're already there, right? You're already watching something you shouldn't be, so why not? Let's see which other actresses I know have kissed girls in the course of their work. Truthfully, there are a few more than I needed to know about.

Since then, Rachel's become greedy again. Girl has quite the unquenchable appetite. There's only one way to stop her once she gets going, and it's beyond any power that I possess. Let me just say that dinner was really, really good tonight. Any food is unbelievably satisfying when you've been fasting all day.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

the process

I wonder why you pick the ones that will end up moving on. Is it your fear that the relationship evolution will bring Rachel to the surface? You are always in "safe" mode when you know they will end up dating and ultimately marrying.

This is an interesting question. You may have asked this before, Heidi—I don’t remember. However, I do know the answer.

1. These are the girls with whom I associate: LDS girls who are either already married or have that as their goal, because that is the culture. They are active members of the church because that is what they want.

2. Of course I play it safe because the LDS thing is also what I want. When I have ventured out into the danger zone, just to see, it was brilliant because it taught me that Rachel is not who I want to be 100% of the time. Fortunately I never left the nest for very long, so it wasn’t hard to return.

3. I am “attracted” to goodness. Or maybe Alex is attracted to goodness and Rachel twists it around to make it less than good. Any relationship that I truly invest in with best friend cannot go the Rachel route. It would sour. It wouldn’t be what I ever meant it to be. And so it wouldn’t last. And if it didn’t last, it wouldn’t be friendship. It would be a fling. That’s how Rachel operates, not Alex.

So it’s all part of the process. I get to have them to myself for a while, and then I watch them move on and share themselves with others, get married, have children, whatever else. I had my time, and I get to keep it. Someday I’ll have someone of my own. And hopefully it will be a boy. Like Jason. :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

best friends

So I have this "best friend." (In my world, "best friend" means codependent friend, where the codependency is mutual. It's like having a girlfriend without all of the physical stuff, if you know what I mean.) ;)

I call her MJ. Others have started calling her that too, but it was my name for her first.

MJ is getting some attention from boys lately, and I have to admit it’s bothering me just a little. I don’t want her to know it’s bothering me, because she hasn’t been neglecting me at all, and really it’s what she’s supposed to be doing. How can I possibly object if I love her and want what’s best for her? She’s 20 years old. She should be dating and having a good time. That’s what you do when you’re 20 and cute and single. You look for someone to spend your life with. I keep telling myself I don’t mind doing things by myself, like shopping and stuff. I really don’t. I did it for a long time, and I still do it. I just invite her along because it’s nice to have companionship.

Monday, August 25, 2008

are you my mother?

It seems that all of my life I have been hunting for mothers. Every path of my life is littered with them, so they are not hard for me to recognize. They are women whose presence I crave, whose time I savor, and whose attention I bask in. But sometimes I wonder why God gives them to me, if they cannot be my mothers.

They have qualities in common. They are kind and caring, gentle and intuitive. Sometimes they are older than I am. They sense a need in me, and they respond. They are usually mothers themselves, good mothers to their children, happy mothers, happy to be mothers. And happily married. They're doing what they were meant to do, including influencing me, and they are glad to do it, because they do not need what I need. Except that my insecurities cannot completely accept what they want to offer. As desperately as I want it, I am afraid. Why? Because I want more than what they can give me? Because I am afraid of feeling unsatisfied, left alone, wanting more than what I wanted in the first place, and frustrated as a result?

I said it to one of them. I told her I wished I could go back, start over and be born to her, because she would be the kind of mother I would want, because she would be wise and loving and would have so much to give. She took it as flattery, smiled at me in that indulgent way, but I could tell she did not understand. How could she?

I have imagined lying in their laps, feeling small and fragile like a child, listening to the soothing sound of their voices, telling me stories, singing me songs, and me feeling safe and secure and just knowing, because there would be no reason to think otherwise, that I would be taken care of, that my needs would be met. I have wondered what it would be like to be held by someone like that—someone who is stronger and wiser, confident and unafraid—someone who knows how to love and how to give because they have the ability to trust.

Maybe that's why deep down I am afraid to introduce children to the world. I wonder if I am able to give them what they need to survive, or if I'll end up like Julianne Moore's character in The Hours, who loves her children but abandons them anyway, knowing that she will harm them no matter what she does, escaping because staying is death to her and leaving is life. I'm sure no mother expects to do that to her child. And yet, it happens.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

the room of my soul

Here's another one of those fun blog quizzes. I liked this result...

What Your Soul Really Looks Like

You are a warm hearted and open minded person. It's easy for you to forgive and forget.

You are not a very grounded person. You prefer dreams to reality. For you, it's all about possibilities.

You see yourself with pretty objective eyes. How you view yourself is almost exactly how other people view you.

Your near future is calm, relaxing, and pretty much what you want. And it's something you've been anticipating for a while now.

For you, love is all about caring and comfort. You couldn't fall in love with someone you didn't trust.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


What I wonder is... what purpose do our "Rachel's" serve? (I say 'our' because I have one too and suspect, as you do, that we are not alone.) Is she only there to distract us? Tempting us, pulling us from what we want the most, toward what we want in the moment? Does she feed unmet emotional needs, telling us that if we just TRY to placate her we'll be happy, but in reality, she's pulling us away from the things that give lasting and meaningful happiness? Or does she serve a higher purpose? Does she keep us on our toes, helping us to work harder, protect ourselves better, know who we are and what it takes to be our best selves? And finally- can I ever completely choose my "Alex"? My Rachel road looks messy and unhappy and while I can't see me embracing her, I can't quite shake her off either. Part of me is very comfortable with her taunts and tuggings. Part of me loves her and wants her comfort and companionship.... even though I know she'd destroy me if I let her.

Kimi asks some insightful questions.
First, as Latter-day Saints we know that in life we have opposition. Alex versus Rachel. Christ versus anti-Christ. Good versus evil, essentially. So yes, I think evil is there to distract us from our purpose, tempt us to make alternate choices, help us forget about the wedding feast by offering us fast food; and yes, I believe there is a higher purpose to opposition. It’s there for a divine reason. We know that without all of the above, how could we pass the test?

So if Rachel is in fact part of my nature, and letting her loose is not the answer, what is the answer? To fight her off for the rest of my life? I can’t imagine that being what I was meant to do. With the ups and downs of being female, it is impossible to quell her. And, like Kimi, I enjoy her sometimes. She makes life interesting. So I don’t think it should be about completely turning her off.

Because Alex is not all good, and Rachel is not all bad. Alex can eventually rise to all good status, but only with divine help; and Rachel could probably make it to all bad, but I’d have to not only take off her bridle, but her saddle and her horseshoes and let her gallop as she pleases, which I can’t even imagine myself doing.

So maybe “choosing my Alex” means allowing Alex and Rachel to walk hand in hand, but not as an equal partnership. Alex would walk one step ahead and have her other hand on that iron rod we talk so much about. And maybe with Rachel in tow, instead of in the lead, Alex can learn how to manage her better.

Friday, August 15, 2008

time quiz

Apparently I belong in 1951. "You're fun loving, romantic, and more than a little innocent. See you at the drive in!" Whatever. Just because I like old movies?

Monday, August 11, 2008


A question was asked:

Do you feel [Rachel] "overtook" you when you became her (how did you put least in your mind), or do you feel you allowed yourself to be overtaken?

Hindsight is one of those really helpful things that life gives us. Using that and my limited memory, I would say that I never lost control of myself, that I turned Rachel on when I wanted her around, and when I didn't or it was inconvenient or embarrassing for her to show her face, I stuffed her back into my pocket. I never lost my ability to choose who I wanted to be, which also allowed me the freedom to decide to axe her when I felt like I had taken the fantasy too far. I'm not saying that was easy to do. Her way of thinking had become habitual. I had to retrain myself to clean up my thoughts and try to act appropriately in certain environments. I had to dust Alex off and wear her around until she felt comfortable again.

I even found it helpful to imagine Rachel's demise. An accident wouldn't do, and neither would murder, because then the blame would fall upon someone else. It had to be suicide. Imagining it for me was pretty final. I actually mourned her. And there were others who did too. But like anyone you knew who influenced you in any way, she still peeks from under the lid of her coffin and whispers in my ears.

Friday, August 08, 2008


There's this old legend you may have heard before. I read it once and it has stayed with me. If I sound like one of those people in testimony meeting who's always repeating the same stories, please allow this one Velveeta moment. It goes something like this:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Now, my point. Rachel emerged sometime in 1998. She didn't always exist; she sort of grew to life size by feeding off of the scraps I threw to her. I believed they were harmless scraps -- a movie here, a story there, a fantasy written out. She had this enormous appetite. It was hard to keep her satisfied. In fact, it was nearly impossible, and much easier to keep feeding her until she was stronger than I ever intended her to be. Until I became her. At least in my mind, because of course she was much too dangerous and shameful to me to expose.

So there's some wisdom in this old legend, and in the old notion: "You are what you eat." Think about it.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


You know those people you hear about who are happily married with children in one area of suburban America, but they have another family on the other side of the country and they split their time between the two and call it business travel? Why do I feel like that? I don't live in New York City. I don't even go there for business. I haven't been there since 1997 (or so). And yet somehow I feel like I'm being deceptive, not sharing this blog with my inner circle. It's not like my siblings and my closest friends are completely ignorant of my quandary. We just don't generally talk about it.

It also makes me wonder, when you get tight with someone, do you tell them all about your secret, shameful side? Do you want to know about theirs, or would it just be better to not go there?