For the first few months in 2022, I will be sharing some of the entries from my personal journal from 2019. This journal dictates the part of my transition from unconscious emotional literacy to conscious emotional intelligence. I am not saying I hadn’t done any work on myself before this or that I have “it” all figured out since then. What 2019 brought me was the foundation to build a new relationship with my emotions, my past, and my authentic self. We are all made of light and shadow. We have all heard one way or another how it looks to “discover yourself” or “heal your past” or “do the work”. My journal is what that journey looks like realistically. This particular chapter of my story shows how raw, fragile, and messy meeting and fully accepting the shadow can be. This is a memoir. All of this actually happened.
My hope in offering this vulnerable piece of my life with you is that you may find hope to keep fighting to reach your soul, your divine intuition, your most authentic self. Maybe you’ll get an idea of how you’d like to document your own healing process or perhaps you will be inspired to reach out for new resources to support you along your path home to yourself. At a minimum, I hope you can get some entertainment out of reading my trainwreck happen in slow motion, and the beauty in the aftermath.
I debated on whether I should title this memoir Shadow Dance, Finding My Authentic Self, or simply, Cringy. (Perhaps, as you read, you can offer title suggestions.) I’d like to make it known that I know how excruciating and difficult this will be at times to continue reading (you may find yourself chanting, “Don’t do it! C’mon, you know better!”). Stick with it at least through June (in the memoir), it’ll be worth enduring through the cringe that precedes.
A little background before you begin reading the first entries:
2019 was the year I decided to change a lifelong pattern of “emotional addiction”, although I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing when the year began. When 2019 started, I was hoping there was another way to live, but I had never experienced anything but the agonizing torment of being tangled inside the web of my own mind and heart up until that point. Self-sabotage was as natural as breathing.
Emotional addiction is a compulsion to find and stimulate emotional “hits”—the highs followed by the lows of entanglement with another person. “When they are good to me and give me what I want, I am floating and invincible. When they fail to show up or they disappoint me, I am thrown into disarray and I usually have a physical reaction to the emotional let down.” It is a chaotic and addicting way of life. And it isn’t just with romantic partners – parents, friends, coworkers, children are all common proxies for this addiction.
This is my account of the year I got sober from a lifelong enslavement to a broken system of (unconscious) thought.
Here’s a list of people mentioned (I have changed some of their names/abbreviations for the protection of their dignity):
Tyrel: My first love, husband and my abuser 2005-2015, father of my children, died by suicide September 2016
Children: Jane and Peter
G: Ex-boyfriend and best friend
S: G’s ex- girlfriend
A: Widow and best friend (one of the “hos”)
L: Younger sister (12 years younger) and best friend. Technically, my half-sister (her father is my stepdad, R)
R: Stepdad, father figure from age 11 on, and Opa to my kids
Z: Widow and close friend (one of the “hos”)
H: Older sister (two years older) and best friend
W: kindred spirit, beloved friend, licensed therapist
At the end of 2018, G broke up with me after a nearly two-year sometimes deep, sometimes casual relationship, noting “I know I want kids of my own and that’s not an option with you,” (because I knew I didn’t want anymore children from my body by then) “and, mostly, I think you deserve better than what I can give you.” This break-up wasn’t a simple undoing. G was my first kind and lasting romantic relationship after I left my abusive marriage in 2015. My kids adored G, and he was a regular part of our family rhythm. G and I were also best friends who truly wanted the best for each other, even if that meant us not being romantically connected. I know everyone says that, but we actually meant it… probably.
After the break up, I decided I didn’t want to do what I had always done before when the latest relationship expired (jump to distracting myself with new men). I wanted to, you know… take a peek behind my own walls. I began my self-study by documenting myself in my everyday life in hopes that after a few months, I could see patterns and understand some of my own rhythms. I kept 3 journals:
- An emotional/mental well-being journal where I daily jotted 1-3 sentences about my overall internal stability.
- My mind-body-spirit (aka moon phase) journal, which was a calendar where I noted my hormones, diet, activity, and overall feelings about myself each day.
- The mamma-jamma journal (the main chunk of this memoir) where I pain-stakingly detailed out my experiences and my every thought about those experiences.
I had no idea what I would find swarming inside my soul…
* I have not edited the content of these entries as will be clear very soon!
2019 Journal Intro
This is an observation journal for the year 2019. After a series of life events and recent circumstances, I have decided to step back and take the position of “The Observer” (aka “The Watcher” as Ekhart Tolle says). Not that I won’t be living or being “present” in the now, but rather that I am my new project of sorts. Instead of finding other things and people to fill my time and mental energy (scrolling the gram, texting my friends, binge watching Netflix), I am going to focus on getting to know myself this year.
This means, of course, I will live with no Representatives (read more here), only bringing and being my true self in any given moment or situation. I have only recently realized I’ve managed to live my entire adult life with a slew of very helpful, self-deprecating Representatives. The strongest being my Dating Rep. While it hasn’t been a struggle to live without them, more enlightening really, the hole my Dating Rep leaves is rather deep and it has made me aware I have some things to figure out.
If approval, acceptance, inclusion, and affirmation are no longer the driving force for LITERALLY EVERYTHING I do, then what am I? Who am I? What’s to know? I’m sure it’s good stuff, I just couldn’t say specifically “what” it is. And so… I quest.
December 30, 2018
I was in a good headspace until I dropped by G’s to unload some Xmas stuff. His high school buddy, J was there. That was the first time I’ve met J, and G was energetically playful with the kids – almost like he was showing off. But that was all fine. J seems extremely insecure.
What did me in was G mentioning tomorrow he could only come by for an hour after work because he’s “gonna go to…” then he stopped himself from telling me where (maybe because of J, but probably because of me). Instant knots.
After I got home I could tell I was shorter with the kids. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Am I jealous? Do I really expect him to only be with us all of the time? Why do I feel like this?
I texted him to not feel pressure to come over tomorrow “we can do firecrackers with you another night,” then asked what he was doing tomorrow night. He said, “Ok cool. I’ll come over on the 1st for longer… Nunya.” More knots.
He doesn’t want me to know which makes me think the worst – some other chick – but IS THAT SO BAD? Isn’t this the plan anyways? Why is this bothering me AT ALL?!
I also saw a pic of him on IG with some other people from work and I sank lower. He’s doing things in business and personal life that I know nothing about. It’s absurd. That I always take it in the worst ways, but moreso, that I still want him to pick me, invite me, choose me, want me.
I desperately need to belong and I’m sinking. What am I supposed to focus on when I feel this way? Oh, yeah… gratitude.
It helps 20% and I listen to my breathing. Then I remember!
*When I am desperate for someone to give me something I am lacking, I need to give it to myself!
So, I invited myself to spend time alone writing tonight. And tomorrow, I’m inviting myself to play SORRY! and drink hot chocolate with the kids in my bed for NYE, then drink Korbel and watch movies alone and rest in my aloneness…
Because it’s actually what I choose for myself.
And just like that… I dgaf what G is doing tomorrow night. Or any other night! LOL
December 31, 2018
Talked with A about it all. Feels better to get it out and be reminded of what I truly want – more for ME – a true match for my family and for G to get his dream of his own family.
January 1, 2019
Woke up distantly thinking about G, but I can feel the detachment happening again. That’s good. Feeling better about it and easy to create distance from him.
I woke up feeling 50% secure – so not solid, which makes me feel slippery and close to unstable. G was being formal and distant which irritates me and makes me feel insecure about how our relationship will pan out. I’m not in control of that though. I have to allow him to be himself and take our friendship one day at a time.
Woke up worrying. Soccer, $$, bills, career. I feel alone and untethered. I tried to take deep breaths and remember all the love and support I have. Then my mom texted she’d take the kids tomorrow night and I felt such relief. I wondered if maybe just having the kids out of school and a wonky routine is getting to me. Always an excuse for the emotional lows, I guess.
Well, the day got better then worse! Distracted with errands then went to P’s house. Then… I ran a red light and a teen driver hit me (eye roll). I’m so mad at myself, but I’m embracing this as the Universe warning me to get focused and pay attention (I had been texting while stopped at the red light). I’m really trying to listen and not self-loathe. This is definitely a low day.
The funk is looming but mom is taking the kids for the night so I’m going dancing with the hos.
Not. A good start to the day. Very blue. I desperately miss G. I miss our friendship and companionship. I’m tired, hungover, and feeling so lonely. Like really alone. I’ve been thinking (not good) for almost two hours about why… in the end, it doesn’t matter. Two things I’m considering:
- Not drinking for a month (or more)
- Not dating or even looking to date for this entire year
Today was much better. I felt like myself again, but maybe with a little added soberness for how rough the last week has been. Would have preferred not to see G today, but sold a mirror from my storage (which is still at his house) and he was home. It was fine. I wasn’t overly uncomfortable. However, leaving, I felt comforted by his engagement with me and the kids. I’m not sure how good that is for me. I guess I’ll find out. He is going rock climbing with us in two days (eye roll). I was undecided about him going, but he pushed for it so I agreed. Not sure if I should be able to decide that for myself or not.
Feeling so good today. I love the space I’m creating for myself to live alone and free from over-analyzing myself and the “why” of everything in my life. I feel detached from “looking” for attention from G (or any other man). I feel so safe in giving myself room to be alone and learn about myself. I want to learn my intricacies, moods, wants, likes, needs, etc. I want to find my voice…