Where You Invest Your Love, You Invest Your Life

The book is back! Serious revisions to commence shortly.

Lots of changes, otherwise.

Gainfully employed in an amazing job with room to grow and a boss who isn’t a serious closet case of Jekyll & Hyde. AKA: Narcissistic Personality Disorder. No longer loyal to a fault; just those who deserve it. That’s a huge accomplishment. Even though I did it, I never liked change. Now I see it for what it is: an absolutely necessary process that will always be uncomfortable, but thrilling! No more ‘woe is me,’ for this girl; I don’t believe in throwing pearls to swine.

And so…divesting from some pursuits and investing in others, but not throwing away a few years of hard work. Let’s just call it a work around.

Sorta feeling like I’m finally getting the hang of this adulting thing!

More to come.

And the Tree Grows On…

Yesterday, I returned from my lunch hour 15 to 20 minutes late. I was met by a chorus of concerned coworkers. No one was upset I was late, but they worried about me “all alone in the big bad city.” I was immediately warmed by their jokes and concerns. I felt valued, worthy, loved, validated and like I mattered. And then my mood took a turn.

Sadly, when I got over the initial warm and fuzzies of being greeted with such sincere concern and caring, I felt lost. I didn’t know how to process it because on some deeper level I couldn’t understand it. Instead of being appreciative and holding it up as baseline human decency, I began to question what I did to deserve it. Without warning, I had fallen back into the Tara of months ago. And, for the first time, I felt the depth of the damage. I felt how spending a year of second guessing my value, my sanity, my personality, my ability, and whether or not I am the emotionally maturing human being I strive to become has hollowed me.

I believed I was toxic and that I deserved to be a whipping girl. I was beginning to resign myself to the fact that a woman like me would never be anything more than the incessantly annoying street scum on the bottom of his shoe that had to be addressed now and again to keep up appearances. And when I wasn’t feeling that way, I believed it was simply a matter of hardening my heart, adopting an air of aloofness, and dismissing my abuser as unworthy.  In a sense, I was becoming my abuser to escape the abuse.

And now, once again and triggered by an event that should have remained warm and fuzzy, I felt the positive attention was undeserved. I also felt like a failure because I had convinced myself that if I just tried harder, I’d uncover what I had done to deserve the way I was being treated, fix it, and the person I trusted and admired unconditionally would return in place of the one that now so deeply loathed me. It didn’t matter that I had snapped out of it and gotten over the shame, the feelings of loyalty, and a deeply held sense that I owed him something and reached out to people around me and changed my situation. It didn’t matter because just as I was beginning to feel like myself, there would be one more incident to compound all others. It would be one more opportunity to be ignored, to be dismissed, and to understand that I never mattered and never would. And I wondered if I’d always feel that way.

But I did get out and yesterday happened. I kept it together enough to get through the day. But I spent the commute in fits of tears. Why? What did I ever do to deserve to be treated so heinously? And why didn’t I deserve an apology? How fair is it that this person will never take any responsibility for their actions? That they’re incapable of understanding the effect of their actions on others? Over and over again, those same questions. It was unfair, it will always be unfair, it could have been worse and that’s just life. All of it. I stayed in that mind frame as I went on about my night.  I felt slightly better after I had an actual meal but I cried a bit more out of helplessness as I finally made my way home.

Today, the damage doesn’t seem so immense. Last night I dreamed that I had acquiesced and agreed to join a church. As I walked around I encountered my family and friends from various circles. I snagged one of them and asked to see the tree. Rumors of a “sacred” tree were the only reason I’d shown up to begin with. She took me through some corridors and down onto the landing of the large spiral basement staircase. There, in the center of the staircase was a pine tree. It was tall, disappearing into the darkness of ceiling and the trunk was thick and gnarly. It didn’t have many limbs. The limbs it did have stretched the length of the basement and were covered sporadically in thick, chunky bouquets of pine needles. And the church choir, filled with my new coworkers, was gathered around the base for practice. ‘It isn’t what I expected,’ I thought to myself, ‘but it is beautiful in its own special way and remarkable that it can continue to grow beneath the weight of the building and without the sun.’ As drove into work this morning, all I could think about was that tree and that it had to be the singing from the choir that kept it growing.

Shadow Boxing

In all of the therapy I’m proud that I do, one of the hardest undertakings is Shadow Work. It sounds new age and strange but I promise you it is an absolute necessity to truly explore oneself. You aren’t just acknowledging the darkest parts of your personality, you’re accepting them so that you can manage, transform, and I suppose in rare cases and in the strongest individuals, exorcise some of them.

As a teenager and twenty-something, arrogance was always my darkest shadow. The fact that I was generally more intelligent, astute, and contemplative than my peers and even my elders was a source of pride that metastasized into aloofness and snobbery. I’ve been lucky though, as far as this particular shadow goes. Nearly, five years working multiple jobs (at least one always in retail) will humble anyone with an ego and a six figure education. My shadow’s appetite for superiority dwindled as I fell in love with the complexity of humanity and the understanding that behind our jobs and educations and familial/civic responsibilities, we’re all rich and complex beings seeking validation and witness.

That dark part of me, “Bitch Tara,” as my best friend refers to her, was excruciatingly honest and unforgiving. It was a defense and an outlet to show off the uncanny way I just seemed to understand people, their motivations, and their weaknesses without trying. By shedding this unnecessarily cruel utilization of such knowledge, I had in my mind, become a better person. Bitch Tara was banished because Shadow Work, as I understood it until recently, was black or white; there was no grey.

This past year has been one of the darkest in my life. Someone I trusted implicitly, from the very beginning, turned out to be toxic. There is no explanation for such uninhibited trust from day one, except to compliment the performance artist’s mastery in manipulation. That trust was eventually and relentlessly violated both in the way I was treated and the fact that I’ve come to learn that there was little truth in anything spoken to me. Instead, a narrative was created–complete with villains and martyrdom–that hid the duplicitous, dishonest, and dark true nature of a sick human being.

As a result of this dynamic, I spent a lot of this year suffering in secret. I began to doubt my own sanity and to believe that I lacked ego strength and that I was overly sensitive and that pleading to be treated, at the very least, in a civil and neutral way was selfish. I almost believed that yelling and pointing and insulting was acceptable and that my sensitivity to it was abhorrent. The key here is: almost. Along the way, I fought—in tears—to be heard. I called out the behavior at every twist and turn. I knew that ultimately my attempts at adult conversation would be futile and turn me into the bad guy and yet I persisted. Of this, I’m proud; my integrity and adherence to my own personal code of conduct was honored. Compulsive lying, emotional abuse and narcissism were confronted with their antitheses. This was black and white.

Until I had a moment of grey and “Bitch Tara,” nearly dormant and believed to be diminished, stepped into the light. She crossed the threshold and stared the sick one in his empty eyes. I told myself, in those long, drawn out seconds of fortitude that I stood before this person having done nothing more than adhere to my principles—a foundation of which he knows nothing as he lacks truth on a fundamental level. But remember, it was Bitch Tara who led the charge and I would be remiss to omit that she stood before the offender with an obvious and aggressive superiority; the same sense of superiority I wielded as a kid. He had confirmed for me what I’d chronicled all along and I was satisfied.

There, fueled by darkness, I set a new precedent in the relationship. There was no fear, no shame. I stood there clear-headed, with my healthy ego and my sensitivity intact. This time it was about me and the fact that I am no longer intimidated by the hollow and sullied.

I’ll admit that it’s a struggle now to put Bitch Tara away. Her appearance proved to be a seminal moment that rooted on many plateaus. She was useful in overtaking the darkness cast by someone else. But, attempting to quell her lust for devastating revelation has proved futile and will only happen retroactively. In that sense my integrity is taking a hit and it is clear there is still much hard work to be done. Thankfully, I do a lot of therapy.

The Pearl Caster’s Tale (With Apologies to Chaucer. And Jesus).

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Lo! I have been absolved. It is not I, and never was, who plays toxic. A quick juxtaposition of two briefly entangled lives shows my slate barely marred, the other’s consistent in its devastation. And now, to all who’ll listen, I tell an encrypted tale of warnings and revelations of he, whose list of sins is shorter only than the one of those he betrayed…

Beware the lost wolf in Shepherd’s clothing. Become not another pilgrim in the trail of tears he’s spent more than half his life laying. If where one invests their love is where one invests their life, then where exactly is his love? His life?

Understand that when he is most lost, he is most devastating: seeking out those he perceives as lonelier and more hopeless than he, so that he may feel superior in his inferior emptiness.

Be certain that the burdens he asks to carry, he will replace upon your soul, heavier than before. When he wearies, he will turn and cast them with aspersions into your heart cavity, the one he so masterfully broke open and readied for himself. And then he’ll leave you to stitch up the wounds his spell convinced you were self-inflicted.

When he tells you you don’t know love and he’ll show you, understand that he means you’re expendable and he will abandon you. But not before he shows you the difference between being taken care of and being cared for, the latter really meaning he cares only for himself and takes care of others so long as they serve his means.

Be weary, perhaps even affect a yawn, when he cries out: ‘I can’t go through this again.’ For he thinks not of the hearts and years he’s betrayed, but his own discomfort when the wolf is exposed. Know that he’s already washed his hands of his latest lamb when he fails to fix her because he has no real tools: ‘it wasn’t me, but the one before, who drove her to excess.’ He’s declared already, before he even pretends to dirty his hollow hands.

You’ll recognize his language because it will be your own. Remember, you’re standing at the edge of his void. He has no axis mundi of his own, despite reciting the gospels; he’ll begin to chip away at yours. He’ll tout forgiveness and yet never say he’s sorry. “Do you want me to say I’m sorry when I don’t mean it?” He means that. He doesn’t mean it. And never will. For Jesus was constructed for men like him, those who answer only to perfection because they deign not exist among the mortals.

We mere mortals, we sheep, lack ego strength. Hold your nose up high enough and you don’t have to smell the stench of their accountability. Cover your own with the fumes of the gaslighting you deploy so well, if you want to be a wolf masquerading as a shepherd.

Beware the lost wolf in Shepherd’s clothing, never pity him–he’s honest about that much. Save your pity for the sheep he chews up and spits out and the collateral damage he leaves in their wake. Pity the lamb who knows his devastation like no other and is doomed to a lifetime of watching it repeat.

Mattie 7:6 Actualized

I’ve made a number of irreparable miscalculations and mistakes. I created a toxic environment for myself: reactively casting aside my dignity, self-esteem, and personal integrity to be heard by the deaf and seen by the blind. I recognized long ago that the ceiling had been tapped; everything since has been masochism. The growing pains have been tremendous and revelatory. Despite the excoriating consequences, I stand by my astute perception, my commitment to excruciating honesty, and attempts at open and civil dialogue.

I did, I tried, I do and I will always do the hard work.

 

 

 

Old dog?

Recently, I was offended by a passively racist comment. The comment was amplified by the fact that I felt that not only had my abilities to produce in the situation that provoked the comment been stifled to protect the ego of a bigot, but that the inaction that created this situation was an act of disloyalty. In other words, if the offender had gone to bat for me against a bigot in the first place, they would have had no reason to make their passively bigoted comments.

The loyalty issue is moot at this point. I understand now that loyalty requires emotional capabilities that, in some, are non-existent, severely underdeveloped, or reserved only for their codependent. It’s futile to pine for something that never existed, but necessary to understand this dynamic as it pertains to racism.

Alas, I was told that the protected bigot would have agreed with the offending comment and gone about their day entirely unaffected (subtext: follow the bigot’s example from now on; be a bigot, not a black woman). It gets worse. Indeed, I was punched in the gut with the most cutting, deeply offensive version of the asshole’s free pass (I’m not responsible for your feelings, you are), I have ever encountered.

‘In all the therapy you do, you need to talk about why you’re so offended by racism and fix it.’

This is not an exact quote, but pretty fucking close. When I went back for clarification and asked if I understood correctly that I was being told that I, a black woman, was offended not because I had a right to be offended when someone makes a racist comment, but because I have emotional issues that I need to work out with my therapist, the claim was vehemently affirmed.

It lingers so much that even now, a few days later, I’m hit by waves of nausea just thinking about it. It’s worse than the insinuation that I should follow a bigot’s example. It felt worse, emotionally, than being called a primate by a drunk stranger. I knew going in to the conversation that it would somehow be my fault because in this particular relationship, I’ve gotten used to being the bad guy.

The thing is that now, at a time when racists like Donald Trump are making blatant, hateful expressions of racism acceptable, I refuse to take the blame for someone else’s passive racism. Or, as one of my favorite drag queens says: Not today, Satan. Not today.

When I’m told that I’m the one who needs therapy to ‘get over it,’ I can’t be sympathetic because one was ‘raised that way’ and ‘it’s hard to get out of that mentality.’ Nor do I accept “I am who I am and I’m not changing for anybody” as anything other than what it really articulates: everyone else can go to hell whilst I enjoy the privilege of saying, doing, and behaving however I want.   Or, as Donald Trump recently said via FOX News to the supporters who didn’t like him pretending to care about ‘his blacks,’ “Get over it.”

But, Donald Trump and my offender are narcissists. They represent an extreme. They can’t help who they are and lack, for whatever reason, the capability to contemplate the how their actions affect others beyond how they can get what they want for themselves from these ‘others’ and ‘those people’ and then, and most importantly, to internalize those lessons, modify their behavior and mature as human being. Sadly, their growth game is shallow.

But what about the rest of the world? What about the rest of these Trump followers? How can they claim that they are not racist? How can they claim that Black History Month, the Black Lives Matters movement and BET are racist when they represent a tiny fraction of a much larger hegemony? How can so many people in one of the top nations on the planet be so emotionally and intellectually stunted?

Again we come back to ‘being raised that way.’ But it’s more intrinsic than that, it’s the about the that thing that narcissists and racists and hypocrites only recognize in themselves: subjectivity.

Racism, like narcissism, is never objective. It isn’t objective to those who experience it because the hatred resonates and reverberates in even the most intimate aspects of individuality. It isn’t objective to those who perpetrate it because they’re reinforcing and feeding off of deeply ingrained power dynamics. And it isn’t objective to anyone on the middle of that spectrum because the media, liberal and FAUX, is woven out of stereotypes, cultural fallacies, and cultural fantasies. Racism is a human phenomenon, an unnatural order of things that has permeated our existence and dyed itself into our societal DNA. And, unfortunately, as a species, many of us choose to adopt the safe, comfortable, painless way of life of that is “I am what I am.” The rest of us wave a dismissive hand and continue to fight the fight from all the wrong directions.

To that mentality, I chose to say:

33 Things I Learned in my 33rd Year

  1. Falling in love is amazing.
  2. The difference between arrogance and confidence.
  3. Communication is everything to me.
  4. A space of one’s own is EVERYTHING.
  5. Being social is actually kind of fun.
  6. You are your own champion.
  7. Roasted vegetables are easy and AMAZING!
  8. Cats have personalities.
  9. I can’t change my personality, but I can develop and manage it.
  10. Baking Soda and Vinegar kick ass.
  11. Much of life is about showing up.
  12. People aren’t always who they say/think they are.
  13. Embracing my flaws is incredibly liberating.
  14. My people are everywhere, I just have to find them.
  15. I should have bought a power drill a long time ago.
  16. Area rugs are super expensive.
  17. Sharing your time and space with someone is what really counts.
  18. The way I plan to spend Christmas from now on.
  19. I find extroverts scary for all the right reasons.
  20. Being open about my flaws is incredibly liberating.
  21. The difference between a selfish person and an egocentric person.
  22. People who talk big and promise big can be full of intention and empty of action.
  23. How to say ‘No.’
  24. Don’t be empty of action.
  25. Show up.
  26. I can survive humiliation.
  27. Have expectations of no one, regardless of what they say.
  28. Indeed, blue is my favorite color, but I can appreciate others.
  29. ‘Death by meeting.’ The struggle is real.
  30. You can accomplish quite a bit in 4.5 minutes.
  31. People who make others their ‘project,’ need the most work.
  32. Therapy saves my life.
  33. Heartbreak is devastating.

False Prophet

Spreading promises of the good news,

Fawning, Flattering, Baiting.

Promising Wealth and Support;

Your Champion.

Beware: He’s Atoning for Old Sins

by Repeating His Past.

So As Before,

When He Grows Weary and Bored

And Taken His Payment In Kind,

He’ll Lead His Flock to the Cliff

With His Hot Air and Brass.

Fear Not His Children,

He Will Abandon You,

But He’ll Seed Your Hard Landing

With Cold, Harder, Cash.