Re: Love Yourself (on heartbreak)

Sadly, in this life, not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to love you either, or be ready to love you.

Timing may have been off. Or upon gaining knowledge of your behaviors, a person might not feel at home in your spontaneity (or conversely, shyness), or whatever combination of traits you currently embody that make you, you.

But this is okay; it’s actually a good thing. And I want to tell you why, and remind you to love yourself.

We’ve heard this story before. Justin Bieber sang it to us in his album Purpose, cheesy Elite Daily articles command the same. But I mean it. Loving ourselves and fully accepting ourselves as perfectly imperfect human beings is a mindset for life that is easier on the self and will reduce unnecessary future self-destruction.

Rejection is a part of life, and so is the pain that comes with it. I myself have recently experienced, and will probably experience again in the future, romantic rejection. And it’s a good thing. Why?

Well, if we didn’t experience rejection, we may not have decided to go on that lonely walk where we “found ourselves.” If not for rejection, we may not have decided that once we had nothing else to lose—or fear for that matter—out we went to conquer our “fears.”

This is the manifestation of the true uninhibited self. And dare I say, a gift.

Tara Brach, PhD and author of “Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha” writes that the pain and suffering that comes with rejection has the potential to open our hearts to compassion.

She writes:

Whenever we feel closed down, hurt or unforgiving, by simply breathing in and gently touching the rawness of our pain, we can begin to transform our suffering into compassion. Keeping our gaze on the bandaged place, as Rumi says, allows the light to enter. As we breathe out, we can feel our longing to connect and let go into the immensity of the light. We can surrender into the radiant love we year for. Breathing in and breathing out, we hold our pain and let our pain be held in a boundless heart of compassion.

Heartbreak leaves room for opportunity, if we allow.

…To relate to the mutual suffering of a friend, or possibly acknowledge a deficit in our current personality (subject to change) that prevents our fullest, self-actualized, potential.

But! Back to rejection…

When rejection occurs, our brains are often wired to begin playing the “I’m Unworthy of Love” record. This simply is not true, and an illusion.

What we as social animals desire most in the world is a sense of belonging. When this notion is taken away from us this creates the emotion of fear, which can trigger a myriad of anxieties in our brain and lead to behaviors we may not be proud of later on (sup, Shame!).

Brach’s book, “Radical Acceptance” asks us to take a step back from these “fight or flight” emotions and process them through meditation. What is the source of our hurt, and why? Is it fear of abandonment? Former shame? How can we address and radically accept those emotions, desires, and previous life events for what they are, and let them be?

Once we accept and forgive ourselves for being human, as we would when we unconditionally love a friend, we move forward.

In this sense, we are “the holder and the held” as Brach says.

And really though, why would you want to be with someone who discounts the things you love most about yourself?

That cat would be pretty hard for you to spend the rest of your days with. Take it as a gift. Love yourself.

There’s room for opportunity and growth no matter what side of the break-up you’re on. When you make the radical acceptance to unconditionally love and be kind to the self—mind you, this is separate from narcissism—you heal into a more evolved self.

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Goodnight

And this is what I decree.

To be some faint orgasmic memory

Of hot body soaked in bourbon

Dripping sweet Kentucky accent.

Strength solidified in Appalachian foothills,

Curves rich in minerals that

Sparkle, millennia of magmatic pressure.

You come in search of answers, earthworm,

Asking entry into a world of bountiful love

Unknowable to a young traveler

Who can only gain

Entry by loving himself.

Conquering Fears; a Season

“Why do you think that you should take the LSAT on Monday?” Karl, my tutor, asked me.

“Well…” I puzzled. “I’m certainly not afraid of it.” I said as I clutched my pencil.

“In this room I listen to everything you say and your reasoning,” said Karl while twirling his finger and looking at the ceiling of Conference Room B in the Lexington Public Library. “So you’re telling me that your stated evidence to conclude that you should take the exam is that you aren’t afraid of it?”

I nodded. But knew where this was going. “Take a look at admissions websites” Karl continued, “and see for yourself whether it matters if you take the test now or in September.”

Later I would find snooty axioms such as: you need take the LSAT only once.

Ultimately, I chose to withdraw from the June LSAT. I wasn’t ready. And with the intention take the September exam, I won’t lose ground. Rolling admissions begin that same month.

My transition to living back in Lexington, Kentucky has been a season. I realized this morning, that I can categorize it in typical Molly-fashion as a time spent conquering my fears. Again.

Since the passing of Sandy Crain fall of 2014, I now organize my life in terms of “seek and destroy” such obstacles that prevent me from living a more self-actualized existence.

I admittedly haven’t succeeded all on my own. When she passed at the start of graduate school, I was saved by the fact that I was immersed in courses with group projects as their finals. I know very well how useless I was. Emotional weight and mourning, melting toward the finish line of the semester.

But I survived, as my 24-year-old body would want. And when I came out on the other side, I had learned that if I can survive the death of my mother, well shit, I could do just about anything.

Like showering with an acid-based body wash of exfoliating beads, I walked out of this trauma rid of dead skin, feeling robust, rubbery, and oddly clean. The anxieties no longer being responsible for the survival of another being too, had left me.

I now stood at the maw of my fears and unsheathed my sword. My foes had become smaller. My self-esteem solidified.

In the years following her death I enrolled in method courses embedded in data analytics, which I would have avoided previously. I came out on the other end a better political and social scientist. I wrote a thesis.

I traveled a lot. Forced myself to endure the discomfort of not knowing languages. Humbled by communal ways of life. I stepped on a plane without looking back. No Kentucky mother to tell me that the world was a place to fear.

I came home. Moved into an apartment one street over from where I lived when my mother was still alive. I confronted the wounds of myself and my family, and tried best I could to discern what was worth salvaging and what was acceptable to throw away. I have, in many ways, become a minimalist.

I haven’t been dating because I only see it as a deterrent from my goals. My time spent alone has been a time of self-discovery that could only have been gained by confronting the person in the mirror.

I have been writing, reading, studying for the LSAT. Each of these tasks are like waking up in the morning to squeeze lemons with battered fingers. Painful, monk-like, but promised that they will someday make lemonade.

In July, I’m taking a year-long AmeriCorps VISTA position with Kentucky Voices for Health as a communications coordinator and volunteer organizer. I’ll be moving to Louisville and out of this season I was lucky enough to have and contemplate.

Despite the pain of growth, I acknowledge the time spent living back in Lexington for its grace. How would I have ever been happy, moving on, without knowing I’d thoughtfully unpacked all my baggage?

Over the past few days my sister Lauralee and I have been pruning through the rather large library of my recently deceased Aunt Mary Markwell Crain, my father’s sister, who lived most of her life in Spain and Latin America as an anthropologist. At least 30 book boxes were stacked along the garage walls. We opened them all, found photos, books she published, chapters she had annotated, cassette tapes of interviews with agrarian Ecuadorian peoples. Mary’s academic niche was recording how injustices of colonialism affected agrarian peoples and culture in the Latin world.

Lauralee and I did not know her as well as we would have liked. We only have photos of her in scenarios where she’s dressed as a hippie outside of Santiago de Compostela, pilgrimage complete. But it has been our obligation to observe her life as one most vibrantly lived. We identify with Mary. A woman who lost her mother in what must have been her early twenties, she pushed onward by cultivating her education and living her life abroad.

But I am saddened too, at how her emotional bruises may have prevented my sister and I from knowing our trailblazing aunt a little better.

I can only hope that fearlessness in the face of adversity is genetic. By this notion, I am comforted that I still know her, as myself.

Mary

Failure & Learning New Skills

“Be patient Molly. Be patient.” Says my slow pitch softball coach as I walk up to bat.

“Ha, that seems applicable to every scenario in my life.” I said. Don’t we all wish for various forms of instant gratification.

A dream job. World contribution. Recognition. Acceptance letter. Or diploma before coursework.

Some things don’t come easy. We have to wait for them. And not only that, when the opportunity comes, attack appropriately. These methods take patience and perseverance to acquire a skillset worth releasing in the world.

For the past few weeks, my batting average has been low. I had been out of the game entirely while I lived in Washington. I had lost sight of what Molly used to take pleasure in doing.

I’d get in my batter’s stance, lean back, line up my knuckles and raise the bat behind my head. When the ball lobbed my way, I’d hack it down early. The ball would lose all power and dribble to someone in the infield. I’d get out even though I’d zip to first screaming, “Jesus Christ!” Like a masochistic maniac.

I had forgotten how to wait.

I was also years out of practice. It is frustrating to know that we were once a well-oiled machine, only to find the need for a tune-up.

Shame…Shame….Personal and deserved shame.

But today was different. I picked up a heavier bat. Not intentionally. I think the man who usually brought the lighter one wasn’t there. I heard the words behind me, “Be patient Molly,” and accepted my fate with the closest bat available.

In the batter’s box not only had I suppressed my urge to swing early, the heavier bat inhibited even what I considered a “good wait time.” I made contact with the bright yellow ball in a full “POP!” A satisfying base hit behind second that landed on the lip of grass.

Not everything about performance is within our control. There’s the weather. How we feel that day. And whether or not we came equipped with the right tools. Here we find how unreasonable worrying can be and self-shaming on repeat. Not all variables will ever be entirely accounted for. And we won’t get better if we don’t listen to our coach.

I have been studying for the LSAT, or law school admissions test, a lot lately. I hate it. It’s painful, and not what I would consider “in my wheelhouse.” I’m in the early stages of learning a skillset. I carry shame with many of my wrong answers and poor test scores after substantial life accomplishments.

All the while graduation photos flood my Facebook feed and Rupp arena ceremony traffic prevents me from driving across town in a reasonable amount of time.

I cannot help but be jealous of those who found out sooner than I, what they wanted to do. This I cannot change.

But today, as I got back into the swing of an old talent mid-season, I thought: I don’t try to give myself 40 lashes for poor performance in intramural softball. If I did, I’d ruin the game for everyone. The team thrives on positive reinforcement when a teammate does well, and optimism after each embarrassing goof.

Already this season I have:

  • Tried to catch the ball with my bare hand.
  • Ducked when someone barreled the ball at me too close.
  • Shirked at a line drive near my feet.

All of these I would never do as a well-oiled 17-year-old machine. To regain my skillset, I had to remind my body how to approach these scenarios without fear.

As I scraped the dirt around second base with my cleats today, post error, I shook it off for fear of it affecting the game of the future.

We cannot change the past. We can only learn from our mistakes, be wiser next time we’re up at bat, and if we’re lucky, someone will pass us a good stick.

A Word on Acceptance

Once I had accepted The Fact,

I no longer wished for it to be my reality–

Or tried to fix the situation anymore.

I moved forward mentally,

Excited for the new.

Having mourned the past,

I stood comfortably in the present.

Happy to receive the future.

Meeting of Fayette Co. Women’s Network

Moments ago, I left The Fayette County Women’s Network meeting. I have two major items to comment on. Attendance, and Kentucky State Representative Kelly Flood (75th District, Lexington Southside).

A woman sitting to the right of me and Vice Mayor Steve Kay said, “This is one of the best turnouts we’ve had in a long time.”

And it was. The basement of St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church was so full they ran out of folding chairs. Some sat on the couches in the back.

When Representative Flood spoke for the evening, the first thing she mentioned was how happy she was to see such a turnout. This is what we have been seeing everywhere, since the inauguration, Flood explained to the group.

Resistance in attendance. And in the heart of America.

With the gusto of a minister, Representative Flood engaged the room with her story. What is it like being in the state house for nearly a decade? What has she learned? Patience and perseverance, which we must continue to have during this new administration.

When Flood woke up the morning Trump was announced president-elect, she said her path was so clear in her mind. She would advocate even more fiercely on behalf of the LGBTQ community, women’s health, and education.

I was so energized to hear her story, given with such fervor. Her dedication to work across party lines.

Some have told Flood that she needed to reach higher. Run for a Congressional seat. But no, she chooses to stay in the Kentucky House, because that’s where the real battleground is.

Flood has been busy lately. And there have been times where they (KY legislators) weren’t very busy at all. But she encouraged constituents to keep calling. To keep scheduling meetings. To keep meeting with their legislators.

After 95 years of Democratic control, the House has gone red. But what this means is that many of the seats were given to first time candidates. Flood explained that those new representatives are malleable. They will listen to you. Call them. Meet with them. Tell them your concerns as a Kentuckian.

If you’re interested in attending the next meeting please visit http://kywomensnetwork.com and don’t forget to email info@kywomensnetwork.com

I’d love to see you there.

 

Programming Our Reality

I was asked today by my uncle and friend who works at a local news network, “What in the world are we going to do to stop misinformation?” His worry about the state of things; the world, the nation, his community, the ethics of journalism, had left him quite distressed all week.

I said that the spread of misinformation, and “fake news” was a systemic problem of the 21st century. But the history of misinformation is as old as Gutenberg’s printing press itself. As long as people have been publishing the truth, they have also been publishing propaganda to negate the truth.

Misinformation is nothing new; it has only manifested into a seemingly more threatening form, online.

Again, Misinformation is a systemic problem. I began to name off other systemic problems that came to mind: Mountain Top Removal, Climate Change, Child Marriage, Gentrification, Mass Incarceration. And like systemic problems, Misinformation as a phenomenon, pushes a dominant narrative.

For Mountaintop Removal, the dominant narrative in Kentucky is—Coal Keeps the Lights On.

For Climate Change, the dominant narrative is—“The weather seems fine here.” We forget that other environments like the Arctic are erratic when temperature changes by a single degree.

For Child Marriage, if you are in Ethiopia, the dominant narrative is that young women should not have a choice in IF and WHO they marry.

For Gentrification, the dominant narrative sees positivity in progress. Progress may also translate to “revitalization.” Beneficiaries of the process of gentrification use these words.

For Mass Incarceration, the dominant narrative that perpetuates the problem is “Let’s crack down on drug trafficking.” Cracking down, so to speak, disproportionately affects African Americans and Latinos in our country. Many lose their voting rights for minor drug offenses. Private prisons, as institutions, profit from their incarceration. Families are broken…

Dominant narratives are the reasons why systemic problems exist, because they are a reality that those in power have deemed acceptable or have been able to promote, unchecked.

Someone I spoke to recently held the opinion that a woman could not unseat a particular male Republican incumbent. This was not because they didn’t want a woman in this position, but because they did not think that this would be something that the community would ever choose.

I respected his opinion but came back at a later time to say that his opinion was a dangerous, self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe, deep down, that your community will continue down such a path of exclusion, then they most certainly will.

I then began to preach:

If the Space Task Force at NASA believed they couldn’t make it to the moon, they wouldn’t have made it to the moon.

If the people of America believed that a black man could not be president, Barack Obama would not have been president.

If I was told by a man in Baton Rouge in 2016 on International Women’s Day that the people of Louisiana were not ready for a woman president…well, we all saw how that turned out.

We cannot let our negative opinions get in the way of positively impacting our communities. Such dissent programs a reality that does not improve. Such dissent creates a status quo, a dominant narrative, that perpetuates a systemic problem.

I’m not sure, exactly, how to fix all of the systemic problems I mentioned. But I have a hunch that it’s about taking a chisel to the dominant narrative and spreading truth the best we can.

I told my uncle not to despair. What people often forget is—apart from the immediate forces of nature—that they can program their own reality.

“Perception is reality,” he said.

I encouraged him further.

I said, “You believe in the power of narrative. That is why you went to film school. That is why you work at a local news station. And that is why you know what you’re doing and you’re doing it well. You are offering the world your most sincere truth. You’re doing the best you can.”

If we believe the world is going to Hell, well, our distress begins to pave the way for it to become Hell if we don’t change our attitude that our world could be anything else but.

Like hatred, Misinformation can too be defeated. Reprogrammed, even. We must give people our most sincere truth, at the local level. This is how change begins.

Because truth, is love. And love does not let falsities go unchecked.