I used to spend a day in bed, reading novels. I think my average on a good escape day was 3 novels, but my record was 4. During these book binges, my kids were often getting my attention for food, or making epic messes in the house. My ex was in bed watching t.v. with me, or giving me a nudge to see if I would start breakfast, then lunch, then dinner. Or we would watch a movie marathon that was the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Extended Edition. I was so unhappy with life that I was escaping in the worlds of someone else's creation to avoid what I was living in.
I used to hide in books. I haven't read one all the way through for almost two years. I used to buy books at Barnes and Noble or through Amazon. I'd flip through the pages, and breathe deeply so I could memorize the smell of freshly inked pages. I felt the weight and read the publication details, the back cover and any details that had nothing to do with the story. I would read the dedication a couple of times. When I was younger, I would read the last page, then start on the story. I remember how frustrated my ex got when there was a new book on the shelf. My first surrogacy couple gave me a Kindle for Christmas when I was carrying their child. It took time to get used to, but I began to love the idea of a library in my purse, and my ex never knowing where I was in a book or if I was starting a new one because he hated that.
I was talking to friends on Thursday about Harry Potter. One friend was saying she's reading it for the first time. I read that series at least nine times. At that admission, the looks I got told me how not normal that was, and yet it was my normal.
I'm not escaping anymore. Well, not entirely. There are beach trips to watch a sunset. I'm due for a museum trip this week or next. I haven't been catcalling runners with windows closed and that makes me smile, because there's someone special enough to make that something I don't even think about unless it's realizing I'm not doing it anymore. I'm not getting lost in novels or movies. I'm not reading self help books so someone else can tell me how I should live. I'm living. It's an epic adventure where I get to make relational connections and allow them to shift my perspective so I can grow.
I was talking to the mastermind behind That Kind of Light yesterday among other friends. One of our friends commented on the authority behind my words. I say what is on my heart without a show or attitude. I talk like it's truth because it is. I told them an often repeated example. I don't need to tell you I'm a woman. It's who I am. It's the same with my truth. I say it as it is, and it lands or it doesn't. Often if I give a man my truth, he doesn't accept my authority in who I am, or if I tell him about the amazing I see in him, he'll reject it if he can't see it. My friend Mary asked if I was open to feedback. I said yes. I'm always open to that growth. She said that my response feels defensive and it's a wall that I've created. It's true. She called me out and it is a wall, and I admit it.
For so long I didn't feel the freedom to say what is on my mind. I had shame because I knew what I was feeling wasn't the desired feeling or emotion that I was expected to reflect and I didn't know how to care for myself in a way to be in a healthy place where my needs weren't all secondary. As much as I withheld, it was a reaction to not having a safe place for my truth to land. I've come to a place where I shoot it out anyway. I don't shield who I am because I often choose isolation over going back to who I was. I haven't been able to read or get into binge watching television or movies because of the brokenness in which that was born for me. I'm no longer hiding in what will cover me, but there is a defiant push I use when I give my truth. It's almost a push to protect myself.
This week has been one where I have been intentional with reminding myself that everything happens in the time, place and order it is supposed to. Whatever is meant to be yours will always come to you. We meet who is supposed to come into our lives at the precise moment when we are meant to. They impart wisdom and direction without knowing the way they are meant to shift your perspective. I wouldn't have been able to accept Mary's feedback a few months ago. Not in the way it has already rippled through me.
I had a moment of doubt yesterday. I was hiking with a friend. She's the first person I've ever shared my writing with. We started at the trailhead near the Greek Theater and started our ascent toward the Observatory. It was sometime at this point where she told me we were going all the way to the top of Mount Hollywood. I didn't question if we could. I decided I would take her leadership and we were doing it. We took the long way up, but the short way down.
On the way down, there were a couple of falls. Of course I was freaking out that I would fall. Both times I was laughing through it, but it reminded me of the transition I was feeling a few weeks back. I started shifting this week into a place of vulnerability. That fall reminded me that when your footing isn't stable, falling can happen and it can be painful. The problem with allowing someone else to brighten your smile is the risk that they would take that away, and I'm in a place where I get to step certainly in uncertainty and that takes vulnerability. I'm not used to that, but I'm stepping into it. As scary as that is, as real as it is, the rewards have already been huge.
Not long ago I was blogging about sharing my feelings as vulnerability being born through relationship and my day yesterday was a testament to that. I spent my morning hiking with a friend. My afternoon was at the Artists and Fleas meetup in Venice where I got life affirming hugs by friends that showed up at the same time I did (completely unplanned) followed by a solitary sunset. I went to little Tokyo and the Arts District for a friend's birthday and late last night opened up in scary ways to a really special man, but I was met in love. (Did you notice it's not about a boy, but a man? I did. It's growth!)
I'm not hiding in distractions anymore and that wall that I have been building is being slowly taken apart, one relationship at a time. There are terrifying moments. There are moments when I feel like this is what home means. There are moments when I'm being a chicken weenie in avoidance. There are moments when the feedback is a little too real. All of these moments are mine and I'm not taking a backseat to my existence in someone else's imagination. That feels badass.