I wish I were joking, but it’s true. Some lovely person broke my driver’s side window and stole my laptop bag, wallet, and guitar. The laptop was on its way out, so I’m not totally broken up about it. Plus I have an iPad, so I’m still able to get my work done, thank God!! I am bummed about my bag, however. My mom got it for me in Turkey and had my initials put on it. It was such a cute leather bag, everywhere I went I received compliments on it.
Wait, I’m on the East Coast?
I should mention that I’m in North Carolina. Charlotte to be exact. I had every intention on sharing how I went from being in Arizona 2 weeks ago to ending up in NC, but this robbery happened, and I figure I’d talk about that first. I will, guarantee that I will go more into detail about my recent travels. I’ve been to Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina. This week, I PROMISE, I’ll share photos and my shenanigans. Anyway, I should explain how I got robbed.
On a Hike
As I’m nearing 1 week of being in NC (I leave tomorrow), I’ve been indulging in the beautiful trails that are all around Charlotte. Honestly, I’ve had such a wonderful time here. Anyway, this morning, I decided to go to a new trail instead of the 4 mile trail that I’ve grown to love. I decided to take my laptop as I was going to sit in a coffee shop after my hike to do some writing. I get to the destination, and on a stupid whim, I decided to leave my wallet in the car, because I didn’t want to carry it*
* Friends, never leave your ID, cash, valuables in a car.
I know, it was dumb. So anyway, I spent about 2 hours on the trail, enjoying the beauty all around me. I decided to leave my camera at the house I’m staying in (thank God). As I was walking back, feeling super refreshed and in good spirits after the hike, I was greeted by a park ranger who asked if the vehicle she was standing next to was mine. I was about 50 feet away, so I could barely see her, and the car was out of my line of sight. At first, I thought I was parked in an unauthorized spot, but as I got closer, she explained that someone busted the window and opened the trunk.
Enjoying Life’s Curveballs
To be honest, after the year I’ve had, having my car broken into didn’t even phase me. After taking the information in, I sighed, called the cops, and inspected the vehicle. The thief even stole my earbuds case, which is also its charger. What’s stupid is that I had the earbuds with me, so all they got was a case, and now I have no charger.
To add to the mania, the park ranger legit hit on me. She low key dropped the “did your boyfriend buy you that jacket” qualifying question, to see where my orientation leaned. I laughed, because who in their right mind thinks it’s wise to hit on someone who’s just gone through a burglary? I sidestepped the question and told her I prefer to be alone and that my dog was all the company I needed. After 20 minutes or so, she left, and I waited for the cops on my own. I didn’t mind, though. After dealing with the officer (I swear, both the ranger and officer were as cliche as can be), I removed the glass and drove back to the house I was staying at.
This may sound weird, but I’m incredibly thankful for all of the ridiculous things that have happened as of late. It’s really made me grow closer to God and to keep things in perspective. I’m safe, Abbey wasn’t there so nothing happened to her. The window isn’t going to cost a lot to replace and will be fixed tomorrow. Aside from losing some cash, my ID, and some gadgets, it’s all well and good. I am annoyed that I will be having to go to the DMV AGAIN as I just got my license replaced in May. Also, I had just purchased some amazing InkJoy gel pens and a really adorable pen case which was in my bag. If only you knew how much I LOVE my pens. Oh, and my journals and manuscript notes were all in there. There were years of ideas and notes about my books. So, that’s a tough loss. Oh well, such is life. I’m thankful that I have parents that were kind and helpful through this ordeal. I’m grateful that everything taken is replaceable.
Motivated to Make it Happen
If you’re of the Christian faith, you know that opposition and setbacks occur as a way to discourage you from growing closer to God. I find that when you’re cultivating that relationship, expect some weird stuff to happen. So, rather than discourage me, it’s making me double down in my faith, and be who He’s called me to be. These crappy moments just make me want to sing His praises even louder. So with that being said, I’m going to finish packing and getting ready for my next destination. That and I’m going to write more and with an increased gusto as I will not be deterred in being who I am. On that note, happy Monday and I hope it’s a good one!
Writer’s Note:It took me some time to write this because writing this makes it real, and it means that I have to make a few significant changes. Still, I’m glad I wrote it as it’s been a healing and cathartic process.
After Brian Head, I checked into a hotel, a nice one as I didn’t want to be cheap. I also didn’t want to be caught off guard by weirdos. Anyway, I posted up in St. George. Though I was over Utah and ready to keep moving east, my mom was coming into town and St George is significantly cheaper than Vegas and only 90 minutes away. And, if I’m being honest, I do like St. George as the Virgin River runs through it and the trails are pretty sweet.
The hotel I was staying that offered breakfast and a nice one at that. So the next morning at 6, I went to the hall with my headphones and iPad and had breakfast. It was mainly uneventful until a man accidentally bumped into my table. He was sincerely apologetic, but internally I was so startled, I cleared my plate, walked back to my room and cried.
Up until that point, my sense of agency and autonomy surrounding traveling alone and being a woman had never been compromised. Barring the general safety tips, I never once questioned my ability to come and go as I pleased and I didn’t have a fear of men. Part of me was crying because of what happened, but another part was crying because I had experienced a frustrating reality.
Navigating the Feels
I experienced a wide range of emotions in the following week. Part of me questioned if I had done something to make him think his behavior was appropriate. I kept replaying the moments in my head, over and over, trying to figure out what I missed and how I got into that situation. I also was dealing with a bit of rage. Thinking about how he wrapped his body around mine and did not let me go (a hug this was not), made me want to drive back up that hill and castrate him. I hate to admit it, but this was my first experience with legitimately hating someone, at least for a moment. To have someone take a choice from you is a very infuriating thing. After stewing on the moment, I realized a very creepy thing, he targeted me from the beginning.
There’s a children’s book on strangers that my parents had me read when I was a child. One of the examples had to do with a man calling a kid by his name, telling him his mother had asked him to pick the child up. The kid then asks the man what his mother’s name was and he could not answer, thus prompting the child to run to another adult for help. Looking back on how Brett introduced himself, I realized I had been suckered into that conversation by his fake segue. Seriously, I truly was the only Black woman for at least 2 towns over, it was a bullshit statement.
Not the Only One
Recognizing that I had done nothing wrong, I decided to let it go, and chalk it up to a learning lesson. Sadly, I did talk to a few women (a colleague of mine and another hotel guest) who had had similar experiences in their lives. It was nice to be understood, but it made me sad to realize that this crap happens more than I knew. I’m fortunate that my experience was relatively harmless and only lasted a weekend. I will say that I now understand why people choose not to speak on these matters.
There are so many conflicted feelings, it’s hard to articulate what’s happening, and your response in the situation is never what you’d think it would be. Before this incident, if you would have asked me what I’d do if a man ever put his hands on me, I’d tell you I’d fight back. Now that it had happened, I 100% understand why women (and men) don’t fight back, laugh, or deny the event in its entirety. There’s so much red tape, and unless you’ve experienced it, it’s hard to identify or relate to. That and the first thing most people ask is if you were complicit in some kind of way. As time went on, I minimized the event, believing that I had overblown the situation. I was well on my way in getting past it until I received an email, which prompted me to write this series.
Trust Your Gut
As I was getting ready to go to Vegas, I received an email from Brett titled: Hello There. I’ll admit, my heart sunk when I saw it and I felt a sense of dread. Still, I opened it. It started out with him talking about everything he was up to. I got three sentences in and realized that it was a freaking novel. After he stopped talking about himself, he began recalling “compliments” I gave him. This dude was skewing words I had said to make it seem like I was infatuated with him! It took me 2 seconds to realize that I was right, he was nuts. At that moment, I felt relief. What happened was messed up, not my fault, and I was ready to keep going with my life. I decided to delete the email before reading its entire contents and blocked his email address. I wasn’t going to let some asshole take up space in my head any longer.
Healing Old Wounds
This is going to sound weird, but I’m grateful for the experience as it forced me to deal with another traumatic episode in my life. After the incident with my family member, which I talked about recently, a conversation with my dad helped me come to terms with a lot of crap that I had been bottling up and avoiding. Last week, my dad was sharing with me some revelations he had in therapy, regarding triggers and traumatic incidences he had blocked out as a kid. To hear him speak about it and be at peace was astounding. I was happy for him. It also got me to thinking about an incident that happened to me 7 years ago that I had blocked out. Unpacking that incident made me see how it had impacted me for the last 7 years.
When I was 23, I was living with a family member who I had (still have) a tumultuous relationship with. To everyone in my family, it didn’t seem like a big deal and most just chalked it up to me being overly-sensitive. Long story short, I had just started my first corporate job (which spear-headed this blog), and this person was pretty jealous. To be honest, whatever I did she disapproved of and made thinly veiled comments. I could never do anything right and when I’d ask for the rules or how to better get along, she always changed the goal post. She’d say lavender and then say she meant blue. This went on forever. And forget about her taking responsibility for anything she did. Even if she was caught redhanded, she would excuse her behavior.
So anyway, one day I had just gotten home from a long day. I had barely gotten through the door and she began to pick a fight. I held my cool and did not engage, which enraged her even further, so much so that she shoved me into the garage, locked me out of the house, and threw my belongings outside. This occurred in front of my 4 and 5-year-old niece and nephew. I was stunned, but didn’t have time to process emotionally. I had been in Vegas for only 3 months and I didn’t know anyone else. I had just started a new job and had already paid my share of the rent, so I didn’t have the extra funds to go anywhere. Fortunately, my old boss turned friend let me stay with her for a week until I got my apartment.
Cleaning Old Wounds
Because I was able to relocate so quickly, I just put the incident out of my head, failing to emotionally process what all had occurred. I had just started a demanding job, I still had to finish up 2 more classes, I was in a new environment, and I had a host of new responsibilities. Sorting out my feelings was just not a priority. The problem is, when you don’t deal with trauma, it deals with you. The reason why I’m sharing it now is that I’m finally understanding my experience with emotional abuse and traumatic occurrences and how they’ve impacted me over the last 7 years.
Only 6 weeks after that incident, I had to go back to the scene of the crime as that was where Thanksgiving was taking place. Even though I knew I had been egregiously wronged, I just buried my feelings to get along. This wouldn’t be the last time either. When someone forces you out of your home, destabilizing your environment, and destroying your sense of safety and wellbeing, well, it messes up your head. Also, having a family rally around the offender holiday after holiday, knowing what’s going on but still carrying, on psychologically screws you up even more.
Logically, my mindset was “the needs of the many trumps the few”. But emotionally, I began to shut down in ways, I’m only beginning to understand. To try and quickly wrap this up, I began to shut down academically (failed both classes I should have easily Aced), I was making poor life choices (staying numb to everything and was incredibly hypervigilant), and I eventually would go back to live with this person on two different occasions.
See, during my time away she would be kind, charming, charismatic, and almost seemingly loving, which screwed up my reality as to what was really going on. Like a siren luring ships into destruction, I’d be comforted by her false promises and hidden agenda. So, when I decided to go freelance, it seemed like a no brainer, we were on better terms, what could go wrong? Well, everything.
She was so good at twisting words, getting people on her side, and changing her mood as quickly as she breathed, that I began to question my experience. Even when I knew she was clearly in the wrong, I would second guess myself. This pattern led to ruminating thoughts, and when I was extremely stressed– which was almost all the time– I couldn’t think my way out of a paper bag.
I recently read a book about dealing with a narcissistic family member and I cannot tell you how much peace, healing, and validation I got. When you’re dealing with someone of that nature, it’s almost like fighting a monster that is very real to you and imaginary to everyone else. People like that erode your sense of self, tear you down, and then manipulate you into thinking you’re useless without their help. It’s difficult to identify when you’re in the throws of it.
The weird part and I have to thank Brett, I suppose, is that when someone outside my family had tried to use these tactics, it was easy to see. But because she’s family, I was none the wiser, that and I had never experienced this kind of dysfunctional home environment. Living with my parents was pretty easy in the sense that I had my space, they were supportive and loving. Plus, they aren’t the manipulative, gaslighting type. So, I had no reference for what was going on and she was extremely good (and still is) at making me look like the bad guy.
Just to give a brief breakdown of my destructive behaviors, I’d have bouts of hopeless feelings, self-sabotaging behavior (with work and health), learned helplessness, hypervigilance, and lethargy. Everything was doom and gloom and nothing seemed like it mattered. Externally, I seemed unaffected and congenial. Internally, well, I was a big numb sack of parts. The biggest thing I didn’t realize until last week was how dissociative with my feelings I had become. Don’t get me wrong, I’m naturally more logical-leaning than a feeling type of person. But I have come to realize that my sense of arrested development is a coping mechanism from being under this person’s thumb for so long.
I also stopped trying to accomplish things because of a deep-rooted fear of success. That fear wasn’t because I was scared of achievement, but, I had become conditioned to be afraid of her response whenever something good happened for me. Each major conflict we’ve had has occurred when something eventful was going on in my life. I used to hide when good things happened because I was afraid of the retaliation. Our last major showdown (which prompted my travel escapades), happened after she found out that I had gotten a pretty lucrative contract with a university in town. My brother had been present when I received the news. I told him not to say anything to anyone, but he had happened to mention it to her. One day, as I was leaving my room, she appeared out of nowhere and said:
“I hear you’re going to start working with X university. Why didn’t you tell me about it?”
I remember stumbling on about just finding out, terrified of the implications of this conversation. She walked away with this eerie shrug, and I knew it would not be the last of this. Anyway, retaliation did happen on her birthday, to which she again (for the 3rd time, I know, I’m an idiot) kicked me out. Fortunately, I had had enough and had the financial resources to go my own way. After leaving, I had the wonderful opportunity to see 9 different states, hang out in Eugene, Or. for 4 months, and make many neat friends along the way. Those experiences were so necessary for me to build up a resolve. Even still, I had to return to the scene of the crimes(s) for family holidays as though none of this stuff had occurred.
Breaking the cycle
I can’t begin to describe the mental gymnastics one has to go through to justify and tolerate such in an insane cycle of behavior. For the most part, I was able to trick myself into believing I was fine, and to the outside world, it appeared as such. What made it even worse was how these manufactured family holidays messed with my head. Everything revolved around her, her house, her control. If it’s not about her, she would pout or shun people. I’d have to tiptoe around just to appease her fragile sense of self, even to my detriment.
To best describe it, it’s like being shot in the gut, everyone knows who shot you, but because you’re bleeding out, it’s too uncomfortable to look at, and you, the wounded person must alter your reality to appease everyone involved. Now, I understand why I had this underlying rage (which only manifested if I drank) lurking about. Looking back, I completely understand my behavior patterns and why I had become such a passive person in my life.
I will say, that I am grateful for certain bouts of resiliency that I had, and now, I’m doubling down on that. One of the things I learned reading books on this dynamic is that people with this affliction target those they perceive to be strong, which means I’m strong enough to survive this and move on in my life. So, as I said a few posts ago, I’m glad this person has “kicked me out” of her life. It’s been a blessing. Sure it means I’m walking away from certain things, but it also means I’m walking back to me, and that is way more important than anything else.
Now that I’ve gotten this all out of my head, it leaves prime real estate for me to do the things I want to accomplish. That, and we can go back to my regularly (not-regular) scheduled posts about things that interest me and not things that have haunted me. I will say that, if anyone has experienced this type of abuse/family dynamic, apparently, it’s more common than you think and it’s not your fault. Don’t feel ashamed if someone is mistreating you. At the end of the day, the only person you’re responsible for is yourself. Lastly, I’ll list a few resources that helped me heal and move past this. I hope they help you as much as they have helped me.
Once I got to Starbucks, ordered my double shot espresso, and had some unrelated banter with the barista I had come to know (we both liked each other’s Dr. Martens boots), I sat down to try and make sense of what happened. I knew that I wasn’t going to get much work done because my nerves were rattled and my mind kept replaying the incident on a continuous loop. But the thing was, I was slated to leave in the morning, it was already 2 pm and I still had a laundry list of things I needed to accomplish. This wasn’t the time to deal with emotions, so naturally, I did what I do best, I disassociated from them and got to planning my next steps.
As someone who organically finds feelings to be a nuisance, setting them aside comes very easy for me. Seriously, if you have a crisis (not involving snakes), you’re going to want me around for the tough calls. That and I spent the last few years with an emotional vampire, so not acknowledging my feelings had also become a coping mechanism. Anyway, still ignoring his texts, I planned my exit strategy, deciding to clean and pack up the night before. This sounds practical, but I’m generally one that leaves that stuff to the last minute. But, in this case, I wanted to leave as early as possible because I just wanted to avoid him. As for the goodbye, I decided to pop in, with Abbey in tow, say a quick goodbye and leave. The good thing was he didn’t know where I was going next and I don’t have social media other than a Twitter account that’s collecting dust. After sorting out my things, I went to the store, got cleaning supplies, filled my tank, and went back up the mountain. There, I grabbed Abbey and made my way up to his apartment one last time, unannounced. If he was going to keep intruding on me, I figure I’d return the favor.
I knock on the door and he yells, “it’s open”. I remember being annoyed because I didn’t have such luxury to leave my door unlocked without feeling unsafe. Anyway, Abbey and I walk in, she begins to create distance between him and myself, of which he blatantly ignores. Before I can barely get out a hello, he hugs me again. This time, I jerked away harder, knowing that Abbey was there should anything get weird.
“I don’t like hugs,” I say firmly, with my arm out creating more distance.
“Ok, ok” he replies with his hands up.
His tone insinuates that I’m overreacting, but I don’t care. I was feeling pretty confident until I saw a white paper on his table. It was just a single white sheet of printing paper, but the only contents written on it was my name. My heart sank down to my shoes. The eeriness of the situation was getting the better of me and I wanted to be done with this. Plus Abbey was picking up on my discomfort and was holding an aggressive stance.
“I just wanted to pop in and say goodbye, so goodbye,” I say trying to not be creeped out by the paper.
“That’s it, you can’t stay? Well, it’s been nice getting to know you. Let’s keep in touch. Do you have an email address. We can write each other,” he says, rushing out the words.
That moment enraged me in the sense that I could tell he was still trying to assert some kind of bonding obligation. One, he doesn’t know me, we had 2 dumb conversations. Two, I always hated how he kept rushing conversation, not leaving anytime to process or think about what he’s saying. Still, the white paper was staring back at me and I just wanted to be done.
So I rattle off my email address and tell him my father is expecting my call. Abbey, who is now on full alert, steps in front of him as he tried to go for another hug. Again, Abbey is the MVP and she will forever get bacon treats from me, but only occasionally because human food makes her believe she’s pack leader and she becomes too cool for her food or obedience. Anyway, we head down to the condo, I turn on the game (Raptors v. Bucks), and get to packing.
You’re probably wondering why I went up to say goodbye. It was to get some distance in interaction. I knew that if I didn’t stop by, he’d probably come to my condor, or manufacture another “random” encounter in the hallway. I just didn’t want to deal with either of those options. Feeling a little better, as there was 12 hours left of me being in this prison, I text my dad and joke about the experience, saying that I’d be free soon enough. He texts me a video of him and my oldest nephew using hover boards. I laugh and the video puts me at ease. I hear a ping from my computer and I realize that it’s my email. I click to view, thinking it might be a client, it was Brett.
I seriously had left his condo 15 minutes prior, so why the need to email, ugh. In there email, there was only one sentence, “I will keep in touch.” I quickly delete it and turn back to the game. I’m not letting him take up any more of my time or space. My phone then buzzes, I pick it up, thinking it’s my dad. Nope, by now I’m sure you’ve guessed it, it was Bret.
“Go Raptors!” It said, which made my blood run cold. I didn’t tell him I was watching the game and his condo is one floor up and on the other side, so there was no way he could hear my television. At this point, I felt so unnerved and destabilized because I couldn’t rationalize my way out of this. I had no logical explanation for the text and I did not want to pontificate why or how he knew what I was doing. I shake off the feeling, block his number from my phone, check to make sure that my front door is locked and dead bolted, and continue with the game.
The Next Morning
I slept horribly, maybe an hour, but when 5 am hit, I jumped out of bed to start the last for chores I had. The place I was staying was an Airbnb and they had made an exception for Abbey, so I wanted to make sure the place was left in pristine condition. Everything was fine, except that every single little noise or closing of a door just sent chills down my spine. It got so bad that Abbey was just as agitated, barking at each noise. She’s not a naturally mouthy dog, but I knew she could tell how uneasy I was. Anyway I finished cleaning, put Abbey in the car, and went back to do one last look over. As I was leaving in the stairwell, I could hear steps behind me, so I quickened my pace. In my rush, I dropped a can of Febreeze, but I was in such a panic, I did not care. I get to my car, and try to hop in and then I hear someone call my name. It was Roger, the caretaker. Feeling like an idiot, I did a neighborly wave. He handed me the air freshener container and wished me well on my travels.
Out of Sight, in my mind
As I made my way down the winding mountain, I could not help but feel a great sense of relief. I call my mom— who had asked for an update on my departure— and I made a few jokes about the experience. I tend to use humor to distill my complex emotions. Logically, I’d never have to see Brett again. But, what I didn’t understand and would later find out, was that emotional processing needed occur before I could put this experience to bed.
I had plans to post the final part to my “Creepy ass White dude” saga today, but I had an interesting change in relationship with a toxic family member and I wanted to rejoice in my newfound freedom. Out of respect to my parents, I won’t name the person, but I will talk about the relationship and how I allowed it to muddy the waters of my state of being for so long.
When you are asleep at the metaphorical wheel of your life, it’s easy for toxic people to infiltrate your mind, setting up a host of nasty Trojan horses to gain control over you. For years I allowed this person to prey on me because I was so oblivious to my own needs and rights as an individual. As such, I allowed this person to drain me of my resources— time, money, help, support, etc.— under the guise that they were family and that trumps everything. Well, if you’re family is consistently hurting you or making you feel like you’re the problem or that everything is your fault, RUN!
The problem with emotionally manipulative people is that they are subtle in how they get their hooks into you. Problematic behaviors don’t just manifest overnight, they take time. The person can make seemingly harmless comments to you or about you under the guise of “trying to help”. They’re good at twisting your words and putting you on the defensive to destabilize your emotional wellbeing. If this happens over a decent period of time and you’re not doing anything to establish boundaries, they will control you.
A Tricky Blind Spot
It’s funny, looking back, I really was out to lunch. I think one of the biggest reasons why I didn’t see it was that she’s family. You don’t expect your loved ones to use and abuse you. That and she leveraged children. This gets trickier when little ones are involved, so I was able to reconcile the shitty behavior for their well-being. Ironically, it was this relationship that helped me see how messed up Brett was. Once you’ve experienced “Bat Shit Crazy” it’s way easier and faster to spot. Interestingly enough, both of them suffered some form of abuse one way or another. I really believe that at one point they were victims. The funny thing is, there’s a very fine line between victim and aggressor, and if you don’t seek help or deal with your trauma, you’re likely to become the monster you once feared.
Aiding and Abetting
I’m not going to go into every detail about my relationship or interactions with this person because a) I’m lazy and it would take forever to recall details, and b) I’m at a point where I’m happy to move past stewing over the garbage encounters with that person. While I’ve set my own boundaries, my family is still entrenched and sweeps this person’s behavior under the rug. I’ll admit, the last encounter— the 4th of July— nearly got the best of me because of how fake everything was. There was a time where I felt like Candace from Phineas and Ferb (yes, I’m referencing a children’s cartoon). But, instead of trying to expose fun science projects, I was hellbent on proving that this person was indeed the root cause of a lot of problems. Needless to say, this tactic provided me with more anguish than solutions.
Since my parents are out of the country and I’m a nomad, we have to do family occasions at this person’s house. This means we all get together, pretending that they aren’t a manipulative narcissist. For the most part, I can hold my tongue as I generally focus my time and energy on all 7 of my niece and nephews. That said, I’ve come to the point where pretending like nothing is wrong and sitting on the grenades this person lobs in my direction, is over. If my parents want to continue in that cesspool of dysfunction, I can’t stop them, but I’ve served my time into that mental ward and I’m checking myself out. Now that I’ve had a week to think about things far away from the situation, I initially wanted to call this person out and distance myself. However due to their snooping ways, they did the heavy lifting for me.
Cat out of the bag
Yesterday, I was having a chat with my father— a thing we do several times a week— and we were catching up on things. He stays with that person in question, and how he does it is beyond me. Just to give you context, we talked for an hour and that person had come up, because of a gaslighting conversation they had with my Dad. I know this because of how my Dad was speaking about the situation. The words he was using to describe his actions had a negative and malicious vibe to them. I asked him why he was talking in that way because the one thing my father is not is negative or malicious. It turns out, these were the words the other person assigned to his behavior. This tactic is not unfamiliar and I was quick to shed light on what she was trying to do.
Toxic people will do anything to shift any type of blame onto their opponent. They assigned intent on your actions even if what you’re trying to do is benign or benevolent. They do this to make you feel insecure, thus depending more on them. This made me furious. It’s one thing to treat me like shit. But if you do that to either of my parents, we have an issue. So anyway, we talked about it and I gave anecdotal evidence to highlight her manipulative behavior. It wasn’t more than 8-10 minutes of our conversation, but it turns out to be the best thing to ever happen.
Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep I got an email titled “This Morning…”. I opened it and it started by the person admitting they were eavesdropping on the conversation with my dad and heard all of the names I called her. She then talks about how I trashed her family, and how I’m no longer welcome in her home. After reading it, I laughed out loud. First of all, I did not call her any names. Second, what I said was the truth, if she has a problem with that, she should definitely self-reflect.
To be honest, I’ve never felt more happier about being “broken up” with. The funny thing is I know she was trying to hurt me, but truthfully, she set me free! Thanks to her, I no longer have to play into her crazy mind games and manipulative tactics. I feel like the last year has prepped me to handle these types of situations with ease. I have to give God some blame because my relationship with Him has really impacted how I see myself, the world, and how I move around in it. I’ve come to learn how to control my mind, thoughts, and feelings. Balancing those things are so important and disciplining myself to do the work has been well worth the discomfort!
Free to do what I want
So in a nutshell, I’m free of the dysfunction and nonsense that once plagued me. Prior to this, I tended to take a long-suffering, obligation approach to certain family members. Not anymore. This experience —along with many others— has shown me how to remain calm in even the most turbulent of storms. I didn’t share this story to crap all over my family member. No, I still love her and hope she gets some help. I shared it to shed a light on dealing with toxic family members. So here are a few takeaways:
-Be present in your life, take care and value yourself
-Don’t take the blame for what manipulators do, this isn’t your fault
– You are not responsible for anyone but yourself
– How others perceive you is their problem not yours
– Don’t allow others to assign intent to your actions
– As long as you’re not hurting others, be yourself!
With my newfound freedom, I am writing more than ever before. My creative thoughts are buzzing and I could not be happier. The last thing I will share is an article— which you can find here —about manipulative people, how they work, how to spot their tactics, and what you can do to set boundaries. I was going to share it with the final “creeper” piece (I probably still will), but it’s just such an excellent read and does a wonderful job explaining the shit-show that is a manipulative person. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the reading! I’ll finish off the rest of the “creeper saga” next week. But before I got, I want to leave you with this little number to enjoy. Cheers!
Safety is such a subjective matter. Everyone has their own interpretation of safety. For me, autonomy has always been at the center of my core. Personal safety, however, has not been something I’ve had to define for myself, even as a woman. Before this incident, I was certainly in the minority, as I never really questioned my safety. I had always adhered to practical rules for traveling solo. That and I have a very muscular 55 lb border collie mix who has no problem voicing her dislike for people. Even as a pup, she challenged a 120 lb pit mix when it came running down the street to attack us on a nighttime stroll. At 36 lbs during this event, she held her own, only sustaining a surface wound on her backside. I was more traumatized than she. But anyway, I’m off topic.
I woke up, like any other day, and Abbey and I went for a decent-sized walk. I felt like I owed it to her for the other day. On that walk, I called my dad. We chatted for a bit and caught up. He was in Maryland for the funeral of his great uncle. There, he was re-introduced to family members he hadn’t been in contact with since his childhood. I remember hearing his disbelief and awe about family problems that sent a rift between his grandfather and great uncle. He had enjoyed catching up with cousins and the like and lamented about how much time had passed for this to occur. That moment stuck with me as I realized how important it was to let things go and not to harbor grudges.
Anyway, I had told him about the second conversation I had with Brett and how it was not my cup of tea. I then thanked him for being such a great male role model for me and demonstrating healthy boundaries. One of the things I had come to ascertain from my experience with Brett was how easy it is for an unassuming woman to fall prey to his creepy advances. Fortunately for me, I was not interested or charmed by his behavior and I made sure my actions and words matched that sentiment. Still, the observationalist in me could see the parallels of overbearing behavior being misconstrued as loving or amorous.
Society does not help in matters such as these. Older men are often regarded as wise, smarter than the average idiot 20-something male, and the age stigma has certainly decreased over time. That and I’ve observed women in their 20s abandon their sense of self when receiving the attention of a seemingly well-established older male. Fortunately for me, my bullshit detector is in full form, so Brett’s charming facade had more cracks than a broken mirror.
Again, I can’t take full credit as my relationship with my father really informs my relationships with members of the opposite sex. I’m fortunate in the sense that I can talk to my dad about anything and we have a very candid friendly relationship. As I’ve grown older, it’s only improved. So after an hour-long chat, Abbey was happy with the prolonged outdoor adventure, so she and I retreated back into the condo.
I always feel like…
Maybe it’s the writer in me, or maybe it’s because I enjoy being alone, I am very good about observing my surroundings– even if I don’t heed my internal warnings. Back in the condo, I sink into this retro leather recliner, which is positioned by the window and balcony door. I should mention that the condo is a studio, so I was sitting by the only window. Since we are right by one of the exits, I keep the blinds partially open so that people on the outside can’t see us. That and it provides enough cover for me to creep on passerby’s undetected. For the first time in 28 days, I saw a shadowy figure outside the window that was seemingly not going away.
…somebody’s watching me
Intrigued, I was curious and annoyed by the person lurking by my window. I had grown accustomed to people walking by on weekends, but this was different, as the person was there for a few minutes. I cautiously proceed to the window, careful not to give away my position as I peeked through the blinds. To my dismay and creeped out vibes, it was Brett, standing there with his phone. A few seconds later, my phone beeps He was texting me while trying to nonchalantly peer through my window. At this point, chills were going down my spine as I open the message. Why the fuck was he by my window?
“Hey, how are you doing? You seemed a little off last night. Wanna hang out?” was the message on my phone. Again, I had just met this dude, and I’m 100% sure, I kept my cool when leaving. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being a chameleon, so his constant comments were absurd.
“Sorry if I was obnoxious,” again adhering to the stupid social contract. “I can’t. I’m packing to leave. I will let you know if things change.”
“It’s fine, I videotaped you and put it on YouTube,” was his response.
My heart sank to my feet as I was utterly thrown and disturbed by the comment. Who the fuck says that and in what world did he think that was ok? He was still by my window and at that moment, I felt stuck in the condo. Ignoring the text, I decided to ignore the situation. This dude can’t bother me unless I engage. Still, I had no desire to leave the tiny studio because he was lurking about. I remember feeling a sense of dread and frustration.
I hate when people intrude on my space, especially when it’s unwelcomed. That and there was literally no reason for him to be on my side of the condo. The rest of the day proceeded with him, sending more texts asking to hang out and apologizing for the YouTube comment. So clearly he recognized how inappropriate that text was. I ignored them all. The fact that he kept texting even though I had explicitly said I would let him know really pissed me off.
If this were a normal situation, I would have called him out and told him to fuck off. But seeing as the complex was nearly vacant and the only other people I knew were away, I just didn’t want to risk it. At this point, it was clear something was off with the dude, and I didn’t have any real recourse should he go off the deep end. For the first time in my 29 years of existence, I realized that my safety was compromised and it was a disturbing feeling.
Come Sunday morning, I basically barricaded myself in the condo. I didn’t want to run into him, even for a second. I was so paranoid that instead of taking Abbey out to pee using our normal route, I used the entrance a few feet from the condo. This required me to pick her up, carry her over the grated flooring (she refused to walk it, and I can’t blame her, it would’ve shredded her paw pads), let her do her business, and then carry her back over the floor. Neither of us enjoyed this process, but I didn’t want to take any chances.
Around 1 pm, I was fed up feeling like a prisoner and I really needed to get some work done. I made the decision to drive down the mountain to go to Starbucks. My car was located in the downstairs garage. It was literally a 45-second walk, there’s no way I’d run into Brett. Still, I had this sinking feeling that I could not shake. I made the decision to ignore my apprehension, weighing the odds to go through with it. There’s no way I’d let some creepy asshole deter me from going on about my day. I said a quick goodbye to Abbey and then tiptoed down the hallway. As I opened the door to the stairwell, before I could get a look at the figure before me, a pair of arms pulled me into an embrace. It was Brett.
There are no words in the English dictionary to describe how it feels when someone– who is bigger and stronger– puts their body on yours when you don’t want them to. I hate being touched without permission. I especially hate it when it’s a person that I had been actively trying to avoid. My first instinct was to pull away. As I began to squirm, he hugged me tighter and harder, stifling my attempts to free myself. I could not get out. Until that moment, I had never felt so physically powerless in my life. This was not a friendly hug, and I knew exactly what he was trying to convey– control and dominance. He succeeded, as I went limp, understanding that I didn’t have the strength to fight him off. I just stood there, waiting for him to be done.
“Hi!!” He screeched, finally letting me go.
“I don’t like hugs,” I mumble not making eye contact, pushing past him to head to my car. I was spooked and wanted to get away. He clearly did not get the hint as he followed me to my car.
“Where are you going?” he asked
“Coffee shop,” I muttered.
“Do you need a printer? I have one. You can come up,” he said as he walked me to my car. “Is this your car?”
Shit, I thought. Now this fucker knows my vehicle and basically every important detail about my whereabouts.
“I’m fine, thanks,” I mutter, trying to get into my car.
“You seem standoffish as opposed to the other night,” he mentions. “Don’t forget to stop by and say goodbye before you leave. You have to promise me you’ll stop by. I’ll find you if you don’t.”
At this point, I was flabbergasted. Keep in mind, this is Sunday afternoon. I met this dude Friday late morning and had only 2 conversations. For him to be so pushy was insane to me. That and I was still trying to deal with the ambush that just happened. What stood out to me the most was his word choice. Even though he tried to appear “friendly”, everything was a command, order, or a threat.
“Yeah, I’ll stop by,” I say in a frustrated tone. “I need to go.”
“Ok, no need to be pushy,” he fake-jokingly retorted with his hands in the air as if I was overreacting.
At this point, I didn’t care about how he perceived my behavior. I got into my car and went down the mountain. I decided to shove the encounter to the back of my mind. I had work to do and still needed to finish cleaning and packing. Still, I couldn’t help but think about his comments about saying goodbye. I decided that I would stop by, but on my terms and I would have the control.
It’s been quiet on my end. Mostly because I’ve been trying how to wrap my head around an experience I had during the last 48 hours of my stay in Brian Head. Long story short, I unwittingly became the object of affection for one creepy ass middle age White guy. (Spoiler alert, this is a profanity-laced post.) Now, I’ve felt a lot of things about this experience, some being shame, guilt, fear, confusion, rage, a lot of pretty lame feelings. Truthfully, I wasn’t going to share it, that is, until he emailed me today, almost 4 weeks after the incident.
Monday– a week before I was slated to leave Brian Head– Abbey and I decided to go outside and play in the snow. It was May 23, but you’d never know it based on the inches of fresh powder on the ground. Because we were the only ones outside and because Abbey seems to have a penchant for the snow (seriously, she was like a pig in slop), I let her run around off-leash.
Everything was going pretty well. Abbey was having the time of her life, and I was enjoying watching my beloved partner in crime prance around in the snow. That moment changed when I saw some random dude with a dog that I was sort of familiar with. Bruce, the dog, belonged to this weird chick (who I later found out was dating the son of Roger, the condo’s caretaker) that had terrible social skills. Anyway, Abbey was staring at me and the man and Bruce were behind her. Sensing that something was up, Abbey turned around and immediately ran after the guy.
I frantically tried to run after her, screaming for her to stop, but I was calf-deep in fresh powder, so I was going nowhere fast. By the time I caught up to her and the man and Bruce, the man tried to shove Abbey back as she barked at him quite viciously. I should mention that Abbey is generally friendly, so why she behaved so aggressively was beyond me. In hindsight, Abbey saw what I did not, which is precisely why she’s earned all the treats in the world.
Anyway, I mumble out an apology, embarrassed, I scold Abbey and we trudge off to the condo. I really can’t explain why, but the interaction felt off in some way, but since Abbey was technically the offender, I took responsibility. I wish that was the only interaction I had with that dude, but I suppose that would make this story boring.
Caught off guard
Fast forward to Friday, it’s the morning, around 10am. Abbey and I had gotten out late as I had overslept. My plan was to quickly let her out to do her business and then I would shower and become a semi-productive member of society. It was quite sunny and the snow had significantly melted. As Abbey was finishing up, I caught a glimpse of a man in my peripheral vision who was seemingly going to the rec room/laundry facility. He hesitated for a second, but then changed direction and walked my way.
“Hey, you’re Trevor’s friend, right?” He asked. “I saw you in his Truck the other day.”
I was taken aback because, A, I’m literally the only Black person for at least 40 miles, so in my head, the comment didn’t make sense. B, the way he began the interaction was jarring. I can’t really describe it, but it felt forced and inorganic. But, thanks to that old stupid social contract we dumb humans abide by, I go against my better judgment and reply that he must have mistaken me for someone else. Anyway, he offers his name, Brett, and goes on a spiel about himself and how he was writing a memoir on his abusive upbringing.
I should mention that Roger, had mentioned someone that fit Brett’s description. I think this put my guard down further because it established a sort of familiarity. I immediately put 2 and 2 together and tell him that I had heard about him from Roger. The interaction with the caretaker stuck with me because he had mentioned how shitty the man’s family was and how grateful that he never had such experiences. I had told him that Roger had mentioned him a few weeks ago and Brett had asked if I was staying in the Airbnb condo across from Roger. I said yes, not thinking anything of it. Up until that point, the few people I did meet in Brian Head were quirky, polite, and generally kept to themselves, so I didn’t see the harm.
Maybe I felt pity for the man, or maybe I felt charitable enough to have a conversation with a human, but Brett ended up highjacking an hour and a half of my time. What was supposed to be a 5-minute pee break became a battle of intellect of sorts. See Brett was doing his best to appear impressive and well-read. Very few people can get the jump on me when it comes to mental sparing, so my ego was in full swing. That and he seemed harmless. It also didn’t help that he appeared normal and attractive enough for me to cut him more slack than I would’ve given the circumstances. I mean he was basic White dude attractive, mid-50s, in shape, with steely blue-ish green eyes. Friends, evil comes in the form that we least expect. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t been so eager to chat, but, there’s no use in crying over spilled milk.
What I appreciated about the conversation was the Brett seemingly was able to keep up (for the most part) and appeared to be somewhat of a critical thinker. We chatted about politics, the world order, how dumb society was, and religion. I outwitted him in all categories (see, dumb ego at its finest) but, I still had considered him a decent debater. He went on to proclaim how dumb it was to believe in God, and in my mind, I thought how dumb he was for not. Still, I believe that everyone has a right to live as they see fit and I told him just as much.
I’m not going to go over the whole entire conversation because it wasn’t really relevant, but I will go over some of his mannerisms and demeanor that raised concerns in my thoughts. For one, there was this underlying aggression in his tone and stance. When he was speaking about things he disagreed with, he’d clench his fist and lean in, closing the distance between us. I remember thinking to myself, “that’s odd, his behavior almost seems menacing. Interesting.” The second flag was that he kept correcting me when I spoke, even though I was right. This annoyed me, but there was something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on about this dude, so I allowed the interaction to continue. I figured, it could make for a great story one day. Boy, was I right.
I tend to have a clinical approach when it comes to interacting with others, disassociating from my emotions to better assess the person I’m engaging with. If I’m being honest, one of the reasons I do this is to find weaknesses or tells to exploit so that I can manipulate the conversation. This isn’t because I’m trying to be evil or manipulative, but rather it helps me ascertain the person’s thought process, how to better converse with them in a manner that is comfortable to them, and best of all, it allows me to hide in plain sight. Admittedly, I keep myself close to the vest, so being able to size up an opponent allows me to mirror their behavior/mannerisms, giving them what they would most likely enjoy in the interaction without me having to be fully present. I know, it sounds very serial-killer of me, but, it is what it is.
Anyway, I was trying to wrap it up, and he kept mentioning that he had to go, but then he’d start on some other diatribe that would last 10 minutes. I remember being annoyed about my time being stolen. Plus Abbey kept sighing every few moments and I knew she wanted to leave. Before going our separate ways he’d mentioned how financially secure he was and asked if I’d like to come up for a beer and chat, to which I politely declined. This type of conversation wasn’t new to me. If I had stock in how many times I get hit on by White dudes his age, I’d never have to work again. Still, my ego was loving this, so leaving him with rejection was fun.
When I got back to the condo, I called my dad and told him of the incident, joking that I had found my sugar daddy. At that point, I didn’t think anything of it as it was just a waste of my time, but nothing major. After getting off the phone with my dad, I heard a knock at my door. Puzzled, I naively answer it. It was Brett standing at my door.
Slightly annoyed at the intrusion, I step outside to assert some sort of boundary. Before I could say anything, he offers an apology, saying sorry if his comments about God offended me. I was taken aback by his display of sheepishness, especially since I didn’t give any indication of offense when we were talking. At that moment, I felt bad for his feeling bad at his remark, probably because I’ve been known to stick my foot in my mouth, I felt compassion for him. This overrode my sense of feeling that my space was invaded. In other words, it made me drop my guard.
I accepted the apology and attempted to make him feel better for his comments. Again, in hindsight, it was dumb. He then asked if I’d like to go on a trail with him and Bruce. I say yes, because I like the outdoors and he said this spot was the best. He says to meet up in an hour and went away. At first, I was weirded out but then was reassured that Abbey would be there if anything got weird. So I showered and got ready. Fortunately, my intuition got the better of me, so when he showed up again at my door, I made an excuse about work and that maybe I’d meet him up there. He gives me his number and leaves.
I wish I could say that’s where the story ended, but it doesn’t. A couple of hours roll by and I felt bad for lying about bailing, so to be nice, I wrote a quick text apologizing for flaking and that I hope it was a good trip. He quickly responds that he’s back and that I should come up for coffee and a chat if I was free. I didn’t see the harm in that so I did.
So, I go to his condo, (writing this, I’m cringing) knock to which he shouts “it’s open”. I look around and the condo is in pristine condition. I mean it was tidy.He was in the kitchen making food for himself. He offered me some, to which I declined. He then sticks a fork-full of pasta in my direction, insisting that I try it. Begrudgingly I obliged. Without warning, he then proceeds to run on about his life, the various abuses that he suffered growing up, his shitty parents, his shitty foster dad. It was a lot of personal information to absorb in such a short amount of time that it didn’t seem genuine. In fact, it well like he was reciting a shopping list. I remember feeling annoyed and exasperated thinking “ok dude, you were beaten and sexually assaulted, can we please move on”.
This went on for about an hour, and I barely got in a word, and when I did, he’d have some thinly-veiled backhanded comment towards it. One that I distinctly remember was him saying, “you seem really guarded like you’re unemotional to protect yourself.” That threw me off because while I am pretty lowkey, I’m able to supply information if the moment calls for it. Seeing as I only met the dude a few hours ago, I didn’t feel the need to share the deepest darkest secrets of my life. Still, even though I didn’t agree with the comment, I felt the need to be agreeable. He’d go on to say things about him being older, which gave him a wiser perspective. His experiences made him smarter than me. At that point, I was over trying to be nice as he was just being an asshole with a smile. As I was preparing to leave, I made an asshole comment about being a magnet for old White dudes his age. He took it as a compliment when I meant it was an insult.
For some reason, I realized that I wasn’t in a situation I could control. I couldn’t help but remember his slightly aggressive demeanor from the morning and it was getting late. Even though I’ve been traveling solo for about 7 months, being with a strange man alone was not smart. After all, it was the off-season and there were only like 5 people staying in the giant condo complex. My instincts kicked in and I phoned a friend, pretending like she called me. I “took” the call and went back down to my apartment thinking that this would be the last I’d see of him. After all, it was Friday evening and I was leaving Monday morning. I figured I’d write off the time wasted. But what I thought was an annoying afternoon became the impetus for the more antagonizing 48 hours of my life.
Pardon my abrupt 4-ish month hiatus. Turns out, I needed a leave of absence to get my bearings. Admittedly, as I was beginning my 3-month “vacation” it was clear that I had some internal work to do. Thankfully after a few (tons) conversations with God, I made peace with a lot of things, learned to rely on His wisdom and not my own, which set me free in so many aspects of my life. It’s been a pruning period, to say the least. I will say that I am much better for it and am thankful for all of the experiences that have led me to this point thus far. So here are a few things that I’ve been up to in my absence.
In January, I was mentally/emotionally in a chaotic state, not dealing with my “things” very well. Fortunately, I could tell something was amiss, and though I was committed to doing the “work”, I needed some help. Faith really played a part in my healing process. I began to ask the questions, “how did I get here?” and “in what ways did I contribute to this mess?”. Funny thing is, if you do ask God these questions, you’ll get an answer, though it may not be what you want to hear. In short, in asking the tough questions, I realized that I needed to take responsibility for the relationships I engaged in and how I spent my time. The truth is, I had a habit of hanging out with insanely damaged people. When I realized that the baggage I was carrying was 98% not my own, it radically changed my view and perception about myself and the world I created.
Killing My Ego
As much as I hate to admit it, I have a Texas-sized ego. I’m smart and not only do I know it, I have no problem demonstrating it. It’s an issue I’m constantly managing, ha! I LOVE problem-solving. My spatial reasoning skills are quite amazing. There’s nothing wrong with having a healthy ego, but when you begin to believe that you are indeed Superman, therein lies the issue. Maybe I hung out with the wrong people because I believed I could fix them. Maybe I hung out with broken folks because it made me feel superior in some messed up way (also I hate admitting that, but it’s true). The problem is, birds of a feather flock together, so I would either change the people I was with or eventually become just like them.
Obviously, the latter happened. Of course, if you keep mentally trying to divide by zero, your brain will begin to shut down or explode. On a subconscious level, I knew something was awry, but I suppose at the time, it was easier to numb myself than to make changes. One of the worst things that I had to own was that I easily accepted the nonsense and beliefs of others without questioning or checking in with my own perspective. Friends, that is such a vile way to live! If there is one thing I hope that people could embrace, it’s to not allow other people’s perceptions of you rule your worldview. Once I began to question what people were saying and look at what they were actually doing, I began to realize the truth: a lot of people are hypocrites and blindly live according to societal standards or damaged value systems. Upon realizing this, it freed me to pursue the life that I want for myself, devoid of acknowledging the opinions of others.
Freedom in Being Yourself
After getting off of the “people-pleasing” rat race, the fundamental elements of Taryn came back, which I’m so thankful for! I now understand what I think, how I view myself, and what works for me to sustain a happy and meaningful life. Currently, I’m in Brian Head, UT with Abbey, enjoying the peaceful solitude of mountain life. There’s like 5 people up here, which is awesome! I do, on occasion, venture into the nearby town of Cedar City to people watch and do grocery shopping. To be honest, I can only last down there for about 3-4 hours before I become increasingly annoyed with the townsfolk.
I don’t know what it is, but one thing I’ve observed in my newfound “awareness” is that a lot of people are asleep at the wheel, merely going through the motions, and not fully aware of what it is that they’re doing. Seriously, I’ll have conversations with people and I will gently posit questions and 100% of the time, there’s a lightbulb going off in their minds. I don’t say this to come off as superior or judgmental. And maybe I’m able to see it because I too was once in this state. This observation honestly makes me want to go out and hug people, and tell them that it’s going to be OK. To me, seeing folks in this light signifies that there is something profoundly wrong with society.
Back to Creating
Anyway, this post wasn’t meant to be so existential, but then again, this is literally how my brain works. So, I will own it. I do want to share that I did end up making the podcast! The first episode airs in like 15 minutes, which you can find here! Is it perfect? No! But, I am proud of what I’ve accomplished, even though my audio-engineering skills leave a lot to be desired. Feel free to take a listen and share your thoughts! The whole podcast is meant to be humorous and I do not take myself seriously, so I hope you can get a laugh or two at the mis/adventures I will share on it. With that, I’m going to go outside and watch Abbey play in the snow. Until next time!
*WARNING: It’s about to get all Dr. Phil up in here.
I’ll be blunt, working through your feelings is annoying, tedious, frustrating, necessary, healing, and all of that stupid stuff. I get that it’s crucial because it helps you grow and mature as a person. But dangit, it’s hard.
Admittedly, I love/d being numb. It allows me to float through life and not feel. Avoiding things/feelings means that I don’t have to try or put any emotional “skin” in the game. To that end, my subconscious has been dealing with me in that even when I try to “go numb” it has this precarious way of forcing me to confront with what’s going on with me.
I’ll give you an example. My dad puts out daily devotionals of which I edit. I also help edit and format them into books. I don’t mind doing it, especially since what he has to offer is quite beneficial for readers. Today, as I was going through his latest manuscript, I couldn’t help but notice how he phrased the dedication section. Normally he lists my siblings and me chronologically. This time, he grouped it by kid and spouse. While this seems innocuous on its own, the salt in the wound stems from my Dad’s bias towards marriage and family.
I just finished a stint in Vegas visiting my family. It was a great time as I love seeing my family. My brother recently got re-married to a wonderful woman whom I also share a birthday with. I could not be happier for him, especially since she is a great person and her family is pretty awesome too. This new edition to my family has gotten my father to reignite his “marriage and family line” diatribe.
I will wholeheartedly vouch that in terms of parents, I hit the jackpot. I couldn’t ask for more supportive and loving parents. That said, my dad loves his family. So much so that every conversation usually has some lowkey marriage, partnership, and children slant. Seriously, the man does not shut up about the sanctity of marriage and child-rearing. Now, I don’t have a problem with either of the two. But, as of right now, I don’t want either. If I’m being completely honest, I don’t know if I will ever want them.
So back to the dedication and my reaction to it. Thanks to my recent sobriety stint and leveling up in self-awareness, I realized why it bothered me. While my dad has always told me he loves me and he’s proud of my accomplishments, it’s no secret as to what he values the most– marriage and grandchildren. I’m 0 for 2 with no signs of changing the score anytime soon.
Even though I’m happy with my choices and am stoked about where I am headed, the Ego in me feels incredibly inadequate and pissed. So much so that I’ve been unconsciously avoiding my dad’s calls.
I mean, I’m kicking butt and taking names. I’m in a position where I can focus on my art, my craft. I have my autonomy and I know how to use it. Why isn’t that enough? Why does it feel like the only goals worth bragging about are getting married and popping out children? It wasn’t until I saw the dedication page that I figured out this was bugging me.
This isn’t my dad’s fault, it’s mine for internalizing this feedback. Admittedly I am quite guilty of putting people’s opinions above my own. I can’t change people’s perspectives or views. I can, however, change how I react to them. I’m learning how to accept my choices and be proud of them. I can’t live my life for others. While part of me wants to go back to living with my head in the sand, I can’t help but admit that I feel better chipping away stuff in my head.
So, that’s it for this post. It’s weird being this transparent, especially to myself, but I suppose I won’t get to where I need to go if I don’t dig deep. On a side note, I will be posting my first podcast episode this week. I didn’t realize how much time I’d need to learn GarageBand. That and I’m being a “precious perfectionist” about the quality. Anyway, stay tuned for an announcement this week!
Metaphorically speaking. My actual bags are still a beleaguered work in progress.
I swear this post isn’t the pilot to my new “Taryn’s Anatomy” series, I’ve just had a lot of time to focus on me– for better and for worse.
A major part of why I decided to abandon ship from the real world was because I have the propensity of focusing on the lives of others rather than my own. Fortunately for me, I enjoyed a few tragically hilarious situations (which I will be sharing in my upcoming podcast!!) that forced me to change course. The beauty of traveling on my own is that I get to focus entirely on myself. The curse of traveling alone is that I get to focus entirely on myself. It’s certainly a red pill/blue pill situation.
Silence is LOUD
Traveling alone is awesome, especially if you don’t have to worry about your basic needs. It’s just me, my dog, my adventures, and my thoughts. Thoughts can be exceptionally loud when you’re unable to hide from them.
Starting out, it was rough. There were no external situations or people that I could blend into. There were a lot of painful moments/feelings that I wanted to drown out with alcohol. Eventually, I got tired of the morning after, trying to piece together the night before, and dreading to find out if I had sent embarrassing messages to people. That and I got tired of digestive tragedies that occurred after (alcohol sh*ts are a real thing, yo). So I’ve ditched the booze, for good and got comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Enjoy the Silence
Contrary to my early diagnosis, silence can be a beautiful thing. During these reflective moments, I’ve discovered some false truths and beliefs that I had to let go. I also learned that no choice is still a choice and being intentional is important. Most importantly, I learned that you don’t have to accept the status quo or the way of the world. Beating to your own drum is best.
It’s easy to hold on to your worst moments, your shame, your guilt, and build a construct around them. But, if you’re willing to let those things go, there is freedom and possibility on the other side. I’m not saying I’m the poster child for emotional wellness (that would be scary for the world, ha). I am, however, learning to appreciate the good while chucking the bad. Slowly but surely, I am lightening the load, leaving the unnecessary luggage behind. So on that note, I’m going to go walk Abbey. But I will leave you with this lovely little number. Cheers!
Right now, I’m currently in a Starbucks in Eugene OR feeling excited, terrified, and cautiously optimistic. Today marks THE first day of a three-month hiatus from “everything but Taryn”. I will be solely focusing on my creative endeavors, growing as a human, and just enjoying some time doing new stuff with my crazy mutt, Abbey.
I’ll admit, I am terrified because I am literally without excuse in terms of producing and being consistent. Accountability and I have been in a complicated relationship for some time now. I suppose I need to rekindle it. That and the idea of not pitching/working is horrifying too. As a self-employed person, I’m never not working, pitching, prospecting, etc. It’s a constant hustle. I’m grateful that I can afford to take this sabbatical, but my “hustle or die” radar is out of control.
Bottom line, I know this fear/hesitancy is exactly why I must do this. At the end of the day, I can always find work. I can always re-enter the rat race. So I will calm my nerves (by drinking a triple shot espresso, counterproductive, I know) and will enter my hyperbolic time chamber to hone my artistic endeavors. Hopefully, I’ll come back out in Vegeta form.
I will be finally writing about the places I’ve visited in the last three months. Also, my first podcast is slated to air this coming Monday! I’ll be sure to leave a link here. If I can leave a piece of advice to my fellow creatives out there, lean into your fears. It’s by far the best thing I’ve done for myself. Happy Thursday!