Monday, August 30, 2021

Stop, Earthquake, Stop.


Hi, Invisible Audience,


Are you keeping track of when I post? If you were, you’d realize that I am a day late for this one. I post every other Sunday on this blog (and on Patreon the weeks in between), and yesterday I wrote up a whole post, then decided to sit with what I wrote. Today, I have decided that there’s something else I want to write instead.


For those of you who don’t know me personally, I’ve dealt with a long list of health issues for quite a few years now—they seem to change and ripple, but underneath all of them is a profound fatigue. About 6 months ago, I discovered CIRS: Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. It has a long list of symptoms and I have a lot of them. It gives me hope that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and I’ve invested a lot of time and money into a specialist who can hopefully help me with this. 


One of the things the specialist did was a food sensitivity test. I’ve done COUNTLESS of these tests, dutifully cutting everything out as prescribed, and found that overall they did not help over the long term. Not only that, but they give me a profound sense of depression, Invisible Audience. Not only do I love to cook, I love eating out, especially with friends. That’s a hell of a lot harder to do when you can’t eat gluten or dairy or soy or eggs or—a new one this time—nightshades. But this one also took out the one thing I do not want to live without: coffee. 


Coffee can make fatigue worse if the adrenals are involved, but the truth of the matter is that I am much less able to function without coffee—to the point where it’s hard to concentrate. Not to mention that I love it! And I don’t go to bars much, so having people who know me at the coffee shop makes me feel like I have a specific community that I feel like I’m a part of. 


I am telling you all of this because I haven’t been sleeping well, so I gave up all but decaf coffee a couple days ago in the hopes of feeling better. This comes on the heels of a change up in my supplements thanks to the new specialist, and so far I’m feeling worse and not better. So it probably wasn’t all that surprising that I burst into tears yesterday recording a message for a friend.

When I looked back at the post I wrote yesterday, the whole thing came down to one thing: I am so tired and overwhelmed. Please, world, stop making me feel this way.

I angrily lashed out in every direction, yelling at everyone with a view about Covid-19 and masking and vaccination, basically telling them all to shut up, because I was being driven mad. I told them that it was none of their business what anyone else does, so please stop acting like people are making their choices specifically to piss you off.


And that’s why I’m glad I didn’t post it yesterday, Invisible Audience. Because do you see the irony and the hypocrisy in yesterday’s message? I am telling you to stop getting angry at others for making you feel this way, because it’s making me angry at you for making me feel this way.


Damn it, Invisible Audience. Damn it, damn it, damn it.


I used to do this with you—do you remember?—years ago. I wanted someone to tell me it was ok that I traveled and didn’t have a traditional career or life. Yet even when people did, it wasn’t enough. It didn’t scratch the itch I had, so to speak. Because no matter how many other people validated me, there was something in myself that wouldn’t take it in.

So here I am again. Overwhelmed, exhausted, angry, and the only way out is through me. I have to decide to let others think what they will about the unvaccinated. I have to figure out how to let the deep pain and anger they express when others’ choices don’t align with own roll off my back. I have to make a change to make me feel better. That in itself is its own can of worms that I have unpacked before and still struggle with, but nevertheless, that is where the power lies. 


I cannot make one group see the humanity in another just so I can sleep better. It doesn’t work that way. All I can do is figure out where I stand—I am vaccinated, and I am not willing to condemn you just because you are not—and stand there. Because part of the problem is not feeling free to say that out loud, which leads me to hide and simply yell at the world to shut up so I don’t have to risk being authentic. It’s like trying to yell at an earthquake to stop shaking the earth and expecting it to listen because if it only knew it was hurting me it would stop.


Some lessons don’t come easy, Invisible Audience. This is one of them. And even so, there’s relief in this realization, and I’m glad about that. It may just take me awhile to figure out how to stop yelling.


Love and Trembling Kisses



Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Cult of Fitting In


Hello, Invisible Audience,


I recently finished writing a book that I worked on for nearly 15 years. (!!) I am so very excited about this! I have to admit that at times I tried very hard to forget about this book altogether; tried to forget my idea of being a writer completely because I didn’t seem to be able to do it well. I’m not even talking about the writing itself—I’m talking about the “discipline” of writing. I don’t do that kind of writing regularly. I have gone through bouts of writing fiction every day and years of not writing any at all. Throughout the years I wasn’t writing, I would think, “Clearly you aren’t serious about writing if you can’t do it on a regular basis. You don’t deserve to write if you aren’t willing to dedicate yourself to the process.”


Although that’s one way of looking at it, there’s another way: I kept coming back to it because it meant so much to me I could not let it go, despite all the doubts and internalized messaging that told me I was not worthy of the craft because I wasn’t working very hard at it. After all, you wouldn’t hire a contractor who only worked when he felt like it, so why would you trust a writer who hardly ever wrote?


Do you see the fallacy, Invisible Audience? Do you see the lie? The fallacy is that if you cannot give 110 percent to something you shouldn’t do it. The lie is that you must go all in or walk away. And the biggest lie of all is that my process is worthy of judgement by anyone else’s measure.


We’ve become a culture of memes, and I’m just as guilty as the rest of us. I have a whole Facebook group I administrate that’s just memes, for crying out loud. But some of the things I see people making meme-worthy make me so angry, Invisible Audience, like the one I saw today that said, “A wise person once said that anger is the punishment you give to yourself for a way someone else has done you wrong.” 




For years I could not access my anger and instead would move straight into blaming myself for feeling anger and live in shame instead of taking that anger as the bright red warning flag it is supposed to be: the one that is trying to show me that a boundary has been crossed and my needs have been trampled. My anger is here to show me when I’m not showing up for myself; it and ALL my other emotions are necessary roadmaps meant to act as traffic lights on this fucked up, crazy highway we call life. I can no more dismiss anger from my life than I can let go of writing; each time I try I end up weeping in a corner, mourning a piece of myself someone else told me I didn’t need.


And that’s really the crux of this whole thing, Invisible Audience. I am done with others’ ideas of what my life should look like. I will not hate people for who they voted for; I will wait to see what kind of person they are. I will not give up any type of food again because someone somewhere said it made them lose weight, so it will probably work for me, too. I will not assume fluoride is bad for me unless I’ve read the damn studies myself or asked an expert. I will not fucking meditate—EVER AGAIN—because *I* am the only one living with the screaming, agonizing trauma that surfaces and *I* am the one that gets to decide whether it’s helpful to continue to do that, not somebody who has found it is helpful for them. 


Do I sound angry, Invisible Audience? Because I am. I am angry it has taken me 40 years to find some semblance of a voice that I am willing to trust. I’m angry that so much of our discussion is about deciding who to cut out instead of how to find common ground. I’m tired of the constantly shifting sands of fitting in and how they seem to be getting more and more extreme in terms of dictating peoples’ politics, exercise methods, eating schedules, down time, food choices and even which of their emotions they should try to emote more and which ones they should try to extinguish.


When I was younger, I remember coming to a realization that I thought was very profound. Religion and diet have at least one thing in common, I decided: there is no one size fits all. Today, so much of people’s identities seem to be caught up in labels and groups, and it makes me so tired. Can I just sit next to you while you eat your pizza and I have my burger and the person across from us has a salad? Can you meditate while I swim and someone else goes for walks without anyone having to feel the need to proselytize over why their way is the best way? Can we embrace differences and all fit in that way?


Well, I can, and that’s all that matters, right Invisible Audience? After all, I’m not here to get everyone else to fit in with me. I’m just trying to find the space to feel like I fit well within my own skin. So here’s my official declaration: I’m letting go of the cult and going my own way. Come with me if you like, but only if you’ve got room for yourself along the way.


Love and It’s All Me Kisses



Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons.


Sunday, August 1, 2021

Fawning as a Coping Mechanism

Hello Invisible Audience,


The countdown has begun. I’m five days away from the end of my stay in Puerto Escondido and starting to think about what “home” will look like. I say “home” in quotes because it is my home but I’ve found that I have come back to myself here in a way that I didn’t expect, and I’m not sure that feeling will stay with me when I’m back in the States. There are so many things I love about the Leavenworth area that I miss, but there are many ways I don’t feel like I fit there that fall away when I’m abroad.


Ironically, it’s become very clear to me that Puerto Escondido isn’t home, either. Turns out I’m more of a mountain girl than a beach bum, yet there are pieces here that I have unearthed that have surprised me. Mostly, it’s a feeling of contentedness with who I am, and the ability to hear myself without the unrelenting noise of the U.S. culture in my ears.


It feels important to tell you that this contentedness has not come without a price. True, I post a lot of pictures of two-for-one happy hour drinks on my social media and talk about the cool things I’m doing or eating, but all this head space has meant I’ve had to face some things that have been surfacing for a while. The biggest and most explosive is my fear of conflict, and how that fear has led me to avoid tough conversations and even let relationships die instead of facing it. This is not a new realization, but it has come to a head lately because of the constantly splintering points of view on quarantining and masking up and vaccination that are coming up now that a large portion of the U.S. population is vaccinated while the unvaccinated continue to get sick. Everyone I know, it seems, has a different opinion on what level of quarantining and masking is safe, and some have very clear and loud ideas about how much others not following their opinion are pieces of shit. And that’s all fine and dandy, Invisible Audience, except when my fawning behavior comes in.


It used to be that the talk around traumatic responses revolved around fight or flight. Something scary happens, the stress hormones in the body kick into gear, and the person either runs away as fast as they can or they turn around and fight off their attacker. This isn’t always a literal physical attack, mind you—it can just as easily be an argument for people like me who suffer from PTSD. But those are not the only two responses to a perceived threat. I learned about a third about a decade ago that applied to me: freeze. This makes sense and it works just the way it sounds: there is a perceived threat and you freeze. You can’t move and just hope your stillness will mean the threat will pass you by. This is literally what happens to a deer in the headlights.


So that’s all well and good but there’s one more that I’ve only begun to hear about lately: fawning. And dammit if fawning isn’t exactly why I find conflicts so painful.


According to, “The fawn response involves immediately moving to try to please a person to avoid any conflict.”




The article continues with a list of fawning behaviors. I’ve only included the ones that I most readily recognize in myself:


·      You look to others for how you feel in a relationship or a situation

·      It is difficult to identify your feelings, even when you are alone

·      At the first sign of conflict, your first instinct is to appease the angry person

·      You ignore your own beliefs, thoughts, and truths and accept those of the people around you

·      You feel self-anger and guilt some or most of the time

·      Saying no to those around you is a challenge

·      You are overwhelmed at times but take on more if asked

·      You lack boundaries and are often taken advantage of in relationships

·      You are uncomfortable or threatened when asked to give an opinion

I may have already been aware of fawning, but reading this list for the first time the other day was like getting punched in the gut. The second one, “It is difficult to identify your feelings, even when you are alone,” is the reason why being in Puerto has been so helpful. I don’t really know anyone here, and I don’t have close relationships with anyone here, so I essentially gave myself two whole months to finally sift through all the noise and hear myself think. I suspect it’s also the reason I love to travel so much alone in general.


The next two after that—"At the first sign of conflict, your first instinct is to appease the angry person,” and “You ignore your own beliefs, thoughts, and truths and accept those of the people around you”—are the reason the pandemic and all the chaos surrounding it has been so difficult. As people around me get angrier and angrier that others are taking a different stance, I find it harder and harder to figure out what my own thoughts are on their views and others. I find myself trying to peace keep for my own peace of mind instead of being able to hear what their concerns are and also offer my own opinion, because most of the time I can hardly figure out what my opinion actually is.


Covid-19 aside, this also explains why it’s so hard for me to have hard conversations, Invisible Audience. As soon as the other person’s voice starts to twang with anger, frustration or any sort of feeling, it’s almost as if I step outside myself, wall off my own thoughts and find that the words coming out of my mouth are about appeasing, placating and consoling. It is infinitely frustrating. Certainly, it’s good to be able to put myself in someone else’s shoes and have compassion for their point of view, but at the end of the day I need to be able to also understand my own needs and have my own opinion. When I don’t in these situations, I end up walking away feeling nauseated by how thoroughly I have abandoned myself. 


Believe me when I tell you I’ve done a lot of work around healing. One of the things they say helps people with PTSD is exposure therapy, which just means introducing situations that trigger a response a little bit at a time until it doesn’t feel so scary anymore; until it doesn’t illicit the same response. This is harder to do when the whole damn world feels like it’s found a hill to die on around quarantining and vaccination. It’s why being able to sit in a foreign country where I can tune out my non-native language is such a relief. Suddenly it’s just white noise; suddenly, I don’t have to take it in.


I don’t have an answer to this right now, Invisible Audience. There’s no pill I can take to fix it unless I want to drown myself in numbing coping mechanisms. And before you ask, I’m not looking for the right answer to the quarantine/vaccine debate, so please spare me your take. What I’m looking for is the self-compassion to recognize this in myself; to let myself sink into a better understanding of what brought me here and how the mechanism works in me so I can have more awareness in the moment when I begin to fawn. And maybe from you I just need to know that someone heard me and sees that I still struggle, but I’m here, and I’m trying. And in my opinion, that’s all anyone—myself included—is allowed to ask of me.


Love and that’s-what-I-think kisses,




Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons.