Tuesday, November 30, 2021

I Am the Boiled Frog


Hello, Invisible Audience.


I have some good news! I’m feeling better!


This is a BIG deal…not just because I feel better, but because feeling better has made realize just how absolutely shitty I felt before, and how low my quality of life had dropped.


Do you know about boiling a frog, Invisible Audience? They say you can put a frog in a pot of cold water and turn the heat on and it won’t jump out. By the time it notices the water is getting hot, it’s too late.


I’m the frog, Invisible Audience.


Yes, I knew I didn’t feel well. But I wasn’t totally aware of the extent of it. Instead, I internalized all my symptoms into ways that I was just a shitty, lazy human being. I convinced myself that I couldn’t concentrate because I hadn’t found the right life hack yet to convince me to sit down and work instead of being unable to concentrate after 20 minutes. I blamed my diet when the truth is I have a better one than most people I know; over the last 10 years, I’ve been on more detox diets and cut out more foods than is reasonable. I kept telling myself that if I could just figure out how to stop self-sabotaging, I’d be able to get more done.




Before I could get to the point where I started looking outside myself for an answer, I had to get angry with the various cultural narratives that I’ve ingested over the years. I had to start listening to myself even more than I had, and to stop filtering the results through a gauze of “it’s all your fault.”


I imagine that I hear you whispering to yourself, Invisible Audience. Of course, you’re saying in my head. Of course it wasn’t you, you poor thing. How could you think it was?


Have we talked about attachment theory? I can’t remember. Well anyway, I just started reading a book about attachment theory, although I was already very familiar with the theory itself. Basically, the theory is that whether or not any of us were able to emotionally attach to a nurturing figure in childhood makes a huge difference in how well we function as adults. Although the book I’m reading talks about attachment theory as it pertains to healthy relationships, there was a line that made a huge impact on me when I read it. I don’t have it in front of me, so I’m going to have to paraphrase it here: if a parental figure is not emotionally available, makes you feel secure, and validates your feelings, emotions and perceptions, you end up questioning your experiences and have little confidence in what you perceive as an adult.


There it is, Invisible Audience. That’s why I am a boiled frog.


It explains why I find it so hard to believe myself, in things as small as whether I think my room is too warm to big things like saying no to people who treat me badly. It explains why I find it hard to let go of unhealthy relationships and why I will wait until I’m falling over from exhaustion before I will finally let go of whatever it was I was trying to do—whatever it was that felt absolutely essential to get done, because someone else thought I should do it.


Attachment theory is mostly about forming relationships, and explains a lot about why it’s harder for some people than others. In this specific book, it has cast light on my tendencies to be very content to be on my own, and also why I turn into a needy, sniveling wreck in a relationship. It explains why I find it so hard to trust myself, and why the first place I go is to, “Gee, I must have done something wrong here.”


There’s this book series I’m reading for the second time—it’s also a TV series on Amazon Prime called The Expanse. In it, there’s a man (Amos) who had a beyond shitty childhood and who is basically a psychopath with very little idea of how to function correctly in the world because of the way he had to survive as a child. To rectify this, he attaches himself to people who are moral and have integrity. When he’s in situations where he’d resort to violence, he thinks about what these people would do and how they would react. Basically, he’s outsourced his moral compass because he doesn’t have one.


I’ve waited too long to do this for myself, Invisible Audience. In my case, it’s not about not having a moral compass, or about asking someone else to reflect back to me when it looks like the water around me is starting to boil. Because I’m so in tune with others, it’s about treating myself as a separate person and looking at my life with more objectivity. If someone else told me they could only concentrate for 20 minutes at a time, couldn’t sleep, and was constantly exhausted, would I tell them that maybe they should do more yoga? No I would not. If they asked, I would tell them that it sounded like something bigger was going on. I would tell them that what they described was not normal. I would offer to do anything I could to help them, and that wouldn’t include reading life hacking books on how to be more productive. It would probably include making them a meal and offering to go grocery shopping for them.


So here I am, the boiled frog trying to remind myself that there’s a different way to do this; that I can trust what I’m seeing. That it’s ok to not be ok, and it’s ok to check in with myself and what I feel up for before saying yes to anyone else.


Love and frog leg 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, November 14, 2021

Leaning In vs. Leaning Back

Hello, Invisible Audience,


On Tuesday last week, I sent a text to a friend that said, “My Wednesday morning class is canceled! Happy Dance!” to which he replied, “Congratulations.”


It stopped me for a moment, because I hadn’t really realized that a canceled class was worth congratulations until I got it. He’s also a teacher, and never cancels his classes. Perhaps it was the realization in that moment that the class was canceled because I wanted it canceled that got to me. 


I own my own business. In theory, that means I control the schedule. At the same time, I can’t very well cancel classes very often unless I offer refunds to the parents for those missed days. Or I can do what I did this session for the first time ever: I scheduled the sessions to be nine classes long, but asked parents to set aside the week after the scheduled last class for a makeup day, if needed. I did this for several reasons. COVID-19 was the main one. Also, coordinating subs and sub lessons was extra energy I don’t have this time around. And third, just in case I had reached my max point or got myself sick and needed the time off myself.


But that wasn’t why I canceled my Wednesday class. I did it when I found out that four of the five students wouldn’t be there, and let’s be honest: having one kid show up for a group class is FAR more exhausting than any other number, because then I’m the only person they can interact with.


My week suddenly felt a lot easier after I canceled that class. Thursday I didn’t have an afternoon class because it was Veteran’s Day, but I’d scheduled a dental cleaning. And right before I went to that appointment, I drove out of town and up a narrow valley to look at a piece of property for sale.


The next morning, I woke up with a realization: I do not need to lean any further in right now. I do not need to spend valuable brain power thinking about how I could possibly make owning a piece of property work, especially because real estate prices have sky rocketed in my area and all I could afford is raw land that I’d have to start from scratch with. This would be on top of handling treatments and potential side effects from my recent Lyme disease diagnosis, in addition to several other related health issues. This would be in addition to running what already feels like a tough teaching schedule. In addition to caring for and spending time with two 3-month-old kittens. In addition to planning an immersion class in Mexico for 20 people. 


I wrote a magazine article a couple years ago and the photographer who showed up to take pictures of the recipe I was making had lean in tattooed on the inside of his wrist. My first thought was cool. My second was be careful what you ask for. Because I know from personal experience that some of us (me) lean in even when the plate is full; even when the more reasonable thing to do would be to lean back into the chair you’ve pulled up to the table and relax into what you’ve already had to eat.

I take on too much, Invisible Audience. For most of my life, the only thing that has stopped me is my body’s spectacular ability to grab me by the scruff of the neck and shake me. It will take illness to get me to slow down. There’s a part of me that finds it really hard not to lean in, and I’m beginning to think that part of me is not a part that I should allow to operate unsupervised. Or, more specifically, without awareness. 


The thing is, I have this really amazing home I really like. My neighbors/landlords are lovely people. They also handle the snow removal and yard upkeep, and their driveway is flat, so even on heavy snow days I can usually still make it out the driveway even if they haven’t plowed yet. The rent is affordable. They’ve watched my cats for me. And living here doesn’t require me to negotiate digging a well or getting electricity put in or living in a motorhome while I get a house built, which is basically the only way I could afford to own land in this part of the world unless something significant happens to the housing market. So my need to seek more and different and better has no grounding in reality. Instead, it is grounded in several things I’ve swallowed and leaned into too often: that any sense of equilibrium means something is wrong. That having enough isn’t good enough. That leaning in is the only way to lean.


Until now.


Love and learning to lean back 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.