Saturday, June 18, 2022

Helplessness

A note from Morgan:

Hello, Invisible Audience. I haven't been feeling well lately--as you'll read below--so instead of writing separate blog posts to you and my Semi-Invisible Patrons on Patreon, I'm just sharing my latest blog I wrote on Patreon below. When I'm run down I post there first for the people who have paid to subscribe. If you want to become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons, you'll get access to even more of my posts for as little as $1.50 a month.

~Morgan

 

Hello Semi-Invisible Patron,

 

I have not been well.

 

Nearly two months ago, I got a cold. It didn’t go away for about three weeks. Then I had oral surgery. Then the cold came back. It brought massive headaches with it, and some supreme irritability. And fatigue. So. Much. Fatigue.

 

I went to the walk-in clinic twice. First, they thought I had swimmer’s ear, which I probably did, but that wasn’t the whole problem. The second time, a different doctor told me he was pretty sure I had TMJ, brought on by the oral surgery. He prescribed steroids that I decided not to take, knowing that they suppress the immune system. And this last week I went to my doctor and she’s pretty sure I have a sinus infection that I’ve likely had for the entire two months.

 

I went to my chiropractor the day before I saw my doctor. He tried to tell me that if I got more exercise I’d feel better. I very much respect this man, and I felt really let down by the entire discussion. I told him I’ve been so tired I could take two naps a day; he said maybe I should take one and exercise instead of taking the second one. I felt deflated; almost betrayed.

 

It feels important for everyone to know this, Semi-Invisible Patron. More exercise isn’t always the answer. As I’ve watched my weight rise over the past several years, I’ve been increasingly panicked and frustrated by not only that number—because of what I’ve been taught it means about me: lazy, unmotivated—but by how I’ve been treated. Even as I’ve been diagnosed with Lyme disease and relapsing fever and mold illness and now a sinus infection, going to a healthcare provider is always a roll of the dice: will they treat me like I’m worthy, or like I’m fat, and therefore unworthy?

 

I’ve recently started listening to Maintenance Phase and reading Ragen Chastain’s Weight and Healthcare blog. They have blown my mind, Semi-Invisible Patron. Did you know there’s not a single diet on earth that works for more than 5 percent of participants? That dieting of any kind makes someone MORE likely to gain weight in the long run? That the BMI is based on Scottish military men, or that the reason we adhere to a 2,000 diet is because that was the average people reported they ate in some study, but no study has ever actually measured what amount of calories people actually eat?

 

I have not written about this until now because it makes me feel so helpless. I can’t change everyone’s mind about something so entrenched in the culture, especially in the face of a multi-billion-dollar diet industry. But I feel it every day, when I berate myself for resting when I’m tired when I think I should be out exercising. I think about it when peoples’ gazes slide over me as if I don’t exist; when doctors tell me the reason I have whatever medical malady I’m coming to them for is because of my high BMI.

 

I want to scream and cry into the void about this, but who will it help? Who will care? Who will listen? More importantly, how do I get myself to listen? How do let myself off the hook so that I can heal and spend my time and energy on getting better instead of trying to solve an insolvable problem or convince people who do not want to be convinced? Even more importantly, how do I realize that even if I do convince them, it won’t make a damn bit of difference if I can’t convince myself, too?

 

Do you know what this post is really about, Semi-Invisible Patron? Helplessness. It’s the place I go when I am too beat down to be able to make choices anymore. It’s the place I’ve found myself a lot lately, as I try to run a business with a skull-crushing headache, operating on no energy, in the face of the wettest June I’ve ever seen in North Central Washington and in the wake of ongoing mass shootings at the same kinds of schools where I teach my classes.

 

This morning, I decided to write a list of things in my journal that were working.

·      I love my house and my landlords (this is no small thing; I have moved five times in the nearly eight years I have lived in this area)

·      My car works and gets great gas mileage because it’s a hybrid

·      My cats are adorable, entertaining, and in great health

·      I can support myself

·      I have completed two of the three steps to have an implant tooth put in where I’ve only had empty space for nearly 10 years

·      I have access to a pool for both exercise and stress relief

·      I have hired great people that I trust to help me with my business

·      I am better at boundaries than I have ever been

·      I have people I can talk to that I care about, and who care about me in return

 

It helped, making this list. It helped me remember that life is not all the doom and gloom that it feels like it is when I’m struggling and failing to find the energy to do a small simple task.

 

Can I be honest? A lot of the time I feel like I’ve gotten the shit end of the stick. And sometimes, I’m so tired of continuing to try, Semi-Invisible Patron. Not in a suicidal way, but in a “what exactly is the point in this grind of a world we live in?”

 

That’s when I really have to narrow my focus. I have to open the door and let the smell of the lilacs come in. I have to find a good book that reminds me that the world is a beautiful place full of many good people. I have to put down my book and hold my cat who’s curled up on my chest, feeling his purr reverberate through my body and into my heart.

 

And I have to hope, Semi-Invisible Patron, that tomorrow is better than today.

 

Love and hopeful kisses,

Morgan


Sunday, June 5, 2022

What Your Kids Have Taught Me

 


Hello, Invisible Audience.

 

The shooting at the elementary school in Texas a couple weeks ago really shook me, Invisible Audience. Maybe more than the other ones, but maybe not. I have often marveled at humanity’s ability to recover from tragedy, and not often in a good way. We can only be profoundly sad for so long before our instincts try to remind us of the many other things we’re here for: caring for the children; getting something to eat; doing that small, completely unnecessary task because it was on the list, and somehow, when we’re grieving, that list—and the distraction from pain it represents—becomes all-important and all-encompassing.

 

Is that why we focus so much on productivity in our culture, Invisible Audience? To distract from all the shitty ways the world is progressing? I have visited, spent time in and lived in several other countries, and not one was as obsessed with productivity as we are. Most have much deeper practices for dealing with death; better relationships between the old and the young; much better work life balances. And far, far fewer people who walk into elementary schools to gun down children.

 

As I have been mulling over this post in my head, I’ve been trying to decide whether to rail against the mechanisms that make our country into what feels like an increasingly hopeless shitshow. What stops me is all the posts I’ve seen on social media that already do this—all the people posting what needs to change, as if the algorithm isn’t making sure the only people who will see those posts are the ones most likely to agree. So instead, I’m going to write about what I’ve learned from some of your kids, Invisible Audience. Because sometimes the best way to rail against death is to remind people how much life is in it. 

 

Four days a week for most of the school year, I show up at one of two elementary schools in North Central Washington, right before the end of the school day. I wait for the bell to ring or I gather the kids from their classes, depending on their age, and I walk them to where we’re going to have weekly Spanish class that I teach them.

 

At each of these classes, these kids ask each other how they are in Spanish, as I’ve taught them to do. And each week, they say things that surprise me.

 

Most of the kids answer the question in one of two ways: feliz, or emocionado/a. (Boys say emocionado; girls emocionada.) That’s right: when asked how they are, the kids say they’re happy or excited.

When was the last time you told someone you were happy when they asked you how you are, Invisible Audience? Even more mind blowing is when the kids say things like, “feliz y cansada,” (happy and tired) or “feliz y más o menos” happy and so/so. Because they seem to remember what we’ve forgotten: that it’s ok to have more than one emotion at a time, and that those emotions can be happiness and something else that isn’t so happy.

 

At the beginning of the year, I’d go get the kindergarteners from their classes at the end of the day. As we walked through the school toward the classroom that they’d use, one of them would inevitably yell, “HI JASON!” to someone they had just spent the whole day with. Because they were excited to see this kid again, just for a moment. By the end of the year, they’ve stopped doing this as much. I have to admit that it makes me sad.

 

Some of my classes ended last week. One class in particular was a tough one. I’ve had several of these kids in my classes for years; some will be moving on to fifth grade next year in the middle school, and I won’t teach them anymore. But it was hard to focus on that, Invisible Audience, because these kids were so far past capacity that it was nearly impossible to teach them in the end. One particular student—one of my favorites—broke down nearly every day in uncontrollable laughter. It took me until now, after class had ended, to wonder if it was easier for him to laugh than to cry. 

 

We’re asking so much of these kids, Invisible Audience. We asked them to stay home during a pandemic, then come back to school. We masked them, then vaccinated them, then unmasked them. We tell them to be quiet; to keep their voices down; to pay attention. We told them what was expected, then punished them when they didn’t deliver, even as the world changed, and the expectations with it. 

 

I am so very tired, Invisible Audience. I adore these kids, and I am past capacity with them. I am tired of trying to shush their enthusiasm. I am tired of trying to keep them engaged when they’re past their capacity to be engaged. I’m tired of trying to keep them productive. And thank all the stars in the heaven that I have a job that allows me to take a break from teaching; to have an ebb and flow. Because I need it, and so do they. I’d argue we all do, although it’s not something our culture is interested in admitting.

 

I wanted to end on a hopeful note, but I guess it’s not going to happen. For the last several weeks I’ve looked at these kids—with their missing teeth and the way they guffaw over the joke of calling their dads “papa” (potato) vs. “papá” (dad) and the way they raise their hands to tell me some inane fact that has nothing to do with the question I just asked—and my heart squeezes when I think about anyone hurting them. I think about how it just feels like hurting kids is exactly opposite of human nature. I think about the key cards that I use to get into the school buildings where I teach after school classes, with the bullet-proof glass set up between the outside world and the secretaries, and the doors that lock. And I wonder how any of us do it—the parents, the teachers, the kids. How we get up every day and try not to wonder if the random odds are going to fall against us that day. How anyone could even think about snuffing a single giggling child off the earth, and how little it feels like is being done to protect them.

 

Love and children’s kisses,

Morgan

 

Monday, May 16, 2022

Shittyversaries

 

Hello Invisible Audience,

 

Today I want to talk about what I call Shittyversaries.

 

I know, I know—I’ve been doing a lot of swearing in my posts lately, but you know what? Sometimes the best way to describe something is to include a swear word, and in this case specifically I think it fits.

 

Shittyversary is the name for something I think most of us have but few people talk about: dates of crappy things that have happened to us that make us sad or angry and or just all feely. These include—but are not limited to—death anniversaries of loved ones; dates of accidents that changed our lives forever; dates of miscarriages and other equally bad news.

 

Shittyversaries can also include dates that remind us of things, too, even if they weren’t always shitty. Since I broke off contact with my parents, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, my parents’ birthdays and their anniversaries also fall into this category. 

 

It’s not often talked about, but the truth of the matter—so far as I have experienced it, anyway—is that even the best decisions we make for ourselves do not always leave us feeling irrevocably 100 percent happy. Even though I know it was the right decision to cut off contact with my parents—a decision backed up by every therapist I’ve had since—it does not change the fact that I grieve the ways my reality is different from other people’s that I know. 

 

I have two friends who send me messages on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day telling me that they’re thinking about me, and it means a lot. One friend reaches out to me on the anniversary of the last conversation I had with my parents for the same reason. In turn, I have friends whose parents or spouses have died; who have had shitty things happen to them whose dates I have put into my calendar so I can let them know that I’m thinking of them on that date. 

 

To be honest, Invisible Audience, it feels more important than remembering their birthdays. Most social media platforms have an option to share your birthday; none of them have the option of sharing a shittyversary with the world. And let’s be honest—it doesn’t always feel good to announce to the world that you’re feeling down on any given day, let alone on a day when everyone else seems to be celebrating the relationships they have with their parents. It just feels important to acknowledge the underside of the beast—the part of us that mourns loss annually just as we celebrate annually—a way to acknowledge both sides of the coin that makes us human. 

 

There’s another reason why I think this is important. Even if I try not to acknowledge a shittyversary, my body knows it’s happening anyway. I will be merrily skipping along, going through my day-to-day activities, and over several days I will start to feel myself plummet into either irritability or weepiness. I will be tired, withdrawn, and starting to reach for my coping mechanisms. Then I’ll have a thought and look at a calendar, and there it will be: a date slowly approaching like a stalking predator that I cannot avoid or outrun. It is infinitely better when I look that predator in the eye and acknowledge it. It doesn’t make it hurt less, but at least then I know why it hurts as much as it does, and I can plan accordingly.

 

Sometimes these shittyversaries fade with time. Sometimes they don’t. I think that’s beside the point. Our culture is so steeped in positive thinking sometimes—and so scared of acknowledging the reality of death—that I think we forget how much is known about how naming a thing can reduce its power over us; how honoring a shittyversary can make it less shitty. For us, and for others.

 

Love and shittyversaries,

Morgan

 

 P.S. Do you have a shittyversary you wish someone would remember for you? Shoot me a message (morganfraser444 at gmail) and I'll put it on my calendar to reach out to you on that day.


P.P.S. 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. When I can't find time to post both here and on Patreon, I prioritize posts on Patreon--there's always more to read there.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Thank You. Also, F*** You.

 

Hello Invisible Audience,

 

Recently, an ex-boyfriend reached out to me on Facebook. This was is ironic, because he broke up with me more than a decade ago by defriending me on Facebook, despite the fact that we worked together at the same company at the time; we’d also been dating off and on for more than year at that point.

 

After he defriended me on Facebook, I sent him a text, which he didn’t answer. I sent him an instant message. No answer. When I went into his office at work to ask him what was happening, he said, “I can’t do this right now. I’ll call you later. I promise.”

 

He never did.

 

I will spare you all the reasons why our relationship was a dumpster fire, but please trust me when I say that it was. It wasn’t all his fault, either. We threw all those bags of trash into that dumpster together; he may have been the one that struck the match that got it burning, but I gleefully added a fair amount of flammable material to the mix before he did.

 

When he reached out recently, he told me that I had set him on a path to greatness, and that I was his one true regret. He said he was now ready to have a healthy relationship with me.

 

I blocked him.

 

I don’t have any malice for this man. I don’t hate him anymore. In fact, I rarely think of him at all. But that doesn’t mean that we should be friends, just because he’s decided he’s now ready to be.

 

I learned a lot about myself from that relationship; most of it wasn’t good. I learned how badly I would allow others to treat me. I learned how much I had a savior complex; I learned how codependent I was. That breakup, in combination to quitting the terrible job where I met him and moving away from the Seattle area and writing my first cookbook, was the beginning of becoming who I am now. He did me a huge favor by breaking up with me. There were many lessons I learned from that relationship, and many toxic behaviors of mine that died in that dumpster fire.

 

That doesn’t mean I am grateful to him.

 

That was one of many occasions where I’ve been able to gather lessons from experiences I’ve had. Really truly terrible experiences. A lot of the message I hear out in the culture is that we should be grateful for these dumpster fires; even more mind-boggling to me, we should see them as ways we’re being shown that we’re special. That resilience is living through them and being stronger because of it, and therefore we should be thankful for the lesson—for being forged into something steely through the flames.

 

I don’t think I’ll ever get there, Invisible Audience.

 

To me, there’s a huge difference between these two sentences:

 

A terrible thing happened to me. It’s because I was supposed to learn something, and now I have. I’m so grateful for this terrible experience for teaching me this thing.  

 

A terrible thing happened to me. I have held this experience in my hands with curiosity, turned it over and over, and discovered where I can make a different choice in the future.

 

When I wrote the first of those two sentences, my heart squeezed and I stopped breathing. It felt like I was trying to tell myself that I not only deserved this pain I was dealt, but that I should thank whatever that pain brought me.

 

When I wrote the second sentence, it felt like I was empowered to own making the best of a shitty situation by choosing to learn something from it.

 

This has come up again and again lately. I never would have taken all the time and money I did to figure out why I felt so physically sick if it wasn’t for the pandemic. Thank you, Covid-19. Also, f*** you.

 

I would never have learned so much about boundaries and how to set them without a lot of shitty, shitty relationships, including those with my family of origin, most of whom I no longer speak to. Thanks for the lesson. F*** you very much for the mountains of pain, and years of lying curled in the fetal position.

 

It used to be that I learned things the hard way, Invisible Audience. It used to be that I stuck around because it felt more predictable than leaving. It felt like I was earning some martyr stripes; that they were a badge of honor I should enjoy carrying.

 

I never did.

 

So now, I don’t.

 

Love and f*** it kisses,

Morgan


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. When I can't find time to post both here and on Patreon, I prioritize posts on Patreon--there's always more to read there.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

A Rich, Indoor Life

 

Hello Invisible Audience,

 

It feels like it’s been cold and cloudy for days. To make it worse, there’s this slight breeze that makes it that much colder, and the sky has been this solid, concrete gray for perhaps forever.

 

Yesterday I forced myself to go snowshoeing, and I didn’t enjoy it. The snow was loud and crunchy, and it was cold and gray, and I had convinced myself I should do it even though what I really wanted to be doing was reading a book.

 

There’s a reason I’m telling you this. It’s because I finally need to admit something out loud to you.

 

I no longer enjoy winter sports.

 

Half the issue is all the gear that goes into being outside. The snowpants—whose swishing sound when I walk scares my cats—the boots, the gloves, the coats. To live in the mountains here, it’s essential to have multiple coat options. I have a coat for 40-75 degree weather, and a coat for 30-40 degree weather, and a coat for 15 to 29 degree weather, and a coat that goes over my coat for below 15 degrees. SO MANY COATS.

 

If it’s sunny out, all I want to do is go for a walk. I don’t want to find my skis and sweat through my clothes trying to put all my stuff together. So often that’s what I do: I chuck the snowshoes in a pile, grab the boot chains if there’s ice on the road, and walk instead.

 

Or, better yet, I put on sweatpants, drive to the athletic club I belong to and sit reading in the hot tub until I’m ready to lap swim.

 

A couple years ago I asked a woman who has lived in my area for decades what she does in the winter to get outside.

 

“I live a rich indoor life,” she said.

 

Just like that. Like it was OK to not be outside when she didn’t want to be.

 

Mind blowing.

 

I love nature, Invisible Audience. A couple weeks ago, I couldn’t focus and was having issues sitting down to finish something I needed to get done. I went for a walk. It wasn’t even a long one, but it did the trick. I got back, sat down and powered through a couple hours of work that I’d been putting off for days. But what makes me feel better is just the simple act of walking: not skiing, not snowshoeing, not snowmobiling, just walking.

 

I live in a mountain town. People move here to be close to the skiing. And I just need to let that go. I need to let go of the idea that I am failing somehow because I’d rather be somewhere warm; that I’ve failed at living in this mountain town if I don’t want to do all the winter sports.

 

Not to mention that, even though I’m better, I still am not physically 100 percent. If I’m not careful, over-exercising will leave me flat on my back with no energy for days. So who knows how much that’s feeding into my dislike of some of the outdoor sports that are more taxing than a walk would be.

 

Does this sound simple to you? Because if it does, I’m envious of you, Invisible Audience. These are the ways that I beat myself up. These are the places that I am learning to catch myself before I go down a rabbit hole of self-flagellation.

 

Even catching it is new to me. Picking it up, turning it over, looking at it with curiosity, then tossing it over my shoulder when I realize it doesn’t have to apply to me.

 

Like this one. Like going snowshoeing when I’d rather be doing anything else.

 

Love and warm indoor kisses,

Morgan

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Everything Isn't Always OK

 

Hi Invisible Audience,

 

Last week was full on, as they say. All my kids’ classes start this coming week, and I did a lot of prep for that, in addition to trying to get a bunch of stuff in order for my taxes, in addition to seeing several people to catch up. I made a trip to Wenatchee and only did half the stuff I meant to get done, although nothing that I didn’t finish was all that pressing except for in my head. Which means that 1) no, I did not starve this weekend because I didn’t make it to the grocery store, and 2) no, my cats didn’t starve or run out of clean and appropriate places to poop, and 3) no, I didn’t drop the ball on my classes in any way.

 

But survival isn’t usually how I measure success in terms of my productivity, and sometimes it pisses me off. One part of me wants to do nothing all day; another part of me looks around at the pile of dirty dishes or the laundry basket or the to-do list and says, “Other people are out SKIING and you can’t even bring yourself to load the dishwasher.” And then I take a nap and wait around for the daylight to fade so I can go to bed and hope I will feel more up for productive work in the morning.

 

It makes me sad that this is my life sometimes—that I can’t see all the ways I’m rocking it, and get caught up in the ways I’m not.

 

I know, I know: I’m not alone in this. Social media especially is really good at robbing us of our own triumphs by showing us others’ highlight reels to compare to our own every day, mundane chores and dusty houses. But I’m getting fed up, Invisible Audience—fed up with the idea that I’m supposed to work on being more grateful for this life, when it feels like such a goddamn slog sometimes.

 

A friend of mine sent me this article recently, called “Everything is Broken.” Yes, I thought. Finally. All the things I’ve been noticing and feeling the weight of, named in print. You see, despite the fact that I know it’s true, the many ways that life feels hard feels like it’s hard for me but easy for others; if I could just get my shit together, I’d feel better; be better; do better.

 

Yes, I’ll say it: I am trying to feel more in control of whether I could ever afford to buy a house by keeping my counters clean. I am trying to stave off fatigue by reading about people who have more energy than I do. I am trying to make my reality different by pretending that it is, indeed, different.

 

It’s not, Invisible Audience.

 

I spent nearly 45 percent of last year’s income on medical costs. I spend about 9-10 hours a night sleeping. I give excuses for reasons not to get together with people when the activity is physical because I’m just not up for that much physical activity, and I can’t bring myself to say that because it sounds like an excuse. I work my ass off at my business, and I do it because it gives me the time I need to feel awful without having to report to a boss who would feel like they’ve hired a dud.

 

And it’s not enough, Invisible Audience. The world is slowly turning into a harder place for me to operate in, and I keep turning in circles, wondering if anyone else notices, and not seeing that anyone does.

 

Does this sound like a rant? Well, it is. It’s a rant I’ve been keeping to myself for far too long. I am one of the people negatively affected by the housing crisis; by inflation; by the pandemic. I only found answers about more than a decade of terrible health after I stepped outside the system, which means paying for things on my own. (I am feeling so much better now, Invisible Audience, it’s not even funny. All it took was finding a doctor in another state who finally believes me, is willing to test me for things I’d never been tested for, and who doesn’t take my insurance, which is shitty anyway because it’s what’s available to me through Obamacare as a self-employed person.)

 

I usually try to end my blog posts with something uplifting—a lesson I’ve learned. Can it be ok to not do that this week, Invisible Audience? Because I’m not feeling a lesson coming. I’m not feeling anything more than the weight of responsibility with no promise of reprieve in a broken system. It’s no longer enough to just find the small things that make me feel better—they do not add up into enough to stave off the dread of what the future holds.

 

Today, maybe it’s enough just to be.

 

Love and It-Is-What-It-Is Kisses,

Morgan

Sunday, January 2, 2022

The Past Doesn't Always Repeat Itself

 

Hello Invisible Audience,

 

Something novel happened to me a couple weeks ago.

 

As anyone who follows me on social media knows, I have recently adopted two cats from a litter I had been fostering with their mother from the Humane Society. Hetty and Oso have added years to my life with their hilarious antics, and also caused me to yell more than I do in my kids’ Spanish classes—they’re always up to something mischievous, like knocking over glass candle holders that shatter all over the floor or pulling a curtain off the wall one thumbtack at a time or deciding my head is a hurdle to leap at 4 am as part of their self-made, house-wide obstacle course.

 

I adore them.

I left them.

 

I made plans to go to California for Christmas, as I have for six years now, and one of my friends offered to take care of them for me. She is definitely one of the friends that I would trust most in the world with the care of my small furry creatures, and yet leading up to the date of my departure I found it hard to sleep or concentrate. I kept having waking nightmares of them escaping from her house and running into the forest to be gobbled up by coyotes or owls or being lost forever.

 

The day before I left, I spoke to my friend Jason on the phone. He’s the one I stay with in LA for the holidays, and he also recently adopted a cat.

“How are you?” he said.

“Awful,” I said.

“I can hear it in your voice,” he said.

“I know,” I said. “It doesn’t matter how much I know logically that they’ll be ok. Emotionally I feel like I’m gearing myself up to say goodbye to them because I’ll never see them again.”

“You know you’re always welcome here,” he said. “But you don’t have to come if this is too hard for you.”

 

No. I said to myself. No, that won’t work.

 

I thanked him for that option, but told him he should plan to see me unless he heard otherwise.

The next morning, I got up and packed the car, then took a bunch of Kleenex and sat on my bed as I waited for 10 a.m. to roll around, which was when I had a regularly scheduled phone call planned with my therapist.

 

I cried so hard, Invisible Audience. I piled tear- and snot-filled tissues in little mountains around me as my cats dozed nearby and I talked through and cried through and felt through every old fear I had about this. I sat with the knowledge that I have always held myself accountable for anything that happens, whether it is reasonable to or not, including whether it will ultimately be my fault for leaving if something happens to my cats while I’m gone.

Fifty minutes later, I felt wrung out but completely different. I would still miss my cats, but it would not be the end of me, and I wouldn’t be in a puddle of anxiety the whole time I was gone.

 

My friend sent me pictures and updates about my cats while I was in California. At some point, they learned to trust her enough that even if they’d gotten outside, I knew they would have known it was safe to go back in and wouldn’t have run off into the sunset like my greatest fears insisted. Meanwhile, I walked around unencumbered by snow with the sun on my face—one of my many reasons for spending Christmas away from home that makes it possible for me to live in the mountains otherwise.

 

This was different for me, Invisible Audience. I didn’t believe the story inside of me that told me the world was about to end, even as it ravaged my system and told me lies. Even when all my other coping mechanisms didn’t work to quell the anxiety, I knew what I was hearing wasn’t true. I knew that I had the tools to figure it out, and that I didn’t need to change my plans to acquiesce to a terror nearly as old as I am whose existence no longer helps me. And I knew I could trust my friend to take care of my cats, even though I’ve found it hard to trust people for so long.

 

Even if the cats had escaped, it wouldn’t mean my friend wasn’t trustworthy, or that I was to blame for leaving them. It would mean that cats are cats and sometimes shit happens.

 

Sometimes shit happens in the past, and in the present I can learn that I don’t have to keep carrying the fear that the past will repeat itself.

 

Love and kitten kisses,

Morgan

 

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