“Brown-golden bands, sand all in the sheets…” Little Big Town

Lock Little Big Town away with Edward Scissorhands and the second album from Brand New as “Things that I love but hurt my heart more than I can bear”.

I got quite a bit accomplished today. Trimmed my bangs which are always an all-day adventure that starts with “oops, missed another spot” ends with “for crissakes STOP while you still have HAIR!”

I’m also reading an exceptionally well-written account of Churchill and Orwell by Thomas E. Ricks. It may be the first book in years to hold my attention enough to finish. Purchased because I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Churchill although the more I read, the less I like Mr. “Orwell”. Although it is interesting to note that everyone who met Hitler was convinced he was sane, trustworthy, and genuinely a force for peace. Conversely, Churchill was regarded as “unbalanced”, a hot-head, full of uncensored, unsolicited and unwelcome diatribes, he was hated and derided by every political party including his own.

I also began planning for my next trip. I said I would return to California this year. Mid-to-late September, this time to Northern California to visit my sister (and NOT the Flake. Not, not, not, not…). I’ll couch surf in Sacramento with her and spend several days hiking Yosemite. I’ll take Mist Trail as far as Nevada Falls but I don’t think I care enough about getting to the top of Half Dome to attempt it although if my Army buddy “S” ends up joining me, he’ll insist on it. Three days of hard hiking is probably all my body can handle so I’ll take a break in Napa Valley and lounge all day at the Sattui winery with my sister.  At some point I’ll have to get homework done (boo hiss!) but I do not want this trip to be like my recent trip to NYC where I spent most of my time in a motel room in Jersey working on school assignments. I’m not expecting to do particularly well in this next class so I may just say “fck it” that week for grades. The last few days, I want to spend on the sand. Preferably nude. And with access to a hot-tub and more wine, recovering from the beating I’ll take in Yosemite (and trying hard not to contact the Flake who lives very close now to where I’ll be visiting).

I asked him a few months ago, when he reached out, if he only ever wanted to talk to me when he was bored or lonely (or horny) and he replied “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t want to talk to you”. So why isn’t he talking to me everyday? Now that I’ve agreed to reconnect. My imagination spins, wondering who else is occupying his time and receives the same “special selfies” he sends me… When he’s blocked and can’t reach me by phone, the pressure is off. So I do this to myself.

Love is a fraud ~ Belle & Sebastian

My dog listened to me sing for 10 hours in the car ride up into the hills of the tri-state area (NC/TN/GA).  If his farts are like contractions, how far apart must they be before I pull over?

On the way up, I took a detour through Athens to avoid Atlanta altogether. I not only didn’t feel like dealing with the traffic but something about passing what used to be the Flake’s exit hurt my heart.
I reached the base of the Smokies around 7:30pm. From there, the temperature dropped quickly and the scenery improved. It might have triggered my first sincere smile of the day. At this rate, I reached my mother’s property just before 10 pm. My only prayer was that she had toilet paper and a coffee pot, which she did, but in hindsight, I should have prayed for a working shower too.

It was like camping with a roof over my head. I bullied opened the sticky windows that would budge and cleaned up the rodent, bug and bat carcasses. While washing in the kitchen sink, dead bats floated up from the garbage disposal and by then, without gloves, I couldn’t bring myself to stick my hand down there and fish out the rest. The next day, I drove to the nearest town 40 miles away and rented an electric floor sander, found a wifi signal and ordered electronic plug in rodent repellants from Amazon. One of my Army buddies who said he would drive up to help me didn’t show but luckily the old woman living in the property adjacent put me in touch with a local handyman who would repair the shower (not til after I left) and helped me lug the 150lb sander up the narrow staircase. I was proud enough that I got it out of the car and into the house by myself but making up it up the stairs without throwing out my back or falling down the stairs was too risky. When did I become so weak? I bathed in the rain, in creeks, and in the (clothes) washing machine (when I was caked with sawdust from sanding and sweating so a baby wipe just wouldn’t suffice). I spent two full days working on the floors and a few odd repair jobs around the property then dedicated the rest of the time to hiking.

Raven Cliff falls was my favorite. Five miles round trip, a gradual incline and path that hugged the water all the way. My dog LOVES creeks. I discovered this when I went to visit the Flake in Atlanta last year. He literally bounces with joy, plunging his face and body into the cold water. He can’t do this at home because unless it’s on the ocean or gulf (which he can’t drink), there are ‘gators.

The next day, my dog was moving as stiff as I was so I opted for a much shorter trek closer to “home” at Fires Creek (although armed with two walking sticks, I insisted on keeping us in the water, navigating over slippery rocks which proved to be challenging and hardly qualified as “taking it easy”).

The next day was supposed to be the big hike: Finally, after nearly a year of cancellations, I was going to do the Full moon hike over the suspension bridge at Tallullah Gorge, leaving my dog behind of course but wearing him out on trails during the day to include Minnihaha. But we woke to the sound of rain and a message from the state park calling off the hike on account of it. The extended forecast called for rain the rest of the week so there was no “waiting it out”. In this environment, I could not re-wear the same clothes day after day and I had only packed enough underwear and medication for 9 days.

I also woke to an email from the Flake. How does he know just when to reach out and just what to say to bring me back on the line? He apologized for not being a friend to me. Said Atlanta was a transition period and he was at peace in California. Thanked me for being there for him at his darkest, ugliest. Said he was again the man I met and fell in love with at the Pelican pub 7 years ago. He wasn’t asking for anything but to talk to me. He missed me so much. I caved. Replied that I was in the hills without a steady signal and couldn’t call. But the door was open again.

As I weighed my options and decided ultimately there was nothing to do but start to head back towards home, he suggested Amicalola Falls. I’d been there before but not on a trail because my family couldn’t hike. It was on the way so I decided to stop and gauge the weather once I got there. The nice thing about hiking in wet weather is the trails are abandoned. Amicalola is labeled “difficult for dogs” but another pooch-traveling hiker hinted that the East Ridge trail was suitable. And it was. A bit rocky at the top so I released my dog from his leash so that he and I could both pick the path most appropriate for us. Besides, he’s responsive to voice command and has attachment issues so he never got more than 20 feet ahead of me before stopping and waiting for me to catch up. And he’s smart. He would creep towards the edge and look out but never got too close and was never tempted to follow a small animal to his doom. Amicalola was just over 2 miles round trip and a much steeper incline than Raven Cliff. The sky cracked open when we reached the top so we ducked back into woods, taking the west trail down, protected from the worst of the deluge by the woodland canopy. Unfortunately, I had no clean, dry clothes or towels left to change into when we got back to the car so it was a wet, chilly drive for 6 hours to a dog friendly motel on the FL/GA border where we stopped for the night.

On the way, I chatted with the Flake. He invited me to come see him. I mentioned plans to go back to Cali later this year but the highway through Big Sur was still closed and Esalen was too expensive. He said he would take me hiking through the Redwoods and we would drink wine in the hot tub overlooking the Ocean where he lives on in apartments on a cliff. Of course we would also hit the nearby nude beach. Things were and still are sexually explicit between us. I mentioned I had told my sister I would visit her sometime during her next contract job in Sacramento from Sept-December but she stays at places through AirBnB so I would have to do the same. Or stay with him. I considered the state-run lighthouse hostels and calling my Army buddy from WA state down to hike (he already said he would come and of everyone who says they will make it, he’s the one who keeps his word). So I can go back to California and not see the Flake. I should NOT see the Flake. I know I can’t handle it. I know we would have a great time and then I would crash on the plane home, emotionally. I would be left empty, just like last year, struggling for months to recover from a few days of happiness with a man that loves me but isn’t IN LOVE with me. And I’ll tell him this, in a few weeks when I book my next trip that does not include seeing him.

“Every me and every you” – Placebo

Montana was a bust. I spent my birthday and the following week trapped on a porch, breathing in smoke from the burning mountains and counting down the days and hours until my flight home.
I went to visit a recently retired Army friend-turned-frazzled mom. Her daughter adored me but the son was unfriendly and fussy. My friend was too exhausted and unmotivated to hike although she had the gear and her kids were perfectly content to ride on our backs. In 7 days, I may have spent a total of 2 hours on foot in the terrain. I was stir crazy, unaccustomed to being sedentary. I cleaned house (which made her mother uncomfortable, I learned), walked the short stretch of road to and from the local grocery store and lunged around the yard when no one was around. We did make it to a bar one evening and bored local cops stalked us as we walked home sober. Ive never been stalked by cops before. What option do bar-goers have in a town too small for cabs and Uber?
Although it was nice to discuss music again (I failed to agree that Ben Gibbard of Death Cab ripped off the sound of Placebo from the Cruel Intentions soundtrack). And it was endearing to meet a family with roots. Sisters, uncles, countless cousins…they were bickering, loving land barons with thick paper deeds dating back to the mid 1800’s. My friend has history. She can trace her lineage even without the help of the Mormons. I know nothing and can learn nothing beyond my Ashkanazi gypsy horse thief great grandfather.

But back to my friend. In her desperation for children, she compromised on love. Perhaps forfeited is a more appropriate word. A willful, independent, forceful personality saddled but not tamed by parenthood. She seethed resentment though dare not voice it because it’s hard to complain to a lonely, childless woman. My mother said “It will get easier in a few years when they get into school and she has a few hours to herself again”. But watching her struggle and I, bored to actual tears, wondered if this was a lesson for me, G-d reminding me to be careful what I wish for. What is worse? Living, sleeping, and dying alone or being trapped in an unhappy marriage and mommyhood?

But enough about me, let’s talk about what you think of me

I re-blocked The Flake yesterday. Did I tell you he took a job in Monterey, CA? My dream (our dream) to live on the Pacific Coast and he got there before I did. Last month when he was going through the interview process, I took his calls and texts, to offer encouragement and advice, to be the “better” person. But it’s always about him, only him. He called again today and when it went straight to voicemail, he was compelled to leave a message to say “Either you blocked me again or your phone is off…” Fine. Here is my next letter to him:

“I encourage you to re-read those letters I sent you last year explaining why I cut off contact. The one-sided fact of our “relationship” (I can’t say ‘friendship’) and me wanting (and deserving) better, than you were willing to give meant that I could not be “just” your friend. Now, I don’t want that from you but the one-sidedness remains. You only reach out when you need something, when it’s convenient to you. You never look at MY pictures when I travel or ask how school or treatment is going or ask about my dancing or ask to see the video of me singing or how my mother is doing…it doesn’t even occur to you because my life simply doesn’t interest you. If it doesn’t affect you, it doesn’t matter to you. You’re so wrapped up in trying to impress others that I wonder if you know what real friendship is?

My phone is often off or on DND because I am usually in a class or otherwise busy. I return your calls and texts if they genuinely important because I care about you. But I am not here to entertain you and fill the silence when no one else is available. I have neither time nor interest in investing extra effort in someone who only thinks to reach out to scratch his own itches.

I also don’t appreciate the manipulation. A picture of you wearing my shirt NINE months after you took it off me, coyly asking “Is this yours?” You damned well know it’s mine. Followed by the Google Earth picture with a circle around your new home on the Pacific Coast… I don’t know, and you may not even be self-aware enough to know, truthfully if you are gloating or sharing. But frankly, your intent doesn’t matter at this point. All that matters is how it makes me feel, which is like crap.

Nothing has changed except that I no longer have any hopes or expectations with regards to you. Not as a friend or anything else. You are still not good to or for me. And every time you contact me, it picks open a scab. Or perhaps you are not the man I thought you were.

I hope your mother is doing as well as can be expected. And congratulations again and good luck on the new job and fulfilling the dream of living on the Pacific Coast. Hopefully I’m not far behind but you won’t know if and when I am. Mainly, because you lack the interest to ask.

Please do not reply. At all.”

 

In other “news”, I aced my law final. Maybe the difference is I was engaged and interested in this class so I grasped the concepts better. Or maybe I tried harder because I was starved for approval from my professor, a federal judge teaching for the hell of it. When he said my work was “among the best I have seen in many years of teaching…I am very impressed. I commend you on your effort and skills”, I ate it up. My friend “S” reminded me that he thinks I’m incredible too and I said “Thanks but that’s a bit like my mommy telling me I’m pretty”. Of course it counts but we also crave external validation. Not exactly Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs but my emotional pyramid of Love/Acceptance needs includes, from most to least important, from close friends and family, then from respected peers/authority figures, and then the least important but still registers like a pebble thrown into the lake, love/acceptance from strangers.

And my inner voice asks “Can’t you just say ‘thank you’…?”

“I wasn’t even in the running” ~ Haim

I feel like I’m always operating in the red, physically and mentally at a deficit.
There were two Gregs. The under 30 homeless-by-choice biking gypsy yogi without a fuck in the world and the other one who pretended not to recognize me. Oh, you know what you did, motherfucker. Ten years ago, this “friend” tried to steal my civilian radio job while I was in Iraq and got fired for it. The one time the company did right by me and we haven’t spoken a word since. Although all he did was jump across the street to the competitor where he still works today so maybe Karma is waiting to kick his ass in his next life. But he spent half an hour pretending not to notice me sitting 10 feet away at my favorite local coffee where I go for a change of scenery while working on school assignments. I forced a smile while homeless Greg happily rubbed my dog’s belly but kept thinking, this is just one of the reasons I need to move: I’ve been here too long if I’m bumping into assholes from my past. Time to go meet new assholes, make new enemies somewhere else.

But it looks like The Flake will make it to the West Coast before I do. He flies this week for the final round of interviews and contract negotiations for a job out near Monterey. He’s texting me links to the luxury apartments near the national forest where he is planning to live. Meanwhile, I’m looking at the red line that is Highway 1 in Google Maps after much of the coastline slid into the Pacific in the last few weeks. Road closure until at least late August. I might not make it into Big Sur at all this year as planned. But that asshole is moving there.  In all my self-righteous glory, I utter encouragement and congratulations to him while making my apologies to G_d for secretly being bitter and green. What is the line between sharing and gloating? Is it the intent? Because it feels like he’s gloating.

Or maybe this is another example of how I’ve lost my perspective. Because I live in Paradise too, 10 minutes from some of the most beautiful beaches in the nation. I need only open my front door to the smell of saltwater and the sound Of seagulls. It’s a source of peace and he is an unwitting thief. I give him the benefit of the doubt with “unwitting”. But if he is unwitting then that makes me solely responsible for my discontent. No, he can’t be that stupid. I’ve told him we can’t be friends, that my feelings haven’t changed. He knows he’s still using me. And I let him.

“Your insecurity makes you unattractive”, he once told me. I recall hateful things he’s said to me in the past because ripping that wound back open motivates me to rebuild The Wall. Not the healthiest coping mechanism and certainly not very forgiving but it’s a line of defense that works.

But I danced and sang a bit this weekend. Even if I was just faking it for the crowd, the point is, I did it. And that’s progress.

“You just want attention, you don’t want my heart” ~ Charlie Puth

Last night was a waste of false eyelashes. I felt like the orphan on stage at a school play. When performing, I like to make eye contact with someone in the audience but there was no one to make eye contact with because no one was looking at me. They were focused on whoever they were there to support. Which is why I prefer to dance for an impartial audience because then they are looking at everyone, taking it all in. It didn’t help that I felt disgusting compared to the other girls in the troupe. When I tried on my full costume last week, I felt fabulous, “Look at my feathers! Sparkle sparkle sparkle!” But then I saw a photo of myself taken with the other girls and that childhood rhyme taunted me “Which one of these is not like the other…?”  Full on body shame. I hid from further pictures and those that I couldnt hide from, I frantically sought them out on social media to “un-tag” myself before they could populate on my page. At least my makeup looked good.

It was a long night, odd girl out in the corner for hours pretending to stretch or do homework while waiting for that 2 minute performance. As soon as it was over, I shed the feathers and bolted for home where I took an Ambien and made the mistake of picking up the phone when the Flake called. I hadn’t talked to him since before Bill died and I kept thinking “Bill would advise against this”. In the course of a 2 hour low-self esteem, depressed, vulnerable Ambien haze, I watched him masterbate via live chat and took “comfort” in the breadcrumbs of “affection” he tossed casually, just like ol’ times. It felt good for the moment but then I woke up alone and missing him afresh. I looked back on my text messages: yep, I told him I still loved him. Even though there is nothing to miss or love, I remind myself.

Apparently in that haze, I also upset one of the only friends I have left. I apologized but can’t shake this feeling that I want to go to sleep and not wake up. The winds of change are swift. I woke at a relatively reasonable hour this morning (the fact that it was still morning makes it reasonable), made coffee, did my makeup and hair but didn’t get dressed. Two hours later, I am back in bed. Tired but wide awake and thinking how much I dislike this Masters program and don’t want to work on the assignments that are due this weekend. I want to do something but like being beyond hungry, nothing sounds appealing so I lie here in a mild state of panic at each passing minute and listen to my soul rumble hungrily.

I’ve lost my perspective (to which my pissed off friend agreed) and under these circumstances, volunteering for another possible suicide deployment back to Hell sounds like a “good” idea. What is stopping me? My dog.

“I wish you would tell me how you really feel but you’ll never tell me ‘cuz that’s not our deal” ~Best Coast

In hindsight, saving myself for marriage was the most detrimental mind-fuck of my life. I was nearly 21 when I got married for the first (and supposed to be the last) time. Crying on my wedding night in a La Quinta hotel bed in Alabama as a well-endowed child tried to go Where No Man (or anything else for that matter) Had Gone Before. I spent a year working two full time jobs to keep that unemployed, spoiled child “happy”, letting him use me however his demented mind saw fit, because I was the dutiful wife and although I realized I had made a mistake, it was a punishment I was committed to til death do us part. Until he decided he wanted to move to Vegas and become a porn star. He told me “You are the perfect wife, I just don’t want to be married”. Oh I cried, begged, blew him in the car and jumped out of the moving vehicle later when he wouldn’t change his mind. I didn’t mourn the loss of him so much as my innocence and the farce that I did everything “right” and G-d had failed me, rather than my judgment.

Fast forward two decades and I had strike two under my belt but this time a gay man in hiding. I know, I know…porn star and then a gay man? I’m not even making that up. My picker is truly broken. Although I can’t say my judgment failed me, I just failed to listen to it. In the 13 years since my second divorce, my serious relationships were serious only to me and short-lived. I’ve said before that there is no such thing as “casual sex” because if I’m attracted to someone physically, it’s because I’m already attracted to their person and therefore emotionally invested. Maybe that is how G-d chooses to punish me when I fall off the celibacy wagon. That old Jew-ish/Christian self-imposed piety from childhood is so deeply rooted as I fear getting hurt over and over again…

But with dry spells lasting YEARS, I’ve nothing left to prove or lose. My sexual peak goes wasted on a vibrator. So when “K” joked about giving me a mustache ride, that led to a sincere discussion of “rules”. He has zero interest in a relationship so to keep my expectations and heart in check, I said no “hanging out” outside the bedroom (except that we both end up at a lot of the same dance events, which is where we met). And only one “buddy” at a time. Dipping his pole into multiple ponds is gross.

I let more than a month pass since that conversation until Sunday, I started to reach for my vibrator and grabbed my phone instead. What are you doing tonight? I asked. He replied “laundry”. “You can do your laundry here and me at the same time”. Totally cheesy but it worked. We went through what was left of a decade-old box of Trojans at my bedside (with “feels like nothing is there” printed on the box. That’s a damned lie, by the way). The next day, I googled “thinnest condoms” and ordered a tin of Japan’s finest (of course those kinky freaks would have the best on the market) and confessed my sins to my Trusted Agent who laughed and asked “Did he survive or did you kill him?”

I don’t feel the least bit guilty but I am keeping it in perspective by reminding myself that K is too vanilla (no teeth, no nails, no spanking, no choking, dont “go there” with anal; his asshole is like a Chinese Finger Trap and I’m likely to lose a digit if I go exploring). He also dislikes dogs and cats, which is a deal-breaker, even if he did grow fond of me. Love me, love my Zoo.  But I like the way his mind works, his choice in books, his Mississippi accent…and that makes it risky. He didn’t know me in my glory days so when he remarked “lucky me” while examining my favorite tattoo which is only visible with my pants off, I replied “Yes, you are”. Because I’m special, even if he doesn’t realize it. And I’m picky. I chose him, out of desperation but chosen regardless, among others who might’ve gratefully worshiped me, at least for a minute.

“I can’t be the girl you want but I can be the thing you throw away, throw away, throw away…” Blood Orange

My dog escorts me to the public mail box at the end of the the road in my ‘hood after 1am because I suspect a 10% chance my friend and current roommate would toss this letter directly in the trash upon seeing it pinned to the front door for the postman in the morning. In response to the first and only message I’ve received from him in what feels like eternity but is only a month. Perhaps his conscience trying to make ammends on New Year’s Day.. 

“——–“, 

I didn’t want to get into a back and forth via email but I wanted to address a few things you said in your last message to me. In that sugar-coated rejection, you talked about how great I am and how I just need to find someone who loves me in return…and that person is not you. You said you don’t “deserve” me but that’s a cop-out. It has little to do with “deserve” and more to do with decision. Everything we say and do is by choice. There is a popular Maya Angelou quote that goes “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

You say that I don’t believe you when you tell me that on some level, you love me. That’s because you’ve never done anything to make me believe it. I spent the better part of 2016 searching for Proof of Love on Planet “–“and it might have been there but not for me.

Also, you telling me that you blocked me was another stab in the heart to put it lightly. Yes, I blocked your phone number for self-preservation but I left that email window open. And you cannot understand how difficult that decision was for me! I never wanted to cut you off in any way. But you…someone who has never blocked or cut off anyone (even when there are toxic people you should have cut off)…you blocked ME! Like I was the ONE person on this planet you could no longer stand to have risk of contact with. I was the one person in this world you found intolerable. As much as I appreciate honesty, I kind of with you hadn’t told me that. I probably never would have found out and the only purpose it served was to make me feel like a worthless piece of shit. 

And yet I still miss the fuck out of you. Maybe I just miss the man I thought you were or could be, not the one you are to me. But I agree with you on one point: I deserve to be loved in return. I know my own worth, even if it seemed otherwise because you fed the worst  of my insecurities. And for my own part, I apologize that I wasn’t content with platonic friendship. Even if the chances weren’t muddied by sex, my own feelings prevented it. I still keep hoping you will show up at my door and put your dick in my mouth. Just being honest!

G-d, I pray to meet someone else who I connect with as I did with you and a very few others in my past that I wasted my heart on. My intellectual, moral, spiritual, sexual equal. I’m not entirely sober as I finish this up, having spent the last several hours between swing dancing and hanging out with perhaps the one “normal” guy I’ve pulled from the dredges of humanity that is online dating. But even those who aren’t irritatingly stupid, I just can’t imagine myself on my knees in front of them. 

I’m not “waiting” for you, not that you asked or expect me to. You don’t want me and I don’t need you to remind me of that. But don’t cop-out with you don’t “deserve” me. Just admit you don’t want me, you don’t prioritize me, you don’t value me as you have and do others who are less than me. Yes, they are less than me. And if you can’t see that, I’d say it’s your loss but then, that’s a cop-out too. The heart and head rarely want the same thing, nor what is best for us. And I can’t blame you for not wanting me any more than I can blame myself for not wanting anyone else right now…but maybe this is the year G-d will cut me a break.

“No you can’t find nothing at all if there was nothing there all along” Death Cable for Cutie

I’ll be hiking in the woods next week and working on my mom’s house as much as I can accomplish by myself. But I’m not asking for your help again. Ill Wave everytime I pass your exit but I won’t stop.

I thought I knew why G-d put you in my path. But maybe it really was nothing more than to get you through a rough patch. And that’s done, you don’t need me anymore. I wont ever mean to you what you do to me, as a friend or anything more.  But I love you anyway and you’ll never know another woman who could have been better to and for you. Goodbye.

(I finally did it. I blocked his number. He doesnt need me to “be there” for him anymore so i dont feel like Im abandoning him. I had become the person he reaches out to when he was drunk or bored.
He would drop anything for her. He cared for her, an abusive manipulative narcissist…more than he ever could or would care for me.
By blocking his number, I reclaim some self respect. That anxiety of “when will i hear from him?”, “who is he with?” And “what will he say to hurt me?”…I feared hearing from him and not hearing from him. So now i CHOOSE not to hear from him.

No more broken plans, casual disregard, mismanaged expectations, growling over bones of drunken affection, and breath holding…

I took control back.

“I want you to notice when I’m not around…” ~Radiohead a-la Postmodern Jukebox

“Are you thinking of hurting yourself?”

Not today, is my usual response but the last two days, I considered it an option. Not the best option but as an analyst, of course, I consider ALL options and Full Stop was one of them.

Was it because the man I love remarked flippantly that he “didn’t feel like making the drive” to visit next weekend? Or that he was considering playing in my backyard in the mountains without inclination to include me? I had been pulling punches since our fallout two weeks ago because he took what I told him in confidence and not only held it against me (“Your insecurity makes you unattractive”) but also threw it back in my face. He JUDGED me. He made me feel so ashamed. So I don’t tell him what I’m feeling now. He doesn’t want to hear it and I don’t want to give him ammo to use against me later. Some friendship, huh?

But the last two days were so dark. A friend text this morning to say “Smile! I love you” and I snickered at his uncanny timing because I was doing the opposite. He joked, “I felt a disturbance in the Force.”

But that’s what this is really about, isn’t it? My friend “L” is staying with me for a few months following a bad breakup. He seemed okay until two nights ago when he found out his ex was seeing someone else. He told me this today. Told me he hasn’t slept in two nights and he is deeply depressed. Bingo.

Empathy strikes again. I share his pain like it’s my own.

The Universe, I’m told, is full of vibrations, frequencies, which I don’t understand but I know this: These vibrations are like metaphysical dog whistles: What one person may not “hear” at all may cause others pain. Saying I suffer from being an empath sounds hokey, like someone suffering from the supposed ghost pain of fibromyalgia. These ailments cannot be scientifically “proven” so they must be psychosomatic, right?

I read Psychic Shielding for Dummies last year and admittedly the techniques haven’t worked for me. Or maybe it’s a Catch 22? Maybe I have to be in a better place physically and spiritually in order to manifest a shield but I NEED a shield because I am physically and spiritually vulnerable!

Not vulnerable. Sapped.

I fondled the bag of rocks and “wish” I had been toting round my neck for two weeks. In a fit of frustration, I tore it off and threw it across the room. Feeling sacrilegious, I apologized and put it back on. Then I lit a sage bundle, set it near a lit candle and walked outside to nurse a whisky while the space fumigated. Walked back in 10min later to see the bundle on fire. Well, that should do it.

I am the worst “witch” ever.

But there is a small comfort in knowing where these feelings are coming from and knowing that the root of the problem is external. Why am I bleeding?? Oh I see. I’ve been shot. A psychic bullet sponge.

If the pain is not entirely mine, it doesn’t hurt less. I exhale every drop of air in my lungs and pause, willing my heart to stop. Just. STOP…