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This past weekend was a hard lesson for me in healing. I let anxiety win, and it was……quite the spectacle. What happened behind the scenes was even worse. I convinced myself I was a fraud. I convinced myself I was worthless. I convinced myself there never had been hope for me. I looked back at the work I’ve done over the past two years and felt like I’d been lying to myself. Then I removed myself from the situation and remembered what it felt like standing on that stage by myself without anyone there to help me. The power I felt in telling a part of my story. The shift I felt inside me when I stopped fearing the unforeseeable and took hold of what’s mine. My life. That was not a lie. That could not have been false.
I’ve written a lot about healing and the way my life has changed since my experience with Good Girl. What I have not written about is the backsliding. What I haven’t written about is the doubt and the fear that the healing was some delusional fantasy that anything has changed. What I haven’t written about are the mistakes we make, because after decades of making the same ones over and over again, these are new, terrifying mistakes. It’s so easy to wonder if the change was worth it, because the demons we’re accustomed too are much easier to quell than new ones that might try to manifest in our lives. The answer is yes, it’s worth it. All of it, and the mistakes don’t unravel a single bit of it.
We’re told healing is hard. We’re told it’s a process. We’re told it’s painful. We’re never told how much maintenance it requires and how much of an adjustment it is to our daily lives. We have this idea that healing makes everything better, filling our lives with sunshine and rainbows and cute little kittens. What we don’t realize is that healing is NOT a panacea. It doesn’t make anything go away, it just gives us the resources to deal with it and to navigate new challenges that arise in a healthy manner. It doesn’t change learned behaviours. It doesn’t erase anxiety, depression, PTSD, or physical illness. It merely gives us better moves with which to fight and an understanding of how to fix what we break. Healing is not curing. Healing is taking something we once let run our lives into the ground and use it instead to fuel us to keep thriving.
The reality is that while healing is an internal process it requires external maintenance in ways we never experience when the stakes are low. My lesson wasn’t just painful for me; I hurt someone I love. It’s up to me to face that, do what I can to repair it, and do the internal work to ensure it doesn’t happen again. In the past it either wouldn’t have been healthy enough to matter or I would have just logged it with the other good things I let myself ruin. In the past few months it’s become more apparent where the healing could not help me because the problems I have are biological, so I’ve had to bite the bullet and admit there are things I can’t fix without medical help…then actually seek it. These things are no longer buried under me. They’re out in the open, they’re manageable, and they’re in the way of the life I want to live. Lastly, I have recognized things in my life that I was once passionate about but no longer serve that quick fix need in my life. There’s been a twinge of nostalgic panic as I begin to let those things go to focus on what’s really important in my life, but I’m decluttering and setting new goals.
You see, healing is a battle cry that screams “you no longer have power over me”. You won’t win the battle just because you’ve healed, but it will give you a fighting chance.
So, in 2012 I wrote this, and wasn’t I cute. Go ahead. Read it. It’s still valuable information, but it merely skimmed the juvenile surface of a much more mature problem. Also, note my almost defiant optimism that what we now know as The Vanishing Act would not, in fact, be a disaster. Ok, so Hubby may have been right on that one, but now this is the evidence he needs every time he thinks a new relationship is a bad idea. I’m surprised there’s not a commemorative plaque on the wall to mark the day in history.
This started out as a post about the balance between having compassion for the growing pains my existing partners experience when a new partner is added without letting it completely destroy my NRE. Then it morphed, as I began to have more and more conversations about compersion, not only with my partners but with friends. Here’s the Quick Guide to Compersion. Or at least what I understand of it.
Compersion is unconditional. It can’t only exist when you’re being doted on just as much as the new partner. It can’t only exist if my NRE is exactly like it was with you. It can’t only exist if you’re in some other way occupied. It compersion isn’t there even when you’re having a hard time processing the new relationship you’re lying to everyone, including yourself.
Compersion doesn’t mean not questioning. If you have concerns you still have to voice them rationally. If you have disagreements you still have to work through them. You’re allowed to ask for compromise or whatever you need to process, but compersion requires you to handle it like two adults who love each other. Isn’t this what it’s all about? Aren’t you together because you love each other?
Compersion doesn’t invalidate growing pains. You can still have your process, you just can’t use it to be a shyte to everyone else. You’re more likely, in fact, to get the extra attention and compassion you need if you’re not. Compersion means understanding and putting the happiness of your partner in the forefront, but it does not mean sacrificing your own well-being. It’s your responsibility to address it before it becomes a big scary issue, a fight, or resentment, not your partner’s.
What this all boils down to is love, respect, compassion, and balance. In a relationship, shouldn’t those things exist already?
Go now. Demand your balance.
This year I got a rainbow tattoo. It has other things on it, but I decided on a rainbow to represent my pansexuality in a tattoo about freedom. I know, I know, there are debates about whether or not those of us who are bi, pansexual, and all other kinds of ridiculous queer nomenclature are allowed to use the rainbow, but I do. Why? I like rainbows, and I hate pink.
I give this disclaimer because I have been repeatedly told that I am not allowed to be in the queer club because of my lifestyle, which makes me cringe every time I have to defend myself in a community that preaches acceptance and diversity. I have had women walk out of dates when they find out I not only continue to sleep with men, but am married to one and not opposed to others. As a pansexual male who by appearance is very masculine and seemingly heterosexual until you get to know him, my husband gets it worse. Most people simply don’t believe bi men exist, and he has been lectured by gay men, lesbians, and even bi women. This has made both our dating lives a little more complicated than I feel they need to be despite it being the reason we chose polyamory in the first place.
When we first opened our marriage it was just for same-sex partners as a way of being able to express our sexuality honestly and completely. Let me start by saying that this was never a requirement. I am perfectly capable and happy having monogamous relationships no matter how my partner identifies. This was simply a way I had never considered or tried before. My husband’s first girlfriend, as I’ve mentioned before, was supposed to be part of a triad situation. However, after our first sexual experience she decided she was not actually bisexual, so I was no longer a part of the equation. This made a lot of our decisions hard, fast, and undefined. Had we opened as two heterosexual adults things may not have gotten such a rocky start…then again, it could have been much worse.
My entire life I’ve had to field the assumption that as a bi woman I should just be ok with the man I’m seeing watching every encounter with a female partner, like my sex life exists purely for his fantasies. Let me tell you right off the bat that I’m not a huge fan of threesomes or being a spectacle. I may be game for the occasional diversion in that direction, but not as standard protocol. I cannot count how many times ex-boyfriends told me “of course you can see girls! As long as I can watch!” This has been a common thread even now that we’re poly. Many times people seem shocked that I don’t sleep with Hubby’s girlfriend or that once I have a girlfriend of my own I don’t just lend her out to the rest of my household. Apparently, nobody’s personal taste or chemistry matters in this scenario as long as the plumbing fits. Hubby and I have shared partners, but that was because we loved the same person not because we wanted to share women.
I really enjoy the fact that I have the freedom to have my marriage and the freedom to put together the family I want to have, regardless of gender or sexuality. Not all of our partners are queer, and I have never viewed any of my same-sex relationships in a different light than any others. What really matters is how we interact and love one another and that there is respect and acceptance for everyone.
It really IS that simple.
I have stressed many times the idea of the group identity of a poly household. Today I’m going to flip that at focus on exactly the opposite. With so much focus on the family unit as a whole sometimes we can forget to focus on what should be our top priority: Ourselves. Recently I planned to go to a poetry reading that I attend monthly, and I mentioned it to my sister-in-law, who I thought would enjoy the event as a fellow writer. I have invited other people in the past, but I intended to go either alone as I usually do or on a date with a woman I’ve been pursuing for some time now. After the event, which I never even went to, it was brought to my attention that A felt left out. Hubby suggested I invite her next time. I had not intended to exclude her from the reading, it’s just something I generally attend on my own time as a personal interest.
This may sound selfish, but it’s a lesson that many have learned the hard way, especially care takers and parents. I must take care of myself before I worry about the others in my family, with my children coming a very close second. If I am sick, stressed, exhausted, or emotionally burnt out I cannot begin to give anyone proper attention or care. If I refuse to take any time for myself and my development it can breed resentment and negativity directed at those I love. Not every minute of my life needs to be spent on my children. Not every minute without my children needs to be spent with one of my partners. Not every waking moment of my life needs company. I need the time and space to continue my personal growth and development. I cannot allow the Google calendar to consume me. Otherwise I would become a useless partner, an absentee wife, and a jaded parent, as well as a stunted human being.
I really enjoy my alone time sometimes. In the case of the aforementioned poetry reading it’s something I really like to go to with no distractions or expectations. I can show up, read if I want, and feel no pressure to leave at a certain time nor stay until the end. Especially on weekdays when I am on my own for work, I have my routines and my regular activities that do not include anyone outside that particular “circle”. It’s not that I’m ashamed of them or my family, and I’d never intentionally separate the two, but I do enjoy having time just for me and my whimsy.
I feel the same way sometimes with activities as a couple. If there’s something Hubby and I enjoy doing together on a regular basis I don’t see any reason to always invite the whole family. It’s our routine, and I feel our relationship needs things once in a while to remind us of a very important thing. While it’s fine that our lives revolve around our family unit we cannot allow our entire lives to become the family unit. Just as the household needs maintenance and bonding time, so does each couple, and so do we as individuals. It doesn’t make us bad parents or spouses to not include everyone in everything we do.
Not taking this personal development time will lead to stagnation. Hubby fell in love with me, and I with him, because of our respective personalities. We took this journey together, and decided to add to it others whose character and interests complimented ours. We did not set out in search of clones. Nor do we expect anyone in our family to give up any hobbies or interests that we don’t all share. What brought us together is who we are as individuals and what we bring to the table to share and teach. We are a unique blend, but if all the components look the same we will never reach our full potential as a family let alone as people. If we do not take the time and opportunity to nurture ourselves we become fallow and colourless.
It is not the point of life to be absorbed by a family, to have our free spirits grounded, or to have our hungry minds starved. A household should support each other’s personal endeavors and encourage growth, whether or not why share the interest or understand the motives behind it. I do not exist solely in the hearts and minds of my partners. I also live within my own heart and soul, and I cannot be true to myself nor my family if all those components are not happy and healthy. I cannot give my whole self and my whole heart to something that doesn’t see who I am and love me for it, and I cannot put energy into something that puts none into me. The whole should enrich the one as the one enriches the whole, otherwise both will shrivel up and die.
I’ve written a few times now about coming out as poly, but then what? Once we’ve made this disclosure and asserted who we are, whether as a single person exploring or as a couple, how do we proceed in dealing with non-poly family and friends? Do we let it simply fade into obscurity as an abstract fact or do we keep trying to educate and exemplify the life we’ve chosen to live?
The way we’ve dealt with each of our families has been pretty much the same despite the different situations we face. My family lives 3,000 miles away, so it’s easier for them to be newly surprised every time I mention A or someone new I’m seeing. It’s not a conversation I wish to get involved in every time I visit, so I really have just started mentioning our partners as I would anyone else in our lives. Sometimes they ask who I’m talking about, and that’s when we usually have a discussion about my poly life.
We have done very similar things with Hubby’s family with the additional feature of familiarization. Mouse is an employee for Hubby’s mom. She lives with us. Even so, we’ve experienced more resistance from Mom than from my family. In most cases she has accepted this part of who we are and done what she can with it. She’s always been polite, but there is a part of her that still can’t fully grasp that we are happy this way, mostly that I could be happy this way.
A while back we had a family anniversary dinner. When I asked Mom if she was inviting Mouse she told me no, stating it was just for family and she didn’t want to have to explain it to Hubby’s grandfather, who we’ve since come out to. It wasn’t my place to push, so I let it go and let Hubby take it from there, but it felt to me like an excuse. Pop pop had definitely seen Hubby and Mouse interact. She came to our house often at the time and had spent many special occasions with our family.
When confronted about it she reiterated what I’ve heard her say before, that she is only concerned about her daughter-in-law. It’s not like I don’t talk to Mom about the men in my life, she’s even met a couple of them, but as a woman who has been hurt by men in the past she finds it hard to understand why I would consent willingly to live this way. She wonders if I just accept it as a condition of my marriage to Hubby, and if I left him over it she would not blame me one bit. It’s a sentiment I’ve heard from many people when they find out I’m poly, but it’s very quickly detrimental in a family.
We’ve all talked about it, but we don’t ever make a big deal about it. We simply keep doing what we’re doing. We don’t need her approval. We only require her respect when it comes to out chosen family, and she has gone above and beyond in that regard. For a while she tried to hide it from the men she dated, but eventually it came out as he and Hubby became close and began to spend time together outside of her presence. Again, he may not completely understand it, but he has accepted it as fact, and we don’t dwell on it.
My family has been able to accept this as a very abstract idea. My dad was, until recently, the only one who had experienced it first-hand. He is also the only one who asks questions when they arise. I don’t know where his opinions or concerns lie, but I know if they get strong enough he will tell me. So far he has listened, but I have a feeling his concerns are the same as Mom’s. It may be easier for him to believe that I’m happy merely because he has only talked about it with me, whereas she heard it from Hubby first and foremost. He’s also known me all my life and knows I wouldn’t live a certain way just to please a man. I’d do it for me, for both of us, or not at all.
In my opinion, the only way we are going to help them grasp this is to keep living it and to keep representing ourselves as a solid couple and a solid family. The happier and healthier we look the more they will see that this is not something we rushed into and not something we do to fill voids in our lives. We do this because it’s who we are, and in order to gain that acceptance from our families we need to be open with them about all of who we are. I can’t tell my father I’m poly and not that I’m pansexual, because that means hiding my girlfriends. The same goes for Hubby. So far none of that has come up in the questions, but I know it’s only a matter of time, and when it does we will address it as we have everything else to this point. Openly. Honestly. With love.
Let me tell you a story.
Let’s pretend you have a kid who’s sick. He’s got a variety of things that make his health a daily battle, several of which could be terminal.
You have two choices.
You can treat each battle as something to mourn and never stop pushing forward. It’s for the kid’s survival. What kind of parent or you. You can dwell on the kids who are losing their battles, and never let your kid forget he could die any day.
Or you can celebrate the good days and let the kid enjoy his life despite the battles. You don’t treat them any less seriously, and you don’t stop taking care of his health, but you take a deep breath once in a while and go to the park. You keep the kids who have lost their battles in your heart, and you educate yourself on advancements in care.
This is how I feel we can handle the Supreme Court decision about Marriage Equality. We can celebrate it as what it is. A step in the right direction. Not the last step or the most important step, but a step. We’re allowed to celebrate small victories without forgetting the other issues or those who are still battling. Why? Because the kid is still a human being, that’s why. Just because this decision doesn’t fix all the problems for all the people does not give us the right to invalidate the people the decision does help in any way.
I’ve been told at least half a dozen time today that I’ not allowed to have an opinion on the matter as anything but a bystander. Because I’m already married. Because I’m bi and chose to legally marry a man. Because I’m white. Because I’m cisgendered. Because…because…because. I have never understood this kid of isolation as anything but what we’re fighting against, and I do not understand it now. As a community of humans fighting together we need to also recognize the importance of being a community of humans exalting together. The two are not mutually exclusive, but they are both vitally important to the survival of the spirit and humanity of the community.
No, the journey is not even mostly over. No, the war has not been one. No, celebrating this victory does not erase from our memories the journey behind us or the long road yet before us.
Go now. Be together.
In a recent post I mentioned briefly the adjustments I’ve been making in my relationships to conquer the distance inherently put between me and my partners by my job. I’ve always held a strong position against long distance relationships. I rely heavily upon touch and face to face interaction to ground me in a relationship and give me a sense of stability and connection, and I havent never seen that possible in a situation where I don’t see a partner more than once a month, but with the commute I make for my job I’m finding more and more that even my marriage has similarities to a long distance relationship.
At first I fought it. Adjusting to the commute and unusual schedule was hard enough without taking into account what might be happening at home. In turn, Hubby sought solace in his tangible life and partners he could reach out to and began to suppress fears that I was on the slow road to leaving him, and our life together far behind. The next step in the downward spiral was a deep depression caused by feelings that I was gradually being erased from my own family. I considered leaving. Unable to voice this feeling properly, I only validated Hubby’s suspicions, and the unraveling began, leaving us both feeling alienated and alone.
The solutions seemed bleak. We either had to accept that this was our life now or end it, and neither of us was willing to accept either option. Hubby’s approach was to demand things. My time. Phone calls. All my plans and commitments at home would have to be cancelled to spend time with him. I felt exhausted, smothered, and stretched too thin, and I lashed out, suddenly understanding why trained tigers might eventually eat their owners. I felt helpless.
Then something happened. I started texting him every day. I didn’t have the hour or five a day he would have liked to have phone calls, and there was nothing I could do about the frequency with which I had to end such conversations abruptly because of my schedule, but he started to realize just now much I think of him when I’m not around.
A transformation began. He became easier to talk to. We exhumed inside jokes that had lost their sheen in the midst of our fighting and developed new ones. Suddenly I felt like there wouldn’t be an exhausting battle every time we spoke, so I started putting him on speaker phone while I readied myself for work. In short, I got my best friend back.
Other relationships were not so lucky. After months of not knowing how to fix it, Ralph and I decided we could only survive in each other’s lives as friends. Other tentative relationships came to similar fates, while the ones that were able to find a way to reconnect in new way thrived. This. This is where I began to see where the strength was in myself and in my partners.
Since this experience, each new relationship has been a valuable learning experience in communication and bonding. Things that are important to me have had to be compromised while new needs have emerged in order to gain the stability I need to be a happy, sane, openly loving wife, partner, and even friend in some cases. It hasn’t been easy, and at times I feel like these new endeavours are an emotional game of chutes and ladders, but it’s forced me to take second look and only spend that energy on someone I feel deserves that kind of time and energy.
I’m still not sure what my stance is on long distance relationships. The impulse is to have more partners to cover the lonely times, but even people I don’t see regularly take the same amount of resources, and I know all too well the effects of polysaturation. Instead, I’m learning to find what works with each partner, and to give myself some of that energy as well. We’ll explore that concept a little bit more later.
Go now, reconnect.
I took on an extremely ambitious piece of writing this year for NaNoWriMo. After having to stop just short of my goal the first year due to a broken arm Thanksgiving Weekend and finishing with a product coherent enough to be in the editing process now, this year I took on an extremely heavy task. Half fiction, half non-fiction, the piece chronicled the rocky path of a crumbling marriage in a woman’s mind during her final moments. For those of you who don’t know, my marriage has been a little stressed recently as Hubby and I inventory our issues like LEGOs in attempt to put them back together in a way that works for us both, so taking on this project wa extremely personal and a bit harshly timed. I made it to almost 12,000 words before the emotional weight made it impossible to keep going, but I don’t consider this experiment a complete loss.
For one thing, what I have so far is an amazing piece. I have been adding to it here and there when I can, and when I have the time and energy to put the entire puzzle back together, I believe it will be a beautiful mosaic of words and emotions. I believe in this project, or I wouldn’t have taken it on the way I did.
Next, it was amazing therapy in some ways and an amazing awakening in others. It allowed me to get words out that I felt lost trying to express before, which meant I was able to keep a logical calm tone when dealing with Hubby in emotionally charged situations. It allowed me somewhere to put the often irrational feelings and insecurities that are mine to deal with, things that often cloud our ability to fix the shared problems. It allowed me a story board to map out my experience throughout this marriage and showed me where my own behaviour and thinking may have been the problem without a tone of blame or guilt to get in the way of resolution.
Finally, it reminded me of what I have to fight for, everything we have already fought through, and the strength we have when we fight together for something not against each other. Killing a marriage that didn’t exist helped me see the ways to save the one that does.
So, no, I don’t get the fancy winner badge, which is a shame, because I loved the graphics NaNoWriMo used this year. However, I don’t consider this a loss. Sometimes you need to both something to be able to think outside the box a little. Sometimes you need to fall to change your perspective.
Thank you , NaNoWriMo. I’ll see you next year!
Eighteen years ago tomorrow I melted into the couch trying to disappear while I processed the fact that my mother was dead. I didn’t want everyone gathered around me. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to react in front of anyone. I just wanted to soak into the beige cushions and have my moment, but at 12 years old everyone expected something different, something extravagant and wild that required taming and tending. I didn’t. I absorbed the information and took a shower, because it was the only place I could go and not be followed. I spent the next several days trying to gauge what was expected of me. I helped plan a funeral for the first time. I went with my best friend and her mom to buy something nice to wear with no idea what acceptable mourning attire for someone in my position could possibly be. I settled on a navy blue skirt with flowers on it. My goth stage wouldn’t flood my life with black until a year or so later.
Eighteen years ago today, however, was a very different experience. One of life.
You always remember the last time you heard someone’s voice before they leave your world. I remember her laughter and her words. I remember mine. I have since had to uproot my guilt over not going to visit as I had promised and how nonchalantly I threw in that last “love you, bye” as only adolescence can cast. She was coming home the next day. I was excited, but I didn’t feel any particular need to drag it out over the phone. This would change how I handle phone calls, I-love-yous, and anticipation for the rest of my life, because the next day she simply didn’t come home.
Yesterday I took a walk around the cemetery to clear my head. Eighteen years after the last time I hugged her my mom is still the best friend I go to for guidance, as I’ve developed a habit of laying on the grass under the tree she’s buried near and telling her all the things I can’t articulate anywhere else. It’s the only place I can reach the voice inside me that has answers, because the part of her that lives within me is something I wasn’t capable of recognizing as a preteen.
One of the things I inherited from my mother was her capacity to see the good in people. Whatever she called it, that woman embraced the spirit of Aloha in the very air she breathed. No one was ever turned away from her heart, and to those she gave pieces of it too she gave everything. For a long time I tried to run from that part of myself. I tried to cage it up, wall it in, and silence it for good. I hated it. I hated myself for it. I struggled for years with the very thing that makes me who I am, because I had let it shine only to have it ripped out, held in front of me, and tortured before my very eyes. I had watched something beautiful be eviscerated in the name of love, and I couldn’t fathom anything worth experiencing that again. The lesson from my mother’s last day had not yet sunk in.
So let’s go back to that week.
My mother’s funeral was the first I had ever planned. The first at which I had ever spoken. The first I had ever attended. The first time I had personally shaken Death’s hand had taken from me the most important person in my life, and the seeds of this lesson were planted. Since then I have been to more funerals than I can count, spoken at many of them, and helped plan seven. Family, friends, children. Old, young, unborn. Sick, sudden, at their own hands. Loss. Loss is something you never get used to and something you can never truly plan for no matter how hard you try. Loss is where the seeds Death planted the day my mother said, “if you’re not coming today, don’t bother, because I’m going home tomorrow” and I chose to stay home instead begin to sprout. Loss is where those sprouts blossom into regret and sadness every time one of those last conversations is replayed in the back of my mind. Loss is where I gained the strength and courage to let the part of me which my mother tried so hard to cultivate within me finally be free, because the only thing that can grow taller than Death’s crops in my soul is love.
There are times when I doubt. There are times when I’m told that opening myself up to love this way makes me weak and vulnerable. There are times when I’m told it’s ignorant and ugly to let my heart be naked this way. Not everyone appreciates it. I’m called crazy, overwhelming, and naive every time I put my heart at risk, but to me this risk is far more acceptable that the one that someone I love never knew it. In this lesson my mother’s voice lives on. In this way her heart continues to love. In this way I am showing her every day how much I loved her and how important she was to me, not just as my mother but as the fire that burns within me.
I’ve written about it before, the reasons I love the way I do. What it all boils down to is that love is something you can’t do halfway or there’s no point in doing it at all. It can hurt. It can burn. It can tear you apart when you least expect it, but so can regret, fear, and doubt. At least my way I also run the risk of being happy and loved in return, and that’s the secret my mom knew.
“What would you say,” a friend posed to me as I sat at his table, “to a friend who had just told you what you just told me?” We had been discussing certain decisions coming up in my life and what I should consider when making them. He was right. If I took the sentiment and nostalgia out of the situation the answer I was looking for was right in front of my face. I just didn’t want to accept it. I tried to take what he had said to heart, and in the following days I gained such a powerful sense of clarity that I felt foolish for not having seen it before. I knew what I had to do, but I also knew that this meant fortifying my relationship with myself.
Then there came this night. A night when all the love and support in the world was gone, and everything was quiet. A night when loneliness took over, and my only option was to learn to stand up in the darkness by myself. You know what? In that moment I learned what it was like to become my own best friend, to really trust myself to be available for me when I needed a little extra strength and love, and to actually do so.
Don’t get me wrong, my outer support circle is fantastic, but they can’t be with me all the time. I cannot allow myself to become dependent. I also cannot allow myself to become self-destructive when left to my own devices. I must learn to thrive and enjoy being alone, and this is a very fresh lesson. I must learn to do this myself or it will overpower me. The darkness, the silence, the solitude. It all comes from within, so it is from within that it must be overcome.
What would I say to a friend? Nothing. She already knows the answers. She already has the seeds of change within her. She just needs a friend. It’s up to me to be that friend.