It’s hard to believe that 2018 is over. A lot has happened. I haven’t been writing here as much as I try to navigate the shifting identities of writer, performer, advocate, therapist. Each hat influences the other, and I am not sure what the place of this blog is at the moment, or how or if it will shift in the future.
2018 started with me taking what felt like the next logical step at the time and moving more deeply into the behavioral health field, and then discovering that instead I was triggered all the time and navigating what felt like a moral minefield. For my own mental health, I had to make a change. Now I am back to doing non-profit work and advocacy, and trying to focus on finishing my coursework so that I can become registered as a drama therapist. I will be taking my first level test in psychodrama this month as well, and that feels good.
What I didn’t expect was how a focus on my own personal growth would affect the other areas of my life. It feels like 2019 is going to be a year of pruning. One of the hardest parts of self-growth is still outgrowing – realizing that some people reach a point where they aren’t making any more forward progress, and that in order to stay true to myself, I have to leave them behind, because they won’t come with me.
I am starting to realize that identity markers aren’t the biggest indicator of whether or not I can get along with someone after all, but instead, how introspective and open to growth someone is. Because people who are growing will be able to accept me in my growth, even if they don’t share my identities. But someone who shares an identity can still be in denial and acting out of their defense mechanisms. Especially when my day job is filled with one-sided relationships, I need mutuality in my personal life, and not everyone is capable of it. Sometimes I am still surprised by who ends up moving to the forefront of my social circle, and who chooses to leave it.
Right now I am in the middle of what feels like a divorce, or as close to divorce as you can get as a legally single, asexual, non-monogamous person. And I wish that society had better words for all of the varieties of intimacy in the human condition, so that we could better support each other in painful transitions and grief. That is what gay marriage said it was doing, but it still leaves out the rest of us who don’t end up getting married. And the lack of societal recognition doesn’t change the depth of feeling it is possible to have for someone, or the pain of pulling apart a partnership. What do you do when a chunk of your chosen family unchooses you?
I find myself, once again, feeling unmoored. Unsure of which direction to go next. I wasn’t prepared for the part of becoming a therapist where you lose a lot of people. I’m not sure what is tying me to this place anymore. But I also don’t have any strong ideas about where I might head instead.
I’m starting 2019 feeling sad, and uncertain. Knowing that there is a lot more that I don’t know than what I do know. I’m trying to take things one day at a time. I feel so many layers of grief – in the present, for my childhood, for the country, and from the people who I advocate for. There can be a kind of beauty in the dark night of the soul. Everything gets closer to the surface somehow. And you have a choice of whether to numb it, or sit beside it. I’m getting better at holding space for others, and for myself.
Right now the new year doesn’t feel happy. But there’s also not despair. Just trying to answer the question of how to make all of this sustainable. It feels like I am a tree in winter – shedding old leaves and biding my time until spring, when there will be enough energy for new ones to come again.