Breathing through change

There’s a website I used to go to every single day. In Chrome, when you frequent certain sites, it will keep eight of them on your home screen when you open the web browser. This particular website used to battle out the first position with my work email inbox and Facebook. Sometimes, a little commentator voice would go off in my head, keeping track of the ranking. “Well, it looks like Facebook has pulled ahead of Work and The Other Website. Perhaps you should be doing more work, or visiting The Other Website more! Nope! Facebook has stayed in the lead for two days now! Way to waste time!”

But generally, The Other Website would win. And seeing it there everyday was a reminder. A glorious cluster of colorful pixels that reminded me of something good that touched my core. That I had wanted for so long. That safe space was created, and it was a click away, cutting through hundreds of miles.

However. Due to life, this website had been slipping in the ranking for the past few months as I less and less frequently went to it. One day last week…for the first time ever, I opened the browser and it just…wasn’t there. I burst into tears like a proper adult who’s heart had cracked.

My phone has forgotten some words I used on a regular basis, too. When I first realized that, there were more tears. There’s been a lot of crying lately. Also a lot of change. And more to come, likely. Well, definitely. Life is always changing. Always evolving. Even now, the situations above with the website and my phone…those are also still evolving.

But additionally, there’s been a fuckton of other shifting over the past few months, too. I can’t keep track of it all, sometimes.

It just…hurts. And it’s not just the website or the words or any one change…but moreso what they represent. Communication is good, though. Because it means that I can express some of this and there might be hope for things. I’ve had to process a lot to find my way to the words so I can communicate to those around me.

Back when I was a water fitness instructor, one of the things they drilled into us was to remind our students to breathe. People who are learning something new, or concentrating, or exercising will often hold their breath and that’s…less than optimal for a workout. Also, fainting on land is one thing. It gets way more complicated real quick if they go down in the water. So at least three or four times during my classes, I would remind people to breathe. Thankfully, no one went under on my watch.

Which is funny, because half the time I was reminding them to breathe, I was also reminding myself.

It’s even more hysterical when you factor in the fact that I’m a trained singer and while I’ve been breathing into my diaphragm for nearly 30 years, I still have issues with breath control. With lots of preparation, I can sustain long notes or a good vibrato, but it takes a lot of concentration. You’d think after so many years singing, it would be easier.

Earlier this year, I was loaned Urban Tantra, a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while now. I’m about four chapters in and frozen…it’s the chapter on breathing. Different kinds of tantric breath. My brain just…shuts down. I don’t know why.

Earlier this year, I turned 40. A kind numerology expert gave me a reading as a present and one of the key elements she saw was that I had to focus on breathing and movement.

It’s like this is a theme for me or something.

Clearly, when there are so many changes swirling around me, I should be breathing more. Deeper. Deliberately. I know it. Reminders are all around me. On my playlist, Pearl Jam, Scarlet Sails, and Hedwig tell me. I’ve got friends who remind me. And still, it’s so fucking hard. My body just keeps wanting to curl into a protective ball, not breathe too much, or say too much, and hope that the hurt, the confusion, the feeling of constantly walking in a field of landmines will just go away.

Of course, it doesn’t work that way in real life. There’s too much shit to do.

So I’ve spent nearly two decades, and especially the last five years, trying to unlearn and undo these impulses. I’ve forced myself to interact more, though a diagnosed anxiety disorder also makes this challenging. But when it comes to certain things, like music, or sex, or D/s, or writing…I still sometimes hold my breath, retreat, and just hope that the changes I feel won’t be as bad as they seem. That not yet another thing or person or dynamic that I love will be taken away from me, or leave, or fade.

Recently, my best friend took me to Santa Fe for my 40th birthday. It was an incredible experience but I found myself overwhelmed a lot, which has been happening a whole bunch lately. Visiting new places, the architecture, the art, the altitude, the aromas, the energy, the music, the people, the travel, the changes to routine, all co-mingling with the life shit that was already in my brain before I went.

But. For the first time in a long time, I was able to get through most of the overwhelming by breathing in Santa Fe. Deep, deliberate breaths – in through the nose, out through the mouth. My therapist said it might’ve been a little easier with the drier air. She said the humidity in this area can sometimes make it more difficult to breathe with intention. Not impossible, just challenging. So the best I can do is be aware of it. Try extra hard to breathe better, more frequently, more fully. It doesn’t make the changes directly easier…but it sure as hell is helping me open up to them and embrace the unknown a little.

And yet: A poly/kink meditation

Driving home from a partner’s house recently, I relished the ability my brain has to work through things while I’m traveling. At the time, one of the things I was dealing with was remnants of jealousy and insecurity regarding a metamour. My brain kept eating me alive and I did everything I could think of to deal with it up until that point: smile through it, put it aside, pack it up, ignore it, poke it gently with a stick, kick it in the neck. Y’know, the usual.

But when I get in a car or on a train and there’s a long trip or, at the very least, 30 minutes or more on a highway, I go into parsing mode. Meeting things head on, feeling my way through them, exploring ways to actually deal with them rather than constantly pushing myself into survival mode.

And a nifty thing happened while I was letting my brain ramble and unwind. It went something like this:

Anxious, scared brain: This metamour is younger and into things you’re not.

Suddenly, another voice joins in, soft but solid, of a new friend with whom I had been marveling recently about all the good/interesting things that were happening in our lives that we never expected to. The phrase they used was “and yet.” Two simple words to ground you and bring you back to the fact that those good things were happening.

So my anxious, scared brain goes: This metamour is younger and into things you’re not.

Soft, solid voice answers: And yet, your partner still wants you, too.

Anxious, scared brain goes into tizzy and tries to hurl something scarier at this new voice: Yeah, well, that metamour is closer geographically than I am.

Soft, solid voice replies again: And yet, your partner still wants you.

Anxious, scared voice is freaking the fuck out, thinking it’s about to be put out of a job and goes for broke: This metamour is thinner, and more attractive, sees your partner more and your partner wants said metamour more than you.

Soft, solid voice bitch-slaps back with a simple: And yet. It doesn’t matter, ultimately, about “more” or “less”. Bottom line. No getting around it. It may’ve taken some time but there is a part of you that knows this to be true now. Your partner finds you attractive and still wants you.

Anxious, scared brain will not be defeated and decides to go for completely batshit low blow and shouts: YOUR PARTNER IS GOING TO LEAVE YOU FOR METAMOUR. YEAH! “AND YET” THAT, MOTHERFUCKER.

Soft, solid voice smiles and says completely calmly: And yet. My partner has not left me yet. Our relationship isn’t based on a relationship escalator, and while I would love for it to go on for a long time, the success of it is not measured in longevity. It’s measured in, to quote Rent, love. You know poly means that your partner can care about, play with, date, have sex with, love, be with, whatever-the-fuck-you-wanna-call-it with other people and it does not mean you’re getting left behind. They are NOT mutually exclusive. They coexist. You coexist. You wrote a fucking piece about it here and everything! Your partners care about you for you and their other partners for who they are and the wondrous variety of it all is what makes it so goddamned beautiful and awesome now shut the fuck up and let’s sing some showtunes!!!

Wow. That soft, solid voice apparently grabbed a megaphone and some spirit somewhere along the highway because, daaaaammmmn. Anxious, scared brain walked away in a huff, promising to come back with better ammunition. I turned on Hamilton and sang along to “That Would Be Enough”.

***

About a half an hour later, anxious, scared brain gets back online and wants to go again.

ASB: You know that new person you like? There’s no way they could like you, too.

SSV: And yet. Have you talked to them about it? Have you asked how they felt? Do you know that for certain?

ASB: No…but…screams and stomps off I WILL FIND SOMETHING!

SSV: And yet. I will likely refute it.

***

I sing more Hamilton. Put on some Fleetwood Mac because I’m suddenly feeling more mellow and relaxed. Replay some of the happier moments from my time with my partner. Just about then, that jackass ASB struts up.

ASB: You’re a terrible submissive. You can’t be a director and a /s and a switch. They don’t go together. What’s wrong with you?

(Wow. What a smug asshole my brain can be sometimes. What the fuck? C’mon, SSV, don’t fail me now…)

SSV: And yet. I am all those things. At different times. With different people and situations.

ASB: You’re not submissive enough for your Sir. You’re not good enough. You’re too old and out of practice.

SSV: And yet. Sir says he is pleased by me more often than not and when he’s not, corrects and/or punishes me to his liking accordingly. It is not my job to second guess what he says he is pleased by. It is my job to trust his word and actions.

ASB: People won’t respect you for being a switch, especially in public.

SSV: And yet. I played in public on the right side of the slash in a place where I was in charge of a portion of the event recently and have so far seen no diminishing respect from colleagues, friends, partners, or anyone else. If anything, I’ve gotten many compliments on how happy I was that day as I went (what felt like) fairly seamlessly from the right side of the slash to the left as appropriate to the scenes I was having.

ASB, muttering under its breath: Fuck you and the “and yet” you rode in on…

SSV: And yet…that sounds like fun.

ASB explodes in a POOF

***

So. For the rest of the car ride, I just kept throwing “and yet” at all the insecurities that popped up and lo and behold, it’s been slamming them down right and left. I’ve even done some kneeling meditations on it and it’s held up strong. I don’t expect it to combat everything…

And yet I’m glad for what it’s doing right now.

Comparisons: The Poly Pitfall of Doom

You know one of the quickest ways to tank your self esteem as a poly person? Start comparing yourself to any of your metamours or things your partner(s) are doing with other partners.

And yet, I’ve fallen into that trap waaaaaay more times than I care to count. Today alone.

Just kidding. That was yesterday. Today it’s only happened a little.

It sucks. Because reason tells me that I know better than this. All I’ve read and written and experienced tells me, for the most part, better than this.

And yet, there are times when I can’t see past it. Past the fear, the panic, the “are they better than me?” Sexier? Kinkier? More flexible? And if they are, the root of it….am I going to be left behind?

This is probably the pit my brain tosses myself into headlong most frequently. Therapists and I have theorized about an abandonment complex based on things from my past when I was younger and people who were supposed to care about me dropped off the face of the earth when I was younger. In the span of about four years, my mother disappeared, my sister went off to college, my aunt and uncle, whom I used to see every other weekend along with my cousins who were like my little brothers, stopped seeing me and calling me, my grandfather stopped contacting me. Hell, even the guitar teacher I had just…stopped. This was from was from when I was eight until I was twelve. And yeah, I spent many years obsessing, wondering, afraid. What did I do wrong? What could I have done better? What could I have done to have made them stay?

The answer(s)? Nothing. Nothing. And nothing.

I know this now, after many years have passed and conversations have happened.

But on the other hand, people have told me I’m “too much”. I think too much, feel too much, laugh too loudly, get into hobbies too deeply, am too dramatic. So I’ve retreated sometimes. I’ve been worried about what I say, what I do, if it’s too much. If I’m too much.

Conversely, my brain also tells me I’m not enough. I’m not enough to for people to want…anything from. Not sexy enough, or attractive enough, or kinky enough, or interesting enough, or competent enough, or intelligent enough, or witty enough. I fight feeling like I’m failing at everything….my job, relationships, writing, life. It’s hard to see the things I’ve done right while the things I’ve done wrong scream at me.

Add metamours into this mix and sometimes, my brain sometimes goes haywire.

Here’s the thing. I actively chose and continue to choose to be in open relationships. After over 15 years, I know this is how I’m wired. It just makes sense to me to love more than one person. And that love can come in many different shapes and forms. I err more towards relationship anarchy style of poly these day, in that I do not want to tell my partners what they can or can’t do with other people and I don’t ever want anyone to tell me what I can and can’t do with other people. And most times, I love hearing fun stories of scenes that other partners have done, or fun experiences. I can usually do compersion like a mofo.

And yet. That pesky “and yet” slams me upside the heart and I’m gone.

I’ll think of a metamour, especially a new one (because new ones are waaaay harder to process than existing ones, most times), and go….fuuuuuuuucccckkkkk. They’re hot. Which, for some reason, suddenly means I’m not. They’re into things I’m not. Which suddenly, for some reason, means that I’m less valuable or interesting. They see said partner more than I do. Which suddenly diminishes the time I spend with that partner. All of the things I am and do and are interested in suddenly, in my stupid, stupid brain, are warring to be both not good enough and too much. Because that’s a thing that my brain can magically maintain.

Because it’s easier to beat myself up than to just understand that a new person does not automatically mean I lose.

Because a partner having NRE or wanting to see someone he hasn’t seen in months makes it feel like our communication is less/different and I feel like I’m kind of all alone. Add to the mix when life is crazy hella hectic and I’m at a touch and sex and play deficiency and suddenly everyone becomes competition. Suddenly, I’m afraid of losing everything.

Two of the best ways I’ve found to combat this are to talk and to focus solely on my relationship with my partner, not their relationship with anyone else. That latter one came from this gem of an article I read about a month ago called “Change your Cookbook: A monogamuggle’s guide to cookin’ with polyfolk”. (side note: I love that some of the best poly advice I’ve ever gotten comes from a monogamuggle. Also, I love the term “monogamuggle”.)

When it comes to talking, I’m finding that talking to partners is one thing. And that can be incredibly helpful. I mean, if you’re focusing on your relationship with your partner and you feel like they’ve been pulling back or things have changed, checking in with them is a good idea. But the best people I’ve found to talk to? The metamours themselves.

This used to scare the ever-lovin’ fuck out of me. Talk to the people that must be better than me? That might be taking my partner away? But…that seems impossible and painful. Like the bad kind of masochism. And that’s coming from an emotional masochist.

Funny thing, though? Metamours are fucking awesome. And when you start talking to the them, sometimes, you wind up having conversations with them and you find that you’re way more alike than you are different. You learn that they have similar hobbies, interests, and are really cool people. You also sometimes discover that they have similar insecurities or struggles and then you are gobsmacked but feel way less alone. They’re not trying to take everything away from you. They’re agenda is exactly the same as yours…to love, to have fun, and to enjoy time with the person you both care about. Because that makes sense, right? Isn’t that what this is all about?

And there’s time and space for all of these things to happen. And sometimes, you wind up wanting to hang out with them…like, without your partner! And sometimes you even are able to and suddenly you’ve made new friends and holy shit kitchen table poly can work.

This may or may not’ve happened to me a few times. And yet…each time it surprises me. But in that good way. Like, right. I don’t have to torture myself with horrible thoughts of being left and sad. The reality is way different than my fears and anxiety keep trying to tell me sometimes.

So those are two ways I’ve found to help quell the brain beasts. Does anyone else have any other advice on how to deal with this damn pitfall? I’d love to hear it, if so.

Under Pressure

Moving. Load out tomorrow. Halfway across the country.

So many goodbyes. So many hellos. So much positive, forward momentum. I’m leaving under such better circumstances this time. I’m moving with my husband towards bright things. Relationships, friends, family, work, events, opportunities. But it’s also such a major change. I’m scared. The last three times I made this move (twice here, once back) were so…painful. Twice I was leaving painful things behind me and once I didn’t really want to move. Wasn’t ready. I am this time, but there’s still so much to do. There’s the packing and the cleaning, and the loading out and the driving 16 hours, the loading in, the unpacking. Pair that with the fact that presenter notifications for one of our events have to go out by Sunday. We leave Monday morning.

It doesn’t help that my stomach has been in knots all day and I can’t digest anything properly.

Lots of pressure. And I’m running into some surprising walls. Some not-me walls.

Because love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And loves dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure

“Under Pressure” – Queen & David Bowie

Apparently, compersion has gone out the window and I’m reduced to a mess of insecurities,  viscerally ugly jealousy that I detest as I struggle to stop it, and Imposter Syndrome who’s brain is rapidly trying to convince me that I suck at my job, everyone I care about is happier with other partners, I’m going to somehow fuck up moving all our stuff 1000 miles away, and I’m going to wind up alone without any of the bright points of connection and love and play and everything else.

It came on so quickly and hard this afternoon after reading something that I know normally would’ve made me really happy. I wound up dropping to my knees, sobbing in physical pain. It’s the severe side of my anxiety disorder that I try to hide from the world. Thankfully, no one was home. I was able to cry it out and meditate a bit in a kneel.

This IS NOT ME. These emotions ARE NOT MINE. I feel like I’ve been hijacked. The only thing I can think of is that it’s technically envy, amplified the fuck up to 11. I’m stressed out, craving play, sensation, sex, to feel…good. Or to feel physical pain that helps me calm down and feel good. To connect with someone. To feel desired. I know my husband cares about me. But we’re both under pressure. It’s been close to a month since we’ve done…anything. I know other people care about me and have helped this week. But they’re all also over 1000 miles away.

I just want a release. So badly. So fucking badly. I don’t begrudge anyone anything. I just want some for myself. But right now…right now, I have more work to do. More packing. More emails. So much more to do before Monday…

Hey, jealousy – part duex

Hello and welcome back. I still hate jealousy.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ve just come across an article/interview and new poly resource called Poly Pocket on Autostraddle described as “new series showcasing polyamorous and ethically non-monogamous relationships.” The article is called Making Relationships Up As We Go and contains this quote that just about sums up the root of my jealousy:

“The scary part of being poly is trusting that you’re worthy of love and worth sticking around for not because you’re the only person around but because you have inherent value just by being you.”

Boom.

That right there. I’ve only recently, like this year, have come to feel more secure in my worthiness. And when new people come on the scene for my partners, I have a mad rush of “Fuck; it’s an elimination round and I won’t survive because I’m not valuable enough.”

Which is a fucked up way of looking at things. I know, I know.

But the feeling is embedded deeper in me that I realize from my monogamous upbringing that monogamy and exclusivity are what protect you. Your worth comes from nabbing a man and then catering to him and that makes you worthy. That makes it justifiable to stake your claim on him. And he on you.

And even though I’ve spent more than a decade dismantling these ideas they still pop up. Less frequently, to be sure, but still. Enough that I have to make sure my Box of Non-Monogamy tricks is fully stocked with things like:

  • Affirmations. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggoneit, people like me. Thank you Stuart Smalley.
  • Ownership is for kink relationships. Otherwise, no one owns anyone else.
  • We each come with our own inherent value. It’s what makes open relationships so beautiful. I don’t have to sit through a movie I have no interest in or play video games that make me sick. My husband has partners that will do that with him and enjoy it. That doesn’t negate the value of us sharing Gilmore Girls, Inkmaster, and Drag Race or our love of geeky board and card games. And even when I have things in common with metamours, that doesn’t mean they do that fandom “better”. It means that partner now has at least two partners who like the same things they do.
  • Relationships end. This is the hard one to come to terms with sometimes. Longevity is not my primary measure of relationship success anymore. In fact, I’m trying to phase it out as a metric. Yes, it’s commendable to weather storms together, but sometimes…people need to part. Sometimes a relationship stops being good for us and we should move on. Embracing this is difficult. It means I don’t want to claim anyone or be claimed (again, unless we’re talking kink relationships. In that instance, being called “mine” by the right person is one of the hottest things ever.)

So these are the things I have to remember as I face the green-eyed monster. If anyone reading this has any other suggestions of things that work for them in their Box of Non-Monogamy tricks, please do leave a comment!

 

Hey, jealousy

So let’s get one thing straight…I’m not.

Ha-ha.

For serious, though, I hate jealousy.

(I know, Queen of the Smooth Transitions, right?)

For as much as I tell people it’s okay to feel it, that it’s normal in non-monogamy (and in monogamy) and it doesn’t mean you care any more or less about someone, that it doesn’t mean you want partners to stop what they’re doing, and it doesn’t mean that you’re broken or bad or wrong…

Can I apply it to myself?

Fuck, no! That would be logical! Who’s got time for that?

I still fucking loathe feeling jealous. I’ve talked to so many people about jealousy over the 15 years I’ve been in ethical non-monogamous relationships. So many. And read so much. And understand that when I’m jealous, it’s likely because I just am craving something or feel a deficit of something I see other people getting. It doesn’t mean that they have to stop or even should stop doing what they’re doing with others. It just means I want some, too. And most times, I can identify this and say something like, “hey, you’re doing X with so and so. Can we schedule some time to do X, too, cause I really like X as well.”

Easy peasy.

Lately? Not so much.

I’m getting frustrated, scared, angry, anxious, and withdrawn when I get jealous lately.

I hate it.

I hate the initial cause of the feeling and after I’ve identified that I’m feeling jealous, I’ll try just about anything to make it go away.

  • Pretend it doesn’t exist and smile through it? Check.
  • Yell at myself for stupid, pointless, unfounded feels? Check.
  • Try to turn it into emotional masochism and just power through? Check.
  • Stop talking and clam up? Check.
  • Cry? Check.
  • Tell myself that I’m going to lose all the awesome people I have in my life because I’m not good enough and the new people that my partners have are better and now that they have them they won’t want me anymore because they’re hotter/sexier/more submissive or something than me? Check, check, checkity check.

Now…it’s not bad to let things out by doing things like crying. And trying to use it as emotional masochism isn’t inherently bad…it just would probably be better if I told whichever particular partner is involved that that was what I was doing and how I felt.

The rest are not really defensible. I know this. Which is why I get frustrated with myself. I also know enough to not get lost in that last one of not being good enough or someone else being better.

Because again, for serious…

  1. love and kink are not goddamned competitions with winners and losers.
  2. I’ve been amazingly blessed with metamours.

With one exception, I’ve liked all of my metamours or potential metamours. And even that one exception is not someone who is terrible…I just…don’t understand their brain patterns. They seem so different and every interaction with them leaves me going, “wtf just happened?” It’s difficult but not illegal or disrespectful or abusive. Those are hard limits. This metamour touches on none of those and the one time they did (with something I thought was disrespectful and unsafe), we talked and rectified it, so really…it’s not that bad. In the grand scheme of things, I either really, really like my metamours – enough to, at one point or another, think maybe I could date and/or play with them (and some I have) or, at the very least, am really glad to make new friends with them. Some metamours who’ve been friends of mine have lasted for years, even after the romantic/kink/sexual relationship that connected us through someone else ended.

So why the fuck do I get so fucking jealous when someone new comes on the scene?! Or of other partners at all, new or not? Why do I keep going back to this annoying-as-fuck, kneejerk reaction of “hnnnggggg, they better! I lose! Sad! Go hide now!” I mean…what the ever-loving fuck?

It likely has increased proportional to stress and fucking hell knows I’m stressed a lot right now. Between moving, work pressure, saying goodbye to everyone here, and then moving back to the East coast where my husband and I had a lot of initial problems early in our marriage and where the Cost of Living is a fuckton more expensive…I’m scared. I’m fucking petrified that we’re going to move out there and the support network I thought I had, the beautiful and magically intricate one of partners, metamours, friends, and co-workers will disappear.

That me and my complicated sexuality, my hunger for more kink and pain, my deep ache for a more consistently intense D/s & M/s connection will drive the people I care about away. And the damn tapes start playing in my head of “if I feel like I’m not getting enough now, and then there are other people, how will I ever get my needs met? I’m just a breath away from being rotated out.”  And I fucking hate that my brain goes there. Because I KNOW that if a partner isn’t feeling the connection with me anymore, I do NOT want to hold them in a relationship they don’t want to be in. So why freak out about it? Why not just enjoy what I have when I have it and maybe that will last for years but maybe it won’t. I go around talking about how I don’t believe that relationship success is measured by longevity and then inside, I’m all like “I hope this lasts forever!”

*sigh*

Where did compersion go? Why do I feel so fucking vulnerable and lonely and lost? I looked at pictures of various types of play I’ve just discovered and started crying. I read a metamour’s account of a scene they had recently, talking about how after it was over, the pain was gone and it felt…wrong that it was gone and I know exactly how that feels and crave my bruises that reminded me of wonderful things with every hug for a whole weekend. I talk to a fantastic person that I’ve wanted to be actual friends with outside of work for a while and we’re getting there and suddenly I’m hyperventilating that they’re hotter, sexier, and going to take everything I’d been hoping for for months away.

My husband tells me it’s okay to feel jealous. To just let myself feel it and let it be and it’ll go away. To not get angry at myself. But right now, I hate it. Loathe. Detest. Do not want.

Urgh.

Reminders

“We have no idea what other lands lie beyond the great waters. We must take our chances on the waves and scatter like seeds before the wind. We will take the memory of the good times…and for those darkest of times, we will take what we can of the light.”

-From “Sing” the movie musical, 1989

Sometimes, I need help remembering balance. So I tell myself:

When you’re lost, linger in the shining moments of careening down a 10 story spiral slide.

When you’re numb, savor the gift of bruises that kept on giving.

When you’re thirsty, drink in the sweet sensation of sharp items piercing your skin.

When you’re overwhelmed in bad ways, call up the precise moments of being overwhelmed in delicious ways.

When you’re cold, wrap the memory of fire around you.

When you’re lonely, remember how compersion, touch, desire felt.

When you’re sad, think about the endless laughter of a new connection.

When you’re jealous, know that you are now in places and with people you only wished for days/months/years ago. There’s more to come and you’ll find your own levels. Let others seek their own. Respect autonomy, your own and theirs.

When goodbyes get to be too hard, embrace the grief with a graceful head up and heart open and know that there are also hellos happening, too.

When you’re daunted by change, remind yourself of all the positive things and people and opportunities that change has brought into your life in the past few years and that those things didn’t always come via the easy path.

When things start looking bleak and full of boxes, bathe in the brilliant spray of rose petals.

Remember that it all can and has worked. There have been so many bright spots over the past few weeks, so many new experiences, so much good. Hold onto that until more goodness comes around.

And find joy where ever you can. It’s there. It’s just hiding a little right now. Coax out the everyday joy from its hiding places. Let yourself sift through the past while staying grounded in the present. It’s okay to be lost, numb, thirsty, overwhelmed, cold, lonely, sad, jealous, daunted, and bleak…sometimes.

Change can be difficult. But it brings new growth. New opportunities.

Remember.

And love. And live.

There’s more happy, more experiences, more connection to be had.

Promise.