An Opening, A Turn

Humiliating experiences.
Continual verbal harassment.
Sustained discrimination.
Social exclusion.
Intentional cruelty.
Chronic, ongoing fear and anxiety.
Perception of being trapped.
Feeling powerless to stop an attack.
Repetition of the above.

These are some of the causes of trauma.

Trauma, in the emotional or psychological sense, refers to “experiences or situations that are emotionally painful and distressing, and that overwhelm people’s ability to cope, leaving them powerless” (Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice). According to the nonprofit mental health resource,

Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless and vulnerable in a dangerous world. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.

The DSM, in its discussion of post traumatic stress syndrome, indicates that while this condition is typically thought of as resulting from one major event, an experience of violence or extreme horror, PTSD can also come about from an “accumulation of many small, individually non-life-threatening incidents.” Bullying is one scenario that is noted as a potential cause of what’s referred to as “complex PTSD” (Psychology Today).

What are some of the lasting effects of traumas of this nature – the subtle (or not subtle) forms of non-physical violence that, repeated over time, deeply wound the mind, the heart, the spirit?

Severe depression.
Guilt. Shame. Self blame.
Feelings of disconnection from other people.
Social withdrawal.
Shock. Denial. Disbelief.
Edginess. Agitation. Anger.
Avoidance of things, people, places, activities, etc., that remind one of the trauma.
Emotional numbness, coldness, frigidity.
Difficulty in forming close, lasting relationships.
Difficulty in accessing one’s capacity for sexual pleasure.
Abuse of drugs or alcohol.

I mean.

I read all this stuff, and it is my story. Every word of it is me.

I read it and I feel relief. This is what happened to me. I didn’t make it up.

And then I read it again and another voice inside of me says: Hush. This doesn’t mean anything. This happens to everyone. Who are you kidding? You’re not a trauma survivor. You’re an ordinary person living a relatively privileged life. Trauma is rape, war, having your house burn down. Bullying isn’t trauma. … Well, maybe for some people. But not in your case. You were just a kid in school and that’s what being a kid in school is like. Sucky. Now close that door, shut your mouth and walk away.

I have a Ph.D. in American Studies. My specialization is minority literatures. I used to teach about privilege and oppression in college classrooms. I shared classic works by brilliant artists with students who were adult, educated, intelligent, and in some cases, quite worldly. And it was always this: When a writer described experiences of oppression related to their membership in a group targeted for discrimination due to their race, ethnicity, nationality, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, or anything at all, the students cried out, “They’re so angry. All they can talk about is how they’re a victim. The mean old world did this, that, and the other bad thing to me, my family, my great grandparents, my group. OK, well, bad things happen to everyone. Get over it. Nobody wants to hear that shit.” The contempt, the revulsion, was congealed in and dripping from their voices, their faces, their written responses. Nobody wants to fucking hear it. OK. Point made.

It can be awfully hard for someone who experiences privilege in a certain area of life to understand that some of the things that helped put them in the position they enjoy, occurred at the expense of other people, people they’ve never met, people who may live somewhere else in the world or who may be dead now. That it’s not simply a matter of the lucky-blessed-by-fate and the neutral. Privilege means you got yours BECAUSE something was taken away from someone else. Specifically. And in my experience, just about no one wants to have that kind of responsibility put on them. Especially folks who are privileged on one axis – but oppressed on another.

I’m a fat, lesbian recovering alcoholic whose family background is working class (and back before that, just plain poor). With plenty of serious mental health issues in all the branches of the family tree.

You think I want to say anything that’s going to make someone call me a whiner, a victim, a blamer-of-society-for-my-problems? Fuck no.

And on social media. And among my friends. I don’t want a reputation for focusing on the negative. I certainly don’t want to come across as feeling wronged, limited, or damaged by what I see others as having supposedly done to me. People don’t like people like that – at least people I know don’t.

But yet.

There are these experiences. That shaped who I am. And the way that they shaped me was in the form of trauma.

Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk, a pioneer in the field of trauma treatment, said, “I think trauma really does confront you with the best and the worst. You see the horrendous things that people do to each other, but you also see resiliency, the power of love, the power of caring, the power of commitment, the power of commitment to oneself, the knowledge that there are things that are larger than our individual survival” (On Being interview).

I don’t want to talk about my trauma as something bad that happened to me, some outside force that stunted my chances for a health and happiness. I want to talk about it as a gift my soul gave me, a core set of lessons in the curriculum of my life, something written into the plan for my earthly journey before I incarnated into this lifetime, one of the cards in the hand I dealt myself before birth – in consultation with the Divine, with my guardian angels, with the highest wisdom and guidance available to my spiritual self.

I want to talk about it as something that really happened.

I want to begin to integrate it. So that I can move on.

Dr. Van der Kolk says that trauma is different from other difficult experiences (even the very most difficult ones of all) in that trauma exceeds a person’s ability to process what’s happening, to cope with the emotions, to sustain a sense of safety and fundamental okayness. This effect is compounded when the social or family environment surrounding the traumatic incident(s) does not allow the person to feel what they feel, does not accept the reality that the person is trying to express, essentially, does not surround the person with love, comfort, compassion, care, and reassurance that they deserve to have healing.

In these situations, a person cannot then integrate the traumatic experience as just another story, even if a painful one, in their self-history. The person can’t create such a story because there is no acceptance for it, neither internally nor externally. The person cannot, then, deal with the consequences of what happened, whatever those consequences may be.

The unintegrated experience remains in the body. In the tissues. In the cells. It is a felt memory, one that a person doesn’t so much recall as relive. The words to describe the experience don’t actually exist – even if the experience itself could theoretically be told about in the most mundane of terms. “He called me this name. Over and over. Everyone else joined in. Nobody would talk to me. It lasted for ten years.”

A few years ago, everyone was talking about bullying all the time, especially in queer activist circles. A lot of attention was being given to kids, especially queer ones, who committed suicide after being bullied. The whole “It Gets Better” campaign was started by Dan Savage, and it became viral. People started to talk about bullying, to take it seriously.

I could not participate in those conversations.

I couldn’t talk about my experiences of having been bullied. I couldn’t talk about other people being bullied, because that might lead to my having to talk about me being bullied.

Being bullied. Being bullied. Being bullied. I am saying it a bunch of times right now because the phrase has such a charge for me, because it scares me so much. And for some reason all of a sudden today, I am ready to, I NEED to, face it.

I shut the door tight on that period of my life. I can talk about my struggles around self love, I can talk about almost killing myself with alcohol, I can talk about depression and economic exploitation and all this other stuff, I can go on and on, I have a lot of passion for sharing these experiences that I’ve had in the hopes that what I have learned through those challenges may be of some help to someone else somewhere. But I can’t talk about being bullied because I am still so ashamed.

When someone else comes out about their experiences being bullied, I think they are brave – and that their sharing their stories helps make the world a better place.

When I imagine myself talking about being bullied, I feel exposed. I am too embarrassed to even go there. I imagine it must seem so terribly predictable, so cliché, so obvious. I tell myself that of course I was responsible for how people treated me; I was too shy, too weird, too unskillful in my social interactions, yes, too unattractive. I deserved it. Deep down, well, maybe not so deep down, I believe that I deserved it, I brought it on myself. In retrospect I think I could have done any number of things differently and my life in school would have been different. If I had known better. If I had tried harder. If I had forced myself to not be so … strange. So fucked up. Such an ass. So goody-goody. So difficult to like.

I don’t get to talk about being bullied. Because I deserved to be bullied. That’s how I felt when the conversation came up. How I still feel. That’s why I couldn’t say anything – why I wanted to run away when people started talking about this. All this shame would well up from the pit of my stomach and I would have to swallow it down and it just made me feel like puking.

Then today. At work. I read a blog post by someone who was coming out of the closet and asking her readers what it was that they were afraid to share about themselves. And I read this post on my friend’s blog, talking about witnessing others being outcast at school. And then I was editing an essay by someone else about the culture of weight hate. And then I was re-reading this other article on our company website about trauma and weight gain. And all these texts were crossing my path talking about what the body does to try to meet our needs for emotional healing when our minds aren’t actually able to deal with our traumas.

And somehow it all came together and I just wondered what energy would be freed up if I was able to actually look this trauma right in the eye and say:


I was severely bullied throughout elementary, middle and high school.

Whole classes called me names, loudly discussed my ugliness, threw things at me, excluded me from group projects so that I had to make up my own solo assignments in order to pass.

I hated my existence.

Going to school was a torment. Any time I achieved an honor – such as being selected for the senior show choir – my actual life got worse, as these groups were full of people who missed no opportunity to mock and degrade me.

As is so often the case, telling adults only made things worse, because they belittled my emotional responses and accused me of tattling.

I was a child. I did nothing to deserve the cruelty that surrounded me.

I was suicidally depressed.

Long after I graduated and went on to become a successful adult, I pictured myself jumping off of bridges.

I tried to eradicate myself by drinking.

Luckily, I failed at that.

And here I am. I grew up fine. I have a life that I love, a sweet job, a wonderful home in an awesome city with my beloved partner and my beloved roommate, creative passions, dreams, goals, purpose, service, positions of leadership, a spiritual path. Many friends. Abundant, nourishing community. I’m utterly surrounded by love and support today. There is just about zero bullying in my life, and what bullying does show up is not personal towards me, but simply the outflowing of someone else’s fear.

And I have this trunk in the basement of my psyche that is tightly locked. I stand on the lid so that it stays down, so that I most of the time never even notice that it is there.

But it moves.

It shakes. It vibrates. It is full, full, burstingly full of energy.

I think the energy has actually grown over time.

I think that if I don’t open it, if I don’t look at the contents and see what is in there, I think it might, one day, explode.

So this is me – stepping down off the trunk, pulling out the key that I’d forgotten was there on a chain around my neck all along, putting it in the lock and




to face whatever comes out.


Belly Pictures

This from In God’s Care: Daily Meditations on Spirituality in Recovery, March 13:

“Inspirations never go in for long engagements; they demand immediate action.”
— Brendan Francis

God speaks to us in many ways at many times. If we are spiritually alert, we will know it when it happens. A stray thought occurs; we overhear a bit of conversation; a passage in something we are reading suddenly stands out — and we know we have connected. … The trouble is that we might acknowledge this contact only briefly, and then it slips away. The time to act passes.

And this from Netflix, description of the cartoon Uncle Grandpa pilot episode:

When a kid is sad because his favorite shirt will not fit over his big belly, Uncle Grandpa shows him that fashions pass, but a big belly is always cool.

I’ve never seen this show, I just came across this line and it stuck with me. Then today I was at the Transforming Gender Symposium at CU with Sam and we heard Amos Mac’s keynote talk — he’s a photographer and the co-editor of the trans male culture and lifestyle magazine Original Plumbing. He showed a lot of his work and talked about art and cultural activism and it was just damn inspiring. It made me want to write stuff.

Then I went outside and saw this brick in the wall that said Integrity. And it made me want to freakin’ do the things, already.

So this is the thing that came to me: 30 days of belly pictures.

Self Love is the theme of this year, and I’ve been working with the body aspect for a while, and I just decided, why the hell not, I am going to spend the next 30 days taking pictures that celebrate my belly. It’s spring and the skin cells want to be out in the air. So let ’em out! At least for a few minutes each day.

I’m practicing acting on my inspirations.

photo (3)



Also Not a Failure?

Also Not a Failure?

Today’s word of the day: addlepated.

Someone at work today was asking if that was a real word. I was like, Oh yes. You know, it’s when your pate (head) is addled (all mushy like tapioca).

Like mine was tonight when I was driving home from Havana Sauna and the combination of head cold and hot water was making me think about random stuff like how I’m going to a Denver Women’s Chorus concert tomorrow, and what would happen if a man wanted to join the chorus? Would they let him? Why would he want to, anyway? Because he felt like some part of him was a woman?

And this made me think of a conversation I had back in college in rural Indiana, PA with my friend Jim who was telling me that it was a dream of his to someday be in a gay men’s chorus. (The very idea seemed impossibly metropolitan at the time.) And I was like, “Could I be in it too?” And he said no, because then it wouldn’t be a gay men’s chorus. But I sort of thought I belonged there anyway.

When I was in college I often referred to myself as “a feral lesbian, raised in the wild by fags.” I was super into our campus LGBT support/activist group and I was a hard core feminist. But I didn’t really have lesbian friends. I had straight women friends, and gay male friends. And I was trying to figure out who I was among that crowd.

I’ve written before about how part of the long slow process of self acceptance and self forgiveness and self love involves learning how to see aspects of my life story from a different angle — realizing I’ve been holding myself “on the hook” for a lot of things that were just part of my learning process. And that maybe got me where I needed to go after all.

And really I wanted to write this post because I was feeling very appreciative of and grateful to all the gay men who let me hang around with them like a fat duck in a flock of lithe young swans. They put up with at least some (who knows how much — a good portion of this time I don’t remember) whininess from me about not being able to go on guys’ nights with them at the Pittsburgh clubs. And I was thinking, I wonder what I can do to capture those feelings and express my appreciation? Well, at the very least I can say “thank you” in my blog.

I guess I’ve always beaten myself up for not knowing how to act with women, I’ve always thought I was pretty stupid in that regard. I always wanted to be very gallant and charming, but I always felt like I came across either too chaste or too needy (or too drunk). I imagined my style as more Oscar Wilde than Ani DiFranco, and I guess it still is.

I’d pretty much chalked “relating to lesbians in college” up to my list of failures, but now I’m learning to notice and investigate any uses of that word in my self-analysis and see if I can’t rewrite the story. It is only a story, after all, and it’s part of what made me who I am, so I might as well own it. For one thing, I have more compassion now for where I was on the inner plane — not well. For another, at this distance I can see that the beauty I saw then was real, and the life I have now, which is full of beauty, grew from that soil.

So, here’s to you all, people who put up with me in college and held the space while I floundered around with my identity. I won’t squander that gift. You all rocked, and in retrospect I felt truly accepted. If I couldn’t really take it in then, if I believed happiness was just beyond my reach, I understand that I still needed to learn that I have value, so I was always looking for it outside of myself. And I know now that even if the love is there, if I don’t believe I’m worthy, it can’t penetrate my heart.

The quality I chose to work on in 2015 is self love. I don’t even feel like it was a choice. This is just what’s been up for me. I’m being pushed to finally get rid of the poisonous beliefs about myself that keep me from living my full potential. Sometimes I think I’ll never be able to do it. Other times I think I can. So thanks to everyone who has helped me, who is helping me, whether you know it or not; thanks for your patience; thanks for your kindness; thanks for listening.

Lover of Leaving

“Come, come, whoever you are,
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving …
Ours is no caravan of despair,
Come, yet again, come … “

I loved this version of Rumi’s words, sung as a round, the first time I heard it, not only because of the familiar promise of continual welcome it expresses, but because of its address: wanderers, worshipers, lovers of leaving. That’s me. I’m a lover of leaving. I’ve seldom actually moved to a new place from the sheer desire to live someplace new, but I’m certain that my underlying curiosity about the rest of the world conspires with my karma to frequently create circumstances in which I need to make a rapid getaway, set out for parts unknown, with very little plan.

The rain in Colorado started on Thursday, Sept. 12. A lot of water came in through the roof of our apartment in Idaho Springs. The landlords told us we just needed to get used to this aspect of mountain living. By the next week, the mold was visible in the hole where part of the ceiling had fallen in. We decided we needed to move out.

That weekend I was scheduled to help facilitate a Goddess-themed women’s retreat. I went with the intention of sending energy toward our new place, visualizing the perfect place and drawing it toward me. The first night, the women leading the opening circle asked all of us to “take off our masks” and let the face of the Goddess expressing herself within us at that moment be shown. When I did this, the face I saw was Kali’s, dark, grinning, dripping with blood. When asked to listed for an affirmation, I heard “I affirm creative chaos.”

Maybe that’s why I felt more excited than upset at this crisis/opportunity. I had periods of serious freakout, but mostly I felt that I had a vision of where I was going, and maybe even an inkling of why. I felt fairly certain that we were being called to move out of the mountains, down into the Denver area, at least partly because this is a time in which community is going to be important. I’ve felt it coming for a while. It’s no secret that I have a tendency toward hermitism, and living in a mountain village half an hour from the far western outskirts of town doesn’t do much to discourage it. My comfort zone is being alone, maybe with a couple of close friends, but I feel I’m being pushed to develop those dormant muscles of social interaction, and possibly be of service in some new, hands-on way.

I began looking for a place. A few were duds; several more wouldn’t take cats. I upped my price range. I had in mind that it was time we had a bigger place. I found an apartment in a neighborhood I’d never heard of, just on the Denver side of Sheridan. It was the whole first floor of a ranch-style house, including a garage and a large backyard and patio, the latter two being shared with a nice young lesbian couple who lived in the basement apartment. I really liked it. I raved about it to Sam and made him go check it out. He wasn’t in love, but he was in hate-the-world mode, and even still he thought it would do.

I set up more appointments, including a few to look at actual houses. The agents never showed, or messages got weirdly mixed. I saw another crappy apartment. We started getting sick from the mold at home, so we moved (along with our cats) into the spare room of an EXTREMELY generous friend. We applied for the South Denver place. The process was very slow. Days went by.

The weekend of the 28th & 29th we packed all of our stuff (throwing away a large proportion, including at least half of our furniture, which was either mold damaged or rickety to begin with), cleaned out the place, left the keys on the counter, and parked the U-Haul in the U-Haul parking lot until we knew where we were going to take it, which wasn’t until two days later when our application finally cleared at the Denver place. Sam felt nervous about signing, having not actually seen any other apartments, and I also felt uncertain about it, because I didn’t want it to turn out to be a huge disaster under my leadership. But I recalled this message that I’d received from Lynn Woodland’s online oracle:

Sit quietly with your eyes closed and imagine yourself walking up to the edge of an impossibly high cliff. As you look down from the edge you can’t see the bottom, only a swirling, beautiful light. The air is charged with excitement and promise. The view inspires a sense of wonder. Stand here for a moment and declare your willingness to invite the miraculous into your life…. Now, leap off the cliff. Instead of dropping, you are carried gently on currents of air and light. Let your imagination float freely and see where the stream of light carries you.

I actually did the visualization in my mind, and I felt the “currents of air and light” lifting me up. I recalled how I’d posted on Facebook the gist of our situation, and asked for prayers and light — and what an outpouring I received!!! So many friends sent messages of support, and many others silently prayed for us. I felt literally lifted up by all of this energy, very strong, coming from other people, my circle of support. I also had in my car one of the affirming post-it-note messages I’d made for the goddess retreat: Angels surround you at all times. At the base of it, I had to acknowledge that the whole situation seemed to be Divinely guided, and all I had to do was (pack and clean and lift and cry and) go with the flow.

We signed the lease. We dumped out all of our stuff into the garage. We got new Goodwill living room furniture to replace our old Goodwill living room furniture. We designated purposes for all of our new rooms. We are slowly getting things unpacked, cleaned, and set up.

A friend asked if I miss Idaho Springs. I said that it all happened so quickly, it feels very surreal, but if I look inside I realize that no, I don’t miss it, and I’m not sad at all. The experience of living in the mountains for three years was unique and wonderful and amazing, and I am so incredibly glad we did it, but that chapter feels complete. Now it’s on to sunny southern Denver, a largely Spanish-speaking neighborhood, bright colors, flat roads, easy access, and a whole new life.

Click the image to see the artist’s home page for a beautiful and fitting explanation.

The Box: A Reunion Story

My partner Sam and I moved from Missouri to Colorado nearly three years ago.  We procrastinated on packing, and ended up pulling two all-nighters in a row, emptying out our apartment and setting out in our cross-state U-Haul-pickup-truck caravan, let’s just say, later than we’d planned.  And though I remembered packing it, distinctly remembered placing it in a larger box that held a bunch of other random stuff, one thing that never turned up in the unpacking process was the shoebox I’d had since college, which contained all of my most treasured souvenirs of my travels, beginning with the year I studied abroad in Spain — postcards and small artworks,  bumper stickers, poems, and newspaper clippings, the things I bought or collected to remember places and times, when I was traveling on a very tight budget.  Then there were some love letters, some scenic pictures from calendars, and possibly a scrap of fabric from a certain Taco Bell flag that was minutely vandalized during a statement against cultural imperialism.

During those three years in which the box was missing, I was of two minds.  On one side, I thought I should not be attached to things, even those gathered with passion and tenderness, as presents I bought myself to celebrate moments of perfect contentment or exquisite bittersweetness.  I had a surprising degree of success with this.  I felt wistful but accepting when I thought that the collection was lost for good; even this outcome had a certain romance to it.  But maybe I had such an easy time accepting the box’s absence because, on the other side, I never really stopped believing that it would be uncovered yet, nestled down in some yet-to-be-unpacked box.  (Yes, even after three years, there are such boxes in our house.)

Well, long story short, I did in fact finally find it the other day, and was reunited, with great joy and delight, with a relatively small but personally important bunch of markers from my own history.  And I thought it was interesting that I found this right after I was writing the last post, and going back and actually thinking about the insanity, and also the survival, and also the fun and the learning of those years.  The hands that gathered these mementos, the eyes that selected them, are similar to and different from those with which I see and touch the world today.  I am still in a process of reclamation, of gradually becoming able to face and meet all of those parts of myself that I’ve denied, been afraid of, run away from.  I want to reconnect the electricity flowing to the creative and strange and engaged parts of myself that have shut down for various reasons over the years.  That’s my vision and intention for spring rebirth.


This box!!!


What would Wellstone do, indeed???


I stand by both of these.


My big shopping splurge was in a department store in Bilbao, where I bought A TON of tourist stuff that said Euskadi or had the Basque flag because I was totally in love with the Basque Country. … That’s just the kind of nerd I am.


These are some of the postcards; the postcard-shopping experience was part of how I narrated my experiences abroad to myself.


I received this cloth painting of Kali as a gift at my graduation/30th birthday party — then she was lost for three years. I guess it’s time to really welcome her ferocious energy in! Where will it take me? Let’s go!

Crying Allergy

Here’s something strange — or at least it strikes me as strange, though it may be perfectly normal. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed more of a physical sensitivity to crying. It feels almost like an allergy — in fact it’s almost exactly like what my allergic friends say happens to them when they eat an avocado, or a pine nut, or whatever it may be. I notice that I can’t cry as hard as I used to without feeling the consequences. Now ok, I can understand things like playing hockey taking more of a toll on one’s body as one gets past one’s twenties, but crying? Come on!

It’s true, though. The other day I was having a cry. It was some combination of hormones and life, and I was just suddenly tired of holding it in. But as I was crying, I actually stopped to consider whether I really wanted to do that or not, knowing that I could expect something like a hangover afterward. It gives me pause, anymore. These days if I cry for more than a minute, I have a headache afterwards, sometimes even the next day. My eyes get crazy puffy and that lasts, too. My head feels like a bunch of heat built up inside that can’t be released — it can only very gradually cool down. An ice pack feels very good at these times.

Maybe this is something other people are used to experiencing when they cry, but I’ve only just started feeling it. Maybe this is making me sound like a crazy person who cries uncontrollably. Is it nature’s way of saying, “Grow up, for crying out loud!”? I do cry when I’m upset, and I just think if that as part of my personality, part of being an emotional and dramatic Cancer-Leo, but now I wonder if it’s just weird.

On this particular occasion I decided to just go with it. For better or for worse. I thought it was ultimately for the good, even though I had very puffy eyes for the next two days. It just felt right to release my emotion through tears in that moment. Did I cry for too long? Why would I ask myself that? I cried until I felt done, and ready to move on, and lighter and more hopeful than I had before.

I guess now when I cry, because I can either feel it or literally see on my face for so long afterward, I really have to be aware that it is my choice to cry. Or maybe it’s the choice to continue to cry when tears arise spontaneously that I am becoming more aware of. I can’t really believe that I am anyone’s victim; I can’t help but remember that I am choosing my feelings. Still, I don’t think these feelings I am choosing are necessarily bad, even though I feel them as pain. I may not know why I choose them, but I accept the responsibility, and I try to value my sad emotions as much as my happy ones. I believe they are both important parts of life.

Hazrat Inayat Khan taught that “The heart is not living until it has experienced pain,” according to the Bowl of Saki the other day. It’s always seemed to me that one of the purposes of pain is that through it, one may learn empathy. I don’t think that’s its only purpose or that there is anything that can be learned only through pain, and I can imagine a future in which we’ve collectively evolved beyond the need for that particular teacher. For me, though, for now — call me old fashioned — I’m still learning from my pain, my occasional sadness, and the difficult feelings still lodged in my heart that have been there, underground, for years. Sometimes those difficult feelings just heal up and leave one day. Maybe they all will eventually. They’re part of the family, though, for now, and so I do my best to accept ’em. And help them pack their things when they’re ready to move on.