The High Cost of Authenticity

I was chatting with a friend today about how scary it is to be  putting myself out there like I am with my writing. All my secrets are exposed. No more mystery or wonder for new people meeting me. They can just come here and learn about my fears and mistakes, and visit all my skeletons. Men who might want to date me can find my weaknesses, employers can decide if I am worthy for their upstanding company, and so on.

Her response? You must keep being honest. Your posts are engaging exactly BECAUSE you are naked. People need you, and you need to know that you can do this.

I knew when God whispered in my ear a few years ago that I had to start coaching others to live more creatively and to tell their stories, that He also meant I was going to have to tell my stories. Not just the ones with the happy endings, either. I knew it would cost me. But I know better than to say no to the big guy.

So I started thinking that really, everything has a cost. Every choice we make, is, in essence, a letting-go-of all the other options. Every time we get out of bed in the morning, we let go of the safety of staying curled up in our warm blanket. Every time we get in our cars, we let go of the option of staying home, or of taking the train. Every time we make love to someone new, we let go of the security of hiding our bodies and our souls from that person just a little while longer. It’s that small, and it’s that big.

*inhales*

Telling you my stories means I have to let go of the desire for you to only know my pretty parts. You know, the parts where I am educated, published, happily single and the mother of three beautiful and successful children who adore me? You might discover that I have, in fact, said unspeakably cruel things to each of my children at one time or another–things I can never take back, things they can never unhear. You might discover that I am up to my eyeballs in student loan debt and barely make a living wage and wonder why in the hell I took out all those loans just to be a teacher and starving writer. You might learn that my first book, non-fiction, barely sold enough copies for me to buy groceries for a few months. And…you might discover that as much as I love my independence and my alone time, there are nights when I cry myself to sleep wondering if I will die alone and turn into Alinda soup before anyone finds me.

*exhales*

There you have it. Now you can officially be unimpressed with me. And that has to be okay. Because I can’t preach to you to live your truth if I can’t live mine.

The bottom line for me is always this: I can choose to shut it down, to never risk myself. I can choose to build walls to keep out the hurt, the disappointment, the judgment. But that shutdown means I don’t get to experience joy, wonder, curiosity, love, or sexual pleasure, and those walls also keep out the people and things I so desperately seek to hold close to me. Nothing is free in this life. My dad was right about that.  We just have to decide what we want more than safety, and then go get that thing, even if we must do it completely naked.

In truth and love,

Alinda

A Journey of Five Years (and two days)

My divorce has been final for five years (and two days). I, being me, have spent some serious time reflecting during my divorsersary. (It’s my blog. I can make up words). The traditional five-year anniversary element is wood, but I haven’t seen any of that in a while, so let’s make it chocolate instead. After twenty years of marriage, I’m not sure why I expected that divorce would be a blissful journey to independence. There have, of course, been moments of bliss, but they were rare in years one and two. They did begin to show their pretty little faces in years three and four. In year five, however, I learned this: Bliss is mine for the taking. It was always there, waiting for me to be ready. That’s not all I learned, though. In fact, here is what I know today about my self and about surviving (and embracing) divorce and single motherhood:

  1. I always believed I was a thinker, trying to be a feeler. Then I thought I was a feeler who intellectualized to cope with pain. Today, I am a woman who trusts her heart, and uses her brain.
  2. Life hurts really fucking bad sometimes.
  3. Wine (see #2)
  4. The devil really IS in the details, but so is God.
  5.  I am not invisible.
  6. I am stronger than I thought. Strength looks way different than I expected.
  7. I am more sensitive and vulnerable than I thought. And I’m okay with that.
  8. I am happy  now that I was a bookworm in high school while my friends were eating at Chili’s with their boyfriends. Dating is overrated. Books are orgasmically good.
  9. I am a member of  a community.
  10.  The middle of the bed feels AMAZING!
  11. I can (and will) do anything to put food on the table. On a related note, Pinot Grigio  is three bucks a bottle at Trader Joe’s.
  12. I’m a bad-ass ninja warrior.
  13. My kids are evidence that love is a good thing, and also proof that I know how to do it. So take that, Tinder a-holes.

I will stop at a baker’s dozen. It works for donuts, right?

 

In Truth and Love,

Alinda

“God” and other dirty words

I love my church. I say this at the risk of turning away readers, because for some people, the word “church” is akin to fingernails on a chalkboard. Others find the word even more upsetting, because, unfortunately there are way too many people out there who have suffered spiritual abuse, and so they connect the word “God” with something unspeakable. I ask that you stick with me, though. Trust this stranger for just a few minutes and hear me out. Let me share with you my thoughts on why church-y people have become the enemy.

To offer an analogy, here are my thoughts on marriage. I tend to be somewhat anti-marriage, when in reality, the institution (love that word) isn’t always the problem; it’s often the spouses who have made it a dirty word for me. I know two, yes, exactly TWO happily married couples, out of the dozens of married friends I have. Depressing, isn’t it? I am trying to not eschew marriage completely (although it isn’t right for me at this time) and to stay open to its potential goodness. I think people see religion the same way. So many people have done so many ugly things in the name of the church, that just the mention of God is frightening.

I’ll be honest. I am a Jesus freak. Yet, I don’t think you need to love Jesus, or even know Him, to “get it.” or to get me. I really hope my pastor isn’t reading this. What I am trying to say is that I am a Christian because I believe in the essence of what Jesus is. I believe that selflessness, unconditional love, service, and yes, even miracles, are what make life worth living. I think they exist, and I think we all have the capacity to be loving without limits. I do personally have a relationship with a power I believe to be God/Jesus, but I recognize that maybe those guys really are named George and Jane. Who the heck knows? That’s why it is called “faith.”

I am saddened that so many monstrosities have been performed in the name of God. I’d be pretty pissed if someone went out and robbed a liquor store and spray painted my name on the door when he left. It might cause people to doubt me. It might cause people to judge me. It might cause people to feel  hurt because they trusted me. Now Alinda is the bad guy. I know it’s simplifying things, but I think about weird stuff like that. I do know, however, that there is a power way bigger and way smarter than I, a power that isn’t destroyed by His name being sullied. He is bigger than that. I suspect Jesus loves it when someone spray paints his name on a door. It gets people talking.

I don’t have any answers, and I can’t convince you that God is good. But I hope that you might feel compelled to at least start thinking about it.

 

In Truth and Love,

Alinda

 

An Invitation

My very first blog post. The phrase sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it? Mixed with excitement, curiosity, eagerness. My bestie keeps telling me I should do this, so here goes. You can read the resume/first-date version of who I am here on my page, but I thought today I would focus on talking about YOU, and US, less than I talk about me. Some writers can be quite self-absorbed. You can’t blame us, we are a solitary bunch, so connections can be hard for some of us. Not because we lack empathy–in fact–we understand you and feel you with such a depth that we must spill out our feelings on the page or go mad. We are solitary because, well…our task requires much introspection and quiet time. But here I go, talking about me.

I love people. They inspire me, surprise me, teach me, love me,  horrify me, and entertain me. I want to do those things for you as well. I hope to talk about a variety of topics here, with really only a few rules: I vow to be honest, and I vow to honor you as readers, both imperfectly so, but both to the best of my ability. I vow to stay accountable for what I say. I encourage you to be accountable for how you use these words. I plan to write regularly here, but with no real plan otherwise. We will go where the words take us, if that’s okay with you. I anticipate that I will share with you my ideas on womanhood, feminism, spirituality, motherhood, creativity, recovery, sexuality, friendship, intimacy, HUMANITY in short. What makes us who we are? I want to talk about the ways we are damaged, but more importantly, the ways we are healing from the damage. The ways we are fallen, and the ways we rise above our defeats. The ways we are scared, and the ways we are brave. I’ve been fortunate enough, personally and professionally, to see some of the very worst of humanity, and to witness how utterly cruel and remorseless we can be, juxtaposed against the ways we can be selfless and relentless in our commitment to helping others. I see this world as apparently hopeless at times, broken, seemingly beyond repair. I’ve observed it, and I’ve lived it. I struggle daily to ward off my own dark thoughts. I am not “outside” watching humanity rise and fall; I am human, and so are you. I am in the middle of the chaos. It might surprise you to know that I think the human struggle, dark and futile as it seems at times, is in fact unbearably beautiful.

 

I invite you to join  me with an open mind and an open heart. I invite you to allow me to break apart the things we once believed about ourselves and others, and re-examine them in new light (sometimes harsher, sometimes softer). I invite you to make full use of anything that speaks to you here, and I invite you to let me know when you think I’m way off the mark. This blog is ours, to do with what we will. Take from it anything that honors you. We can do this!

In truth and love,

~Alinda