STOP – In the naaaaaame of looooove…

So, last week was pretty much hellfire and brimstone aimed at my dwelling. Wish I could say I did the celebrity walkout with explosions in the background…


But I didn’t. Got nicely caught in the crossfire happening in my own brain. I’m still dealing with aftermath and all the beautiful particles and things. I got seriously spun out. Thankfully, I was able to do some energy work yesterday and that was regrounding.

Thing is, I really care about what people think of me. It makes up my value system. Merit badges galore, based on opinion or numbers. Numbers like GPA, or the accuracy percentage I achieve at work for dictating calls. Or opinions deeming me a worthwhile person, a “sweet” person (oh how often I hear those words), a “nice” person, etc, etc, etc. These measure my value and worth.

It was also the standards that in many ways, drove me to alcohol. “If that’s what you all think of me, well I’LL SHOW YOU HOW I REALLY AM!” (imperfect, bitchy, unbridled, that is)

I still haven’t resolved this inner maelstrom, unfortunately. With 21 months of sobriety, it still pops up and I still assign my value to what others think of me, to outside standards. So when someone on the outside confirms my inner insecurity – that I’m not actually measuring up to the standard of “quiet, peaceful nun who makes no waves”, well…cue the explosion pictured above. I crumble because my entire value is dependent on what others think of me.

Most of the time, too, I spend my days rushing around trying to meet standards. My own, or the standards of others. When I was in school, it was professors and GPA. Now that I’m not in school, it’s all about work performance and what my friends think of me. I graduated with my B.A. in December, and when I tell people I graduated Magna Cum Laude, they usually react as if that’s a huge accomplishment. Well it is. But here’s the deal. It doesn’t mean necessarily that I’m just “a good student.” That Magna Cum Laude, for me, is a sign of how obsessive I become about maintaining standards.

I did it in my sobriety for a long time. I still struggle with it. I really care about what other people think of how I’m doing my sobriety. Back a couple of months ago, I realized I needed to change up my sponsor situation. I had been working with my love addiction sponsor primarily and had never worked a full set of steps in AA. There was a variety of reasons I chose to do that (and it was a conscious choice) but they’re not really important and if I explained them, it would be further evidence that I was trying to get your approval. In any case, it was working for me; until it wasn’t. And when it wasn’t, it really wasn’t. So I got a new AA sponsor, who just “happened” to be available right when I needed her. But I had a tremendous amount of shame around the whole thing, so much so that this is the first I’ve mentioned it on here. WHAT would others think of me if they knew? Especially people who I had told that I had a sponsor? Were they all secretly judging my program? What if I wasn’t good enough after all? Since I was basing all my values on things outside of myself, this was a massive concern.

This has all been sending me on a collision course since November, and now I just can’t avoid it. My outside circumstances are almost forcing me to go in. At the very least they’re putting up HUGE signs.


So my head and heart have been in a nasty firefight for almost a week. It completely knocked me off my feet and my thoughts have been drifting through the ozone ever since, dragging my hapless feelings behind them. One outside situation, and boom. It was like a rocket to the moon.

Here is the thing. I can’t measure up to a standard of “quiet peaceful nun.” I don’t really want a 3.83 grade point average. Nor do I really want to maintain 98% accuracy on my calls at work at all times, pushing myself to get there. I can try to push myself into that cage all I want. I can let what others say, think, or do push me into that cage. I can let numbers push me into that cage. But unless I releash the cracken (MWAHAHA!) I will always go back to the things that satisfy the pain of being in a cage… things like alcohol, or men, or more recently, work standards.

(It’s not really a cracken, by the way. Source)

It’s not anyone else’s fault that I got into this firefight. Honestly it’s just a reflection of my inner state and what I am doing. To myself.

But here’s what the bigger, wiser part of me is saying:


Stop trying to live up to standards. Stop trying to be someone I’m not. Stop trying to conform. Stop trying to push myself in a box. Stop being invisible. Stop hiding. Stop running from yourself. Stop the go, go, go that pushes you even further away from the truth. Stop, in the name of love. Before you break my heart.

Do I know how to STOP?

Nope. I am stumbling forward pretty ungracefully. I have help from a really wonderful Higher Power though.

I think some of it means grounding myself on my truth. Some of it means that being an emotional and sometimes erratic person isn’t a bad thing. I am not bad because I am emotional. Some of it means accepting the loudness of my soul. A lot of it means letting myself off the hook and out of the cage. Dropping keys for my beautiful, brilliant, rowdy prisoner (and letting her know that it’s okay that she’s rowdy, it’s really really okay).

It’s reminding myself of this poem I wrote right after I got sober:

You are not incarcerated by fear.
The key is in the space
between you
and the door.
There is no distance between you and freedom.

Stop, Laurie. Find the space. In it lies the key.


Neruda; the flowers.

I have had a little obsession lately that has sprung up in my bones. It’s really been waiting for me for years, ever since I saw the first line in a Neruda poem. I don’t remember what that first line was. I do remember the feeling, though.

“Oh, hello. It’s so wonderful to see you again.”

As if I had written that line years and ages ago, and I was meeting it again after a long parting. The way we met was with a joyous pang, a breathless smile, a freefalling of surrender into the bonds that once held us close; that held us even still.

A few months ago, I got a huge book of Neruda poems in both English and Spanish. I read them as if I were in a trance. I fell into the ocean of words and wanted to drown. I lost myself among them…

“…little one, red grain
of wheat.
the struggle will be hard
life will be hard
but you will come with me.”
Neruda – The Mountain and the River)


My mom sent me a card recently. We had met for coffee and I had broken some news to her, about going away. Depending upon this or that. Afterwards, she was sad. We live in the same town, but a few days later I got a card in the mail, with a flower on the front.

“You still stop and look at the flowers when you walk by,” she wrote.

I don’t remember everything from when I was two years old. But my parents tell me about this facet of my early personality. It’s one of the lovely times when I was young. They would walk along the Highline Canal in Denver, and I would stop. Because there was a flower to be looked at. They used to call me Ferdinand.


I have been rather unfamiliar with this story, but looking it up just now, I am moved to tears. Silly me.

“My love, to my life,
you came prepared
as a poppy and as a guerilla fighter…”
(Neruda – Ode and Burgeonings)


In life, there is fighting. And some things are worth the flaming chaos of battlefields.  The point is to pick flowers in the middle of it all.

That was poetry for me, always. Since I began, it was a way for me to endure the ceaseless fighting. To find my own internal ceasefire despite the rain of grenades, bullets, and bombs all around. I was awkward with words at first. Trying to fit them together in ways that opened my soul to the light. It wasn’t until the deepest dark that I split myself open and scooped out all of those slimy little seeds buried in the red flesh.

Now I have vines growing everywhere. And flowers.



Even in the darkest of times, I only need look around and my soul is eased. The gift of Ferdinand, bequeathed on me from the start. This morning, I looked out of the windows at work and snow was dancing in the sun. The sparkling flakes reminded me of a quieter place, deep within yet high above myself. I caught my breath and was brought back to silence, again.



I love Neruda because words get me through things. And his words are like lassoes. When I am fighting, fighting, fighting, here they are suddenly. A beacon on the hill to keep my eye on, a lighthouse in a rocky sea, a handful of daisies with yellow suns in the middle.


I bemoan my lack of funds on a regular basis. I pinch pennies like a tax collector in Bible times. Poverty licks my feet like a stray dog.

“If you can’t pay the rent
go off to work with a proud step,
and remember, my love, that I am watching you
and together we are the greatest wealth
that was ever gathered upon the earth.”
(Neruda – Poverty)

I fell in, again, to this ocean of words. Words I could have written myself. I want to lose myself in them, because for a moment there if my eyes are on those words, I forget the battlefield.


My favorite collections are the ones that has both Spanish and English versions. Through the eyes of Neruda, Spanish has become like a coded language for me. Not only do his words trap me in English, they seduce me in Spanish. It’s like getting lost in someone’s eyes and completely forgetting yourself.

So I’ve been learning Spanish by learning his lines.

“Mi lucha es dura y vuelvo
con los ojos cansados
a veces de haber visto
la tierra que no cambia,
pero al entrar tu risa
sube al cielo buscandome
y abre para mi todas
las puertas de la vida.

Amor mio, en la hora
mas oscura desgrana
tu risa, y si de pronto
ves que mi sangre manche
las piedras de la calle,
rie, porque tu risa,
sera para mis manos,
como una espada fresca…”
(Neruda – Your Laughter)

With each line, I feel as if I am speaking rosebud petals. Wrapping words like chocolate around my tongue. Gathering in my hands, in this wild battlefield, a fresh sword.


“Because while life harasses us, love is
only a wave taller than the other waves:
but oh, when death comes knocking at the gate,

there is only your glance against so much emptiness,
only your light against extinction,
only your love to shut out the shadows.”
(Neruda – XC)

Neruda’s words are how I talk to myself. They are the way I am learning self-compassion. They are, for me, as Thich Nhat Hahn’s “Oh my darling, let’s talk on Friday.” When I say these words, I am saying, “I love you. I will never leave you. I will always take care of you.” (Elizabeth Gilbert) These words keep me from the edge of death. When I’m standing on the precipice, they give me the desire to walk backward. When I’m on the battlefield, they rouse my courage as Aragorn – “But it is not this day!”


These words are a way for me to keep the faith  – they are the flowers.

With these words, I endure.


“Stand up with me.

No one would like
more than I to stay
on the pillow where your eyelids
try to shut out the world for me.
There too I would like
to let my blood sleep
surrounding your sweetness.

But stand up,
you, stand up,
but stand up with me
and let us go off together
to fight face to face
against the devil’s webs,
against the system that distributes hunger,
against organized misery.

Let’s go,
and you, my star, next to me,
newborn from my own clay,
you will have found the hidden spring
and in the midst of the fire you will be
next to me,
with your wild eyes,
raising my flag.”
(Neruda – The Flag)

Dave The Bookstore Guy (AKA the Swinger)

My in-real-life friends know about the bookstore guy. I met him a couple of months ago at a local bookstore and had a fascinating chat with him about maps and travel (TWO of my favorite things, as all my friends know). I ran out before I got his phone number and didn’t see him again, though I tried. Maybe as a love addict I shouldn’t have tried so hard. But I did. Maybe 12 3 times I entered this bookstore looking for him.

Tonight I went in and I was not looking. I should have known.


I was going in to read some Neruda, who I am pretty sure I was in a past life. (Maybe kidding, maybe not) Anyway, I walked in and…

penny hits head

Anyways it was pretty awesome. And surprising. So, I play it all cool. I read my poetry. I read my other books I wandered around in pretense looking at…


Not really… but you know. For the sake of this post.

And since this was a total fail last time after our fascinating conversation (which I had thought about ever since because I was so intrigued) I was determined not to let this go to waste. No more running out like a chicken, which yes, actually did happen last time. I was going to leave with a number, so help me.


So, he comes up. Introduces himself. “Hi, I’m David. Didn’t we talk a couple of months ago?” Me: “Yeah, you’re the GIS guy.” Him: “Wow, good memory. Me: “Yeah well, it’s just because I like maps.”


Asks what I’m reading. So. We’re chatting.


About books (win) and degrees (double win) and intellectual things such as spirituality (TRIPLE win!).  I’m making a list in my head…


(let it be noted that his name was Dave)

And it was coming out all pros.

He then mentions that we should get together sometime and chat for longer, because he was getting distracted from his work.


So I was pretty happy about all this. Right before I leave, I go up to say goodbye and we exchange numbers, so it’s all official like. During which, we’re STILL nonstop talking about very interesting issues.


Then he mentions the amount of animals “his household” possesses. So I ask THE QUESTION…


“What, do you mean your roommates’, or what?” (AKA NOT YOUR GIRLFRIEND RIGHT???)

Cue awkward smile. “Well no. I actually have kind of a strange living situation. I live with my wife…


and my girlfriend…

And my wife’s boyfriend, so…”


I didn’t hear another word he said, I assure you.

Other than his “We should definitely hang out.” At which my mind actually kind of looked like this…


And here I am not an hour later writing this post because, writing is cheap therapy, AMIRIGHT?


And also, because this is not an option for me:

because if that happened I would do something stupid like actually go out with the guy.


As it is… I’ve already emailed my sponsor and texted my best friend, and also have determined that I am not going to actually TRY meeting anyone anytime soon. If this is what happens… I can love my life and be super badass ALL BY MYSELF. ALONE. VERY VERY ALONE.


Or just find a gay husband.


I have a strange sickness today.

It’s called “I’m sick of my ego so I’m crashing it into a large cement wall.”

I could write you an elegantly edited, scripted, neat little post but again, I’m crashing my ego into the wall right now. So this will not be elegant or pretty. It might be spiritual. But you can call my shit on that one too if you want. I may very well be wrong.

Yesterday I had a great conversation with a dear friend about boundaries. I always need that reminder. Pay attention to my internal compass and don’t just get blown wherever the wind takes me. It’s difficult, and I always have to remind myself about it. So anyway my friend said something that really hit me square between the eyes. “People do everything because they want to be everything.” I guess it was a Mark Nepo quote. Ouch. Of all my boundary problems, that is the one I have done the least work on.

See, things easily and quickly interest me. It’s the “ooh, shiny!” syndrome. I am getting a degree in psychology and plan to get a masters in Counseling or Social Work. I play guitar and sing. I sometimes like to paint. Ask me if I’m interested in dance and I’ll say yes. Look through my art boxes and you’ll find framed photography. Am I interested in cars? Sure am. I would love to know the underside of an engine backwards and forwards. Snowboarding? Definitely. You’ll find a 2008 NeverSummer in my closet. Hiking? An enthusiast. Do I climb 14ers? Yes of course, and I should have a goal to climb more. Do I like rock climbing? Yeah sure! The rush is awesome. Travel, you ask? Talk about “ooh, shiny.” My next idea of a place to go changes about every month or so. My newest obsession is doing a trip with the Adventurists, who specialize in crazy trips. Just my thing. Do I like sports? Eh no but I really should pick a football team to root for…

See my problem? My interests are broad.  But SOME OF THEM are only broad because I want everyone to like me. I want to be everything. Yes. It’s true. I’ve even told people that I want to climb Everest. (Really? If that’s not ego-driven… I don’t know what is)

Lately I have been feeling the pull to stop it. Stop being everything and just be what I want to be. The truth is, out of that long list of interests, there are only really two big things that attract my attention and intention. My degree. And Travel.

It pains me though to even think about letting go of some of those interests. I have a lovely voice! I really do like playing guitar. People have told me that I should go on The Voice or American Idol. But you know what. I. just. can’t. do. everything. And I love my music, I do. But my favorite memory of it is not singing up in front of a bunch of people. It was in the back of a decked-out hippie van with a small group of friends, where I could sing a lullaby over them like a gift.

I like rock climbing. Do I love it? No. What if I let it go? Well… then what if… I lose something that could have been awesome? Come on Laurie get over it. When it comes to hiking, hiking is a nice hobby that I can hang on to without really losing myself in it. Maybe when I have more money I can splurge on more gear. Maybe I’ll get into backpacking at a later time, again, when I have more money.

Snowboarding – it’s great. It’s lovely to ride through the trees and hear the swish of a board underneath. Everything is so quiet. But honestly, snowboarding is so damn expensive. “But you’re in skiing Mecca!” I can hear you all exclaim. All the out-of-staters, anyway. A ticket to Breckenridge? $90. For a day. A season pass to a good group of mountains will run you at the VERY least, $200, if not somewhere close to $600. It’s outrageous.

I think one of the biggest problems I’m having with having such a broad range of interests is, I don’t have the money to put into all of them. I really can’t be everything. I have to choose which things are the most important to me and go with that. So far in my life, I’ve prioritized travel. I’ve gone out of the country every year since 2006. It’s a big deal to me.

I feel like my little sister Rachel. When she was two years old, she looked up at my mom and said, “BUT MOOOOOOOOM… I CAN’T DO ALL SEEZ SINGS!!!”

I just can’t. My ego is so disappointed and in a sickening fashion, does NOT WANT TO GIVE THEM UP. Hence, the crashing it into the wall thing. Which yes, is a little extreme. I do feel compassion, yes I do. My little ego is so frail and so scared. But I really can’t do everything and I have to make some priorities and decide who I want to be. Especially when it comes to monetary things. Do I want to take a trip next year? Because if I do, I need to save some money for it. And that will mean that some of my other interests will fall by the wayside. The big question is, can I actually handle saying to someone, “No, I’m sorry I can’t go snowboarding with you. I’m trying to save my money.”

I don’t know. That sounds so painful. Icccckkk. Ego, honey doll, I promise you… everyone does not have to like you for you to be okay. I’ve got you and that’s all you need to know.