Category Archives: Mental Health

Why I Hated Krav Maga and Why I’ll Keep Doing It

I went to my first Krav Maga class today. I’d heard of it over and over again and hadn’t felt any interest. Recently, though, a new friend of mine expressed desire to go and I looked into it. I got a free class and went by myself (she couldn’t make it).

I think if I’d known what was coming, I would not have been able to make myself go. So I’m glad I didn’t know.

You see, ever since leaving D, any type of fighting (whether participating or not, whether play or not) has been super triggering for me. Even just watching people wrestling while they laugh makes me feel like my body is being ripped apart, my heart mushed into a puddle. I want to protect them. I want to scream. I want to curl up in a ball in a corner and cry and not come out until I know it’s “safe.”

D never actually hit me. He did a lot of things not the least which was threaten me multiple times with his raised hand or pin me against things when I did things he didn’t like. So I never really understood why fighting specifically was so negative for me. I think, now, that it was just the idea of violence itself (or potential violence). It got worse after I found out five months after leaving him that he he had taken up shooting at the shooting range and was going to get a gun and conceal carry. I didn’t think he’d specifically come after me, but thought he would threaten people I loved. Mostly, I just saw him as entirely unpredictable and his anger would come out at totally random times and I never knew if it would lead to sulking or a sinister darkness that looked very much homicidal from my perspective.

Throughout this post, I’m going to be flipping between past and present frequently. I will denote the change with the dashes below so it is not as confusing. This is what PTSD looks like. This is what abuse feels like after it’s happened. It doesn’t go away. It lingers, it mutates, it affects everything…

Coming back to the present. When I walked into Krav Maga, the first warm-up exercise we did was trying to hit each other’s shoulder and also trying to block being hit. I’d been part of this kind of exercise before and knew that it triggered me in big ways. Even in it’s semi-playfulness and people bantering, I wanted to run out the door and never come back. I even asked one of the students (who I also found out was a teacher), S, if this was mainly all we did. She laughed and said “No, we’re just warming up.” I sighed with relief.

Oh, but it got worse. We then began actually punching each other (with pads). S mentioned this is not the “feminine flower” class after I apologized for nearly hitting her face. It was surprisingly comforting to not have to live by societal norms of a female. As we continued with the attacking/punching exercise with pads, S told me “Imagine someone just grabbed your butt. It’s not their butt. It’s yours. Tell them it’s fucking yours.”

Immediately, I sank into the anger I felt unleashed after I left D. I remembered searching up and down for a gym with a punching bag. All I wanted to do was punch the living shit out of a D replica.

I was reminded of the times I told him I didn’t want him smacking my ass in public and his response was always “But it’s my ass. I can do with it what I want.”

“That’s fucking right, that is my butt. It is NOT YOURS, you fucker!” I wanted to scream. The pad was suddenly D’s throat as I punched my elbow into it. S seemed to notice the change with a slight smile and was more off balance each time I pounded on the pad in front of her chest.

And then we got to the fake guns. Seriously. S pushed a fake gun into my spine and we were taught how to redirect it’s fire, break some fingers, and remove it from the person (and ya know, hit them with it a few times) until we had control of the gun and the situation.

As I pressed the fake gun into S’s back, I asked her what got her started in this. She got quiet and said she had an abusive ex husband among other things in her life that made her want to do something to defend herself. She said all this while in the middle of an elbow to my throat and removing a gun from my hand. She became a teacher of krav maga. I admitted I also had an abusive ex husband – though not physically abusive as much as physically threatening and emotionally abusive. She nodded. “You can bring someone to court with evidence of physical abuse, but it’s hard to prove PTSD. Emotional scars are just as damaging with less understanding or support.”

I wanted to hug her. But unlike the professional cuddler in front of her, she pointed out during our “attacks” that I shouldn’t “hug” her; I need to want to kill her (or the imaginary attacker).

By the end, my legs and arms were jell-o and my heart was entirely unsettled…and yet…I saw a light at the end of a very long tunnel. Every time something is especially hard for me, I know it’s something to look into and examine. And this gets right at the part of me that believes I am not capable – specifically not capable of defending myself against someone stronger or bigger or angrier than me (aka pretty much everyone).

I’m going to keep trying and facing my demons head on just like I did with climbing. Plus…I made a friend who “gets it.” Even if nothing else, totally worth it.

 

What are you doing to face your demons? What is your limitation from facing them? What motivates you to keep at it?

 

Online Intimacy Discussion

To all of you who read this blog religiously, I want to invite you to an online discussion about intimacy, communication, and consent.

I’ve noticed that seeking intimacy is one of the largest sources of shame in humans and I’d like to help change that – even in a small way. I think the main way we can change is by discussing it together openly, honestly, and without judgment.

Please join me for this talk at 7PM MT on June 6, 2017 here ($5-15 suggested donation):

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/communication-consent-and-intimacy-talk-tickets-34995263776

Hope to see you there!

❤ N

Grounding

I mention the word “grounding” in my last post in regards to how I felt D grounded me, but I’ve found that word means to others something different than it does or did mean to me.

To me in the past at least, grounding referenced stability or something that produced extremely consistent results. I was told by so many people in my life that I was the imagination/the dreamer in D and my relationship and he was the “grounding.” People meant positive things by that. They seemed to think that if I did not have him there, I would just get so lost in imagining that I would float right off into space – into my fantasies – and never come back. I even remember having a conversation with my former teacher / continued friend about this – that he and I were dreamers and our spouses were the people who kept us level-headed and not running off and doing “crazy” things.

I realize now that D did ground me – in this illusion that there is such a thing as security. I was like a bird, ready to fly away to awesome places, and he was the string weighed down with the rock around my torso. As soon as he wasn’t there, I did float away, never to come back down to earth. And I’ve found a lot of amazing people up here in space or whatever you want to call it. I also found that having another dreamer/floater by my side is not so scary and unknown like people made it out to be – it’s actually hella fucking amazing and I would no longer have it any other way.

As a side note: Crazy things like living out of a van, being polyamorous, building a community house, and getting paid for cuddling become not so crazy over time; in fact, they feel a little normal. This doesn’t mean my therapist thinks I’m at all sane, mind you. (The other day, I told her that I got paid for cuddling and 15 minutes later, she apologized and said she was still processing this new information about me and had not paid attention to anything I’d said since.)


Now, there are other definitions of grounding too, of course. My therapist brought up another one the other day. She said when I am triggered with strong emotions and begin shutting down, that I need a way to ground me in the present. She put some smooth rocks in my hands and told me to talk about the differences I notice in them. I said a few and then continued playing with them in my hand for the remainder of the session. She said they were immediate reminders to come back to my body, to the present instead of getting lost in past memories.

I was reminded of a former partner’s way of bringing me back from dwelling in trauma during a sexual activity. He said “Where are you right now? Not where are you in your mind…Where is ‘here?'” As my therapist pointed out, he was forcing me to keep one “foot” in the present while the other was mired in the past. She said if I keep at least one part of my brain in the here and now, other tools are accessible to me to move out of the past or learn from it but if both “feet” are in the past, the tools to get back into the present and here and now are impossible to retrieve.

Learning about this felt like hope. She pointed out that all of my more recent tools I’ve been using to “ground” me are nothing I can do in the very moment things are happening and are usually ways of escaping the present even if they do bring me more into my body (aka hot baths, pain, hiking, yoga, meditating). How can I ever hope to confront the strong emotions I encounter if I’m too busy running away from them?


I am a little too sensitive about all of these suggestions being tools given to people with PTSD. I guess there is something about my situation that feels less serious than can be categorized with a PTSD label. It makes me uncomfortable. It reminds me of this therapist I had in high school who was convinced I had some childhood sexual abuse that I couldn’t remember. She thought I should do EMDR, but couldn’t recommend it without “real trauma” to work with. (Horrible therapist.)

And so, I guess I’ve struggled with feeling that all of this “grounding” stuff is all really entirely hogwash. Or at least isn’t applicable to me.

This was further reinforced by having tea with a friend who is “Buddhist-leaning,” as she says. When I talked about this idea of “grounding,” she said: “The ground you speak of in metaphors is not real! We’re all floating in constant limbo in the present and until we see that, we won’t be happy.” I said “But how about being grounded in the present? Do you think that could be a thing?” She paused and said “Well…I don’t know. Maybe. But the present is really all we have anyway. You either recognize it or you don’t.”

I wonder about wandering the world with rocks in my pockets (the tiny ones we as females get in our clothes), attempting to remind myself that the present is all we have *and* it’s also all an illusion – much like the shoeboxes or maybe even the rocks themselves. Some moments, it seems like a bunch of ridiculous therapist hogwash and other days, I go searching for the rocks I’ll keep at my fingertips as reminders. Maybe I’ll even add in a rubber band on my wrist for good measure.

Grounded or not, I’d prefer to spend my time with the dreamers in the here and now – no strings (or rocks) attached.

Stuck and Unstuck

I had a paid cuddling session the other day that kind of turned my world upside down a little. He was an older gentlemen, who wrote me because he had a paid cuddle person he saw semi-regularly but she was far away from his home and I was closer. He asked for a session in a private place without being at his place or outside in a public space and decided to get a hotel room instead.

I already had a clue from my past experience that him not having a space to offer and wanting privacy likely indicated desire for intimacy he wasn’t getting from a romantic partner. I kept it in the back of my mind as something to ask about.

We met outside the hotel. Unfortunately, the room was supposed to be ready but wasn’t yet. We ended up waiting almost an hour for it, but this gave us time to talk and get to know each other first. He immediately offered the reason he was meeting with me. It was not an uncommon story – his wife would not/could not give him intimacy he desired (simple stuff – sex too, but mostly just…love, platonic affection). In this specific situation, it seemed to be due to a semi-medical/psychological reason. But really, in the end, it doesn’t matter. He hasn’t been getting what he needs for seven years (SEVEN YEARS!) and on top of that has been abused verbally and possibly physically by the only person he is “allowed” to get intimacy, love, and care from in this world.

It brought up this deep well of compassion and sadness in me for him – and for myself a year or two or three or ten ago. I felt so strongly in him the feeling of being “stuck.” In his mind, he has no good options – 1) He leaves his wife and loses everything he’s ever worked for but receives freedom (in some ways) and would likely be viewed in a horrible light by others soon after.  2) He stays and continues receiving abuse and little of what he wants or needs, but is “stable” (whatever that means). 3) He stays and continues receiving abuse and gets what he needs elsewhere and has to deal with his own guilt, shame, etc (on top of everyone else’s who knows).

I came away from this session hurting for him, seeing the only way of integrity, truth, and freedom was option 1 and that he has to see it himself, and HUGE frustration. It pissed the fuck out of me that people hurt each other like that and make the situation unbearable to someone they supposedly love. Like, really, you LOVE this man and make it impossible for him to want to stay with you. Additionally, why is he staying? He hasn’t received what he needs for seven effing years! Loyalty to someone only goes so far, especially if you’re being abused in the process of doing “the right thing.”

Of course, this is all just coming from a deep well of my own shit, as usual. I’ve found that whenever I have a strong reaction to something, it means I should poke more, dig deeper, and ask more questions. So I did.

What I came up with was that I was really still angry at myself – for staying with D, for feeling so stuck then when in reality the solution was so simple! Leaving him took me a year…in reality, eleven of them. About a month ago, I came across a draft of an email I never sent to D about wanting to break up. I wrote it not even a year into dating him. I knew then and always that it didn’t feel 100% right. But I stayed. Because I felt stuck. I felt like no one would ever love me better than D. I felt I was unlovable. I felt like I deserved less. I felt like I would always be a person who doubted, that no relationship would ever be perfect. I was scared of where I would go and who I would be without him to “ground” me. I was afraid of being alone. I made all the excuses all the time…but I always knew deep down that there was something wrong. Even weeks into dating him, tons of red flags had come up and I just ignored them, convincing myself it was my paranoia. And the more enmeshed I became with him and his life, the harder it seemed to me to get the hell out. I remember fantasizing about him dying…way way before I even considered leaving him. It seemed like the only easy solution to my predicament.

Codependency and relationships are always a two-way street. Yes, I was manipulated. Yes, I was abused. But we *both* had problems and I needed him “taking care” of me as much as he needed me needing him. No matter what anyone says about me in this situation, my accurate retort is: He was never keeping me there; I was. Sure, I didn’t recognize it as abuse until much later, but I definitely *did* feel like there was something wrong and I didn’t trust my gut; I actively ignored it. And of all the anger I have about the situation, this is the anger that I have the hardest time letting go of.

I know, I know. I can’t go back in time and all that, blah blah blah. And I do love my life and see that all that shit made me who I am now, brought me to this very moment. And to regret the past if you like the present is not helpful or even logical. I know! My brain knows. My heart still says “Why didn’t you listen to me? You could have saved yourself all this grief and hurt.”

And so when I come across people who feel stuck, it is easy for me (as an outsider) to say “The choice is clear. Just go do it.” Once I left D, a swarm of people came to me almost falling on their knees happy that I finally made the decision they knew I would all along (or hoped I would at least). I couldn’t make that decision till I was ready, till I could see it (enough of it to make me go). And I know this is true of everyone’s journey; it is theirs, I can’t choose it for them.

But to the angry girl inside of me asking why I didn’t listen to her so much earlier, all I can do is cry, hug her, and genuinely say: “I’m deeply sorry. I hear you now.”

Change: Is it real?

The last few days, I’ve been on one of my many regular road trips. This time, I decided to go to Mesa Verde National Park. It’s the last national park in CO I hadn’t been to yet. This one, though, is a bit different than the usual. Its main focus is education about the structures left by the cave-dwelling people of 600-1200 AD. I’m usually not interested in stories about history or museums, but once I got there, I was fascinated – not by the differences, but by the similarities to the modern human.

The first detail that hit me was their sandals. They made their own sandals out of yucca and human hair and they looked not too unlike Chaco’s (apparently Chaco’s were inspired by the Chaco pueblos). And then – their ideas. They made bread that looks a lot like our version of pie (but with partially chewed materials inside them). They figured out how to make reservoirs and even retaining walls! Their spears and bow and arrows and pottery and even their clothing woven from hair look almost exactly like our current versions of these items. They made extensive villages made of adobe built into caves – sometimes four stories high! Clearly their day to day life was very different than our current rat race (I daresay likely more relaxed and community-oriented/less lonely). And yet, when all is said and done, they were humans very similar to us with similar thought processes and shared activities and goals for survival. The ranger even told me that technically, we could as current-day humans viably live in these structures right now.

And this got me to thinking: I feel like a different person in even the last 2-3 years of my life. But how much have I really changed in reality? A few months ago, I would have said my thought processes and goals for my life changed dramatically. Except that about a month ago, all three of my partners were in a hot tub with me reading from a scrapbook of my writing from senior year back to childhood that I put together in senior year. Everyone commented how I haven’t changed much at all – especially in my beliefs and thought processes.

So what gives? Have I changed in foundational ways or not? Have we as a human race changed dramatically or not? Who are we under all the superficialities? Can we actually change – even and especially when we want to?

I went to a tantra class recently (the only one ever actually) where they separated us into groups and had each of us ask the others: “Who are you?” We each used one word or a small phrase to describe us and then kept going around the circle. Nouns were most typical: “Wife”, “Mother,” “Sister,” “Daughter,” “Friend,” “Dancer.” “Teacher.” It seemed to be consensus that our shallow descriptions of ourselves was satisfactory. And then the next question came: “Who are you really?” A sigh spread around the circle and we looked at each other with a newfound question unspoken: “Can I really trust you with this?” Suddenly, new and bold and vulnerable answers began spewing from us, feeding off each other. “Afraid.” “Lonely.” “A sexual person.” “A sensual person.”

The person who said “Afraid” happened to be my partner at the time. I suddenly saw him in a new light – not because of this word, but because he would share it openly with random strangers, but never with me. I knew he was afraid. In fact, I knew or felt that he was terrified. I tried in every manner that I could to be a safe space for him to be his true self, unedited. No matter how hard I tried, though, it seemed he hid more and more behind a wall of his own making. I think, perhaps, that my desire to be a safe space for him was in part because I’d noticed a pattern – that every one of my friends expressed often how safe it felt to come to me with feelings and thoughts and yet my partners at a certain point would often seem hesitant to share or completely unwilling. And to some extent vice versa.

What is that? This ability to be open, non-judgmental, compassionate people with everyone except the people who matter most to us? As soon as someone means something to us, it’s like we have to make sure there is a space within us that is ours and ours alone. We feel suffocated. At one point, we wanted to share all of us with them and then…eventually…we slowly but surely close doors to our heart one by one.

I insisted when I left D that I would not do this again – because I felt how much it hurt when D did that to me and how much it hurt me and him when I eventually locked myself away from him as well. Really, there was no coming back from it. And so, it was frustrating to feel myself doing it again, even what felt like against my will.

This all, I believe, goes back to the question “Who are you really?” Because *why* we do this to ourselves is, I believe, because of where we’ve come from, who we have been, who we want to change to be, and all the messiness between. All of us have had some sort of trauma – often from relationships (family, friends, romantic, or otherwise). Can you remember back to your first serious relationship? Or at least the one you wholeheartedly felt like you *loved* the person you were with? Was there trepidation or hiding of your self, your heart, your love? For me and for many people I’ve seen examples of, I think the answer is generally no. Why would we hide when we’ve (generally besides our parents perhaps) seen no huge reasons previously to distrust sharing ourselves with someone? It is only over time when we see example upon example of reason to stop sharing ourselves because of the result: being hurt.

It is easy to *say*: I see the pattern and I realize it will not necessarily *always* be the outcome and I wish to be the kind of person who wears my heart on my sleeve and lets potentially hurtful situations roll off of me.

It is not easy to *be* the kind of person who wears my heart on my sleeve and lets potentially hurtful situations roll off of me.

Who am I really? Someone who was opened up at one point like a flower – to her feelings, to love, to adventure. She ran wild with the freedom and her fear kept getting smaller and smaller until it was a small speck in the distance. She consumed the world like a hungry dog who hasn’t eaten in years. And as she consumed, she began to be given bits of poison, bit by bit becoming afraid again, consumed again by worry and doubt that every new morsel might be laced with another dose. Even as she finds more beauty and love in the world, she fears what may come, what feels inevitable: its thorns, its poison, its death. And so she builds walls – to see the beauty from a safe distance. But it is lonely behind these walls.  Numbing,

Who am I really? A person who sometimes feels “big” and often feels “small.” A woman who often sees a lot of different escape routes, but has a hard time seeing the way to stay. She knows how to run, she knows how to hide, and she knows how to fight. She doesn’t know what peace looks like or how to keep it. She knows how to lose, but not how to win. Even when she wins, she focuses on keeping the win safe. She is terrified. She wants to save others because she doesn’t know how to save herself.

Who are you really? I ask this of you because under all the masks you’re wearing, there is at least one that is true and there may be parts of it you don’t want to keep. And you may wonder if you can change them. The stories you tell yourself are just that – stories. My story above is one I wish to discard aspects of. Namely: fear. Again. The most courageous person looks fear in the face and walks right on by it. I want to be that again without destroying everything in my path to get there. I changed once…or thought I did. Would it be that hard to do it again? Maybe I never really changed the way I thought I did.

One of the things humans can do that separates us from many animals is meta-cognition (thinking about thinking). Not all. Rats and monkeys and many other animals can do this too. Meta-cognition supposedly makes us capable of making complex informed decisions and specifically to change our behavioral patterns. What I find interesting for myself, though, is that I often have a disconnect. I can *logically* see incorrect thinking on my part and work to find a new solution. And yet, emotionally, I am incapable of integrating the information I “know” in my head until my heart is damn well ready to hear it. There is no forcing it. There is no convincing it with logic, with words, with anything. Eventually – sometimes months or years down the line – my heart gets what my brain “got” a long time ago.

Being polyamorous has been a long road of this frustration. I can fully understand and agree with the concept of “compersion” for instance (being happy for your partner being happy with someone else), but actually feeling that? Geeze, I’ve only really honestly felt it a couple times. I can fully understand and agree with the idea that I want my partners to be free and happy and autonomous – whether or not it is with me. And yet, my heart will often tell me when they are happy with someone else that they are abandoning me and it makes me hurt so deeply that it feels like it will make me die to be happy for their happiness. I am better at sitting with it, breathing, knowing deep down that I will be okay no matter what. But I wonder every time whether it will ever change – whether my heart will truly know what my brain does. Will my heart ever feel it is not under attack? Will it ever stop watching for danger in the innumerable ways it does?

We live in a world that trains us in the way it wants us to be in the world – including how it wishes us to feel, think, and behave. So it’s a huge simplification to say “Just because we have the ability for meta-cognition, that is enough to change at will.” It’s like telling someone addicted to nicotine that all they need to do is stop picking up the cigarette. It’s not that simple. I’m sure most anyone who smokes would tell you they know it’s not a good idea for them to smoke – for their health, etc. That doesn’t mean it’s as simple as saying it should be so and thus it is.

It seems to actually honestly change something deep inside of us requires a lot of work. And that work often requires tricking and rewiring the brain/un-training it subconsciously or just…time and practice confronting the issues over and over again.

How do you go about changing something you want to be different inside of you? What techniques help you in facing those issues? Do you think you really inherently change you to do that?

Before I Loved Anyone 

Sometimes I forgetThat before I loved anyone,

I loved you :
The wind through my hair.

The birds and their melody.

The babbling brook

Falling over the hills of rock

Sculpted by time.

The view of your oceans,

Your mountains, deserts,

Sunrises and sunsets.
Before I knew what religion was,

I already worshipped

Your peace,

Your sanctuary,

Your light by day and by night.

I came to you to find myself.

I thought I was alone sometimes,

But no – you were there too.
Before I knew what a relationship entailed,

You challenged me to grow

And validated my feelings,

Holding me in despair and hurt.

You inspired me to be bigger,

To leave the “small” feelings behind.
Before my spirit was broken,

You were there waiting

For when it would be.

No expectations, no need, no desires.

You waited and opened your arms,

Not surprised in my coming or going,

Not judging or critiquing. 
Before you,

I am free to be naked and vulnerable,

A blank tablet 

and one that has a million pages already.

Before you, 

I do not win or lose. 

I am alone and I am not.

I am filled and I am empty.
Before anyone loved me,

I loved you. 

Even before I loved myself. 

You were there until I did

And forever after too.
“Shall I apologize for forgetting?” I ask you.

And your reply : 

“No matter. I ask for nothing.

You are the only one it behooves

To remember.”

On Being Rich

I’ve been considering the word “rich” lately. Many of us Americans look at Trump and say “He’s rich…richer than I can even imagine.” We may look at the Kardashians, celebrities, sports heroes and say they are rich; they have the resources to buy anything they want at any time and still, they are safe and secure financially.

But have you considered that who we often call “rich” are often the poorest among us and the poorest by these financial standards are often the “rich”est? I am visiting a good friend of mine’s family farm and am finding myself reminded of another good friend of mine who lived in what he called the “hillbilly mountains.” He said by American standards, his family was “effing poor” and yet he never realized that until he left the small town he grew up in. He lived immediately adjacent to his cousins. They had freedom and safety and spent most days roaming around the mountains alone or together without fear. They learned about confidence, problem-solving skills, conflict resolution, companionship and friendship. They learned how to hunt for their own food, make their own food. They had family, community, love, acceptance, and means of surviving. They didn’t need anything else. They were “rich” in his eyes – until society told him differently.

Similarly, by society’s definitions, I am the “poorest” I’ve ever been when you look at the influx of money into my bank account on a monthly basis. And yet…I feel supremely rich, monumentally rich, infinitely wealthy in the things that matter. People around me invest in me, love me, accept me and I do the same with them. For once, I am seeing the family in front of me that I always wanted. I make money doing things I love and support and help people even though I don’t get a consistent paycheck. I have the freedom of time to have experiences, to invest energy where I want to invest it, to love fully and wholly without a tax for stability. I don’t struggle with the constant urge to fill every free moment with *something*….because I don’t struggle for free time. I am not in the rat race. I am not giving into or supporting “the man” or slaving my days away for the dollar.

I feel…good. I feel free. I feel like instead of determining how I will be spending the zeros adding up in my bank account, I am determining how I will spend the minutes of my life and the energy of my heart. Every day, I go to sleep thinking “If today was my last day of life, I know I lived it well and exactly how I wanted it to be.” If I want to make something happen, I make it happen. If I don’t, I don’t make excuses – I must not want it that bad after all.

I read this post about a year and a half ago. Though I’d spent much of my life feeling like I was racing against a clock to do all the things I wanted to do, when I actually saw how few moments I actually have in a visual way, I slowed down and re-evaluated. Yes, I wanted to do “all the things.” But…what were all the things really adding up to if these things were mutually exclusive with spending time with people I loved? I stopped traveling as much. All the places began to feel kind of the same and I realized what I really wanted more of in the moments of my life…were just….more moments – with abundant love right in front of me. I wanted more time with myself, more time with “my people,” more time doing things I loved doing with people I loved doing them with.

Exploration is awesome. But so is appreciation. So is being present, being aware of and grateful for the gifts in front of us. Being “rich” has nothing to do with money in the bank and everything to do with what remains in our hearts at the end of the day.

At the end of the day, I know I will be okay. Deep down, I am solid. In my heart, I know that if I passed away right now, I am confident I’ve been authentic to myself, to my needs, to my desires as much as I could be and that the people I love know they are loved. I wouldn’t have to write a letter to them before I was gone; they would know.

I would know that I spent my life truly living – not watching TV, not playing video games, not distracting myself from the vicissitudes of reality. I saw, I lived, I hurt, I suffered, I pushed, I bawled, I squealed with joy, I screamed in pain, I fell over and over and over and got up again every fucking time.

And at the end of the day, I would take this knowledge and this feeling and this reality above any million or trillion dollars out there. I would take it over all the diamonds, all the luxuries, all the fame and fortune.

Through my eyes, I am the richest fucking human being on this planet.

I will not let the poorest among us convince me otherwise.