Attachment Belonging Blame Boundaries Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Intimacy Love Metabolizing Resentment Self-Compassion You Deserve Gentleness

After I Was Raped

Three days after I was raped, I called a friend. She had been a volunteer at a rape counseling center and I thought she would be good to call. She didn’t come to give me a hug. I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to put her out. I didn’t want to know what would happen if I was held. I didn’t want to know what would happen if she said no. I needed a rote task. I needed someone to tell me what to do. I could not abide whatever was happening in my body. I did not want it. Nothing fit together. My small sentences sounded like they were coming out of another person’s mouth. I’d been severed from my body and the body of the world.

The friend made me an appointment at the counseling center and told me to go there.

I pulled down my skirt to show the counselor my blackened pelvis and told her how it hurt when I sat down. I gave her some small sentences so that she would give me sense. I expected that transaction from this stranger. I wanted her to hold what I could not. What happened? I don’t remember. I woke up in the next town over and two men were still asleep. Can you tell me what happened to my body? Can you tell me what comes next? Today is the last day you can get a kit done. You will not have to press charges if you choose not to. We will not report this to the police unless you want to. Do this today and you will have time to decide what is right for you.

I was traumatized and ungrounded. I had an urge to feel safe when I didn’t. This urge is the true source of danger.

No one can give me safety when I am out of trust. Turning away from the reality of the moment and throwing it at someone else to hold like a ragged hot potato was very expensive. It took me six years to pay it off.

We drove an hour to a place in her car. The one where these things usually happened was closed today, so we were going to the one where they did rape kits for children. Kit is an imprecise word here. It is a forensic exam. When I left, they gave me a blanket and a small teddy bear wearing a tshirt with the name of the hospital. My dog didn’t want it, even after I took off the tshirt, so it went to Goodwill. The rage about the teddy bear came long after it was gone.

“I’m a state-mandated reporter, I have to report this to the police.”

This is what the forensic nurse said while holding the kind of camera I’d only seen on Law and Order before. She’d been taking pictures of my pelvis, which was too damaged to allow me a choice. My body wasn’t mine now, was what she meant. It was a crime scene. My panties went into an evidence bag and the nurse left the room. I lay on the exam table naked from the waist down, with my legs still in the stirrups and I shattered.

“You were supposed to protect me.” I sobbed. Big sobs. Old sobs. Deep sobs. The rape counselor was on the other side of the curtain, so I said it to the fluorescent lights.

“I’m so sorry.” She said, this stranger I gave my trust to, because of her job.

Because I was severed from my body.

It didn’t even occur to me to get off the table and take my panties back out of the evidence bag and leave.

It didn’t occur to me that I could determine that this was my body again and not a crime scene.

It did not occur to me because I was severed from my body.

I can’t set boundaries when I’m not in my body.

And I was told to think of the others. The possible future victims. It was for the greater good. I felt the lead cloak drop. I stopped crying. I felt nothing. I took the rape counselor out for Pho and made jokes. My treat. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. People watching would have thought we were pals. Doubling down on this-never-happened. Preserving that murderous self.

I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a trauma response and a real-time no for a very long time.

I didn’t tell anyone else for a year. That didn’t go well. It was beyond the capacity of the person I told. They hung up on me. I deepened into the story of how broken I was: I will never be fixed. I will never be loved. I am barely human. Again I found myself sobbing, “You were supposed to protect me.”

I didn’t talk about it again for two more years. Doubling down on separation. Doubling down on I don’t belong. My mind lapped it right up because it meant we could keep doing what we were doing. Nothing would have to change.

The rape happened in year six of an eight-year dark night of the soul. That’s a lot of nights. That’s a lot of lost years. It precipitated a descent into alcoholism, depression, an extended period of living in my car, and overwhelming urge to be as dead outside as I felt inside.

I had fallen for my mind exclusively. No one else was welcome, not even my body. My mind and I were completely enmeshed. There were no boundaries. It was a self-centered and joyless coupling and the sex was non-existent. My mind was very controlling. Abusive and prone to gaslighting. I needed my body back–but my mind had me drinking to blackout from morning till night to numb the call.

Fresh from a rare shower, bloated and sad, with eyeliner I scrawled across the bathroom mirror that quote from Rumi, “Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?” A part of me knew. A part of all of us always does.

I realized that no one was coming to save me. I realized that no one could save me. I realized that my mind was an abusive asshole.

I could just stop. This could just stop. This could stop right now. None of the things I’m afraid of are happening. Not even one. What if I have everything I want right now? What if this squandering is all I want because it means I never have to be seen again? Never have to be responsible for my life?


I think of these as uh-oh moments rather than ah-ha moments, because let’s face it, do any of us really delight at the thought of all the change and uncertainty that just became totally f*cking inevitable?

I mean, that nude and bloated moment was my uh-oh, but I was on my way into an afternoon blackout, so it was another 5 months before I really let it all the way in and decided I wanted to live. That meant having no idea who I would become because everything I’d already been was dead beyond your wildest necromancy.

That meant uncertainty and her sidekick existential dread and I were about to get real intimate. I was going to have to let myself be loved by others when I couldn’t love myself. I was going to have to let myself be seen. Not just regular seen, but seen by whole rooms full of strangers while in sloppy cycles of rage and grief. I was going to have to get down on my knees and atone for shitting all over life like that. For rejecting my body so violently. For trying to kill it with vodka. For declaring so much war.

I was going to have to belong to my own body and the body of the world again, as was my birthright all along. No one took that from me. I gave it away because I did not want the responsibility for what I’d been given to hold. Until I did. Until I loved those gifts so well it felt like Christmas morning.

I tell you this because metabolization is not complete until what has nourished me comes back out as nourishment for others. When I have fully opened it, it becomes my gift to give. I have fully opened the gifts of that time.

One of the greatest gifts of my lifetime has been restoring my body to full trust, full eros, after rape. I crawled through mud and fire for as long as I needed to, according to my very stubborn nature and for as long as I needed to stay deluded about the relationship between responsibility and freedom. Which was almost exactly eight years. My mind has been through a whole lot of training since then and like a good companion, it shits outside and sits nicely. It’s quite a lot of fun, really. Ever-curious and always up for a caper.

I want to be very clear here that I don’t blame myself in any of this. I don’t blame anyone in any of these events (anymore). This is my path and I feel very tenderly responsible for walking it, even for the times I crawled it. The seeds of compassion were planted in this loam. Somehow, they sprouted.

That’s why I can and feel I should write about it and share it with you.

There was so much shame in me for so long that drew in new relationships that led to new trauma that confirmed and calcified the old. I had to fully embody the whole cycle of trauma and retraumatization by bringing in so much of what confirmed the story I was carrying about myself until it became clear that it was false. I don’t see those years as lost anymore. I see them as training.

“You were supposed to protect me.”

This phrase is the seed of so much trauma and retraumatization. And the slow hissing leak of life force that victim identity brings. When that is lovingly witnessed, first by myself and then by another loving human who does not try to fix what is not broken, my trust is restored. When I move out of trust and expect safety to come from outside first—when I ask to be rescued–I move away from freedom. When my trust in myself and in all-that-is is primary, I know when I am safe. I trust when I am not safe. I trust myself to set and hold a boundary that will move me away from what will harm me and toward being fully alive. I trust others because I trust myself first. I trust my embodied intuition. There is no other kind.

Violence is carried in our own minds and ripples out. It severs us from our bodies and the body of the world.

Peace is carried by our own bodies and ripples out. It grounds us in our own bodies and the body of the world.

Releasing suffering is intimate work, no matter how vast the need for it looks from a distance. Whether it’s war, rape, or the grinding poverty of a working family who has to chose between gas and food now–how we meet and metabolize it matters. How we witness it in our neighbors and around the globe, matters.

We are all in this together, with every breath, every sound, every beat of our very messy human hearts.

Attachment Belonging Blame Boundaries Confidence Ecology Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Intimacy Love Ordinary Joy Relationships Resentment Self-Compassion

Portals of Potent Surprise

Is it a crisis, or a portal of potent surprise? Loss opens. Let it. When the losses have been lost and your call echoes in the empty cup, something will come to fill it. Nature doesn’t abhor a vacuum. She loves it, she comes to fill it everytime you empty it. She is a very good hostess.

You find the portal of potent surprise too scary? Are you worried there are monsters in there? What comes from avoiding it is much scarier. Ghouls breed in neglected places.

Trust that people will come and go according the homing signal you transmit. Follow resonance. When you follow resonance you won’t have to state a boundary because you’re living it. It has the sillage of good perfume. It lingers after you’ve gone, without ever overwhelming. Like that perfume, you don’t have to say a word.

What does a peony say? It doesn’t scream. It opens. Bees come. Faces come. Ants come at just the time they’re needed. Is the transmission chemical? What is it made of? Who cares. It’s the transmission. Trust your transmission.

What belongs with you stays with you. What doesn’t is a burden. Be who you are, sincerely and responsibly, and whatever doesn’t belong with you will fall from your field. Like Magic. Just like magic, actually. As Mary Poppins said, “Spit spot.”

If it’s stagnant, clinging makes it so. If it’s a crisis, clinging makes it so. A crisis is being in fine moist loam screaming to remain a seed. The cotyledon is lying in wait for causes and conditions to align. The seed is a waiting room, poised to unfurl. A plant can’t be other than it is, but the seed has to open first. Painful things can be welcomed with the generosity their inevitability calls for. Otherwise, it’s violence.

There are still, quiet moments in that emptiness between. The sound of your heartbeat echoing in the cup amid the absence of familiar sounds. The absence also echoes. Our ideas about emptiness are so confused, like it’s something to be avoided, like the empty places within us need to be stuffed with something stat, rather than naturally filled in good time. Addiction is no balm. Neither is taking what isn’t given or any other greedy pull.

Pulling for validation instead of opening to connection is keeping you from embodying your boundaries. It’s keeping you in your head and out of your skin. Do you wonder why you’re in this relationship pattern again? Do you wonder why you have that kind of client again? Do you wonder why you are getting the same response you got the last time? That’s why. You’re available for disrespect. And part of what you’re transmitting is that you’re available for disrespect. No matter your words, the fragrance lingers.

Standing in the portal of potent surprise can bring nausea, of the existential variety. The vertigo tug. Luckily, the portal is groundless. There’s nowhere to go splat. Let yourself be tugged between the poles. Notice how this feels.

Notice everything. Notice everyone. Remain receptive and embodied. Sometimes you’ll step into the portal and sometimes surprise party guests step through. Your next teacher might be the weirdo fondling broccoli with too much mayonnaise in their cart. Treat everyone with reverence. Everyone is your teacher now, especially the more than human world. There is nothing to defend. Nothing to hold on to. There’s so much delight here. So much ordinary joy.

What was constructed has collapsed and the reformation is not yet complete. It’s emerging. Listen for snips. Gather niblets. It’s a treasure hunt and the map is written on your body in an ink you can’t yet see. Patience.

When do you move and when do you wait?

What does life say about it?

Does the floor need to be swept?

Do the plants need to be watered?

Does the dog need to be fed?

Is the light calling you outside?

Are you listening with your skin to every nuance?

If not, what’s muffling the call?

What’s muting your response?

This really cuts down on blame and resentment and opens up a lot more love. Allow alliances to reshuffle at will. Leave the gate open and give everyone ample room to go, including you.

Move when you are moved. Step into the heart of things without fear. Take another breath and then another step. Slow. Get out of the stroller and walk on your own two miraculous feet. You are not a baby. Feel each foot bone meet the floor in slow and perfect order.

Stand at this point of space and time wholeheartedly.

Let every shadow pass from your heart.

Let your little light shine until it’s not so little.

Everything is fresh and new.

Boundaries and Belonging is tomorrow morning at 10am. DM to join.

Attachment Belonging Blame Boundaries Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Relationships Resentment Self-Compassion You Deserve Gentleness

Holding a Boundary Through Loss

Breakup suffering came from:

1. Wanting my partner to be different.

2. Fear of loss

3. All the things I made it mean about myself. (A solid break out of self-compassion and into self-centeredness)

4. Fear of uncertainty. The chasm that loss opens.

5. The visceral loss of one body to another.

These are all the same sources of suffering that keep people from holding boundaries, holding your sovereign self. The threat of loss is very real. Self-abandonment leaves deeper scars. I owe it to myself to be absolutely authentic so I know who belongs with me and who does not.

It turns out that the man I had been in a relationship with for the past year does not.

The grief happened when the loss became clear.

The suffering happened when I wanted it to be different.

There’s an important nuance within grief around suffering. How much am I going to resist? Resistance is the measure of my suffering.

There is no loss of love. Love, like all energy, is never lost. Untethered, it finds a new gradient. My love for him ran deep. The boundary had matching roots. Right in my own field.

I didn’t abandon myself. I held the boundary and I kept my skin intact. This meant stepping away from the relationship. There’s so much love in that, too. I guess that self-compassion practice is going pretty well after all. I can eat the blame, and with it cleared from the field, take a good look around. Where is the love and innocence here? I know it must be here somewhere. I’ll back up until I can see it again.

When that backward step is the next right action, it’s clear.

When I found out he lied again, I went for a walk. I was shaking like a dog, let go let go let go. The thunderbolt ran up my midline and made my legs shake. Shake it off. It wasn’t the down-drop of a lead cloak, the way a trauma response pulls me, though I had plenty of that with him too. What’s current feels like a current. The clarity could no longer be denied.

What am I willing to know?

How much am I willing to suffer for this preference?

If I can ask myself these questions, I can be responsible for my choices.

For awhile there, I was willing to suffer for this preference. There was rich soil there and an essential seed. If I left too soon I would have missed it. I had to find out the difference between a trauma response and the “no” happening in my body right now. I honed that with him. I couldn’t have honed it without him. I thought I had. I hadn’t. The stakes were too low alone. There are places we can only touch in love with another.

I can love him as he is, from back here, back home. I’m not interested in extracting anything from the people I love. What’s not freely given is not mine to have.

Once it became clear what was being given freely and what was not, I had to make a choice. Am I okay with this? Am I being an entitled brat asking for what is not being given freely, or is this a place for a boundary? I had to sit long and soft with that, until I didn’t.

Because it hurts, we still ate pizza and slept in the same bed one last time. I left in the morning after a hug that had all the tender distance of a last hug.

Why do I share this with you? Because when I say fuck suffering, I don’t mean avoid it. I mean let it all the way in. Let it make a fucking mess. Clean up after it, it’s your toddler. You are responsible for it. I cleaned up as best I could. I drank the tea he made. I swept the kitchen floor. I left.

Boundaries aren’t toys. If you can’t hold them, don’t set them. It might take a couple of tries to really honor them, but if you keep setting a boundary without holding it, it’s manipulation, not love for yourself or anyone else. Boundaries aren’t for changing someone else’s behavior or landing a hook. They’re not a rejection, they’re protection. They’re a f*ck yes to trust.

They emerge from everything I know of myself and the world in this moment and allow me to restore intimacy with everything I don’t.

Is this situation incongruent with that knowing?

Is this situation repeatedly incongruent with that knowing?

Yes? Then it’s time to step away, back into the intimacy of not-knowing.

When I trust myself, holding a boundary through loss doesn’t have to be hard. It can be very very soft.

It doesn’t make it hurt less, but it does let it hurt shorter.

I’m holding a one-day Boundaries and Belonging practice session on 2/26, while it’s fresh. DM for details.

May be an image of 1 person and outdoors
Attachment Belonging Blame Boundaries Confidence Ecology Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Metabolizing Ordinary Joy Relationships Resentment Self-Compassion You Deserve Gentleness

Blame, Boundaries, and Belonging

When I blame someone, I get curious:

1. Was I asking someone to love a part of me that I don’t?

2. Was I afraid that if I held a boundary and didn’t abandon myself that there would be loss?

3. Am I seeing the situation as “abandon yourself or be abandoned”?

That’s one of the more painful false dichotomies, over time.

If I’m pushing blame around on my plate, I’ve moved out of compassion.

If I’m self-abandoning instead of holding a boundary, I’ve moved out of self-compassion, which is the prerequisite for sincere compassionate action toward others.

If I’m blaming anyone for anything (including in the public sphere—try it!) I’ve left my fundamental trust in all-that-is behind. I’ve forgotten (just for a moment!) that I’m held by life itself, that we all are.

I’ve forgotten that clinging and aversion are the root of suffering. Pain is inevitable and suffering is a choice.

I can return to being held at any time, just like Dorothy only ever had to click her heels.

Eating the blame is not taking the blame. The first metabolizes, it nourishes if I take it all the way in and let it break down into its rich components in my very own belly.

Taking the blame is holding and hoarding and cultivating it, allowing the atonal hum of resentment to reverberate through every part of my field.

That’s not such a great option.

If my field is full of resentment, there’s no place for love to grow. I have to do some weeding. Dandelions too, are nutritious.

Every emptying leads to a filling, even if I can’t see it yet. The tide comes in. The tide goes out. Twice a day. Invisible forces made visible.

The tides teach me to trust what I can’t see. They trust me to metabolize blame, wherever I see it. The less I try to do this, the better. I can stand very still in the sand and listen to what I can’t see, be moved by what I don’t entirely understand.

When the tide goes out, all manner of life is revealed on the shore.

Want to practice this with me? Msg me to join the Fuck Suffering group, next one starts 2/15.

Attachment Blame Boundaries Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Relationships Resentment Self-Compassion You Deserve Gentleness

Truth and Consequences

When do I suffer? When I want things or people to be different than they are.

There’s been a lot of suffering around here lately. I’ve been continuously f*cked open by it. Grief has opened me wider and rage has made sure to clear the field with its holy fire.

Recently, I’ve been feeling like someone I love has been doing everything possible to avoid intimacy, jumping from one distraction to the next in search of numbness. There’s been proximity, but that is no substitute for intimacy. Really, proximity without intimacy is one of the loneliest situations. And a reliable generator of anxiety—which is a vivid call to action.  

When I stop trying to control and start being honest (starting with myself), everything becomes easier. When I let people’s positions be in alignment with their character, everything becomes easier. When I stop asking people to be what they’re not, gentleness replaces resentment. Sometimes it takes awhile to really see someone’s character, especially if they’re fundamentally good, just not very good for me.

After commenting on one of the brilliant Hannah Taylor’s posts, she reached out to ask a little more about my comment. I told her a little more and she said, “It seems like the part of you that wants to know is in conflict with the part of you that doesn’t want to know.”

I decided to let the part of me that wanted to know win. And, as is so often the case in these situations, I learned that the part of me that didn’t want to know was protecting me, like any reliable trauma response. Getting stabbed in the heart again in that same way that I was 7 months ago wasn’t fun. But it was true. I needed to know how I was valued (not much!). I needed to know that the man I loved was more interested in the validation and ongoing attention of other women than being honest with me or anyone else, including himself.

A little openness, or willingness to take responsibility for hurt caused would have gone a long way in this situation. It would have gone just about all the way, really. I have nothing but respect for eating the blame. Once eaten, it’s cleared from the plate and things can be seen clearly. Another great thing about eating the blame is that it becomes pretty clear in time if you’re the only one eating.

Jeanette Winterson once wrote, “What you risk reveals what you value.” This sentence landed deep from the first time I read it over 20 years ago. I didn’t really understand it at first, but it has grown in me like a koan these many years.

Painful decisions get easier the more painful they become. Pain is a signal that something is out of alignment. Or that some hard thing has hit your soft tissue, even down to the bone. Pain has a way of making the risk inherent in change more welcome. Could my next compassionate action result in less pain and suffering? Can I let this pain move me instead of needing it to be different? Can I thank it for being just as it is and alerting me to this lack of alignment instead of complaining about it? Not that there’s anything wrong with complaining, if you know how much it costs.

The risk of walking away, away from pain and numbness, into uncertainty, reveals what I value. What am I prepared to sacrifice for those values? Comfort? I’m always ready to sacrifice comfort for my deepest values.

And what are they?

Responsibility, practice, compassion (and that starts with self-compassion), intimacy, honesty, love, and humor. I find the other good stuff, like trust, emerges pretty easily from those and not without them. The gifts those values provide are something more abiding than comfort, though they often bring that too. Not the kind of comfort that requires my control of all manner of nouns, but the kind of equanimous ease that comes from looking at exactly what is, just as it is, without needing it to be different. Even when my preferences are something very different indeed.

Let me say it again: Needing things to be different is the root of all suffering.

Just noticing when where I am and what is in that spot with me is not nourishing, leads me to the next right action, eventually–comfortable or not. What I risk reveals what I value. The bigger the risk, the more clarity I get on the depth of the value. Each time I am required to shed my preferences in order to complete the next right action, my values root deeper in me, and my character grows.

The rage subsides once it has done its clarifying job, and I eat the blame again, gratefully nourished. I was hungry after all that rage! It lit the whole field!

As I unbutton my pants and lay back on the couch (so full!) I have time to ask myself–Why did I continue to chose this situation after the first few times I was shown how little I was valued? Why did I instead beg to be valued? There’s still a tiny battered old part of me that I thought I’d held and loved so well that it had scampered off. A part that still believed begging for love and honesty was how to communicate desire, instead of choosing to be in relationship with people who emerge from love and honesty and can’t help but give it freely. It’s an old way of being loved and protected on someone else’s terms, based on scarcity. It turned out I had one more ride on that drama carousel left.

Healing is not a game we win, but a game we get to keep playing, always on a new and deeper level. Love is same same. So much of healing is how willing we are to emerge from love within this fluxy and uncertain world, in the matching field of this body.

I have ended my relationship with scarcity. If it comes for tea, we’ll have tea, but it definitely can’t stay over. We’re just not compatible. Scarcity struggles to grow, for obvious reasons. I see it for the hungry ghost it is–gaping mouth, pinched throat, muffled heart, insatiable belly–unable to be nourished. I can bake scones all day for hungry ghosts, but they have to remember how to eat. And my scones are even more delicious than blame.

Attachment Belonging Blame Confidence Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Metabolizing Self-Compassion

How to be an Asshole

Assholes really get a bad rap. Calling an inconsiderate human an asshole is akin to calling a weak person a pussy. The negative connotations are out of keeping with the organ’s essential power. Agile sphincters sustain life. Assholes are very considerate.

Your asshole navigates brilliantly around your sense of inconvenience. It syncs up with social norms and meal times and aligns your metabolism with the particulars of life–barring any obvious metabolic overload, like poisoning.

What if you let your body’s wisdom guide all of your actions like this, if you allowed your whole body to run your psychospiritual metabolism much in the same way your asshole is a portal for your physical metabolism?

Noticing when the “yes, now” emerges in your body before you take action can be a knowing as deep and clear as when it’s time to poop.

When the action is complete, that is also clear. Your asshole knows. Your asshole lets you know. You are your asshole and it is not you. It knows how to stay out of its own way. That’s its whole purpose. To allow everything to move through without obstruction. How are you doing with that?

You can trust your asshole. You’ve been doing it your whole life, with minimal thought. Thought just interferes. You can also trust life. The preferential mind largely interferes here, too.

Once your mind’s preferences and old patterns are heard for what they are–historical noise, or a little recreational future-fucking–you trade what you wish to be or what used to be for what actually is. Just stay with the moment it takes for this one essential action.

Let go of the big picture, for just this moment, and honor the physical finale of nourishment. Do you really need distraction, even on the throne? How does it feel to let that go and just allow this one simple action? Can you open to the moment long enough to honor the mastery of your asshole?

It’s a deep skill to know when to open and when to close. A fit psychospiritual sphincter is one of the finer fruits of practice.

Sometimes when you are in relationship with someone (yourself?) whose primary impulse is to close when feeling anything, a person with painful psychospiritual constipation and bloating, you might think that if you try to open more–if you force yourself to open wider and refuse to close–they will see this and receive you with a similar aperture. I like where you’re going with that, but forcing isn’t allowing. You’ll probably tear something, hurt yourself. This is at the core of much anxious attachment–this relentless, unreceived opening.

Opening to surrender is not collapse. I think this bears repeating, as I’ve often said that opening when you want to close invites intimacy. Opening to surrender is not collapse. Don’t land like a soft turd in someone’s lap and expect them to sculpt something.

There is an important nuance between opening when you (little you, full of preferences) want to close (out of pattern, habit, old story) and when Big Surrendered You understands it’s time to step back behind a boundary. Not to hide, but to reconfigure your skin. If you continue to hold yourself open where there is no one to receive you, you invite collapse. You make a mess. Can you feel in your body how to close without clenching? This is the kind of thing your asshole knows. This is the pinnacle of asshole wisdom.

A good psychospiritual sphincter is a prerequisite for freedom. We need our collective assholes to be fully elastic. Each of our sphincters are so skillful at knowing when to open and when to close that we only notice them when their wisdom is inconvenient, when we prefer something else–different timing, different place. You can try to force things, but at the end of the day, we’re all on asshole time. This is great, because they’re always making room for what is, right here, right now. All your shit. They don’t even blame you putting it there. They understand that able metabolization is the fruit of practice.

There is so much to learn from assholes.

Belonging Blame Boundaries Ecology Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Metabolizing Oracle of Emergence: An Evolutionary I Ching Ordinary Joy Self-Compassion The Feminine You Deserve Gentleness

Balance is Bullshit

By the time you’re feeling in balance, you’re already ripening into something else. Like the tempered bullshit I spread out all over my garden, both balance and bullshit are always already giving way to new growth.

Balance is of the moment. When it arrives, I love it. When it departs, I love it.

Balance emerges from the reversals, like you.

My capacity to welcome and metabolize whatever comes, to absorb what nourishes and shit out the rest, is my lifetime practice.

Arrogance Belonging Blame Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Relationships Resentment Self-Compassion You Deserve Gentleness

Orgasms Ruin Everything

Well, sort of.

Orgasm is the annihilating wave. The very present absence. A glimpse of boundless emptiness. I mean, it’s the goal, right? Tick the box, we came! How could it possibly be ruining your erotic life?

Orgasm is driven by the primal urge to connect and, for just a moment, to experience the obliterating freedom of a dissolved body and an empty mind before landing back into ourselves with a thud.

I mean, that feels good. But Consider all the blame that gets tossed about when someone doesn’t “give” you an orgasm. Or when you didn’t “get” off. Or when you reach for that vibrator because you didn’t “finish”. Finish what tho? Feeling alive?

If there’s no orgasm, how will you know when you’ve completed the transaction? How many times did you have sex? Without orgasm, how can you keep count? Did you go down on me after I went down on you this time? Was it good enough to get me off? Quid pro quo, baby! Is that on the spreadsheet? Have we hit all our deliverables for Q2? It says I have 30 minutes of head credit, payable within 30 days. Did you want to pay that off now, or wait till my period is over?

No one can give you what you’re not willing to receive and this transactional approach to sex is destructive to intimacy.

Orgasm is like freedom. It’s not given or taken—we allow it or we don’t.

Orgasm is an emergent property. When it’s allowed to be that, instead of a goal, it runs the full range and moves in multiple dimensions like the state of being it is.

Orgasm has become commodified. We even have machines to extract it, like the natural resource it is. We not only have tools and toys, but computers and phones that can deliver porn at the stroke of a key. We can get it ourselves, thank you very much, and the more we do, the more a partner can feel like an impediment to the goal rather than the heart of erotic exploration. When we know exactly how we like it, and want it only just like that, curiosity is lost. When curiosity is lost, so is intimacy.

I was a gung-ho celebrant of the turn of the century toy-positive revolution until I got so numb thanks to my Rabbit Habit that only industrial strength stimulation would do. It was no different from any other addiction. A quick hit of orgasm to release the tension of one too many cups of coffee. Another during a commercial break. Another pre-nap. The vibrator is an efficient tool.

I had completely decontextualized orgasm from intimacy.

The more I machine-extracted high sensation from my body, the less inclined I was to learn how to build my nervous system capacity to move with goalless eros. I didn’t even consider it was possible to swell full without trying to scramble out of the stream. To live on the plateau without needing to jump off.

 If I was feeling too much, I could just release it with an instant orgasm. I could keep all my insecurities intact. I could keep a shitty relationship to my body. I didn’t need to be seen to come. There was no vulnerability required. I was a greedy little orgasm hoarder.

When it came time to share, I was numb. My pussy lost all sense of subtlety. I was all clit no womb. Eros no longer permeated my whole body, but was reduced to the push of a button.

With commodification, comes entitlement. I was full of blame. “You didn’t give me the thing! I deserve the thing!”

I didn’t think twice about pulling the Rabbit vibe from the nightstand drawer and giving myself what he couldn’t. I didn’t give much consideration to how this was received as I wasn’t very receptive. “If you can’t do it, I can. So there.”

A giant wallop of, “I don’t need you” with a side of “you failed.”

And yet I saw this as empowerment, not insult. I didn’t see it as the numbing of my heart following the numbing of my clit. I saw it as righteous.

These days, I would say it’s a good example of ultra-independence as a trauma response.

Pulling for orgasm means I assume I’m separate from it. That it’s “out there” to be grabbed at like a brass ring rather than a state of being always available to me.

Eros requires no resolution.

The ecology of erotic emergence defies resolution.

 It just is, fully alive.

Always available for your wet, open participation, it’s in the bedroom, the lake, the forest, and the supermarket. You’re participating in it, even when you’re turning away. When you surrender to it, you realize you are it. There’s nothing to grab at and nothing to resolve.

What if we develop the capacity to embody eros? What if “finishing” dulls our radiance? What if interpenetration were a state of being rather than a bound encounter? What if hearing a bee and smelling the sea were received as intimate touch?

What if, instead of the goal-oriented pursuit of getting off, we stayed turned on and on and on?

Attachment Belonging Blame Boundaries Ecology Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Relationships Resentment Self-Compassion The Drama Triangle You Deserve Gentleness


Setting and holding boundaries is the most essential form of self-care.

“No, thank you,” and “I’m not available for that,” Are great boundary-setting phrases for low stakes, baby step scenarios. Practice saying them out loud until they fall out of your mouth effortlessly. Now sing them. Doesn’t that feel good? Do it again, so everyone can hear you.

Boundaries are not for controlling anyone else’s behavior. Boundaries are for letting someone else know the parameters of your skin and that they will not be allowed to get under it. Boundaries aren’t walls, they’re a statement of skin. You don’t confuse skin and walls irl, do you? Only one of them is rather nice to bang your head against.

We are all interdependent and reliant on connection. People pleasing and other forms of seeking external validation are not connection, though that mistake is common as greed.

Boundaries beget belonging.

Does that sound counterintuitive?  

They enable us to approach all manner of situations with fearless intimacy, because we trust ourselves. Your ability to set boundaries is your ability to have your own back. To not abandon yourself. You’re not waiting to be rescued. You understand that safety’s overrated anyway. You are willing to be fully alive.

Once you consent to that risky business you realize that you’ve been part of the whole wide world all along. You open to the breeze on your skin. You taste the mushroom. You make like a blade of grass, inseparable.

Boundaries are your emotional immune system. They protect you from foreign bodies that would invade your system, deplete vitality, and make you ill.

Boundaries are your interface with the world, not your interference with it. Fence your field well, keep the fucking litterbugs out, and lovelier people will appear at the gate. That sounds magical because it is.

Boundaries aren’t just given by us, they also need to be received by us. Part of boundary mastery is taking in and respecting someone else’s “no”. This can be especially tricky for people who like to rescue—they are sure they know better. Saying no can feel threatening, bringing up all manner of fears around confrontation.

What if they don’t like you anymore?

What if they think you’re a terrible selfish asshole?

If you need someone to tell you you’re a good person, they’ll manipulate you for as long as you let them.

Be prepared for loss. The upside is that it won’t be a loss of self. There is no greater pain over time than the pain of self-abandonment. However, when you start setting and holding boundaries, you will probably lose people. You will see who was only interested in your yes. It can still be hard to lose them. There will be grief that will have to be met with a soft front and a strong back. Let grief do it’s dissolutions until there is nothing left of you but human being.

Some people will just need to step back and squint so they can see you fresh, get a good look at where you’re standing now. Some people will walk away and find themselves a new supply of validation. Some people will keep violating until they feel consequences. Some people will be so happy for you, that they will relish your ‘no’ as they have been loving you and waiting for you to stand up straight for years now.

If you’re offering love where it can’t or won’t be received, keep taking steps backwards until you are where love can be received. You might find yourself in a stand of birches. Just be there.

Boundaries have no force in them at all and they hold a lot of power. If you go to set a boundary with someone and you feel resentment, pity, anger, contempt, or even glee or any other high energy state, you’re not in a place to set a boundary. Boundaries are best communicated from a grounded place of clarity and connection. De-escalate your charged state through the body using a much longer exhale than inhale for as long as needed so you can state your boundary cleanly while staying calm and connected.

You know what’s hard? Holding boundaries with your own preferential thoughts and habits. It takes a lot of skill to set and hold boundaries between your Big Essential Self and your little egoic self and be responsible for enforcing and accepting those consequences.

How do you notice a boundary violation (usually a preference—“BUT I WANNA!”) from your little egoic self against the truth of your Big Essential Sefl?

The body discerns the difference.

Always go back to the body.

A habitual trauma response will pass and shift as you welcome and stay present with it. After all, it’s not happening now. It’s an energetic relic.

A summoning by your life force will persist.

If you have a tendency to self-abandon, there might be flushes of anger as you start to set boundaries. You will begin to see how much of your life you have squandered trying to be “good” and appease people so they will tell you you are “good”.

If you have a tendency to self-abandon, find where you like it. Be brutally honest with yourself about the charge you get. Do you get a thrill in being relieved of responsibility for yourself?

Is it a bit of a self-annihilating kink for you?

Does being held down in your own shadow feel like release?

Are you more habituated to this thrill than holding a boundary?

This work is not all love and light. That’s a pretty good baseline, but first we have jungle to excavate. There’s untold treasure there. The treasure you were born with.

Belonging Blame Boundaries Confidence Embodiment Emotional Sobriety Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Metabolizing Relationships Resentment Self-Compassion Self-Righteousness The Drama Triangle You Deserve Gentleness

Eat the Blame

I was talking about eating the blame recently and somebody said it’s a disempowering suggestion, and as someone who’s been in abusive relationships amid assorted other traumas, I should know better. That it’s self-gaslighting and victim-blaming and harmful.


Eating the blame is an act of trust, courage, and self-compassion.

The disempowered position is pushing the blame around on your plate like a picky toddler. There’s nothing more powerful than having a metabolism strong enough to devour blame, to trust your system to absorb what nourishes and shit out the rest. No matter what it looks like on the plate.

“It’s my fault. Give it to me. I’ll eat it.”

(You get clear on what you’re confronting if they don’t want to give you the plate. Eat it anyway.)

Eating the blame tastes like potato chips and freedom. Certain bites are burnt and bitter, but once you get just one good taste it’s really hard to not eat the whole bag. Go ahead, it’s good for you!

Once it’s in my mouth, my body, It’s up to me to take it all the way in without resistance so it can become medicine, nourishment. Even if it’s not my preferred flavor. Even if it initially makes me nauseous.

Blame is poison, so eating the blame may cause you to shit your brains out. It may cause you to throw up. It could cause you to die. All the better for your rebirth.

When you freely eat the blame, you might find people who would like to blame you for eating the blame.

“Wait! What did you do? I was saving that for later! You weren’t supposed to eat that! I wasn’t finished with the presentation! I had five other ideas on how to garnish it! Now I have nothing to give you!”

Eat that amuse bouche too.

“Oh shit! I’m sorry I ate your blame. It sounds like you’re already cooking up more! I have to go now, but if you would like me to come over later, I would be happy to eat more of your scrumptious blame. You really took time with it! Is it fermented? It has a fermented tang to it. Good for the guts! Thank you for this delicious meal!”

What is the blame garnisher to do? I mean, you keep eating it before they’ve garnished it better! You’re a terrible guest! Burp vigorously and take your leave. That was some hearty blame!

Are you worried that you’re allergic to eating the blame? Like peanuts or shellfish? Great. Pull up an Epipen and let’s see if that’s true. Let your pulse drop and your skin tingle. Feel the unbearable itch. Have you almost gone into shock? Is your throat closing like a hungry ghost? Breathe. Move through this reaction and let it teach you that nothing is unbearable, even ego death.

“Unbearable” is the sensation of something new displacing the old. Unbearable is your clench on the old. Eating the crusty old blame is very bearable when you unclench your jaw and chew well and let it slide down your gullet. Feel it being broken down by your metabolism. Listen to your symphonic digestion. Devour and be devoured, fearlessly.

If you are sure that it is not your fault and the blame is not yours to eat–that you could take some responsibility, but not eat the blame, consider this:  Are you still coming from a frame where gaslighting and victim-blaming are possible? Does your ego think of them as comfort food? Would you rather eat them than the blame? Then you’re still spinning around on the drama carousel, offering people a ticket to your ride when you could be offering them nourishment. This ride might be thrilling. It might feel safe in its familiarity, but it’s a toxic squandering of your life force. You can’t be gaslit if you trust yourself. You can’t use victimhood as both sword and shield unless you hold the false view of a world separated out into victim hierarchies.

If you eat the blame while riding the drama carousel, it’s guaranteed to make you throw up. Good. Eat it anyway. All that mess is a good signal for someone stop the ride, probably you.

Go ahead and lose your lunch. Go ahead and lose your identity. Go ahead and lose your mind. You thought that was you? No problem. Give it time. You won’t miss it. You don’t know who you are anymore? Does reality seem askew? Are you shuddering when it’s warm? Are you not sure what’s real? Perfect.

Is the blame not sitting well in your tummy? Did it numb you out? Feel like you’re dead inside? Great. Honor your dead and dying, within and without. Give them the ceremony they so deeply deserve. Purge. Grief is your mother. Rage is your father. Mother Being, Father Doing. All life emerges from their interpenetration. They merge and you emerge, pushed out between the world’s wet thighs. You are their offspring.

Now you’re being reborn, emerging from the womb of all that is, all the time. You’re well-fed and ready for some joyful adulting. This is the medicine of eating the blame.

Mother, father, trauma, anxiety, depression, rage, resentment, history, job, genes, fears, stories, joys, lust, pleasure, sloth, envy, gluttony, greed. They’re the ingredients of your life, transformed in the cauldron of your belly. So who are you now? In this moment? What is yours to do today? What’s for dinner? You know this. Do you want to? What do you do to not know this?

How hard to you have to wrench your neck to turn away from what’s inside you?

How does your tuning away ripple out?

Do you understand how powerful it is to have an emotional metabolism that can eat the blame anytime, anywhere, from anyone? Do you realize how powerful it is to get on your knees and open your mouth for the sacrament of one body?  I grew up doing this in the Catholic church, but only now do I embody it. Only now do I understand the transformed body of Christ I fed on as a child is every bite of food I take, including blame.

The soil, the body, the spirit. Specific, but not separate. Many hands, many eyes; one body, no mind. Get on your knees and eat the blame like the sacrament it is.

When you freely eat the blame:

  1.  You acknowledge your role as co-creator of your experience.
  2. You acknowledge that you have everything you need.
  3. You acknowledge that you are shaping this moment, right now and that your metabolism requires no external safety. Your metabolism IS your safety.
  4. You meet suffering like a lover.
  5. You acknowledge your capacity to devour and be devoured.
  6. You acknowledge that you are already always fed.
  7. You are not a hungry ghost.
  8. You are a human being.
  9. You are free.
  10. You embody the full flavorful range of compassion. The bitter and the sweet. The unctuous and the astringent.
  11. You become capable of wholehearted service.

Bon appétit!

Arrogance Belonging Blame Boundaries Embodiment Emotional Sobriety Freedom Intimacy Love Metabolizing Ordinary Joy Relationships Resentment Self-Compassion Self-Righteousness The Drama Triangle You Deserve Gentleness

The Day I Got Sober

The day I got sober, the only thing I was capable of being honest about was that I wanted to live. Or at least I felt certain that I no longer wanted to die.

So much of me had died already. Repeatedly.
I didn’t know who would emerge from all that empty space.
I had no trust yet.
I needed a midwife.
Maybe a squad.

I didn’t know then that emergence is constant and surrender is joy.

I just knew I wanted another shot at being human. It wasn’t cheap. It cost grief. I had a seemingly endless supply of this resource.

A couple of weeks before I got sober, I’d been dumped on Valentine’s Day by the first man I opened myself to after being raped. He was a marine biologist who studied whale songs and everything about him felt vast. When he broke up with me he said, “You take me to a different place. I can’t live there.”

Honest. More honest than I was. That place was fueled by alcohol.

I, too, was in a place I’d never been before, literally and figuratively. I’d landed in Maine because it was the end of America. There was nowhere left to run.

Maine felt like a mother. I recognized her immediately. She felt like a place I’d dreamed of as a little girl. The birch forests, the sea, the soft, ancient mountains. I felt held and primordially welcomed.

My last drunk night, I was out dancing like someone who actually needed an exorcism. The bartender cut me off.

I’d never been pulled over after drinking before. I still had out of state plates on my car and I imagine the cops thought, “What poor deluded soul visits Maine in March?” and took pity on me. The cop testing me said, “I don’t think you’re impaired, but I think you’re on the edge. Go right home.” He was wrong and right. I didn’t know how to do the last bit, but went back to the lakeside cottage I’d rented.

I got help the next morning. I took my seat with last night’s stamp still on my shaking hand.

I was willing. I was willing. I was willing.

I was willing to fully surrender to whatever arrived.

I was willing to be witnessed. I was willing to be responsible for everything I’d ever done, everything I’d ever been, everything I was becoming.

A $12/hr gardening job? Yes. Changed my life. It literally brought me to my knees. I was stubborn enough to require this. I spent 40 hrs a week on all fours on the ground and had barely enough to pay rent. I worked at the estates of extraordinarily wealthy people. I spent my days crawling around in the chasm between rich and poor. It really robbed me of my capacity to dismiss anyone. Which was kind of a bummer. I wasn’t able to participate in all the invigorating toxic dehumanization available on social media these past few years. I’ve always loved a good fight. You can take the girl out of Philly, but…

When I was sober a year, someone said to me, “Every time I saw you you were either bawling your eyes out or pissed off at the world.” This was true. When I talk now about eradicating victim consciousness, I’m speaking from experience. I’m speaking from the other side.

I see victim consciousness as one of the most destructive frames in ourselves and in the world. It brings on a catastrophic abdication of responsibility and slops blame around in ways that obscure the path forward. Victim consciousness can only be eradicated by compassion. Having trauma tenderly witnessed by a compassionate person guided me to self-compassion. Once I could feel that within myself, I was able to grow it.

Did I have one last abusive relationship in me? You bet. That thing people say about not dating in your first year of sobriety? That shit is real. I did it anyway. Found somebody I could ‘help’ so I could feel better about myself. The more I healed, the more he resented me. The more he resented me, the more violent his rage became. I stayed. If only I softened more, maybe he would stop throwing things at me. I wouldn’t have to change anything and I could somehow still believe I was being “helpful” and “kind” and “good”. It’s the rescuer position at its most toxic. An easy swing to victim. And the drama never ends.

As I got deeper into sobriety and took responsibility for my role in the dynamic, firm boundaries were established and held, and nobody hated each other anymore. We obviously didn’t stay together, but there was forgiveness all around.

There is no victim-blaming in eradicating victim consciousness. There is the cultivation of self-compassion. Hand-digging a well of self-compassion so deep and clear and self-replenishing that anyone can come and drink from it. Even “enemies.”

Water is patient.

If you feel I’m victim-blaming, consider if there’s not something else rumbling under the calcified story you tell yourself about yourself. Your own thundering life force, maybe. Crack open a slot through which you can receive the invitation to grow up.

Freedom comes from an embodied, wholehearted, devoted, felt sense of responsibility to clarify and amplify the particular note I have been given to sing in this magnificent choir.

I am not special.
And my presence is required.

Emotional sobriety lands me in the juicy middle of these poles.
Not knowing.
Bearing witness.

What is unfolding right now?
Right now.
This breath.

The dancer is danced.
The singer is sung.
The bee just keeps tumbling in roses.
Somehow, there are hexagons and honey.