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  • The All Feeling Tyranny of the Wounded Inner Child

    Have you ever heard of the concept that, “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with?” This idea suggests that we are highly influenced by the energy of the humans we surround ourselves with. By simply spending ample time with people, we cannot escape their impact on our psychology, decisions, and sense of self-worth. So choose those creatures wisely because if you find yourself hanging around a bunch of dick weeds, chances are you’ll be overgrown by testicular crab grass in no time.

    Now here is my problem. I am emotionally dead inside. Wait, no… that was my auto correct. What I meant to say is that I suppress my emotions deep in my colon, brewing up cancer by the minute. Shit. I didn’t mean that either. Okay here we go. I have been working hard over the years to learn to internalize my emotional reactions to life rather than externalize them out in the world. Yeah that’s it!

    One of my main goals in life is to avoid taking my emotions out on others. I try hard to figure out what is actually going on with me, and maintain caution about how and when I share negative emotions. If I feel the need to bitch, I try to remember to predicate that conversation with, “hey, do you mind if I vent for the next 20 minutes in monologue format about some shit bag email I just got?” I have come to learn how to identify that very specific rage that swells inside of me when PMS-ing, and do my best to surrender to the merciless reality that Quentin Tarentino is about to film his next movie in my underpants.

    Yet the irony of my quest to be in control of my emotions is that I tend to attract hyper emotional people in my life. I always have. The five people I surround myself are super interesting, insightful, creative, intuitive, mystical, and EMOTIONAL AS FUCK! I wonder if that is because their feelings helps keep me connected to my own humanity? By being an observer of more emotional humans, I in turn connect to the collective emotional spectrum of the world. My love for others forces me to face the power of emotions.

    My emotions are pretty damn boring and are almost exclusively about work. I have feelings about how many likes a video gets, if anyone cares about my blog, a rejection from something I applied to, or you know, the existential angst I wake up with every morning if anything I do has any meaning at all. THE USUAL. I am obsessed with work, so my exposure to people that think and care about other things is important. When I sit with someone I care about crying over a break up it reminds me, “Hey Toni, you had a heart once too. Connect to it!”

    I have a friend who’s going through addiction issues right now and in order for me to be there for her, I have to tap into the part of myself that was once that desperate. The Toni that also has felt the need to escape into anything that would distract me from who I was. The part of me that was self-destructive and full of confused emotions. Even if I’ve never been an “addict” as society defines it, I still know the power of addiction. I’ve hid behind obsessive love for a person, drugs, sex, TV, iPhones, social media etc… to dull the crushing pain I was not ready to face. There is a piece of our psyches we all have that brings us to do things we know are bad for us, yet we do anyway to feel a momentary sense of relief. What I’ve come to understand is that this impetus often is rooted in the unresolved traumas of our childhood.

    I think the true battle of the human condition is that your wounded inner child is a broken adult.

    Most shitty things that you do, or that other people do to you, are a consequence that dates back to some pain initiated in childhood. Being a kid is such a deeply vulnerable experience. You are 100% dependent on adults for your safety, livelihood, and knowledge base. Yet because most grown ups are also battling the traumas of their childhoods, they don’t always make the best decisions. So this cycle is created of grown ups that haven’t fully healed their inner wounded child, unconsciously emotionally wounding a child. That wounded child then grows up and lives inside an adult who then will wound another child – long into eternity. Or just the next 4 years because we’re all going to die before Trump is out of office.

    So let’s talk about our wounded inner child, because they are fucking real.

    Here is what I think. We have to both unconditionally love our inner child, and discipline them.

    The love part is the part I think is talked about most. Your inner child was an innocent creature that was tormented by the harsh realities of life. It did not know how to process the pain that was put before them, and therefor is still in a state of trauma from that experience. These deep primal wounds take many forms. You may have felt abandoned because of a divorce, or a parent dying. Or you may have felt invisible if your parent was depressed or always working. You could have been beaten, raped, emotionally abused… a ton of horrible shit happens to kids, and that suffering will impact their adult lives. Whatever happened to you that caused the deepest pain in your soul will usually resurfaces every time you are emotionally out of control. Most of the things you regret doing are in direct correlation to your inner child still trying to process what they’ve gone through. Yet once you’ve calmed down from these outbursts and ask yourself, “hmmmmm why did I break all the windows of my lovers car again??” it’s probably because your inner child was hurting from pain not only from the present moment, but also the past.

    Your inner child needs healing, attention, compassion, and empathy. BUT… just like an actual child, they also need discipline, boundaries, and rules. You should never ignore your inner child, but you also can’t let them take over. Your inner child needs to be reasonable, and it’s you who has to teach them that.

    I’ve been a parent for 7 years, and the one thing that I can say for sure is that kids respond to clear boundaries. The Munch’s friend had a birthday party last year where the parents had organized some guy and do archery with the kids. Now this may come as a surprise to you, but a dude that gives 6-year olds REAL BOW AND ARROWS TO SHOOT is going to be pretty fucking strict and rule oriented. As we parents were watching our children prepare for the Hunger Games, we noticed that the archery man was stern as fuck. He was running that party as if it was a totalitarian regime – but it was for THEIR safety. From the grown up perspective the guy kind of seemed like an uptight asshole, but all the kids responded to him really positively. They had NO PROBLEM with him. The Munch didn’t think he was Maoist, and said he was really nice. His clear boundaries weren’t offensive to her, and actually made her feel safe.

    We have to be like this archery man to our inner child! Discipline will help our adult selves not be taken over by the all feeling tyranny of the wounded child. Allowing space for our inner child to heal does not mean enabling them to tantrum and ruin your life. How you parent your inner wounded child will determine your adult life. Your inner child can be a real brat if you don’t’ give them boundaries. Your inner child can make horrible decisions, because your inner child is still a child! You wouldn’t let your kid go on a coke fueled bender fucking strangers without condoms and catching HPV, so why let your inner kid? Your inner child can and should be heard, but you also can say “no” to them. So every time your inner child is out of control tell them, “You are no longer a child alone in the world. Your grown up self is taking care of you now, so chill, or I’m giving you a time out.”

    I gots to keep inner child Toni in check! And what is she doing drinking coffee??

  • The Universe Hates Me

    “At first I was like, sooooo not sure if I should take a job as a Barista when looking at the sign that read, ‘Barista’s wanted.’ But then I was like, wait, that sign is totally a sign from the universe!”
    –Girl in Front of Me While In Line For A Smoothie.

    Have you ever heard a girl talking about signs from the universe and think that it’s a sign from the universe? Do you find yourself desperately seeking guidance from some unknown force, pushing you towards making the decision if Pat is “the one” even though Pat doesn’t give oral with vigor? Are you currently wondering if you should move, and then notice a robin outside your window and think, “wow, in 8th grade I had a friend named Robin whose family moved because her house got infested by termites – so yeah, I absolutely should move and start eating wood.”

    SO DO I!!!

    I like to think the universe is talking to me. It’s comforting. The thought of a conducting cosmos makes me feel like all the dumb decisions I’ve made are sensible. Like that time I went out dancing and staggered out of the club super drunk without my shoes on, took a picture with a cop, peed publically, then jumped into a passing convertible with my friend because we had no shoes on and couldn’t walk home – that would be crazy. Our feet would get dirty. So we got a ride home from a strange man, and as I was thanking him for not raping us, I drunkenly fell out of his car almost smashing my nose on the pavement when I saw a penny on the street – heads up mind you. IT WAS A SIGN that I was lucky!

    I do this constantly. I want to believe that there is an energy, or higher power, directing me through life. Despite my quasi-agnostic worldview, it is that draw that makes me understand the appeal of religion.

    Even though I was raised catholic, I’ve never believed in an organized religious system. As a very young child I questioned what I was being told at church, and struggled with “belief.” My dad was a professor and scholar of Greek Mythology, so I had always been interested in those stories because of him. Because of my personal exposure to the gods of ancient Greece, I didn’t think it was fair that the Catholic Church called their beliefs true, but the Greek religion of the past was considered, and universally accepted, as “myth.” I guess I was a very egalitarian 8-year old?

    I was also terrified of the concept of eternity. I didn’t want to be in heaven or hell for the REST OF TIME! That terrified me. I thought I would get bored in either place. The idea of forever kept me up at night – hence my childhood insomnia.

    Yet my grandmother, who I spent a lot of time with growing up, was very religious. She would say things like, “pray for me that I will die soon so I can be with Jesus.” Okay… but do you mind if I do that after the weekend? I kind of need you until my parents pick me up on Sunday. I’m six.

    My grandmother would take my brother and me to Church not only on Sundays, but also Saturdays. Which for a kid in the 80’s who really liked cartoons, was a real kick in the pants. But I loved my grandmother deeply, even though her idea of a good time was watching the movie Jesus of Nazareth. If you’ve never seen that gem of a film, not only is there plenty of Jesus-torturing happening, but also a scene where King Herod kills all the baby boys within a 100 mile radius in an attempt to stop the coming messiah. Believe you me, there is nothing like a good baby-killing scene to make a kid cry.

    So my childhood was fraught with a lot of church going, praying, and trying to reconcile the image of infants being mass-murdered. My parents also dutifully brought me to Church to appease my grandmother, and it wasn’t until I was 13 when I realized that my dad was only bringing me because he wanted to make his mother happy. It was then we agreed I was old enough to not only make my own choices regarding my spiritual beliefs, but also to start lying to my Grandmother that I still went to church.

    Even though I never found myself believing in the bible, I am grateful for my time at church because it was a space where I had to just sit there and think about mortality and the concept of God. I believe it was in the church that I created a relationship to my idea of God, which admittedly is much more abstract than a dude who has a son that wears a Coachella styled head band of thorns, which, although trendy, is just not that practical. Yet I realize that my obsession with “the universe” protecting me is much like the personification of God.

    Thinking the universe gives a shit about me maybe is totally absurd? Plus now we supposedly live in a multiverse so which universe am I even talking about?

    However the alternative – to think that no universe cares if I get a book deal or not – sounds super depressing! I enjoy the idea that the universe has a path for me, and I just have to see the signs to know if I’m on the right one. I want to think that noticing a cardinal in a tree wink at me is as a sign from the universe telling me that one day the Farrelly brothers will make my script into a movie. AND DON’T YOU DARE TELL ME IT’S NOT!

    Yet…. My belief system is getting slightly challenged right now. Mainly because there have been A LOT OF BAD SIGNS!

    For one, the other day a nest of birds that had been in my chimney must have come apart, and 3 baby birds fell down the shaft and into my fireplace. (Hehe shaft.) Anyway, I called animal rescue thinking that they would come and save these birds… or I don’t know… give a shit at all. They told me to put the birds in a basket and bring them back up to the roof. However, my roof is at an angle of 80 degrees, and without rock climbing equipment, it’s impossible to get up there. So I called back.

    Toni: I picked up the birds with gloves and put them in a basket with grass on the bottom – but I can’t get up on my roof.
    Wild Life Protection Lady: Okay then put them outside.
    Toni: But what if their mom can’t find them?
    Wild Life Protection Lady: From the picture you sent they are fledglings and will figure it out.
    Toni: But it’s raining out there? Is there anything else I can do?
    Wild Life Protection Lady: Just put them outside.
    Toni: And then what?
    Wild Life Protection Lady: Nothing.

    I put them outside and prayed for their mom to come. I tried to keep them covered from the rain. I went to work to teach my dance classes and when I came back they were all dead.

    THEN…

    Last night I went up to my room to sleep, and as customary before I get into bed, I first did a meditation in my meditation corner. The lights in my room were off because I was trying to calm my brain and prepare my body for sleep. After all, I still am an insomniac thinking about forever of course. When my alarm went off I opened my eyes from the meditation, and picked up my phone to shut off the timer. During that process, I saw something. Right in front of my mediation pillow was a dead chipmunk that my cat had brought in – without a head.

    I wanted to scream, but I am a grown-up, so instead I squealed in horror. I went downstairs to get a broom and a dustpan, and tried to pull myself together. I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. What was the universe trying to tell me?!

    I said to myself while drudgingly walking back up the stairs to my room, “Well, at least I didn’t step on the dead chipmunk. That would have been horrible. I can at least have gratitude for not stepping on it. Maybe that is the lesson of the universe? That even when horrible things happen, they could be worse so I should always have gratitude?”

    I mustered up all my bravery and swept the headless body into the dustpan. I didn’t want to turn on the light, because I wanted to see as a little as possible, so I was using my phone flashlight. I descended the stairs, and brought the carcass outside.

    At least it was over right? At least I didn’t step on it, right?

    With the lights still off I entered my still dark room and that’s when I felt it. I stepped on something cold and wet. I knew what it was even before looking. The half eaten face of the chipmunk.

    This time I fucking screamed.

    I ran to the bathroom to wash my foot. Now I was freaking the fuck out, especially because I had stepped on it with just the right amount of pressure so that the face was stuck to my foot. The water pressure alone wouldn’t release it, and I had to use my hands to scrape off what I think was its tongue. I then had to get toilet paper, go back into my room that for whatever reason I was still keeping dark, and use my flashlight to pick up pieces of chewed up face and brain.

    After about ten minutes of that, and a lot of dry heaving, I went back into my room with my flashlight and started walking towards my bed. But you guessed it. I stepped on yet another wet mash. This time it was on my decorative rug – which was why in my cleaning process I hadn’t seen the thrown up chipmunk neck that my cat had vomited.

    I didn’t squeal. I didn’t scream. I cried.

    I then washed what I’m pretty sure was a chipmunk esophagus off my foot, went back downstairs, got cleaner, and then went back upstairs to clean up the regurgitated chipmunk throat.

    At that point I had been cleaning up this massacre for 30 minutes. I collapsed into bed shaking in horror. But at least I fell asleep!

    Then this morning as I was still recovering, I was making the Munch breakfast when she called to me.

    Munch: Mama there is something disgusting in my playroom.

    Thinking it had to be more chipmunk debris I gathered my wits and entered the room. You’d be happy to hear it wasn’t the chipmunk at all, but instead the face of a mouse. Not it’s head or body, just the face. So now I have the task of finding the rest of it to look forward to for the rest of my day.

    WHAT DO THESE SIGNS MEAN?? Pretty sure the universe is not telling me I’m going to get that TV deal – but actually that the universe just fucking hates me.

    Nothing to see here… just the universe shining its rays of hate upon me

  • Oh, That’s Just My Open Wound

    On the average day, I feel a LOT of feelings. I usually wake up with a deep dread, wishing I were still asleep because in that reality I don’t feel like a failure – oh and there was also that velvet couch I was eating covered in frosting. I then do a meditation and perhaps feel a moment of calm inspiration only to be punctuated by stress the second I open my eyes. I drive The Munch to school looking at her sweet face in the review mirror and feel like, “aww look at all that hope in her eyes that has yet to be crushed by the knowledge that Trump has raped her of a future.” This then transmutes into the drive back home where I start to wish the day were already over, only to sit at my computer with a mixture of creative energy and crippling self doubt… and its not even 9:30 am.

    By the time I’ve gone to bed at midnight I’ve gone through maybe 14 cycles of “life is okay,” and then “holy shit what is all this for besides facing the eternal misery of my futility playing the stings of my heart with the violin of delusions I call an existence.”

    Everyone goes through this right? (Insert nervous laughter)

    Yet if you were hanging out with me I don’t think you would say, “That Toni is one moody mother fucker,” because I keep most my emotional ebbs and flow buried deep inside, much like a dog with their bone. But instead of the fleshless carcass of an animal to chew on, I instead gnaw on the skeletons in my closet that I’ve come so accustomed to dressing up.

    That’s normal right? (Insert anxious hand wringing)

    The reason I try not to let myself get too carried away in my emotional self is because I know that feelings are ethereal wisps of wind that blow in and out of your consciousness like dandelion seeds. You can feel one way for one moment, and then the complete opposite the next. Although feelings are important and crucial aspects of the human experience, they are also somewhat absurd because of how unpredictable and illogical they are. As such, my internal world is much different then how I project myself to others. In the outside world, I come off as very unemotional. I don’t cry very often, I’m not quick to anger, I’m patient, I don’t overreact, and many think I’m easy to talk to. I keep a safe distance from my feelings because I don’t want to take them out on others. Of course all my close friends know my shadow side – I’m manic, compulsive, bossy, particular, controlling, excessive, and overwhelming… but because I mostly keep myself in check their overall impression is that, “Toni’s chill, and a good friend.”

    There is this dichotomy between how I feel and how I act because I ultimately want to be an emotionally mature human. It’s not that often that my feelings overtake my behavior, so when it happens, no one really knows what to do with me. I’m not really used to relying on others emotionally, so when the darkness comes, the black depths of my being is confusing to others. I’m not approachable when I’m upset, and therefor not that easy to comfort. Mostly I just want to be left alone to drown in my melancholy.

    I know we all have primal sores of our childhood, and there are plenty I have as well. Yet I feel like I’ve come to terms with most of them. Sure there are moments when I can access the sadness of my socialization, but I don’t feel ruled by it. I’ve tried to face my conditioning, forgive what hurt me, have empathy for the adults that disappointed me, and let go. I’m SURE there are aspects that still influence me greatly, but I don’t feel controlled by my past pains.

    Except for my open wound.

    When my best friend Bitty died, a piece of me died with her. Last Sunday, June 11th, was the 17th year anniversary of her death.

    17 years is a long time to have passed. They say time heals all wounds, but in truth time just means you get used to the pain. It doesn’t go away, but rather becomes a part of you. Like roots of a vine growing around your soul, the pain of loss entwines your spirit and tangles into your psyche.

    The tragedy of Bitty’s death affected everyone who loved her. It bonded us in a web of mourning. An entanglement that can’t be escaped because holding onto the pain is also holding onto her. I can think of Bitty and remember the happiness of our relationship and feel a certain sense of peace for her spirit, yet that doesn’t take away the core loss. There is a bottomless yearning that I feel because I can no longer look into her eyes, see her smile, or watch the way her lip curled when she was angry. I’m still her friend and our love is just as real as ever, but I miss her physical presence in my life and nothing can change that.

    I miss her.

    I miss her so much.

    The day of Bitty’s funeral, I couldn’t leave the graveyard. Everyone slowly made their way to the lunch, but I stayed. I stared at where her body was buried, still in total disbelief that this was really happening. I felt so helpless that I couldn’t turn back time and have stopped this from happening.

    I wept at her grave that day as the tears that over took me. The anguish was consuming. Possessed by regret that I had spent any time away from her. If I had only known all I had was 20 years with her, I never would have left her side. I would have sewn myself to her so as not miss even one moment. I would have given anything to see her again.

    There was this senselessness to her death that I couldn’t wrap my head around. Why? Why did this have to happen? The mystery of misfortune was plaguing me. There are so many disastrous things that happen every day, and those that live through them are just left with the question of why. Our brains want to solve puzzles, yet death is one that we can never decipher. Yet all I wanted was something to ground this horrible event.

    I made a promise to Bitty that day. I swore to her that I would live for the both of us, and that I would make my life meaningful to some how make her death make sense. I opened up myself to her, and invited her into my body. I didn’t want to lose her. I wanted her with me, and I needed her to know that I was still there for her, even if I couldn’t stop her from dying. I blasted open my being so she could find a home in me. I knew her soul had traveled on, but there was still the human energy of her, I could feel it. I embraced it.

    I’ve tried to maintain inspiration from Bitty’s death because that’s the only way I know how to honor her life. Because of Bitty, I believe in magic. She is the guiding energy of my life. Every moment of coincidence, synchronicity, positivity, I see as Bitty. I feel her talking to me, looking out for me, guiding me. I attribute all the beauty in my life to her, because she changed me. Growing up I was never artistic. Bitty was the artist. Everything she did was creative. She drew, she made clothes, she made jewelry – her room was an explosion of her unique aesthetic. Yet since Bitty’s death, the artist in me was born. I don’t see that as random, and I am so deeply appreciative of that.

    Bitty’s death destroyed me, but it also awoken me. It connected me to the spirit world, and everything mystical. Without Bitty’s death I wouldn’t be who I am to today, and I’m so grateful to her. She’s been such a good friend even if she’s no longer on this earth to share time with me.

    But I miss her.

    I’m starting to forget our memories. I don’t have her to go through them with me anymore. As I grow older, my brain gets filled with new memories, making the ones with her harder to hold onto. I would trade any memory I have had of the past 17 years without her for one more moment of our time together. My memories of her are everything because they’re all I have.

    This is my open wound. One that is not always so raw, but when it is, it’s like my skin has been peeled off and all that is left of me is vulnerable organs unable to defend themselves against the elements. There are times when I can talk about Bitty and I feel almost nothing, because I can’t let myself. Yet there are moments when just the thought of her makes my soul scream so loud it’s deafening. My head filled with echoes of my heart crying in despair.

    This Sunday was a hard one for me, and I couldn’t escape it.

    But it’s okay. It’s okay that I go through this, and I always go back to the one and only therapy session that I’ve had in life. It was about 2 years after Bitty died, and I was still crying daily. Waking up thinking about her, going to bed thinking about her. People were worried. I was consumed with grief. The therapist asked me one question, and it was all I needed to hear.

    “How do you think Bitty would feel about the way you’re reacting to her death.”

    I thought about it, and I know everyone was telling me, “she wouldn’t want me to suffer,” but they didn’t know Bitty.

    She would be happy I was this upset!! She was my best friend! If I just moved on easily or wasn’t tormented Bitty would be like, “What the fuck Toni!!!”

    That realization gave me permission to feel, and I keep that with me. The universal spirit of Bitty that is all one with the cosmos of course wants the best for me, but the human Bitty that I knew also thinks it’s totally reasonable I’m this broken up about her death. I loved her. Of course I care this much. That’s just what happens when you lose someone you love. You never let go, you never get over it, and you always miss them.

    June 14, 2017 • emotions, Musings, Old School Stories, Relationships • Views: 1071

  • Lessons From A Love Triangle

    Women tell each other everything. Donald Trump’s locker room doesn’t have shit compared to the average relationship between two women. If you’re in a relationship with a women, you can bet your sweet ass that every single one of her close friends could pick out your dick in a police line up it’s been described to her in such precise detail. Her friends know if you’re munching on muff, and that you like taint tickled in the morning. I highly suggest you never look those ladies in the eyes again.

    Women tend to have incredibly personal, intimate relationships with each other. They’re comfortable sharing their feelings, admitting vulnerabilities, and discussing the minutia of their lives. I’ve no joke had a friend send me a pic of her puss once, asking if a mysterious bump looked normal. Female friendships often border on therapy sessions, and definitely tow the doctor patient confidentiality line considering how much we reveal to each other.

    Men however, are mostly more reserved in their relationships with other men. Where women tend to talk about themselves in their conversations, men talk more about subjects. If you were a fly on the wall listening to a bunch of chicks chatting, chances are you would here a lot about love, relationships, family, and other more personal themes. And definitely a lot about periods. Yet a gaggle of guys would discuss more abstract subjects – sports, cars, politics, current events, etc… It’s not because men don’t care about their personal lives, or women are uninterested in social issues, this is more a reflection of different cultures of communication. I’ve had many deep philosophical inquiries about societal matters with my lady friends, but those talks are not as common. Just as I am sure there are moments where a dude will open up to a friend about some problem he’s having, but that’s also a more rare occurrence.

    Because of this, most hetero men don’t get into deep personal confessions with each other, and only have women to expose themselves to. This creates a dynamic where women see the weakest part of a man, and are the only ones he will reveal that part of himself to. The role of women is then defined by picking up the emotional fragments of not only each other, but also the men in their lives. Their romantic connection becomes burdened by the reality that she’s the only person he ever opens up to. He doesn’t turn to others to get advice about their relationship, or learn how to better behave – and only has her to process his feelings with. That’s a lot to ask, especially because you then expect her to blow you like a Nintendo cartridge circa 1989.

    I think this way of being is doing a major disservice to all genders! We need to shake shit up!

    Wouldn’t we all be happier if these ratios changed around a bit? Although I am genuinely interested in the relationship plights of my friends, I think women need more opportunities to talk out some of their shit out with dudes. We need more cross gender friendships, and for men to take on emotionally driven conversations. That way my girl can get some insider trading information about the male species – and I can get a break from hearing about how Carl is a douche nozzle so she and I can spend our energy discussing the Federal Reserve instead.

    I also think male relationships would benefit if they relied on each other more emotionally. It’s said the men are some of the loneliest people because they lack genuine feelings of closeness to others. Masculinity doesn’t encourage revealing the underbelly of your emotional self, and hiding that part of you can make you feel isolated and alienated. We need to teach our men and boys to gossip like the girls of the WB.

    Girls are conditioned from a young age to know how to deal with issues around relationships, and intimacy. Most media targeted to girls have subplots of love. Almost every cartoon The Munch watches has talk of boyfriends, or the characters having crushes. This pony likes that pony and wants to marry him, or this monster thinks that monster is a cutie-pie (despite the fact his body is covered in scales). Young boys, however, don’t often talk about these things with each other, and media they consume isn’t pushing these concepts down their throats. There is no ménage à trois in Transformers. Because girls are exposed to relationship drama, they start to develop an understanding of the importance around it, where with boys they lack the language to start the conversation because it’s not in their lexicon.

    I was playing with Munch the other day and I couldn’t believe her emotional intelligence when it comes to matters of the heart. She’s like the ultimate wing woman. As can be seen in the below drama that was created with the Little Mermaid dolls.

    Munch: Okay Mama. You will be human Ariel, and I will be mermaid Ariel.
    Toni: But aren’t they the same person, just different time periods?
    Munch: Ummm they are just different people now.
    Toni: But both named Ariel?
    Munch: Right. Human Ariel and Mermaid Ariel.
    Toni: Got it.
    Munch: And Human Ariel is in love with Eric. You act Eric too. But you have to make them really in love, and I better believe it.

    BETTER BELIEVE IT! Okay… so my plan was to fuck with Munch a bit, and let her know what it’s actually like when your friend is in love.

    Munch: Hey Human Ariel, you wanna play?
    Toni: No I can’t. I’m in love with Eric, so I just want to spend time with him. I don’t really have time for you right now.
    Munch: Oh. That’s okay. I totally understand.

    WHAT??? That was her reaction?? To totally understand!!?

    Munch: Hey Human Ariel, I made this new friend, her name is Barbie. Do you want to meet her?
    Toni: No Mermaid Ariel. Like I said, I’m in love with Eric so I really don’t have time for you right now, or meeting new friends. I just want to spend time with him.
    Munch. That’s okay. That happens when you’re in love. Just let me know when you’re done and ready to play.

    I WAS LIKE HOLY SHIT! THIS KID REALLY KNOWS HOW TO BE A GOOD FRIEND.

    Toni: Okay Mermaid Ariel. I’m bored of Eric now. I’ll meet your friend.
    Munch: Hi. I’m Barbie. Sometimes I get bored of Ken too. It happens. Shall we go an adventure?

    Okay… it’s official that Munch is ready to be an awesome friend when she grows up.

    April 5, 2017 • emotions, Musings, Relationships, Sex Stuff, Vagina Stuff • Views: 783

  • Waiting For Your Turn To Talk

    Sometimes I find myself in conversations wondering, “when are we going to get back to my favorite topic? Me.” I love talking about Toni. Talking about Toni is the most interesting thing I do. I can’t get enough of it. If you want to talk about me, I will never tire of it. If you’re interested in what Toni thinks about this or that, then I will pull up a chair. But you know what gets exhausting? Talking about you.

    As humans we are obsessed with ourselves. We find ourselves infinitely fascinating, and tend to favor our own opinions over others. Most of the time when we are relating to others, we are just waiting for our turn to talk.

    But guess what? NOBODY LIKES THAT!

    Even though we all want to compulsively talk about ourselves, our thoughts, our visions, and our complaints – it is seriously irritating when you notice other people being that way. You can feel the energy of them not listening. Their eyes are distracted, and its painfully obvious how they’re desperately trying to remember what it is they want to say. Their impatience is palpable. So you just trail off, knowing they will jump in to perform a 15-minute monologue. It is one of the most off-putting behaviors when someone talks at you endlessly, giving you the feeling that you substitute yourself with a cardboard cutout, and take off for an hour to go through Instagram filters.

    It doesn’t matter how interesting, compelling, or charismatic they are. It’s draining to have a conversation with someone that’s actually performing a one-way soliloquy. It leaves me feeling like an insignificant audience member drowned by the shadows, merely the facilitator for the proper reaction. Insert laugh here, tears there, and an “awwwwwww” at the end to wrap it up.

    Genuinely listening to others is a very attractive quality. Asking questions about their lives, remembering things they say, keeping their cast of characters fresh in your mind… this will endear you to people. If you can make someone feel heard, you will also make them feel seen, which in turn will make them feel important to you.

    So why is this so hard?

    There is an art to dialogue that is simply no longer taught or prioritized. Back in the times of ancient Greece, dialogue was the ultimate conveyer of knowledge. Socrates feared the influence of the written word because he believed that medium would destroy dialogue. He felt books are too easily misinterpreted because you can’t openly discuss your reactions with the author of the ideas you just plowed into your head. Socrates rejected writing because his worldview was predicated on the idea that best way into a genuine inquiry of philosophy was through live conversation.

    Yet how ironic is it that the only reason we know the dialogues of Socrates is because Plato wrote them down!

    Oral traditions were more exclusive with knowledge because you had to have heard the information from someone’s mouth. Where the written word can be massed produced and mass marketed. Yet does distributing information on a wide scale dilute it? On the one hand it’s fantastic anyone can have access to the vast library of human knowledge, but the criteria for who is talking has been democratized to the point where there are no longer any standards. You don’t need a PHD to create a website, you just need an IP address.

    If you think about the current manifestation of this, the Internet is so flush with information and words that you can prove anything you want. You can look up sites that say GMO’s are bad, and you can look up sites that tell you GMO’s are great. You can prove anything you want to yourself, because everyone’s goddamn opinion is posted on line to justify your thinking.

    On a personal level, this loss of dialogue has affected us even deeper. Although I enjoy reading and writing, it can be said that the modern manifestation of texting our feelings through emoji hints to the prophetic nature of Socrates’ thoughts. We would rather email someone to tell them off, then have the actual human interaction of working through conflict. How many of you have received an email from a friend/family member/lover that is just a diatribe of all they things they don’t like about you? And how have you received that? Have you ever been like, “wow, this scathing email attacking my personality really makes me think?”

    No! You usually write a contemptuous message back, and a strange cycle begins where your egos battle through this platform of screens. It is really hard to come back from these things, and usually the only way to find peace is through initiating personal contact. It is easy to hide behind screens and words rather then the complexity of face-to-face contact. That is why trolling has become such a social phenomenon. Yet we don’t only troll strangers in the dark web, we also often troll each other with the refusal of committing to direct communication.

    I think it’s crucial in these times where we are constantly being seduced by our slutty phones to work on the craft of conversation. To not text while talking, or hurry someone along so we can make our point. The best thing we can do for each other and our own psyches is learn how to be totally engaged. You know that feeling when you are talking to someone, and they are really interested in what you are saying? They are giving you their energy of paying attention. Then you pass the baton and are just as excited to hear the words that come out of their mouth. Isn’t that such a life affirming experience?

    Let’s do more of that!

    So next time you are talking to someone, a friend, someone serving you at a store, where ever you are… act like you sincerely give a shit. And I bet once you start genuinely listening, you may actually start genuinely giving a shit, which will inspire them to give a shit, and then maybe the robots won’t take over after all.

    March 23, 2017 • emotions, Musings, Relationships, Talking and Not Talking • Views: 805

  • Scratching That Itch Doesn’t Make it Go Away – it Just Moves it

    We’ve all had those moments where you ask someone to scratch your back, and some willing, but slightly irritated victim obeys. No one wants to scratch someone else’s back because as a rational person you know what you’re in for – a journey into the impossibility of satiating an itch. Seconds after the skin scraping ritual begins, the itch moves. “A little to the left,” you say. Once again, it moves. “Now back to the right,” you instruct as their nails skid across your human casing. “Now up… down… over… to the left… no to the right I said… back down again… up… more up… up some more… and…”

    An itch isn’t meant to be relieved; it is designed to torture you with craving. We fool ourselves into thinking that digging your claws into the right spot will make it go away. We forget the unavoidable truth that the very nature of yearning is rooted in the harsh reality that even when you get what you want, it isn’t what you want any more. Our collective story is fraught with examples of this. I want that man, but now that I have him, he bores me. I think that those drugs would feel divine, yet now I am puking into my shirt. I need that job – huh, boy this job is stressful. I need a vacation, and now I need a vacation from my vacation. I’ll go on this dating app to have meaningless sexual encounters, yet at the same time look for a relationship. Even though we can often see the hamster wheel of another person’s life, we put ourselves through the same cycle over and over and over again, running into the oblivion of our ravenousness.

    I think it’s that exactly feeling that our smarty pants phones tap into. This need for an instant hit of something outside of ourselves to distract our minds from the pain of our thoughts. For most of us, our brains have a mind of their own, and we are thinking about things we don’t want to think about, yet can’t stop thinking about. So we want, and want, and want some more. We want more love, more sex, more drugs, more success, more entertainment, more food, more sugar, more adoration, more acknowledgement, more appreciation, more money, more security, more freedom, more stuff… and then we want it all over again, just a better version.

    This constant striving may be the catalyst of the vast majority of our emotional suffering, yet it’s also the drive that pushes towards progress – and maybe even our own survival. The curiosity of humans, this ceaseless thirst that we cannot quench, is unique to our kind. Back in pre-history when Neanderthals reached the shores of an ocean do you know they did? They turned the fuck around because there was a goddamn giant scary body of water in front of them, and they couldn’t see the other side. Do you know what Homo sapiens did? They built a raft to float out into the unknown and see what was beyond the horizon. When the Neanderthals reached a mountain range they would camp at the bottom, but Homo sapiens, even the straight ones, would climb to the other side. Neanderthals lacked the seemingly crucial social construction of craving for more, where we Homo sapiens succumbed to it. And who the are the ones that are extinct now!?

    Even though our wanting is part of our demise, it’s also part of our successes as a species. So how do we as individuals have a more reasonable relationship to the seduction of desire? Is there a way to find balance amidst the chaos of greed?

    If there is anything that being a parent has taught me it’s that looking for someone else’s socks can make you suicidal. The other thing I learned is that children have a much greater capacity than adults to deal with disappointment. It may not seem that way at first. If I tell my kid “No you can’t watch Monster High while eating your leftover chemically ridden Valentine’s candy before bed,” she might scream for a moment in protest. This is where depending on my emotional capacity; I may give in just so she shuts the fuck up. But if I stay strong and deal with her momentary rebellion, she will forget about it, and move on. She doesn’t hold it against me. It’s not like The Munch will even bring it up again like, “remember that time you didn’t let me have that 3rd cookie?” No. She never says that shit. She just keeps living her life, not holding onto the past of her unfulfilled desires.

    Wanting shit is not the problem. It’s how we deal with not getting what we want is.

    The reason why kids move through their feelings with greater ease and grace is because they fundamentally think differently than adults. There is more space between their thoughts, because their egos aren’t as developed. The adult mind is dealing with CONSTANT chatter from the ego. Even right now as you read this very post your ego is still talking to you, judging what I say. Yet with kids, their egos aren’t as loquacious, leaving more room in their minds for observation and imagination.

    The more the mind is engaged with observing the world around us, the less energy is spent judging it. The more the brain is bouncing around creative concepts, the less it’s criticizing. So the solution to our all our problems is right in front of us. Think less by training your mind to observe, and through that you will find the wisdom of contentment in where you are in the moment – knowing it’s all a process and you’ll never truly be satisfied anyway.

    I think The Munch has tapped into this angst of mankind, and as such told me this glorious nighttime story.

    Munch: “Once upon a time there was a toilet, and this toilet was very sad. It was a sad toilet because no one was peeing in it, so it couldn’t drink pee, and no one was pooping in it, so it couldn’t eat poop. And that is the story of the sad toilet.”

    Am I raising a genius or what?

  • When You Have Nothing To Give But Forgiveness

    The thing about family that is both comforting and challenging is that much like a herpes infection, they never go away. They’re not always there, but when they show up, chances are there will be some soreness. Yet most of us value family and want to maintain that connection, despite the inflammation they may cause.

    Now that the matriarch of my family has died, I wonder what will be the link that binds us together. My grandmother was the last of her generation, and we no longer have a point at the top of the triangle of our family tree. It’s all just branches scattering off into different parts of the world. My grandmother’s womb was the origin zenith which sprouted these many beings, and now we have to find different motives to share time and space.

    I have an idealistic vision when it comes to family. I believe in the relevance that our DNA binds us through quantum ties, and that we are uniquely connected through our chemical make up. Knowing my family ultimately means knowing myself. We were cut from the same physical cloth, even though we are not all the same psychological tribe of people. We all process the world very differently, and yet we all share a similar frame of reference. Some of us rebelled against it, some of us dove into it, but there is a culture that prevails.

    But how do families stay together? How do you keep the same people in your life for the entirety of it? By seeing them less? Or seeming them more?

    I crave the life long relationships. When I seek out relationships, I tend to do so with a fervor that says “guess what, we are in this together – FOREVER!” The friends I make, I make hard. I don’t have casual acquaintances. If you are going get to know me, we are going to go in deep. Unless you do something really brutal to me, like rape my cat in front of my child, chances are I will be committed to you for life. I can’t think of one person who I’ve loved who I’m not still there for.

    I think my commitment to family and friends stems from my best friend dying when we were 20. It was such a crucial and painful moment in my life, and it shaped my worldview completely. It is through that experience I came to see how precious human life is. People aren’t disposable. Even when they suck super hard… and are really annoying and shitty… and you want to shake them like British nanny they are being suck a prick, I will tolerate it and try to work through the bullshit.

    Through our family (and the friends that become family) we find true intimacy. The better you get to know someone; the more comfortable you are around them. The more another person knows you, the greater the opportunity for you to know yourself. The less we posture and hide our vulnerabilities, the more we can delve into the chasm of our own psyches. The value of commitment is having a witness to your personal growth and evolution, but that can only truly take place when you allow that person fully into your heart.

    Yet the irony of my wanting this intertwining of spirits is that the opposite is also true. The more someone knows you, the more they can emotionally eviscerate you. The more capable they are of tearing apart your weaknesses and slapping you in the face with them. The more deeply insulting it is when they misunderstand you. The more time for resentment, bitterness, disappointment to build up like plaque, and no matter how hard we try to brush it off, it’s hard to let go of the pain people cause.

    Seriously, people can be such selfish assholes.

    We are all emotionally damaged. We all have our moments of immaturity. We are all dealing with the primal wounds of childhood and reenacting them in destructive ways. The only way to work through the emotionally complexity of how imperfect we are as humans is through the practice of forgiveness.

    Every goddamn day we have to forgive. We have to truly move on from the past, and recognize that everyone is always growing. We have to let go of the mistakes. We have to forgive people fully and leave room for them to change. We have to know that they are moving towards being the best versions of themselves, and the road to get their will be messy.

    I will leave you with a story where I had to ask forgiveness. I horrible story, that is made from the stuff of nightmares.

    The Munch had her little friend sleep over and as kids tend to do, she brought a LOT of stuff. Bags of toys, pajamas, sleeping bags, nighttime equipment etc… The kid needed a Sherpa for all her gear.

    Munch’s friend had forgotten one of her backpacks at my house, so I left it by the door of my porch so I would remember to give it back. I noticed a small plastic bag also near the door, so I figured it belonged to Munch’s friend. Over the next few days I would move the backpack around to clean, and also move the small plastic bag – assuming I was doing a good thing. When it came time to finally return the backpack, I took the small plastic bag, and stuffed it into the backpack so the precious contents wouldn’t get lost.

    I was trying to be a good mom right!?

    Ten days later I received this text.

    “So I unpacked the backpack left at your house, and inside was a plastic Wal-Mart bag with two tissues and two very dead mice dried up inside. Do you have any idea how they got in there?”

    So basically this mom thought I was sending her kid home with some sort of demonic message. Like I was The Godfather, or Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction.” Maybe she thought her kid was part of a satanic ritual and this was my initiation!

    I had to call her up and explain that I didn’t purposefully send her daughter home with carrion in her bag!!!!!!! I later realized my friend who had been visiting was kind enough to pick up the dead mice killed by my cat, but didn’t know where to put them – so she left them by the door thinking she would discuss with me later… but then forgot. I then gingerly moved the carcasses around for days, thinking I was doing the right thing…

    BUT I WAS WRONG – SO VERY WRONG.

    The mom forgave me though, because luckily our daughters are friends for life so she had no choice.

    Here is my face in a toilet…

    toni face in toilet

    August 11, 2016 • Family Drama, Musings, Relationships • Views: 911

  • In Your Mother’s Arms

    The first home you ever had was inside your mother. Of course, she eventually evicted you, but her uterus was your apartment – complete with psychedelic posters and tapestries.

    After you were birthed into to this cold dark world, her arms then became your home (assuming your mom stayed in your life). It was there that you felt safest. As a child we run into our mother’s arms for comfort, we collapse inside her hug for security. To experience this kind of embrace with your child is profound. It makes up for all the complexity of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and the unique pressure women face of living up to the role as “MOTHER.” That moment when your kid melts into for solace is truly priceless.

    Yet eventually your child gets to know you more, and realizes how you damaged them in one way or another. Then the arms of the mother are no longer their salvation. There is this thing between you – the mistakes, arguments, resentment, and annoyance that your Mom is always yelling at you about using the last of the toilet paper. The purity you once felt for your mom eventually gets clouded. She is not the goddess you once perceived her to be that was the answer to all your problems, but a flawed person who is doing her best… most of the time.

    As a child you want your mom to be a function of you. You assume that she was born onto this planet solely to be there for you. But as an adult understanding motherhood I have to admit that even though The Munch is a priority – she’s not my ONLY priority. Sometimes other things are more important than her. Like wanting to dance, or be with my friends, or work, or be creative, or eating the last cookie I know she was saving.

    The relationship we have to the MOTHER is as much personal as much as it is societal. There is an image of THE MOTHER that we are all conditioned to expect from media/stories. We have a tendency to compare our mothers to the narratives we are given. When I was a kid, all I wanted was a suburban stay at home mom. They kind who knitted, did crafts, and baked cupcakes. Instead, the mother I got was ambitious, anti-conventional, and would threaten to pick me up at school wearing her Magnum Condom T-shirt.

    Even though my mom wasn’t my ideal, as a grown up I very much like her as a human. She is way more fun than the Joan Cleaver of my childhood fantasies.

    Last night my mom came to New Hampshire because her mom has been really sick. There was a scare, and we all thought that this could be the end… but as soon as my grandmother heard everyone was coming, she perked right up and went downstairs to have a roast beef sandwich. My mom and I got into bed with my grandmother that night to keep her company as she slept.

    So there we were, 3 generations of mothers all entangled in each other’s arms as my mom and whispered to each other about mothering while my grandmother snored.

    My Mom: I know I wasn’t the mother that you wanted, but I was exactly the mother that I wanted!

    Toni: Well even though there were these ways you parented that felt traumatizing in the moment, I also think those very same things I wished were different made me a stronger person. I felt abandoned as a kid because you gave me so much independence, but now I’m a really emotionally independent person – and I like that about myself. Even though I may have wished that I were coddled more, I am glad I wasn’t.

    We all tend to parent in reaction to our parenting. We become the parents we wish we had rather than the parent our kid necessarily wants.

    There are a lot of similarities in the way I parent Munch and the way I was parented by my mom, and there is a lot I do that’s in direct reaction against the way I was parented. I have to constantly remind myself that Munch is not my inner child wanting to be healed, but her own person. I have to constantly observe and adjust my approach to her, and not get lost in trying to re-imagine my past.

    I will never the exact parent Munch wants me to be, but I can at least be open to her feedback. I want to build the kind of trust where she always feels at home in my arms, and comforted by my embrace. That way I can be sure that when I am super old she will jump into my bed with her daughter and talk about me behind my back while I sleep.

    toni munch painting

    May 19, 2016 • Family Drama, Mommyhood, Parenting, Relationships • Views: 1013

  • The Only Advice You Will EVER Need

    Let me give you some advice. Don’t take people’s advice.

    And don’t give advice.

    My problem is that I can’t even take my own advice about not giving people advice. I’m an advice giver! I can’t help it! When someone talks to me about a problem they have, I want to save them from whatever’s tormenting them. I want to solve their crisis because the solution seems so obvious from my outsider’s perspective. Isn’t everyone else’s life so simple compared to our own? We are too clouded with subjectivity and confused emotions to see clearly most of the time – which is why we may think we want advice – but in truth we really only want to hear what we want to hear.

    Most of the time people have no interest in taking your advice, they just want to know you care about them enough to give it. There sometimes may be the illusion that they are following your advice, but that’s usually because your advice happened to coincide with what they were going to do anyway. It’s more likely a coincidence that you thought they should do what they were already thinking of doing.

    I know all this, yet my compulsion to tell you what to do is stronger than my rationality of knowing you don’t want to know what I think. I get this from my mom, as she is the exact same way as me. Ironically every time I’m telling her about something that upsets me and she tries to give me advice… it SUPER annoys me!! Of course she’s just doing what I’m doing to everyone else, but really all I want her to do is listen to me. Yet when she is telling me her problems, all I want to do is give her advice!

    Recently I’ve started a personal habit of asking someone “do you want my advice?” when they are telling me something. At least that way they are welcome to say “not really,” and for us both to save the energy. Because when you give someone advice, isn’t it kind of insulting when they don’t do what you suggest? It’s like “why was I thinking so hard when you were going to just do what you were going to do anyway!? DO WHAT I SAY!!!!”

    I’ve also tried to notice how I feel when someone gives me advice that I don’t want to do. Do I not want to do what they are saying because they are wrong? Or because they are suggesting the RIGHT thing to do, but it’s also the harder choice, so I don’t want to do it. My practice is to force myself to follow the advice I don’t want to, because maybe they are seeing something I can’t? Maybe the advice I give my self is exactly what I shouldn’t be doing, even though the advice I give other people is exactly what they should be doing!?

    Even though advice is mostly useless, our culture is obsessed with giving it out. The problem is that there isn’t a lot of consciousness around what we do with it once we receive it. There is a whole industry around self-help: parenting advice, health advice, relationship advice, even some forms of therapy are basically just getting some therapist’s advice on how we should live our lives. In a way, it’s kind of a total waste. Most of us only truly change because of the results of our actions, not because of someone suggestions.

    Yet as I am saying all this, I am rendering myself totally insignificant! If people don’t need my advice then I will have no meaning in this world! Who would read my blog!? Who would care about me!? WAIT! Stop taking my advice about not taking my advice because I know you’re not going to anyway. Instead let me give you some advice about all the things you’d need advice about so you never have to take advice again! Unless it’s mine of course!

    Parenting advice: No matter what you do, you are going to fuck up your kid somehow. It can’t be avoided, so do what feels most right to you in the most conscious way possible, but get ready to cause some primal wounds and traumas. The only thing you can really do is preparing yourself to confront it at one point. Your kid will grow up and realize how their conditioning damaged them and if you can acknowledge their pain that you unintentionally caused, they may change your diapers when you need them to later.

    Relationship Advice: You are either going to be the object of worship, or the one doing the worshipping. Which one do you prefer? If you are being worshiped you will feel more secure but less lusty for your partner. If you are doing the worshipping you are going to feel more lusty but less secure. Pick your poison.

    Health Advice: Eat whole foods that don’t have chemicals. Cook everything you can for yourself. Move your body. Mediate. Get enough sleep. Be experimental. Investigate the emotional messages of your pains. Believe you can heal.

    Sex Advice: Don’t fake orgasms. Be honest about your desires. If you don’t like something, don’t pretend to.

    What you will learn in therapy: Your parents fucked you up and they are the root of all your problems. But they are just people who had fucked up parents who fucked them up – so be forgiving.

    advice-blog-2

    May 12, 2016 • Musings, Parenting, Relationships, Sex Stuff • Views: 983