Where the F are you?

Hey Soulmate,

I gave a TEDx talk a week ago in Phoenix! It is a super vulnerable, rock bottom to recovery kind of talk about addiction to work and external validation. It is also about the time I was hijacked by my soul and rerouted toward a sense of inner fulfillment. The internet will soon be the judge. When I got home I felt a little high and speedy and then I started a swift and humbling descent. Something was brewing. I started to feel agitated, hungry, and horny. I found myself back on Tinder, Hinge, and OkCupid, judging and swiping away. I ate a giant Cinnabon. I don’t eat Cinnabons. Three days later I went to see my therapist and surprised myself by bursting into tears talking about you.

A new waving of longing was moving through. Longing for you. The return of this longing made me realize that I have been without it for the first time in my entire life these past six months. I was floating in a space of fulfillment and faith that I would find you. I was free.  So when the wave of longing came through I judged it. “Oh no, not again, no more longing.” I thought I beat it. It became clear that the particles making up this wave of longing are all the rad, life moments spent without you. I’m sitting Shiva for all the memories we could have shared. For example, I would have liked for you to have been there in the audience when I gave my TEDx talk reminding me that if I peed myself and burst into tears your love would remain same-same. I grieve every missed New Year’s Eve, my best friends’ weddings, and waking up with you in the middle of the Serengeti on a crazy, awesome Safari in Tanzania. I grieve all the moments I could have been touched by you. I grieve all the “yous” you have been as you stretched into manhood. And the weddings of your best friends’ and siblings and possibly their first born. Most of all, I grieve the relationship you would have had with my father. He would have breathed a deep sigh of relief to see me loved by you. I grieve the marriage he will never witness and the speech he will never give.

This longing is sweet and animal and only knows longing. I know it well and in all its forms. Right now it is about you but it is just the aching, empty space that follows any desire. I think, next to death, it a universal human experience. I can’t beat it when the wave comes through and instead of distracting myself with real or virtual sugar and judging it, I want to harness it. According to Einstein, “Feeling and longing are the motive behavior behind all human endeavor and human creations.” So even though I can’t wait for us to project things each other and realize it and make-up and have tons of sex, I’ll lean into this longing and see where it takes me.

Miss you.

Bristol

quote-plato-human-behavior-flows-from-three-main-sources-105169

Advertisements
Where the F are you?

Permission to Rage

Hey Soulmate,

I realize why I haven’t met you yet. I’m nervous to write this but I have faith you are willing to listen. Every now and then, I feel emotions I can’t explain. I sometimes feel like a radio tower tuning into different frequencies. Whether it is a primal wave moving through me or a reaction to a mediocre date, I recently discovered a sizable and strangely non-specific reservoir of pain and judgment against men. Actually, it is more than judgment. It is rage.

The moment after I felt the rage, I felt guilt. My Father and Ex are both remarkable, loving men and the few men after them never hurt me in any direct way. But here it is anyway and in my dogged pursuit of freedom via total transparency and authenticity I’m letting it come up and sharing it with you. In my guilt, I heard a voice in my head say, “men are just little boys doing the best they can to be a ‘man’ in a time when no one knows what that means.” Who am I to kick you? That isn’t very feminine. And you are just a little puppy underneath all that pretending and no good person kicks a puppy.

Let’s say hypothetically that you, or all men, in fact, were born the physically weaker sex. And in the beginning, beginning your primary function was to have babies and try desperately to keep them alive from the brutal elements of Earth. Your survival relied on the opposite sex to protect you from other invading men who would try to kill you or your children and take your stuff. Then a book is written by men, that literally all men read (you can’t read), that tells you that you are actually just an extension of the opposite sex and your value is equal to what they say it is and especially in the eyes of this new idea being tossed around of a monotheistic “God”. The written word, across all religious texts translated by men, dictates specific rules about what you can wear, whom you can wed, how you can worship, and what your purpose is (which is to serve the other sex). There is a sense of progress because religious shame and brutal punishment stems a bit of the raping and stealing but still, your primary function is to be a virgin and find a man who will bring you protection, wealth, and perceived power. This leads to a few thousand years of brutality where men are fighting wars everywhere in the name of family, God, and country. You begin to play more of a role here in the higher ranks, very Lady Macbeth, in pursuit of power. But the power is never truly yours. It is always your mate’s, and if you get too proud your head will likely be severed from your neck. There was also a period where you were burned alive, like a lot, because the opposite sex claimed to actually be God. And then came the age of reason (Woo-hoo!), a time when some reasonable men thought you had your own inherent value and others made very “intelligent” arguments for why you were still the weaker sex only here to serve them. But education was on the rise and ideas were viral and you soon had had enough with the current state of affairs. You rallied together, even while getting beaten, and stood up for what you knew was right. You demanded to be heard, to be seen as equal and so you were. The End. Just kidding. It was just the beginning.

Just as it wasn’t our fault we were oppressed for thousands of years during a reign of patriarchy, it also wasn’t your fault that you played the role of oppressor. It just IS.

So now what? Have we evolved past our primal instincts enough to become aware of and consciously choose what drives our behavior? What is emotional responsibility and how can we take it? What does “manhood” even mean now? We are babies in the evolution of gender equality and we are acting like it. Between #gamergate and #shirtgate, the Internet served as an aggressive platform for punishment. A few women used it to express their long overdue exasperation at insidious sexism, other women chose to tear those women apart, and teenage boys threatened to rape them all.

Source: @TreyRatcliff
Source: Embrace by The Pier Group Photo from @TreyRatcliff

Soulmate, I guess what I am asking is, can we talk about it? I think keeping my mouth shut only dishonors us both. If you say yes it scares the shit out of me. I can’t imagine anything more vulnerable. Can I express this rage without you hardening your heart? That is the opposite of what I want. In truth, I think underneath this rage is all the infinite patience and loving acceptance we both long for. Is it cool (and safe) for me to express it? I don’t think it would last long and, and in actuality, it really has nothing to do with you (specifically). It is just an emotion, neutral until aimed and fired. If it meant freedom for both of us, could you just listen or maybe even hold this pillow while I’m whacking it with my fists? I’ll hold the pillow for you. I want to hold for the healthy expression of your rage too. Perhaps manhood (and womanhood) is the brave and healthy expression of every emotion, even one as frightening as rage. Come on! Let’s take turns freaking out on a bouncy castle.

– Bristol Baughan

Permission to Rage

My Abused Inner Wannabe Wife

Hey Soulmate,
(I’m sitting in a coffee shop with brown boots and a little flowery dress just in case you are here). I have a confession and given you are my soulmate you will know it someday. When I turned 30 (a few years ago) I developed an out of control hunger for romance movies. Did you know that has you age, your palate and taste buds actually change? Well apparently my hormones changed like my taste buds and I was addicted to anything Nicholas Sparks and Masterpiece Theater. I have actually seen them all. I have seen EVERY ROMANCE MOVIE on Netflix and Amazon Prime, literally hundreds of them. I couldn’t get enough of English propriety, unrequited nonsense, and tragic endings. I call it Love Suffering. The body aching, mind-spinning, loin-titillating, heart-stomping, tear-producing, formulaic, anti-feminist, bullshit made me feel “alive” and sure that romantic love isn’t actually real but a false high like Diet Coke but the high was much, much better than the idea of staring into a mirror of mediocrity. Screen shot 2011-11-30 at 4.37I spent a few years watching them all and longing for you. I gave up on dating entirely and would MUCH rather spend a night in bed love suffering and cuddling up with the idea of you than with another idiot, Ok-Cupid curated man. It is really the definition of self-abuse but I couldn’t help it. But don’t worry Soulmate, I’m much better now. I mean I did go see Sparks’ latest film by myself a few weeks ago but I didn’t enjoy it. I think I’m officially in recovery from love suffering. It is funny to think I spent my entire 20s convinced I didn’t need a man and was in love with my job and then in my early 30s I was obsessed with Sense & Sensibility. I used to be really ashamed of this.findsomethingtodo

I mean it isn’t my fault that somewhere in my biology there is a part of me that still longs for a castle and driver and man with the ability to hang people or save them. Even though I am a staunch feminist I am discovering these very bazaar, old school, anti-feminist tendencies. I always thought I “should” be able to transcend girly day dreaming. When I was seven I wrote in my journal that I wanted to be a lawyer like Martin Luther King Jr. I was on a mission to save the world and didn’t have time for silly stuff like wedding collages and reality tv shows about dresses. I thought it was anti-feminist to fantasize about men and marriage. But of course this part of myself, this sweet, human, teeny-bopper part has been there in my unconscious all along. Tied up and gagged, my abused, inner wannabe wife was eating pints of Ben & Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie and pointing my Amazon Prime arrow toward The Notebook. She was in there, insidious, like an undercover KGB agent poisoning the rest of my ego with stories of star-crossed lovers. But one day in the therapy chair I discovered her just under the love suffering and she hung her head in shame, knowing how much I despised her predilections for monarchy and sexy vampires. But here she was, revealed. I couldn’t force her back into my unconscious. She was young and bright eyed and believed in romantic love and soulmates and had Britannica length diaries of her longing.

theotherausten.tumblr.comAfter I judged her a bit longer I just allowed her to exist. She was a part of myself I had abandoned and was now struggling to own. As she re-joined the cast of characters in my consciousness I felt her innocence and her pain and I cried. Once I could just allow her to be, the crying stopped and the pain turned into energy and excitement. Would I really allow myself to dream? To buy wedding magazines and watch reality tv shows and think about bridesmaids dresses? Hell no! After much negotiation I decided I would allow myself a wedding dream Pinterest board. She squealed. Fine, I squealed. I found myself googling and collecting images of giant stone and maple cabins on farmland and long tables and dripping candles and different rooms with stringed trios and eclectic, curated experiences. Part party, part carnival, part masquerade and lots of Chuppahs — Soulmate, our future wedding is going to be the jam. – Bristol Baughan

My Abused Inner Wannabe Wife