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Eating Disorders/Healing, Eating/Food, Guest Posts, Self Image, Truth

The Skinny on Mary.

January 3, 2015

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By Teri Carter.

Mary is skinny. Mary has a trick. Mary shows up late for lunch, which means she has no time to order or no time to eat. Both work. Mary’s just turned 50 and she is always talking food: You would not believe what I stuffed in my face at that barbecue! Your bag of Cool Ranch Doritos is in danger. I’m ordering a cheeseburger and fries! But Mary, who owns an investment firm, is an expert at moving her food around a round plate and she always gets a to-go box for her barely-touched burger and fries. Can’t wait to pound this down at midnight. She thinks we believe her, so we pretend we do. We all have our tricks.

In an August 2012 article for Forbes, Lisa Quast quotes a research study: 45 to 61 percent of top male CEOs are overweight, compared to only 5 to 22 percent of top female CEOs. Then, in her closing paragraph, Ms. Quast goes inexplicably blasé: “As for me, I’m off to the gym with my husband for weight training and a two mile run. Then I’ll probably have a veggie salad for dinner so I can keep my body mass index at the low end of the normal range. As these studies demonstrate, thin is in for executive women – although I’d prefer to think if it as ‘healthy’ being in.” Her ending leaves me cold. I go back to the beginning.

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Fatherhood, Guest Posts, Inspiration, Truth

Now Is An Uncomfortable Place To Be. By Carvell Wallace.

September 29, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Carvell Wallace. 

Sometimes I have dreams where I wake up crying. Intensely. Childishly. These are dreams about a broken heart. Usually at the end of a love affair.

But last night I dreamt about Ferguson. We were there. My kids and I. There were railroad tracks. Singing. Candles and crepuscular bands of light silhouetting black bodies against the sky. I don’t remember what happened, but in the dream we failed. Somehow we failed. And I was wailing alone like a motherless child.

I kinda stopped posting about Ferguson or about police. Because there’s so much. So many unarmed people shot, killed, and beaten by police. I mean, we’re all kind of scrolling past now, aren’t we? Video shows police shoot unarmed man. Video shows suspect had his hands up. Video contradicts police story, Man in wheelchair beaten by police. See the shocking video. Woman kicked in the face by police. Pregnant woman slammed to ground by police. See the shocking video. Police arrest woman waiting for her children to use the bathroom, Police taze man waiting for his daughter to get out of daycare. See the shocking video. Police shoot man for following the directions The Police gave him. My feed would be 100% this. There would no longer be a Carvell. Just post after post after post to prove that it matters. That it’s happening and it matters. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing, Owning It!, Truth

Stuff.

September 17, 2014

By T. Chick McClure

I’ve lost access to my mom behind an ever-expanding tsunami of STUFF. She is a collector of things. But, not for curio cabinets. My mother lives inside a mountain of trash, dogs, cockroaches and filth. She is insulated, befriended, comforted, shut-out, shut-in, imprisoned, and rendered invisible by STUFF. She is unreachable and at times I am devastated by our lack of connection. Because, in some ways, it’s like she’s died already. Like I only get to have conversations with her in my head, imagining how she might laugh in response to something dumb I’d share with her. The way we did before she started accumulating. I miss her. I call her on the phone. She never calls back. Holidays come and she’s not with me. I worry that ONE day, SOMEhow, SOMEone is going to track me down to let me know they found her, lying on a half-inflated air mattress, piled on all sides by worthless STUFF. Her remains, liquid, I imagine, guarded by starving dogs, as she seeps into all that useless STUFF surrounding her.
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Books, Guest Posts, Truth

Inventing the Truth.

September 15, 2014

By Suzy Vitello

I’m a wanderer. I was born that way, or so I thought. But lately, I wonder if “wandering” is simply a compensatory strategy for dealing with chaos. My young parents were barely old enough to vote when they married and immediately combined DNA to form me. On paper, it was sort of a fairy tale situation. They married in August, and honeymooned in Salzburg on their way to Vienna, where my father was enrolled in med school. Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, Truth

The Abortion.

July 14, 2014

The Abortion by Judy Bolton-Fasman.

I am weightless, airborne as I look down at my body on the examination table.

Like my mother and her mother, my post-baby weight has gathered in my belly, making me appear several months pregnant even at nine weeks. My legs are spread wide so the doctor can apply a cream to soften my cervix, easing my body to give way to the abortion.

Sometimes I wish this story had a cinematic ending. But I did not jump off the table, holding the back of my gown together, walking away backwards saying, “This is a mistake.” Saying, “I’ll keep the baby.”

Six months earlier, I was nine months pregnant, also waiting for my cervix to be effaced. At ten centimeters I could begin pushing my first baby out of fluid darkness.

“What will we call the baby? I asked my husband before the Pitocin made me heavy then delirious with pain. Later on in labor I disconnected from my body after an epidural paralyzed my legs so that pushing felt mechanical rather than necessary. I worried that without ripples of crushing pain I had not fully earned the right to be a mother.

**

The second pregnancy was like the flowering surprise of a bloodstain blooming on a crisp white bed sheet. I breastfed my first baby and hadn’t had a period yet. My husband and I should have known that I could get pregnant, but that would have meant taking the time to fumble for a condom or the diaphragm. There could be no barriers between us on that cold, starless January night. And given how difficult it was to get pregnant the first time, we never thought it could happen so effortlessly. In the two years we tried to conceive our first baby we desperately willed our bodies to do what they were meant for. When I was finally pregnant, it was as if I were the first woman in the world to carry a baby.

**

That first time I tested for a pregnancy, I rejoiced that a drugstore kit rarely registered a false positive. The second time I tested for a pregnancy I prayed to be the exception.

**

In the late afternoon the baby would not stop screaming and squirming in my arms. I often had fantasies of popping her in the microwave, cooking her until she was quiet. “Do you want to hurt your baby?” a therapist asked. “Wring her neck like you would a small chick?”

I lay the baby down in a basket plumped with clean clothes as if I were sending her away like Moses on the Nile. She rubbed her eyes and let out a few cries before succumbing to exhaustion. I hated parents who were nostalgic for a child that fit into their arms, that couldn’t answer them back. I longed for independence, for words to articulate how long the days were. “Yes,” said one of those parents, “the days are long and intense, but the years are short.” Liar, I thought.

 

**

My breasts were tender—a sure sign that I would bleed at any moment. I peed on the telltale stick anyway. Twenty minutes later two pink lines appeared. One for each baby I could have within the year. Pink is for girl. Two baby girls—one on each hip. I thought of my mother and her panic when she believed she was pregnant for a fourth time. She cried for a miscarriage. That was also the summer of her continuous migraine. “I can’t take this anymore,” she said about her headaches and her motherhood. She stripped down to bra and panties and lay in bed with a wet washcloth over her eyes. Her long dark hair was down from its bun and splayed on the pillow.

**

My baby girl was two months old when the Susan Smith drama unfolded on CNN. Each night at dinnertime I breastfed my colic baby to quiet her as I watched the police piece their way to the inevitable conclusion that Smith strapped her little boys into their car seats and rolled her car into a lake. She murdered her children to be free to pursue a romance. Was I, who was terrified of microwaving my baby to free myself from the long twilight days, so different than Susan Smith?

**

The summer I was due with my first baby, a series of business trips kept my husband from attending all but one childbirth class with me. I called my sister to come down to be my temporary birth partner. She was game until the instructor passed around a metal prod used to break the amniotic sac. It turns out I was a natural water breaker. Two weeks before my baby’s due date, I lay down to go to sleep and my water broke. Soaked and scared, I went to the hospital only to be sent back home until I had labor pains. The pains never came. They must have been waylaid deep inside my body.

The night before my labor was induced, I was tucked into bed among other women also awaiting their babies. We were curtained off from each other for some semblance of privacy. A couple of hours after I had had a sonogram to establish the baby’s position, a nurse came in and told me that I was having a boy. I called my husband in the middle of the night to tell him to prepare for a brit—a circumcision—in the next week. He would be marked like his father.

With Pitocin, Demerol and spinal block flooding my veins, my baby was born sluggish. She took a few minutes to cry. When the doctor finally announced that I had had a girl, I managed to sit up and ask if she was absolutely sure. “I’ve been doing this a long time,” she said to me.

**

The doctor who delivered my baby girl snaps off her gloves after she spreads the cream on my cervix. “It’s early enough so that all you’ll need is a D&C. It’s also encouraging that you’ve been spotting the last couple of days. You might have had a miscarriage.”

**

After I saw specks of blood on my underwear, I took long hot baths to hasten a miscarriage. My grandmother had done the same when she became pregnant with my uncle. She also tried to ripen her cervix with olive oil. Her two daughters, born a year apart, had frequently sent her to convalesce in the hospital. My grandmother gave birth to her only son born seven years after her first child, my mother. Mom brought him up.

**

The morning of the abortion I am still nine weeks pregnant. My husband drives in wide circles around the hospital for what seems like hours before we check into the day surgery. “You don’t have to do this,” he tells me. He holds my hand in the car as I explain to him again that Jewish law makes room for an early pregnancy termination if the mother’s health is at risk. “I’m in no shape to have two children fifteen months apart,” I say. And yet I want him to tell me that I can mother two young children if I have to. I want him to tell me that he will hire someone so that I can grocery shop alone and come home to folded laundry.

**

Abortion is what the unmarried do. What the unhappily married do. At that moment, I somehow manage to be both.

**

This is where the story could have another cinematic ending. I could tell my husband to drive me home. If my cervix holds up, I will have the baby. If I miscarry, at least I made the decision to keep the baby. But we walk into the same hospital where I gave birth to my baby girl, grateful that there are no screaming placards accusing us of murder. Just a waiting room wrapped in the quiet euphemism that I am there for a D&C. My cervix will be dilated and the doctor will scrape my uterus and scoop the cluster of cells. I mostly convince myself that there is just tissue lining my uterus.

I part from my husband to undress—the gown opened in the back—and I lay down on yet another table where I shade my eyes from the fluorescent lights. “Will I hear a vacuum sound?” I ask the nurse. As soon as the question floats between us I wonder how such a domestic machine can undo such a domestic act.

“We give you drugs that make you forget,” she says. That’s the conventional wisdom about the pain of childbirth too. I am the exception. I remember all of it.

Feet in stirrups, sheet draped over my legs, the doctor asks me to “scoot down” and count backwards into blankness. The number 97 is the last thing I remember. I wake up in a cold amnesia, shaking. Excitement is the other side of anxiety, and mania has taken hold of me.

I am lighter, unburdened, triumphant. I want to know the sex. Another girl? I don’t believe the doctor when she says that the sex cannot be determined so early in the pregnancy.

I catch myself thinking that I would have named the baby for my father and I cry for the first time that day. No matter that my father is still alive then. I follow Spanish-Jewish tradition. And right then and there only the living count. The abortion is for the baby I already have.

The abortion is also for the baby boy I will give birth to three years later. He is named for my father. He’s almost a man now—six feet tall with a deep voice, nerves of steel and the heart of a saint—yet I’m afraid to tell him about the abortion. What if he asks me if he would have been born if I hadn’t had terminated my pregnancy? I can’t give him a vague answer about the alignment of the stars determining his fate. He’s a smart boy and he won’t be convinced if I simply tell him that he was meant to be born. Meant to be ours. I can only tell him that he is wanted, needed.

 Judy Bolton-Fasman lives outside of Boston with her husband and two children. Her essays and reviews have appeared in the Rumpus, Cognoscenti, the New York Times, the Boston Globe and other venues. She has just completed a draft of her memoir 1735 Asylum Avenue: A Family Memoir.

Judy Bolton-Fasman lives outside of Boston with her husband and two children. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The Rumpus, Cognoscenti, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and other venues. She has just completed a draft of her memoir 1735 Asylum Avenue: A Family Memoir.

 

Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, and more. Jen leads her signature Manifestation Retreats & Workshops all over the world. The next retreat is to Ojai, Calif over Labor Day. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: SeattleLondon, Atlanta, South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Tucson & The Berkshires (guest speaker Canyon Ranch.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

Next Manifestation workshops: Seattle July 26/27, Atlanta August 9th.

And So It Is, I Have Done Love, Truth

Do You Tell The Truth?

December 26, 2013

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By Jen Pastiloff.

“My belief is that when you’re telling the truth, you’re close to God.”
Anne Lamott

On a winter day in March 2013, I met my friend Robert Wilder in the lobby of the Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, where I had slept the night before. I’d stayed in the hotel room of my friends from L.A., who, coincidentally, also happened to be in Santa Fe. My friend Emily Rapp’s son Ronan had passed away from Tay Sachs on February 15, and the memorial was chosen for that particular weekend.

Robert asked how I knew my friend. I told him that I met her because she took my classes, but that we had become friends.

Robert’s a fantastic writer and a high school English teacher. (He calls his students High Schooligans, if that gives you an indication of his cool-teacher status.) The Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society kind of teacher, the kind you appreciate much later upon looking back at who formed you, at who maybe taught you to really love books and writing and expressing yourself. My “Robert Wilder” was Mrs. Lifshey in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, whom I remembering running into when I was getting my hair done for my senior prom. I had been trying on a rhinestone pair of earrings, and she spotted me as she sat getting her own hair highlighted. She bought me the expensive fake diamond earrings “anonymously” that my mother couldn’t afford at the time. (My mom knew and didn’t keep it anonymous.)

Robert and I sat on the leather sofa in the lobby of the Inn of the Anasazi, and he asked me, “Is it hard to be friends with your students?”

I’d rather think of them as my tribe. Or not-studenty students.

But yes, it can be hard, I suppose.

Like being a person in the world can be hard or being a daughter or a wife can be hard. Like how anything you love can be hard.

Here’s why it can be hard with my not-studenty students: I am afraid to expose myself and have them see that I am a regular person who gets depressed and thinks she looks fat sometimes and drinks too much coffee and wine and doesn’t always walk the talk.

I write about it, but there is a difference in writing about it and then actually having someone see you in the flesh as the youest you there is.

My belief is that when you are telling the truth, you are close to God. So says Anne Lamott. Yet and still, my paper creates a chasm, a separation. A wall between me and everyone else in the world. There is a distance between the reader and myself, even when I am being my most vulnerable and truthful.

There is a little bit of Us and Them when you are standing in front of a class. You are in a glass case, and although everyone can hear you, no one can really get in. There is a you can’t really see me even though you think you can.

When you are with someone in person over lunch, that distance is minimized, and then there they are, right up in your face, their eyes all over you, their minds making up stories and facts.

Or not.

A couple months ago, I went to Atlanta to see my sister and nephews and to lead a workshop. My sister mentioned to me that she had said something to my friend (who had started as a not-student student) something about me always being on my phone.

I was horrified.

I told my sister that she should have not said that to this person. That it made me look badly, and that I had an image to uphold. (Ha!) Me always being on my phone suggested that I wasn’t present, that I was full of shit. How dare she say that to someone who takes my classes? She felt badly and said that she thought this person and I were really close friends. “We are.” I said, “But still.”

But still.

There is no but still.

The distance was zippered up, and there was no space between us anymore, and it’s true I look at my phone too much. It’s an addiction. I didn’t want that side of me exposed because, in my mind, it was bad enough I was friends with my not-studenty student, but now they would see all my faults and that I was full of sh*t, and they wouldn’t be my student or my not-studenty student and, possibly, not even my friend.

(Oh, the stories! The stories!)

I was terrified I would become some sort of fallen icon. As teachers of any kind, we’ve all had people become fixated or obsessed and tell us How Amazing We Are, and then, one day, they get bored or decide you are a Real Life Human Being, and you never hear from them again.

I was terrified that someone who sees me as an inspiration would realize I look at my iPhone too much and that I don’t pay enough attention and dismiss me.

But it’s only hard when I make it so. Yes, it is hard for me to be friends with everyone. (I am not special in that truth.) No one can be there for every single person nor should they be. I can’t go to everyone’s play or show, but there are indeed some people that I meet because they take my class or read my writing whom I know I want to have a glass of wine with. It is incidental to me that we met through my yoga class or my retreat or my blog.

Why should I be any better than them or put myself on a pedestal because I teach them how to do a downdog or because they read an essay and feel inspired by something I said?

The only time it’s hard is when someone puts an unrealistic expectation on me or when I try to make everyone happy. I can’t do that. (I’d like to remember more often that I can’t do that. I’d like us all to remember more often that we can’t do that.)

Everyone in my life is my teacher. You. You reading this. Everyone. (We should all recognize this more often.)

I want to do better.

I want to do better than yesterday, at least. I want to be more present and not look at my phone so much and never to gossip and all the rest, but the people who learn from me are pretty clear that I am not a guru or saint.

Yet, I also want to live a congruent life. That is what it really boils down to. My belief is that when you’re telling the truth, you’re close to God.

ABTTT. Always Be Telling The Truth.

If someone takes my class and then we become friends and they decide they no longer want to take my class because the boundary has been crossed or because I curse or don’t do enough of my own yoga practice, well then, so be it. What can I do? They come; they go; they come again, and all the while, I am here ABTTT or doing my best version of it.

My belief is that when you’re telling the truth, you’re close to God.

The truth is that I can’t be friends with everybody. (Neither can you.) Nor do I want to. (Neither can you. Trust me.) Nor do you want to. So get over it. Not possible.

I can love as best as I can, and I can keep teaching and writing, but I cannot be friends with every single person who takes my class or reads me. It’s not humanly possible, and that’s okay. The people pleasing days are falling away, and the days of ABTTT are coming fast and hard.

So what does it matter if someone takes my classes and also eats pancakes with me? It doesn’t. It would matter if I was a vastly different person on paper or in class that I am in “real life,” but I am not.

They are people. I am people. The same.

Most of the people in my life now entered via my yoga classes or my writings. I say Thank God for the not-studenty students who have turned into beloveds. Thank God I found you.

As I was getting on the plane (you guessed it, I wrote this from the airplane), I saw an old man reading an even older looking book called You Should Only Be Happy.

(Oh, that awful “should” word. There it is again.)

The book was written by a Jewish man and, from what I could gather, was a lot about Jewish culture. I started talking to the man, and he was a Jew from New York who now lived in Santa Fe. I chuckled as he held my hand.

I said, “So are you part of the Tribe?” (an oft-asked question Jews sometimes ask one another), and he looked at me and said, “Isn’t everybody?”

Isn’t everybody? 

So, is it hard to be friends with my students? Yes and no and everything in between.

Aren’t we all human? Isn’t, as my new airport friend put it, everybody part of the tribe. Isn’t everybody?

You Should Only Be Happy. Always Be Telling The Truth. Stop Looking At Your Phone So Much. Pay Attention. Drink More Water. Honor The Dead. Drink With Loved Ones. Eat Bread Baked By Your Friends. Have More Sex. Read George Saunders. Do Some Yoga.

Look, I don’t know about any of the above. What do I know, really? The only thing I know for sure is that telling the truth is everything.

Up next for Jen Pastiloff’s workshops are: annual New Years retreat in California, Vancouver, London (UK), Atlanta, NYC, Dallas and more. Click here.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it's magical.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it’s magical.

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healing, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings, Truth

Promises & Lies.

January 8, 2013
beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Jen Pastiloff.

Promise. The word itself is sleazy. Hard at first, then sizzling out at the end like something that can’t last. A snake. A word that can’t get up off the ground.

You promised though.

You promised.

I promise you.

We promise.

I promise. 

Hsssssssss. Promisssssse.

**

In 1983 we lived in Pennsauken, New Jersey, after having moved from Philadelphia a couple years earlier. Across the street from our house was a little store called Kirk’s Newsroom. The store itself a tiny animal, nestled next to an appliance repair shop and a Jersey highway called Route 38.

There was nothing pretty about it. We bought American cheese there, thinly sliced, and egg nog in December. Kools for my dad, Almond Joys, sometimes a newspaper. I played PacMan in the back in the dark little room where there were two video games shoved against a wall.

We had a “house account” at Kirk’s Newsroom. My dad would send me across the street to get him a hard pack of Kools, cheese, and half-n-half. I don’t remember what Kirk looked like besides having a mustache and a thin face, he was always behind the counter. Put it on my dad’s account I’d say like a lady to the mustache behind the counter. And can I get a hard pack of Kools?

I think about that now and how a child could never walk into a store and get a pack of cigarettes and also, do house accounts even exist anymore? It was the early 80’s however and most things were possible until they weren’t.

I hated that store. It felt dirty and old and every time I was sent there to retrieve things I’d felt as if I was being delivered into the arms of a rat. Go, my child! Go straight into the den of vermin! Be gone now! Come back with cigarettes and cheese. Don’t let the snakes eat you!

Kirk was nice enough, I guess. He’d leave egg nog on our doorstep around the holidays. We’d wake up and a frozen carton would be there waiting for us or we’d open the door and step on it, not knowing it had been there. Either way, I hated the place like I knew it would kill us in the end.

And it did.

I’d flushed a pack down the toilet because I’d been so angry that he’d promised to quit smoking and hadn’t. He’d promised! I was ballsy and triumphant at 8 years old. I’ll show him! Flush.

He smoked 4 packs of menthol cigarettes a day. Now that so much time has passed, I often wondered what has turned to myth, as so much does, but, nonetheless, he chain-smoked a shitload of very-bad-for-you cigarettes daily. He was not happy with the flushing incident, he did not think it was cute. You are being bad and making me not feel good. Now, please go get me a pack of cigarettes across the street.

Did he really say that?

You’re asking me? As if. As if our minds can be relied upon. As if history doesn’t fold in upon itself and change over time. As if our memories are safe. As if Time hasn’t ravished them and then polished them before putting them back into the wrong compartment.

You always break your promises! I hate you.

The end.

He died that night, and yes, that was the last thing I ever said to him. I. Hate. You.

Things and people I have tried to blame it on: Kirk: the bastard who sold cigarettes and newspapers. Myself: I killed him with my words. I was bad and made him not feel good. Speed: his heart, his poor heart racing to keep up, a fist in his chest, pumping five times faster. Downers: the confusion his heart must have felt daily, up and down, up and down. My mother: why couldn’t she save him? God: God hated me and this was proof. The woman he’d had an affair with: if he’d never met her this would never have happened. Promises: if he’d never promised to quit smoking, I would never have told him I hated him and the night would have played out differently. He would not die. I would not walk 17 times around the block in an effort to not cry. We would not pick up and move to California. We would be safe.

Fucking promises.

There is a promise when a baby comes into the world as you hold them for the first time. I will care for you. I will be here. You are safe. We are safe. But how can you know that?

How dare you promise anything?

 

When I lived in NYC I used to promise myself nightly that if I didn’t die during the night I would stop abusing laxatives. I didn’t die and I would do it the next night and the next and the next in my little single apartment owned by NYU Housing. I would take 10 laxative tea bags and put them in a few ounces of water until it was  brown sludge. Sometime in the middle of the night as my eyes were wildly dilated from the diet pills I was taking, my stomach would begin to gurgle and I would rush to the bathroom and pray Don’t let me die.

I couldn’t even keep a promise to myself.

I promise I will do better.

Can you remember all the promises you’ve made to yourself? I can’t.

What is a promise called when you don’t really mean it? When you just say it to get you to the next tier? Is it a lie?

I lied to myself over and over.

Maybe you’re cringing or maybe you pity me. Maybe you don’t care at all since promises to ourselves are the worst kinds of promises because no one is holding us accountable. Or perhaps you’d pick up your own coffee cup, the one right after you’ve sworn off coffee, and nod with I promise I will do better before you put it back down and go off to brew another pot. The newer lies I tell myself stacked on top of the old ones all along the edges of my life in places nobody would care to look. All the years I lied to myself about not wanting to be a writer. The lies I told myself about who I was. The lies themselves innumerable and ugly. What’s most scary about these lies we tell to ourselves is their proximity to the truth.

Such a strange sense of satisfaction being so close to the truth. Holding it in your hands like a thing with weight, until you realize that lies are slippery and wet, unholdable at best, and that they have no weight. They carry nothing but themselves.

They will not carry you.

I couldn’t keep up with the promises I told myself.

Every year that I stayed at my waitressing job was another year I had promised and failed to: go back to school, to try and get acting work, to do something, to get out finally from waitressing, to make a change, to stop hating myself so much, to stop starving myself all day and only eating at night. There were so many promises, all as empty as I wanted to feel at night when I would lie in bed and make sure my ribs were protruding by pressing into them hard like something I wanted to make disappear.

I had lost faith in promises, their meanings slippery as the years I had stayed at the restaurant. All through my 20’s and I couldn’t tell you one year from the next until all of a sudden I was 30 and then 31 and then Oh My God, I promised myself I would be Something by now. I would be Somebody.

Who was I promising anyway? It sure wasn’t God. I’d mutter the promises to myself or write them down on random slips of paper and then scribble them out and throw them away so nobody would see. After my father died, I had decided that God hated me. I constantly searched for evidence of this. Bad things happen to me, I’d think. I walked around waiting for that fact to shake up my life, to turn up at a street corner and snatch me away.

Bad things happen to everyone sometimes.

That is what I now know. This too is innumerable and ugly, as so many things often are. But it is also a testament to life, one that we are born into whether we like it or not. As soon as we are held for the first time by our parents, as soon as they whisper into our new soft baby heads: I will care for you. I will be here. You are safe. We are safe.

Promises are tricky: when they break, when their shells crack and they fall all over the kitchen floor like a fallen glass, your heart goes along with it. Be careful when you pick up the glass to throw it away that you don’t throw a little bit of your heart away. It can happen like that. And then the digging and searching through garbage to find what remains.

I spent years digging through crap to find my missing parts.

Don’t make a promise you can’t, or (don’t intend to) keep. I say this to myself as well as to you. I write it here, and instead of secretly scribbling it out and crumpling it up so nobody can read it, I share it with you. Stop lying to myself I write, on my mirror in red lipstick. Don’t make promises to yourself that you know you won’t keep just so that you can  slump yourself on the floor validating how rotten you are and how bad you suck, yet again and yet again and yet again.

Don’t do it.

I always know when I am lying to myself, that’s the thing. Always. I always knew I wouldn’t stop taking the laxatives even as I promised that if I didn’t die on the toilet, I would never ever do it again. 

I knew I would do it again.

So, what is the point of the promises that know themselves so well, that know they are untrue things?

I think they actually think they are keeping us safe.

My father thought if he told me he’d promised to quit smoking he’d be safer than if he said I never want to stop. I love smoking. It makes me happy and I don’t want to quit now.

We all want to be safe.

If I didn’t tell myself all those lies I would have easily sank to the bottom of the ocean. By telling myself the lies, I became equipped with a temporary life jacket. I am safe in the world right now because starting tomorrow I will stop abusing myself. Starting tomorrow I will ______. Starting tomorrow I will not _______. 

Tomorrow would never come. I would carry on doing what I did until I finally did sink to the bottom of the ocean. I finally had my breakdown. There weren’t any more promises I could think of that hadn’t broken me.

I got up and took off the platform shoes I had been wearing for over ten years to pretend I was tall. I waitressed on concrete for over ten years in really really bad platform shoes. I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and put on some nice supportive sneakers. It took a while to get used to my frame of reference being 5 inches shorter but I did it and when people balked at me You are a midget! I had no idea you were so short I just smiled and fought every urge that said Dig those shoes out of the trash and put them back on as soon as possible. 

I didn’t ever put the platforms back on.

Eventually I stopped taking the laxatives and abusing myself. Eventually, after over 13 years, I left the restaurant. Eventually I admitted that I did not want to be an actress.

It wasn’t because I promised myself. It was because I finally woke up one day and realized that lying was harder. That who I am was far more beautiful than who I was pretending to be or promising I would become. I woke up and said Enough. And then I said it over and over and over Enough Enough Enough.

I didn’t want any more promises or lies. I wanted what was rightfully mine, my birthright, as it were, and that was the knowledge that I was whole. That I wasn’t missing any parts.

It’s true that there are many things in life that are innumerable and ugly and inconceivable. But it is also true that what is on the other side is a whole world of glittering NOW.

There is nothing to promise NOW. You and I are here now. I am writing this now and you are reading this now and we are here and alive and what else could matter? What future based promise could possibly touch that irrevocable fact?

The Manifestation Workshop in Vancouver. Jan 17th. Book here. No yoga experience required. Only requirement is to  be a human being.

The Manifestation Workshop in Vancouver. Jan 17th. Book here. No yoga experience required. Only requirement is to be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

 

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it's magical.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it’s magical.

 

 

Contact Rachel for health coaching, weight loss, strategies, recipes, detoxes, cleanses or help getting off sugar. Click here.

Contact Rachel for health coaching, weight loss, strategies, recipes, detoxes, cleanses or help getting off sugar. Click here.

Inspiration, Jen's Musings, Truth

What is Most True.

December 30, 2012

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By Jen Pastiloff. From December 2012, London.

There’s no one thing that’s true. It’s all true. ~ Ernest Hemingway

I am only about halfway through Tiny Beautiful Things but certain things gets stuck, as things do, and one of them is Cheryl Strayed’s connection to the truth. To what is most true.

Sugar, her voice in Tiny Beautiful Things, seems to keep directing the people who’ve written her towards one place, and one place only. And that place is The Valley of the Most True.

Here’s what is true: Family is hard. Family is full of dirty tricks and history and You did that and How could you’s?

I have a small family of 3 people. My mother, my sister and myself. At one point there was more people and at one point less (my sister has had children) but the core nucleus is us. Tight-knit, protective and defensive, self-reliant and totally and utterly dependent.

And I would run in front of a bus for any of them. My sister has two kids, one of whom has special needs (Prader Willi Syndrome) and the other has more energy than a banshee on crack. He is gorgeous and lovely, but, truly, if you left him alone, he would swing from chandeliers and climb the walls naked and eat sugar from the bowl. That’s just who he is. And he’s perfect. Just wildly alive.

The other, with his rare genetic disorder, could literally eat himself to death if not watched, so a lot of vigilance must take place.

There’s a lot of back and forth as there is in any family, a lot of movement and progress and then: nothing.

Days of backward movement, even years of back peddling and Haven’t we been down this road and How are we here again? and I thought you changed. No, I thought you did. The ebb and the flow of any natural pattern, a family being no less a pattern than the weather or the way we react to holidays. They change. They stay the same.

They’re hard.

It took a lot to unravel me but when it happened my limbs flew about and scattered everywhere and it took some time to collect them but what was never found was the heart. The heart was never found.

All these years I’ve been searching.

What is also true: Marriage is hard.

Tonight, at a pub in London, my husband and I somehow started chatting about what would happen if one of us cheated.

I would walk away. That’s it, he said.

That’s it? You wouldn’t fight? Me.

No. Him

Marriage is hard. There is so much compromise. How can you say you would just walk away? I thought. And then I said it out loud.

I sipped my wine in the pub overlooking the Putney Bridge and wondered How we can be opposite and work? and yet we do. And my family: Where did I come from? How can we be so opposite and yet, so the same and after thirty some odd years how I am still triggered by the same shit and will it be this way with marriage as well?

I sipped my wine and ask my husband how he can be so final? 

How can you walk away and know that it was the truth?

What if it wasn’t? What if it was a lie and a mistake?

It’s all true.

As Hemingway said. It was a lie and a mistake and deserves walking away but who ever gets what they deserve? is what I am asking?

Look, I am not cheating and neither is he, but I know that I would fight and beg and scream and kick, just like I do with my family. It’s all hard.

Easy is: text messaging and complaining and drinking wine, but family- family and marriage, those are hard. Hanging out with your in-laws, and conversely, judging them, comparing them to your own little nexus of a family as if they are qualitative things to be measured with a spoon.

I am reading Tiny Beautiful Things in pieces (if I read it all at once it will be over and I will never again have that first time experience with it) while I am here in London and as I walk down the High Street and listen to the click clack of my boots I think about what is most true in my world.

That’s how it works doesn’t it? There aren’t really ultimate truths.

What is true for me. Right now. And in the realm of true, in that filthy and gorgeous jungle, as it were, what is more true: that or that or that? If you had to choose a tree in the jungle which would it be? You have three and you must choose one. That or that or that?

And so it goes. It’s hard. Like I said.

But not that hard. Because once we face what is true we usually decide to stay. Or not.

It’s when we are not facing what is true that we get stuck.

I am staying with my family and my husband and his family and all the rest and I may take breaks every now and again, little breathing stints out on the roof like I’m dodging out for a smoke, but I will always come back, and if need be I will fight and beg and kick and scream, because no one said it would be easy. Yes, I have heard that cliche and I have lost my heart somewhere along some Jersey street for it, but I will stay because I have looked into the truest light and taken it head on like a warrior.

My heart was never found, but the thing is, it left an imprint. It left a soft imprint and when I hold the light up to it I can see it like it’s still there pounding away. I don’t know where it went, but, as most, or rather, all true things go, it doesn’t matter where it went because what I know is that it is there in my chest pounding like a motherfucker, beating the shit of my life, pumping the hell out of my blood, and telling my bones to Keep Going, Keep Going, Keep Going.

December 2012.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above.

Jen is back in London for ONE workshop only Feb 14th. Book by clicking poster. This is her most popular workshop and space is limited to 50 people.

Jen is back in London for ONE workshop only Feb 14th. Book by clicking poster. This is her most popular workshop and space is limited to 50 people.

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