Blocking

You know what else has been blocked besides the Suez Canal? Me! So, I’m posting today to talk about ways to overcome those blocks and hopefully some of this advice rubs off on myself.

I recently moved my hosting for my travel blogging website to a new domain host. This is the second time I have done this, and I’m hoping the third host is the charm. Some of the problems I have experienced is the learning curve for things like this. Honestly so much of it is fumbling my way through the dark and realizing at the end of it that if you just pump a little bit more money into it, it would work.

People make money off the internet, whether it is TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, or back in the day some personal blogs that went viral. The best use for a website nowadays is using it like a storefront, or marketing yourself. I have never been able to get my sites to monetize properly. Even when I had a trial affiliation with Amazon. Not a single shiny nickel was paid out for the links I had plastered all over my sites. But a kid on TikTok blows salad all over his friend with a leafblower and he has new Nikes for the next three years.

So, as I sat there all week, trying to figure out how to rebuild my website and how to do it right this time, I could feel that frustration begin to build. My mom asked me how I was doing on things in an almost “Get a move on” tone and we even wound up discussing my renovations on the house which have stalled after putting up drywall. On the weeks where my son is with me, the majority of any day is letting him use the computer, because schools demand that a kid stare at his lessons for at least six hours a day, rather than just letting them do the work and turn it in. When he’s on my computer for school, I’m not on my computer for work. But it is considered vital for a bunch of ten year olds to Zoom in every day like some split frame movie with a frustrated and bedraggled teacher at their epicenter.

So I’ll save the renovations for when he’s doing school.

I have pitches to make, queries to locations too, and unfortunately a lot of that hinges on having a decent website to refer people to. If you are a writer and hate building synopsises or pitches that is 99% of what I have going on right now. So rather than beat my head against the wall, I decided to write today. It is the second day I’ve been writing instead of fighting DNS and ICANN and Registrars and all sorts of other web-fuckery.

It felt so good to write. Even though it was right in the middle of the story and I don’t even know if I can use it. It was necessary.

Like that freighter blocking up the Suez Canal I had too many things going on at once and by just ignoring some of them I got to do something that felt good for my soul. I made coffee, poured it into my favorite mug, and sat down and just started writing. Now my head is clear for other things, and I have a train of thought that I can use to continue working on the story because that (as much as I enjoy doing it) is work too. I’m not a web designer. I don’t know about proxies or a lot of that technical crap. But I can write content, I know about SEO, and it would be great just to get to that instead of screwing with the technical stuff that a webhost always says is going to be easy, but really isn’t.

Anyway, as the weekend approaches, if you find yourself in a bind, remember to do something that fuels your soul. All the rest of your problems just might figure out a way to go with the flow.

Closure

I have often been told not to expect closure. But sometimes you find it in strange ways.

I mentioned in an earlier post that it was the anniversary of the end of my last serious relationship. The woman I dated and I had a big trip in May 2020 planned. Ten days in the UK. London then up to Edinburgh and back again. I had always wanted to take a trip like this, but because of COVID quarantine our relationship ended and with that, so did our plans.

I had $350 in AirBnB credits for my part of the stays that I had to use up before they expired, so when my mom, son, and I went to Washington to visit family, I used the balance to rent a cottage in Seaside for a couple nights that was just off the beach.

The strange thing was that my former girlfriend had lived in Oregon for nearly twenty years before moving back to Colorado. It was strange to be seeing and visiting many of the places she often talked about, without her. What was really strange about it was I didn’t feel haunted by her.

Truly a horrible place. *eyeroll*

Her take on Oregon was that it was a miserable place where it rained constantly and that the state flower was mold.

I don’t think I have seen a more beautiful place, even at the tail end of winter. The cold sea, the mossy trees, the sunsets, and yes, it did rain. It even snowed a little on the shore one day. But it wasn’t anything like she described. It was a place I could see myself returning to again and again.

I guess what I am saying is that my eyes were opened in many ways. I began to see fundamental differences in who we were as people. What our tastes and values were and more importantly how they diverged.

On this trip, I used up the last of the funds I had set aside for a trip with her, in a place she had lived, and in a weird way, I got closure out of that. The page was turned and the book was closed on that part of my life.

Photo by Clinton A. Harris March 2021

Walls

Today is a double post day.

Occasionally a post about personal growth or observation sneaks into the mix. Today I decided to write about one such moment. Typically I haven’t been because my ex-wife loves to stalk my blog and try to indicate where I am a danger to myself and others. Then brings it up in court.

The Best Leonardo DiCaprio Memes Shared on Social Media for His 46th  Birthday
Right there, Cliff! See it!

Jeez, does that shit get old fast. If you haven’t been paying attention, this blog is more or less about personal growth, which is the opposite of that. To be clear, I write about these things too because I know a lot of other readers out there are struggling and part of healing is knowing you aren’t alone. That is if anyone is actually interested in putting in the work to heal. That being said, let’s continue.

Lately I’ve been facing an anniversary.

We’ve all been facing an anniversary. Mine is a little bit different. A year ago, I was nervous about changes that were coming. I was being taken back to court again by my ex-wife. The hearing was set for November. I had no money to hire an attorney either. Also, just on the heels of a romantic weekend in Glenwood Springs with my (then) girlfriend, it was confirmed that there would be layoffs coming at my job. As coronavirus (as it was called back then) began to trigger lockdowns we parted ways on March 13th, with the anticipation that we would see each other again in just a few weeks when the quarantine was ended. We had plans to go to the UK on a couple’s trip where we would visit London and Edinburgh. My hopes of finding someone who would join me on my adventures had been realized!

We never saw each other again. The quarantine dragged out for weeks. We talked on the phone every night and as the panic began to creep in on me about losing my job, child support probably going up, and having to cancel our trip, she decided she needed to end our relationship.

I used to count the end of our time together as April 30th, but really, it ended that night she left my house in the rain on March 13th. I could feel her slipping away, and when I would try to talk to her about it, she just told me she wasn’t going anywhere. That I was overthinking. Of course that was until she did go somewhere. I felt that trust begin to unravel two days before we were over. I played Thomas Dolby’s “I Love You Goodbye” on repeat for most of an evening before she dropped the final bombshell.

Previous relationships and of course my tumultuous marriage have left me with a lot of pieces to pick up. This one hurt. No, it went beyond that. It left a lot of damage behind. Mostly damage to my ability to trust others in relationships. It is something I struggle with. Strange how building something together that showed me it was possible to love again damaged my ability to trust so badly.

When I met her, I had been healing from another relationship, which I have talked about often on this site. Rather than get into all that BS again, I will say that it was hard to realize it wasn’t me, but seriously them. I had value. Which I had all along but had forgotten over years of isolation and abuse from before. I was fine with being Alone. I was enjoying my own company. Then I met someone who showed me all the effed up things that other person was on about for three years. Namely how badly I was being treated–even though it was significantly better than my marriage.

She never pointed these things out. It was always revealed by things that she did. Her actions. Things like calling me when she got home or not being vague about her “friends”. She treated me as an equal. We built each other up, encouraged each other. We indulged each other’s weird hobbies or activities and accepted them. We gave each other bad habits and enjoyed them together. Damn, was that nice. Each of us had a past but we chose not to let it haunt us too much.

I allowed myself to trust and slowly those walls I built to protect myself began to come down. When she ended things, the walls went back up immediately. They were twice as thick and the tower I stuck myself in this time was much higher. Unless someone was somehow on my side of the wall when that happened, there was no getting in.

The walls stay up.

Sometimes a little light gets let in, but it is with reluctance. With the light, sometimes you get rain. It’s hard to trust for those of us who have been hurt. It’s harder to not cling to that victimhood because it gets you a pass. That is something I am really wanting to be rid of. I am bringing it up today because I want to help others. I want to show them that sometimes being brave is just getting out of your own way.

Sometimes you get into your own headspace and the story you are telling yourself…well, that’s just it. It’s a story until you ask the right questions. It’s hard to ask the right questions because sometimes you are afraid of the answer you might get back. It’s hard to not beat yourself up and say you believed answers another time too, until those changed.

Sometimes you knock out one brick and replace it with two more. You might be afraid of setting yourself up to lose everything all over again, and sometimes its safe and warm behind those walls (you tell yourself it is anyway). It is really hard to be open to trust again. It gets to the point where you don’t even trust your friends. In your 40s, relationships are hard. Especially after a life-changing event like a divorce.

If your situation involved being isolated from your friends, family, or anyone else you were close to (even co-workers) you might find yourself starting all over again. The strong bonds you had with people have been stretched thin by time and distance. You are no longer in the inner circle of those relationships. You start over. This time with a layer of cynicism. You feel jaded. At some point the fear of caring about someone new is overwhelming because you keep expecting the other shoe to drop. Attachment anxiety ensues.

When you are in your 20s, like a hangover or the days after an all-nighter studying, you bounce back pretty quickly. In your middle years, it is much less so. Like the sounds you make when you try to extract yourself from a comfy chair or struggling to walk across a cold floor to the bathroom every morning, it takes a lot more. You don’t bounce back. In friendships and relationships you are also pretty hardened off and set in your ways to some extent. In your 20s you are maleable. Adaptable. Less broken. Like little kids who approach each other on the playground and say, “Hey! Wanna be friends!” and from that moment on, they just are. Best friends even.

Boundaries are important, but they aren’t the same as walls, even if they sometimes serve the same purpose. But those walls you build just get thicker and stronger. Because you can’t be hurt that way again. Sometimes you just wish you could step outside of them and be like you were when you were young and beautiful.

Difficult? Yes. Impossible. No. That’s what I hope for anyway. Some days are difficult. Do we chisle our way out of Shawshank with a tiny rock hammer or do we ask for more mortar and bricks to make our own prisons? Or do we build a beacon for others?