Who are you? (No, really)

“We can spend our lives letting the world tell us who we are. Sane or insane. Saints or sex addicts. Heroes or victims. Letting history tell us how good or bad we are. Letting our past decide our future. Or we can decide for ourselves. And maybe it’s our job to invent something better.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

The road to self discovery is long no matter what age. And no matter what anyone tells you, it’s seldom easy. Landmines of self-sabotage in the face of normalcy tend to go off just as we start to believe we are finally at a place of having our shit together. Something always trips us; and it’s usually us.

But the harder we fall the more we grow. And as our love affair with ourself evolves, caring about others’ perception of us falls by the wayside into the abyss of It’s None Of My Business. Whether someone tells you to your face, texts or emails you a colorful yarn of who [they think] you are, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that does is what we think of us.

It’s an excellent mantra: What other people think of me is none of my business. But what do we think about who we are? Do we know  – really?

Part of being younger is feeling out theories and testing the waters in our own life rafts. We choose partners who are wrong for us – falling in love with love, swearing that it’s the real deal. We don’t listen to the universe with her many obvious warning signs. We instead project our fears on to others, instead of focusing on why we make the choices we do. It’s all a tightrope of very personal whys; a delicate balance that leads us to knowing our true self with each tumble and rise.

Whenever I’m tested from outside distractions on my road to self awareness and love, I’m always reminded of the final scene in HBO’s Six Feet Under.

Has it really been over a decade – twelve years to be exact – since we said goodbye to our favorite dysfunctional family? Long before Michael C. Hall mastered the art of vigilante murder as Dexter and Peter Krause’s Adam Braverman taught us how to be better fathers in Parenthood, creator and producer Alan Ball kept us enthralled with the Fisher family.

With so much on-line video streaming at the ready these days, my painting a picture of Six Feet Under for those who’ve not experienced the ride wouldn’t serve Alan’s vision as well as buckling in for yourself would. Just know that the same mastermind who delivered American Beauty and True Blood does not disappoint with this unique dramedy about life and death, love and longing and deep insight born from sorrow and struggle. Its flavors are unique with a side of dark humor wrapped with cynicism and sprinkled with hope – just when you thought life was doomed to fail. To some, Six  was an acquired taste while others wanted to lick the spoon as the ending credits ran every week – pondering and personalizing life lessons and deep meaning behind the minutia of every day life.

As a woman in her mid-thirties when the series wrapped, I found myself captivated by the final scene more than any other in the show’s five-year run. The youngest sibling Claire, artist and dreamer, drives to her new life away from California to uncharted waters in The Big Apple. I’m always instantly connected to my younger self and how hard it was to leave my old Rock Star Life behind in my twenties whenever I revisit the this scene. Without saying a word, actress (who plays Claire) Lauren Ambrose nails it; that feeling of being lost and excited, afraid but eager.

Sometimes no words are needed.

Whether you’ve seen Six or not, the message is universal. Anything that inspires us to dig deep into learning about who we are is a gift.  Even those long emails and texts from people claiming to know us is a gift. No matter how wrong they are, they help us realize how far we’ve come and remind us that everyone has their own road and some of us may have farther to go before arriving at their own place of self certainty.

Once we learn how to stay in our own lane and balance personal longing with fear, a new kind of growth happens. No longer are we so focused on others’ stories and how they affect our own. There’s a certain freedom in lifting the veil of worry about what others think. Evolving means making it more about us; who we are, what we want, and how we can serve our happiness.

And when we get to a place of comfort and healing something magical happens. We live from our raw truth, and this energy is echoed into those around us. True happiness attracts the same. Just as toxic people can bring you down, surrounding yourself with like-minded people who are in a place of self awareness and honest insight does wonders for our own path to fulfillment.

It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen the final scene in Six Feet Under, it never fails. The combination of Claire’s face saying nothing and everything, my personal connection with starting a new life after stripping, and hearing Sia’s hauntingly poetic tune, Breathe Me makes me lose my shit. Not that this is a bad thing. There’s no better way to find yourself than in the throes of remembering how far you’ve come.

 

Final Scene in HBO’s Six Feet Under:

Christine Macdonald

Dreaming is Free

48037634-cachedThis post title has ADHD written all over it, but stick with me. I’ll keep the loquaciousness to a minimum. If you’re Googling “Loquaciousness” don’t feel bad. I overheard that word at a party and couldn’t wait to use it in a sentence. Then I realized – I was that L Word. And hilarity ensued. You should’ve been there. I killed.

But back to this post.

When the hell did mid September happen? Shit. I have things to do. A book to finish. Power meetings with influential networking hipsters who can change my life by signing on the dotted line after accepting my hilarious pitch of my oh-so-fabulous story.

Dreaming is free, people. Just ask Debbie Harry. Please Google her too, kids. And do yourself a favor – dance naked to Heart of Glass at least once in your life. Alone in your room is fine. But not in front of any mirror. Just dance. And while you’re at it, blast “Dreaming.” Because it really is free.

What made me think of dreaming out loud tonight? I’m glad you asked.

A couple of hours ago I received a text message from an old sister-friend from our home town of O’ahu, Hawaii (let’s call her B). She and I both live in Southern California now, but have not seen one another in nearly 20 years, can you believe? We reconnected through the marvels of modern technology and plan to meet up soon for a long overdue brunch. But back to her text. I was matter of fact-ly very tongue-in-cheeky mentioning to her that I had a book to finish because I’m dreaming big – her reply was priceless and one I just had to share:

“Don’t stop until it’s done! Then dream up another dream – that way you’re always livin’ the dream.”

It’s been a while, but that quote is so her. Beautiful. Positive. Inspiring. The depression, diseased part of my brain thinks she’s a bitch. I happen to adore her. I win.

B has always been this stunningly beautiful light, and her energy is equally pure and real. Whatever she’s on, I want some. I kid. Those drugs days are over, kids. I know she’s high on life and love. B just reminded me I’ve gotta get me some of that – clinical depression be damned.

If only snapping out of a dark space of wanting to evaporate were as easy as reconnecting with a beautiful soul. Sometimes staying in touch with loved ones, even in the thick of isolation reminds us how much beauty there is in this world. The fact is, when wrestling with clinical depression some days that actually does work. Other days, not so much. Sure, there are medications that help kick-start our serotonin and dopamine receptors, but even that sometimes isn’t enough.

Today was hard. I mean really tough. Because of a morning trigger (something superfluous other than that it hit a button I’ve been trying to avoid), I found myself in a downward spiral of despair that only the fantasy of not wanting to live surrounded my psyche for the better part of the day. Was I ever in danger of taking my life? No. But here’s the thing about clinical depression. There’s a huge difference between not wanting to live and actually taking the steps to assure you don’t. One of my favorite authors, Auguesten Burroughs maps it perfectly:

“If you believe suicide will bring you peace, or at the very least just an end to everything you hate – you are displaying self-caring behavior. You are still able to actively seek solutions to your problems. You are willing to go to great lengths to provide what you believe will be soothing to yourself. This strikes me as optimistic.”

I cling to these words. They are my life raft even when I’m the one puncturing the holes and I feel myself sinking. I remember – most of us with depression don’t really want to die. We just don’t want the pain.

Dreaming is free.

 

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This is my blog. Please check out my website for book excerpts, old school stripping photos, press and more.

Christine Macdonald

Operation Orgasm: The Student Becomes The Master

I’ve never been a rule person. Breaking any and all guidelines for being a good kid was my thing. Screw conformity. I’m scaling the fence as my brain registers the “No Trespassing” sign. Unabashedly. Tell me I’m not allowed to go there, and I’m doing everything in my power to figure out why, and then do it. Not always a good system in the real world, but sometimes, it’s the perfect mindset that allows us to experience things we never thought possible within the space of freedom in our mind.

Ever since I learned the difference between pink and blue booties, I’ve been curious about my sexuality. Not in such a way that at the tender age of sand boxes and jungle gyms I was dry humping my living room pillows, this was more of a conscious effort to learn all I could about every inch of my body.

Long before my b-cupped funbags made their first appearance in 1988 (I have since removed my implants in 2001), as a preteen I began to explore my other female lady goods. I was fascinated. The fact that I had actual baby-making equipment inside me was a trip. Using a hand mirror to investigate every inch of myself, I was in awe of that place – that sacred part of womanhood that no one talked about  – my personal No Trespassing place.

Orgasm

A product of Catholic school and a bat-shit crazy mom of her own, my mother made painstaking efforts to never discuss down there, and if she ever did, she always gave it a cartoon name like Fuffy, or Pee Pee. I didn’t get it. It’s my body and I wasn’t allowed to ask questions or even acknowledge its existence?

This is bullshit.

By the time I was in high school, my body and me were dialed in with one another. And thanks to a perfect storm of personal curiosity, longing to connect with this incredible flesh vessel of mine and one share-everything-with friend, my life changed forever one summer.

Leah and I were both seventeen and had way too much fun breaking rules together. She was also the kind of friend you wanted to hang with after too many wine coolers. We’d spend hours gabbing about sex, sharing our limited experience, and thinking that just because we boned a couple of dudes, we were the shit.

“The kissing part is fun, but I don’t get the big deal about sex.” I confessed with the shrug of my shoulders.

“So, you didn’t… come?” The look on Leah’s face was priceless. Far removed from judgment, plastered with excitement. She was bursting out of her ESPRIT Sweatshirt, actually squealing.

“I thought just the guys…” My face tilted to one side, my voice turned up. “…you mean we can, too?”

“YES! We can too! You just gotta know your body!” She squealed.

Our conversation dove further into the complexities of penis vs. vagina (like we knew anything about joy-sticks). And when I woke up the next day, I flew into the bathroom, ready for my first assignment.

You just gotta know your body.

When you don’t know what you’re missing, it’s kinda weird to be so pumped in your quest to find it. But after hearing Leah’s declaration of how awesome having a Lady O was, I was dying to go there as quickly as possible.

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The stream of water was foreplay. My ass scooted under the faucet and directly on top on the drain, head gently resting on the floor of the tub, feet pointed to the sky, knees slightly bent. Operation Orgasm was underway. As the warm water trickled on to my sweet spot, I began to feel silly – not to mention anxious with the water slowly rising. But this new feeling of warm water in new places had me optimistic that I would finish long before the water reached my ears.

Remembering what Leah said about relaxing and being in tune with how good it would feel, I closed my eyes and went there. My mind wandered to Mickey Rourke in my [then] favorite movie, 9 ½ Weeks (still does sometimes) and it was ON. Fifteen minutes later it was on again. And again. And, well, you know where this is going.

The next time I had sex with my guy, I knew exactly what I needed to do in order to make my body quiver with pleasure. More importantly, I knew how to communicate with my partner so he could take me back to land of ‘Oh!’. Most teenage boys could give two shits about their gal finishing – they’re just happy someone else is in the room. But I got lucky. My fella was into me getting off as much as he did. We even got to a point where we could ride the wave together (Hey Brett, if you’re reading, call me).

They say things get better with time, and when it comes to rubbing one out – how true, how true.

But first, we need to climb our fences of inhibition. Face the uncomfortable, awkwardness of touching ourselves – alone – in the privacy of our personal space.

For some women masturbating is forbidden to do, much less discuss. Others are completely comfortable talking about and regularly going at it. There’s a scene in Sex and the City (television series, not movie) when Samantha asks Charlotte if she’s ever seen her vagina up close with a hand-mirror, which got me thinking, I wonder how many of us have?

Thanks to my friend Leah and her wonderful friendship and encouragement, I was able to explore and take myself to my pleasure zone. In many ways, and in record-breaking numbers (I never left my room that summer). This inevitably led to mind-blowing sexscapades with a handful of fabulous partners through the years. And all because I dared trespass the one place so many of us women feel ashamed to explore.

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We are all a product of our upbringing. And with no disrespect to religious practices, beliefs, or parental rules – when you get to a certain age in your young adult life, as a woman especially, it’s so important to blaze your own trail, tear down that “No Trespassing” sign, grab your mental magic marker and write “Welcome” all over it.

And if you’re lucky enough to have a friend to share your personal experience with, call her up immediately. Chances are, she’s got a story for you too.

Christine Macdonald