You know, I wasn't even going to write this post because somehow it felt like a bit of wallowing in the mood I've found myself in for the past week. But then someone said something that struck me in that way that snaps me back to wait a minute, this is my immediate world's problem, not mine (thanks Arrow).
That was, very loosely quoted, don't ever hesitate to insist on what you want from yourself, the people in your life, your world...
I thought about that for a long time. Afterwards I changed my responses to some of the people who have been really, really, getting on the last "love and light" nerve in my being. These people will never, ever change. They simply do not have the capacity for said change in them. To explain a bit more - so, ever since I was a little child I have had this knack for figuring out people's motivations. Like, why they are how they are, do the things they do. It is not so much predicting behavior but predicting their being so to speak. I am an observer of people mostly, not because I find them fascinating but because I find them (in general) either dangerous, hurtful or just extremely annoying. So, I have to figure them out to combat any and/or all of these things. I also can tell almost immediately when I meet a kindred sort of soul or when there just isn't much deeper than what is on the surface. And so I have boxes that I only open for my soul kin, I speak in different ways and about different things and in longer trains of thought. If someone is a "surface person" I keep my verbal trains of thought short and about surface type things. It is interesting to me (in that extremely annoying way above) when someone's eyes glaze over or they drift off to what-the-fuck ever land they go to when their mind is blanking out or worse yet, can't pick their head up from their damn phone while you are talking.
Anyway, I'm surrounded by a great number of surface people, professionally, personally... So I realize now I have to further change not only how I communicate with them, but how much time I invest in that communication and my relationship with them. When something becomes either painful or just generally rude to me and my deepest commitments and beliefs, I have to either liberate myself from it entirely or if that is not possible, liberate myself from most of the ways it impacts my inner space, my own being.
Changing my manner of response and how much I "give" is my way of insisting on what I want, which is basically, if you are not capable of depth, I can accept that to an extent, but at the moment you cross the line into being personally rude, I will insist that you...basically keep your dumbass opinions to yourself.
Is it still a lonely sort of immediate reality? Sure. But as another friend (thanks Violet) said - we are all alone in a sense as that is the nature of the Path... This is most true and possibly, it occurred to me, one of the reasons that I developed my sense of people in the first place. It came about so as for me to not waste my time on things (and people) that cannot be. It is my job as a witch (and I fail at it sometimes) to be able to distinguish this stuff and to make a conscious choice about how much to give (information, time, effort) and where to draw lines. If I want to liberated from being hurt by the lack of "getting it" that surrounds me then it is my job to liberate myself, not the job of those who can't even see any deeper than a Facebook meme or whatever effed up thing they learned from aunt Sally Jo in the first grade.
More than that - my community is what I make it. Because what I needed this very difficult week was to be surrounded by magic and support. And thanks to all my friends from afar, I have been. Blessings to you.
Body wars. That is to say, fighting and scratching and clawing and defeating and utterly losing to one’s body for as long as one can remember. There are mental and emotional tolls taken in a lifetime of self- loathing. Most of them others cannot see. But, we know them deeply, sisters-in-arms against our own skin, our biological attributes, our very beings.
When I thought deeply on writing about this and writing about it with brutal honesty, I did so in part because for years I have tried a certain amount of self-acceptance, self-love and general thankfulness toward this body that I have battled against since puberty. People say that hasn’t worked because I did not put my heart into it and on some level was still battling against myself. That may be true, but the main point is (to me at least) that it didn’t work. How long does one beat her head against the brick wall before saying – ok, that hurts so I’ll stop.
So I’m thinking that since I cannot change my mental make-up, I simply must learn to accept it. I must learn to accept the fact that I did not choose my genes or the way my body developed because of them. I must learn to accept the fact that I’m hard on myself. Harder than anyone should be. I’m mean to myself in my mind and I have never been able to overcome it. Although it isn’t kind, it does serve a purpose and I use it to motivate myself during difficult times. I beat myself up yet I still go on doing the things that are good for me. Brutal honesty is brutal. But, this is a true story.
I can remember a time when I was outside myself and my self-perception. As a kid, I hated clothes and ran around with no shirt and no shoes most of the time. I wanted to be wild. I would hide from my mom in the mornings because she always wanted to comb the knots out of my hair. I hated baths, mostly because they always involved washing said hair. It was a constant battle between us, even as I was a young child. At some point mom took me to the local barber and said – cut it all off. And that was that.
One of my favorite pictures of me and my dad was a photo in which he is showing me a coyote (or possibly a fox) that he had shot. The photo is grainy, it is foggy and I’m assuming early in the day. I’m standing almost behind him, one hand on his shoulder and the other holding back a swath of that crazy, tangled hair, wearing mismatched slippers and a t-shirt that has a picture of Snoopy and says “I love snow”. The contradictions to my life and my soul are so obvious (LOL a dead animal and something declaring that I love snow?) and the look on my face is part fascination, part fear, part sadness… But one thing I am not conscious of AT ALL is my body. THAT is how I remember early childhood.
When my breasts started to come in I wrapped them in some of dad’s medical sprain wrap for awhile. It worked well because it was stretchy and you could get it really tight. It was a tedious process and on one occasion when I had not wrapped them my mom and I were standing in a store and she flicked my right breast with her index finger and said – we need to get you some bras. To the very last day of my very last relationship, someone unexpectedly touching my breast(s) in even a playful, relationship type manner made me immediately want to grab the nearest blunt object and bash that person’s fucking head in. Yes. THAT is how I felt/feel. Even within a relationship. I made it a habit of sleeping in my bra because I hated the way my breasts would touch when I was lying on my side. It absolutely infuriated me, how they hung there like cow’s udders. And they kept growing. My “natural” bra size topped at “DD”. It was disgusting to me and only served as a reminder that I was flawed because I could not control my own body.
When my periods started I hid that too for almost a year. I taught myself how to insert a tampon because the feeling of blood dripping out of me sent me into a rage. Menstruation was an inconvenience that I simply did not have time for. It wasn’t something that a wild, free, child of the woods should have to deal with. I absolutely hated the process, the way my body ached, the constant worry that someone would know and tease me (I started at 11). I hated being female. It wasn’t that I identified as a male it was simply that I felt it was goddamn unfair. I didn’t want to be a woman. I didn’t want to be a man either. I wanted to be different, nothing, just be. I wanted to be free of being either thing and anything. I would spend the first day of each period doubled over in pain and sometimes I’d punch myself in the stomach repeatedly and declare that if my insides wanted so badly to hurt I’d give them something to hurt about.
By 14 I was flirting with anorexia and in “good” times I felt like I finally had my body under control. My relationship with anorexia was not born of a desire to lose weight. Nope. I had read somewhere that girls suffering from it lost their ability to menstruate and a lightbulb lit up in my head. If I didn’t eat, I’d lose fat and my periods would stop. Boobs were made of fat. My period was my enemy. It seemed really logical to me so I quit eating. I lived like that for years, probably on and off (and more on) throughout my teens, never fully spiraling into super low weight (I think the lowest my weight ever got was 103) in order to remain “healthy” in my mind. I had researched that too. I didn’t want to die or damage my heart after all, I just wanted my boobs to disappear and my periods to cease.
At one point my mom asked me why I was dieting and I told her that it was to lose my boobs. I explained my thought process (leaving out the part about my period because I thought that would make her think I was unstable) and she said – I don’t know why you would do that, the rest of you just keeps getting skinnier and your boobs stay the same size so therefore they look even bigger. I snorted, scoffed and continued my quest to regain the body that I was robbed of by puberty.
I exercised too. Excessively. In part I started exercising as a means to burn off calories that I did consume so they wouldn’t count. In part it was my way of “keeping my heart healthy” while I was a functioning, sort of anorexic. Everything that I did had logic to it. It was a crazy logic but to me it was…perfectly logical. I approached my emotional upset with my own being with a clear and concise sort of scientific approach. I became detached from my body in the way researchers become detached from monkeys. It was just a “thing” to me that I needed to control in order to cope with the whole of myself.
When I was about 15, I ruptured two discs in my back. I wasn’t even aware that I did it at the time, only that I had slipped on an ice covered running board getting out of a truck and wound up on my butt, having hit the running board itself on the way down, and then the ground. For a few years the injury festered while no one could find a diagnosis for the pain. When an MRI revealed it and surgery was scheduled, I entered a hospital for the first time in my life. I was rewarded for my “logical approach” by being touted as a model patient – not overweight and in excellent shape – my recovery was predicted to be a success. And it was. I took this to heart. Everything that I had been doing was correct. Obviously this body must be controlled because good things come only from that.
I entered early adulthood with a continuation of borderline anorexia and bouts of heavy exercise. I lessoned my hold on my body only after going on birth control pills, which made my cycle lighter and bearable in terms of pain. I got into weight lifting and became obsessed with building muscle to lose fat. My weight banger phase lasted for decades, with the only break being in my late 20s/early 30s when I returned to school for a second degree, and decided to temporarily give up the gym to hike tall mountains and smoke cigarettes when I reached the top. That was logical too. My habit made me not hungry. I was never hungry and my body seemed small and androgynous and I loved my mind and my soul. I had a best friend and we would spend long nights talking about the universe and the stars and about living together on a farm with a few other people and making that our world. She was amazing and had lived in Alaska and all of her belongings fit into one suitcase. She was also tortured, sad and had more than one reckless and/or dangerous habit. We graduated and she was gone. We kept in touch for a bit but she began to fade away like fog does as the day grows warm. I’d get an odd note now and then and later…nothing. I have tried to find her. I think she may be dead now.
I grew up, decided that I did not want to die of lung cancer and that I should be serious about life. My body betrayed me by becoming a woman again. My periods were once again painful and many nights I’d lie in a fetal position while waves of cramps racked my body. I never missed work and I never missed a workout. I was still at war with this body and I would not give in. I hit the weights harder in response, went back to counting grams of protein, reps and sets. I added fat burners and “hormone suppressing” supplements to my regimen. My bra size hit a “C” cup and I thought if I could just get to a “B”… At around 40 my menstrual cycle got odd and sometimes I would not have a period for a couple of months, then a very painful one, then maybe three or four months would go by without one. This lasted for a year and a half to two years and then suddenly, it was gone. I didn’t know if it was due to training, eating or early menopause. I only knew I was finally free.
Later, my doctor did run hormone tests to verify that I was post-menopausal. I had gone very early and she said that despite the common “use it or lose it” assumption there was no scientific evidence to prove that women who have never borne children go into the process earlier. It didn’t matter to me how I had arrived at a life without menstruation, only that I had arrived. Now I could be what I wanted to be.
But, my body betrayed me again. It was harder to make my body listen. Instead of staying small my breasts actually got…bigger??? Hormones are weird things. Add to this the fact that after almost 30 years of formal “exercise regimens” I was burnt out and angry about that too. All this I had done and my body was still not complying? It became harder to force myself to train. I no longer enjoyed it. I know it might be hard to believe that I ever did, but there were times when, yes, I enjoyed working out. I loved the way my muscles would be sore in the days that followed. It made me feel absolutely alive and useful. I loved the way that sweating relieved the stress of my job and my life. But, at some point it was no longer a release for me. It didn’t help me manage my stress, it WAS my stress. The last day that I ran I knew that I would never run again. At least as part of a fitness routine. I was having a conversation with myself, an argument really, about how much I hated running and I just stopped, took a deep breath and walked home. The same with weights. Despite the fact that at one time I had a great gym-style set up in my basement, I sold or gave away most of my equipment. I retained a couple of plate sets, 15 and 20 pound barbells and a kettlebell.
My mind has nothing left in terms of arguing with this body of mine. It has surrendered, admitted defeat. No peace treaty was signed. They are still enemies, my body and my mind’s eye of what my body should be. But my body has won because the rest of me is just too damned worn out to fight anymore. There are mornings, rare mornings, when I will feel like breathing in the summer air and I’ll pull on my old workout shoes and run up to the mailboxes, through the cemetery and back to the farm, but they are few and far between and I count them not as workouts, but true “I just want to run through nature and feel alive” times. I’m trying to re-establish a yoga practice to alleviate stiffness, not to “exercise” and I pick up weights when there isn’t much barn work to do. When you focus on things for so long for the wrong reasons I think they become like people you’ve tried to carve into what you want them to be. They will always disappoint you. It is best to just let them go.
Still, I have no answers for people at war with themselves. I have not been successful in self-acceptance and love. I have not been successful in making my body comply with my wishes. I am still, and will likely always be, one creature in my mind and another in my skin. So, there is no happy ending that I can give anyone that has been through, or is going through those same sorts of feelings. But, this is a true story.
Ahhhhhhh….Thanksgiving. A wonderful day of family and great food, wistful memories of over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go… The turkey, the pumpkin pie, the togetherness, the love… Blah Blah Blah (insert severe record scratching halt here).
Thanksgiving has always been a source of discord for many of us. As a kid, I really did enjoy it. Mostly because I was off school and could go out and play with my dog for FOUR WHOLE DAYS IN A ROW. There were good smells in the house, my mom and her mom were in the kitchen cooking and dinner was served promptly at 2:00 so that everyone could sit down and watch Dallas and Washington play football by 4:00. I had no worries, no real opinions (except that I loved Dallas and hated Washington and my brother being just the opposite would try to make me cry for fun) and there was no other controversy that was apparent to me. I mean, I’m sure there was, I was just young enough to be clueless to it. WHAT.A.BLESSING.
I think the reason so many of us get tired of “adulting” is because the veil is pulled back somewhere along the way and even our memories are questionable, lost in some shuffle of what we thought was happening and the reality of what was probably going on. And then there is the true reality of our own lives and those in them. So many of us, especially this year, are making choices based on beliefs and what should be our right to exist, or having those choices made for us as families make it very clear that we are not welcome.
Since Thanksgiving has almost always been a source of angst for me aside from those early childhood days, these past couple of years have provided me with a sense of relief almost. One I spent alone, another visited a friend briefly.
See, Thanksgiving is not really about giving thanks to me. We should be doing that everyday in some manner or another. To our god(s), to those we love, to the universe, to our own selves for caring about our own souls. Thanksgiving has equated for years to me as the gluttony of the First World. Only to be followed up quickly by Black Friday, a sure fire reminder that things in this country must not be all that bad for some of the people that say they are all bad given that they can trample other folks at Walmart and fight over big screen TVs like angry bears at the salmon run.
As I “became” who I am I grew to hate the tradition of the dead bird and the feeling of having eaten enough for five hungry children. In high school I did a hunger strike for Thanksgiving that resulted in severe dinner discord, with me quoting Bob Geldof and causing my father to almost throw the mashed potatoes at me. Yes, I was a born activist and have always been a real pain in the ass. When I was in college I would pray for it to snow (hard to believe) so that I’d be stuck away from it all. In young adulthood, it was a given that I would be the one to travel home, since I was single and I guess had nothing better to do. One year, I simply refused. THAT went over well. Being in relationships further complicated matters. Being in relationships that involved kids complicated them even more. The Thanksgiving/Christmas season became six weeks of complete chaos and squabble, as everyone around me made their plays for who would be at what house when. Every year I would sit there and think about how nice it would be to just eat vegan mac and cheese in the basement.
I’m not going for oh woe is me – don’t think that for a minute. I’m simply pointing out one person’s ludicrous experiences with “American Tradition” and why I think this day is a bunch of hooey.
See, I’m actually extremely happy that Thanksgiving dinner is off my plate. As is Christmas dinner. It is a relief. I have no good memories of them aside from those early childhood, foggy, half-truths that sustained me until my eyes were open to the world. I know that many of my friends are heartbroken this year, as we all navigate through dinner as the latest thing to be held over the heads of those of us who dare to live as who we really are. Those that are doing so should be ashamed. They actually should be denied the company of people that are so loving, awesome and radical. The people of the New World that I so wish existed right now. Remember in your hearts my friends that YOU are the future. I am thankful for you.
Today I will thank my dad with a nice meal because he is coming over to help me split some firewood for the winter. I will light a candle this evening and give thanks to many – my neighbor who climbed on the barn roof with me yesterday and made some repairs that just might last me through the winter, my brother who did some work on my pump house over the weekend in prep for the season to come, my friends (mostly far away – I can’t touch any of you and I wish I could) who keep me sane and make me know on a daily basis that I’m not alone in this world, my animal companions, my place in the world, the moon that is so damn bright here. Then I will sleep well, knowing that I have made a choice about this day that finally stems from within ME. And I plan to make the same manner of choice for the remainder of my days.
Probably one of the most difficult things to gain liberation from because the feelings aren’t only from inside of you, but stem from others and their questions, actions, interactions. And even the feelings inside of you are probably, somehow, impacted by others. I was reminded of this the other night as I was having a discussion with my neighbors, who are nice people, but not like me. I am speaking in particular of the wife, who is a quite a bit younger than I, but apparently, much less reserved in communication patterns and basic , well, there is shit you just don’t ask people or press them on.
I admittedly do not do well with these types of people (not to overgeneralize but I guess I’m talking about what I consider borderline rude bluntness – not in the opinion category but in the “need to know” category). It is like people that ask you how much money you make within knowing you for 15 minutes. Where does that come from????
So, I guess I’m the talk of the valley at this point. Some woman bought the rundown farm that used to have the horses….oh, boy let’s go meet her and see what we can find out about her! Much of the talk, as you would suspect, is that I’m single. As in, I’m a single woman out here all by myself on this farm. Well, what on earth could I be thinking? There have been SO MANY questions. Are you married? Have you ever been married? Do you have any kids or anything? What are you gonna do here? What do you do for a living? And the always interesting - I’m not trying to be nosey or anything but ‘bout how much you pay for this place? These are all usually within the first five minutes of meeting and the questions come at you like rotten fruit thrown in the town square.
So, in addition to the usual questions, we got to the “where do you work” (I state the name of organization) and the “what do you do there” (I work in administration)…, she gets this squishy, frustrated look on her face and says “I mean what do you DO, like, what’s your job title?”
I was taken aback. There is the practical side first of all – I didn’t move here to talk about my work. WITH ANYONE. I moved here, in part, to get away from living my work on a minute by minute basis. To build a future, get out of the city, to be at peace and not to be reminded of it at every moment. And having just found out that she has a membership for her and their kids because they deliver fresh food to a couple of eateries on a weekly basis then go to the pool and how they got a great deal on said membership through an on-line homeschool group (we give discounts based on group size)…. I was just not prepped to talk about everything that is wrong with our parks while standing in the middle of a hay field attempting to TALK ABOUT HAY dammit. There is also the “me” side of the matter. The “me” side does not care what you do or what you title is. The “me” side wants to know what you believe and where your soul resides. And I deeply feel like I should be provided the same goddamn courtesy.
NOW, why I can’t formulate those words when on the spot I have NO IDEA but I stammered a bit and finally basically said my title, which verified for her that I run the place. WHY she needed verification of this I have no idea either. But, she looked satisfied, finally, with my answer and proceeded to compliment me on how well the staff handled the fact that the kiddie pool was not operational due to a major repair going on. Great. Remind me once again (even though it was paired with a compliment) how we are failing the great and super important needs of the public. Which, by the way, right now, in the world we are living in, I have MAJOR issues with - the idea that ANYTHING related to the privilege most of our customers experience in their daily lives means JACK in the whole scheme of things - but, alas, that too is a whole other post.
Here is my normal issue. It isn’t that I don’t have a voice. Oh, I can speak for sure. It is mostly that I was taught to be humble (and yes, kind, thank you very much Mr. McGraw) as well as reserved in the sense of there are just things you don’t ask people. Period. They are in the category of – none of your fucking business. Now, I am FULLY capable of saying – ya know, that’s really none of your fucking business BUT given the fact that that too is socially unacceptable, I go all deer in the headlights and get stuck on I can’t believe you just asked me that and then my mind goes blank.
The further issue is that IF I said the things in my brain what came out of my mouth would be considered even more rude than the question. As in the above. Or worse. Because, believe it or not from everything I’ve just relayed, folks find me VERY blunt. Abrasive sometimes even. And quite able to cut beyond the surface and get down to the very deep wow, that hurt points of a person that they try to hide. I tend to “know” people pretty easily. What makes them tick, what they REALLY want when they say something, what they are getting at with their passive-aggressive bullshit. The problem with this particular “gift” is that IF I speak what I think many times it won’t be pretty. In general, I don’t like it about myself and I try really, really hard to keep it contained, because, well, there really isn’t any reason to hurt people’s feelings if you don’t have to. Even if they are being complete morons. Which, god it seems to me more often than not, most people are.
So a good part of my social awkwardness comes from me trying to control myself, basically. And maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe if I just spoke freely I would never have to worry about the deeply cutting part of myself because if I just got out “ya know, that is too much information you are asking for so I’m gonna decline to answer that one.”... I’d be OK? Only, again, things don’t tend to come out like that for me. While that might be what I’m thinking, what comes out is “are you fucking kidding me did I ask you upon meeting you what you actually DO all day with your damn self after you kill chickens and read to your kids for the mandatory 2.2 hours on the educational requirement spectrum.”… And my mouth, once it starts, won’t stop so then I’m mean or unfriendly or prickly or whatever.
I think at least at work, there is an understanding of boundaries. Not always from the public of course but from other professionals. Even when conversations are pointed, for the most part, there is a set of unspoken areas that one does not go to. In general conversation, it seems, all bets are off and the norm is if you want to know, just ask. I’m not good with that. Meaning, in addition to not being good AT it I’m not good with it inside. Even in this day and age, some things are rude. Period.
So, liberation from social awkwardness apparently would take the help of others in that others many times create the social awkwardness. Given that, it is possibly folly to think that one could ever be liberated from social awkwardness. This makes me feel even more awkward because depending on even a minor fraction of sense from others is apparently a very misguided hope. Sigggghhhhhh…crawling back under my blankie where things are safe.
I want to believe. No, this isn't that blog entry. ;)
I do want to believe though. Really, I do. Mostly I want to believe in myself. That has probably been my biggest pursuit in self-knowledge, self-acceptance, self-help and the like in my life.
I think that this type of believing - this believing in your own skills, abilities and soul really - it is different than having determination or grit. Determination can certainly stem from belief, but I believe isn't necessary for it. Sometimes I feel like determination takes the place of belief for me and people often mistake it in me for the belief that I am missing. Grit is simply something you are born with, or have developed due to circumstance. Stubbornness can also be mistaken for belief and I damn well have plenty of that.
All of these comparisons and what not have become absolutely clear to me during my attempts to transition from subdivision life to farm life. People have come out of the woodwork to either support or detract. Unfortunately, the very family that taught me not to believe have been some of the major detractors.
I don’t have a big family and we certainly are not what I’d consider “close-knit”. My dad lives the closest to me and helps me a lot with projects and such. It doesn’t occur to him to not believe in me because, well, he knows I’m stubborn and I’ll eventually “get it” I think. Also he doesn’t hear very well so I am not sure he catches half of what I say so there isn’t anything to disagree with. My mom lives half a country away and my brother is about an hour from me but due to careers and other obligations we are lucky to see each other once a year at best.
I’m still 12 to these folks really. Isn’t that odd how when you don’t see people, even family, for years and years on a regular basis that their view of you doesn’t progress?
So, the lack of belief for others has gone something like this: You can’t do this, it is crazy, why would you want to live on a farm?, all that work, what about the weather?, what about not having anyone? (I LOVE that one the most - as if I have anyone now)… I’ve remained surprisingly calm through all of this and explained my whole thought process logically, which is damn surprising even to me because I have a known short fuse when my soul is in question and I am absolutely, admittedly the “different” child. So maybe the logical calm has made an impact because slowly, over the course of a couple of weeks, we have gone from “you can’t” to some odd sort of guarded support and all kinds of helpful information.
I myself feel still a long way from any of this working out but my mom said yesterday - I told Ed (her husband) that you have always been extremely independent and that if any single woman can live on a farm it would be you. I guess I’ll take that. It is a drastic step up from “you can’t” so, yeah, I’ll take it.
But, belief. Is it born? Is it made? Is it a combination? Like most things I would say it is a combination. I can’t say that it is completely made because if it were, how do we explain still having it after being taught otherwise? By the same token, how do we explain having self-doubt (often a learned pattern) if belief is automatically within us? Determination, stubbornness, grit…are these all things that our brains and spirit already have uploaded to whatever degree when we pop out? I find all this stuff extremely fascinating and sometimes I stand back and look at within myself like I’m a scientific observer.
This belief (or lack of) in oneself question probably could be defined in the same category as doubt in terms of things to be liberated from. The thing I found interesting with it lately was the transition of other people related to my own belief. Can self-belief (and confidence or logic within it) transform the doubts of others? The very doubts that one’s own lack of self belief was learned from to a certain extent…
These are thoughts worth pondering, and I’m sure I will have time to do so as there is always something or another that I find myself involved in that makes no sense whatsoever to others…
Actually, FEAR has never been far from my side for these past two years. I said in the old post that it was one of my daily companions and it always will be. I just have to manage the impact it has on my life and decisions.
For instance, I have a stressful job. I know, many of us do but it does weigh on me, being the person ultimately responsible for a good deal of sh8t and people. I never really wanted it - SEE UNDERACHIEVER POST and the weight of it is one of the things that you can't really explain. You just have to jump into it knowing that it shouldn't be this way (I mean, I'm not a damn brain surgeon after all, I'd expect THAT to be stressful) but due to the way of our current world, politics, funding, etc. it simply is. I think stress is a result of fear and the weight of whatever responsibilities we have in our lives, so it makes sense to me that I wake up at 3:00AM, my little brain tick, tick, ticking and once she starts, there is no stopping her.
So, back to fear. I talked a lot in my first post about how my mind works into and through fear, how irrational my fears sometimes are, etc. But, this is LIBERATION BLOG so one of the points of it is to put that which we want to be liberated from on paper (figuratively - or you could do so literally if that gives you more of a sense of control) and move toward removing its control from your life as much as possible.
For instance, certain things about my initial move to my place, why I picked it, why I made certain decisions about what I was going to do to it were very much a result of two things. 1. Fear (of course). 2. Subconsciously knowing that I would not be here for good. Now, the fear part was of course quite predictable. I acknowledge that I'm a fearful person, so I made a choice that I felt held less opportunity for things that I'm afraid of to happen. I picked a very simple house with a small yard that I felt I could manage. It was close to the barn and my work. There were people paid to take care of the big hill that I live on in the winter. The neighbors were a little closer than I would have liked but I have lots of trees to shelter that...even as I go through these things in my head I now know that I was bargaining with my fear. Fear of taking on too much and failing, fear of overextending my skill set, FEAR OF - ding, ding, ding!!!! this is key ~ FEAR OF PURSUING MY REAL DREAMS IN LIFE. Because living in a sub-division with an HOA is not my dream and never has been. I'm not judging it, it just isn't for me, anymore than living in town on a city street (which were my two other options when I was looking, hence my choice of places).
So, here is where the subconscious thing comes in. Almost immediately I made a list of things that needed done. I thought I was making it because I wanted to make my home my own, and to a certain extent, I did. But, once I got to a certain point, I stopped. I just stopped. It wasn't because I ran out of steam or money, I just was unable to bring myself to feel like doing anymore. In analyzing it, I did everything that needed done to make the place more sellable. And then, my soul said - I'm done now. And as soon as she said that, a series of events happened (I got the news about the utility board building the reservoir where we trail ride, things started to be let go at the barn to the point where I am questioning safety, I got the opportunity to attend the Farm Sanctuary conference) and my soul started to dream.
She started to dream because she decided to rejoin my life, despite having ignored her for so many years. She started to dream because she is MY soul after all and she has always been a dreamer. She also started to dream because it was time. More than anything, I believe it was just time.
Time is the factor in fear that I had not yet considered. Actually, I had never considered it as having any impact on fear at all. While fear must be dealt with by taking small steps, owning it, possibly easing one’s way into the thing we fear and even sometimes gritting our teeth and just getting something done despite fear, TIME is sometimes the component that is needed to tip the scale into the favor of the future fearless.
I’m talking time in the sense of there is a time for everything and now is not the time sort of way. As we grow and change (and hopefully we all do so continually), time is the factor that is always in the background.
Timing is the unspoken key to many of life’s successes (and failures) and timing is relevant to fear in a way that I have never given credit to until now.
So, Fear, it is time. It is time to move on in spite of you. I know this worries you, I mean, you ARE worry. You are worry and denial. You are bargaining and doubt. You are no comfort and you are the face of cowardice. You are the reason that I am going through the motions of the means with no clear end in sight. You are the rank breath that blows out the candle of my dreams and the cold, sticky hand that holds me right where I am. Right where you want me to believe I belong.
I don’t belong here. I don’t belong in a life that passes me by while I stare out the windows that you have shut. I don’t belong with you, sniveling and hiding from the heartbeat of this earth. I’m tired of the dungeon of everyday mass normalcy and the obligation of settling.
I don’t belong here. I won’t be back.
After I posted about Doubt the other day, it occurred to me that I had written a post some time ago related to Fear. I want to revisit it in Liberation because it really is relevant to the whole picture:
I wanted to write a post about fear and I wasn't even sure where to put it. I may end up posting it to several blogs. Why? Because it permeates many portions of my life.
People have no idea how full of fear I am. Well, LOL, I guess you people do because I'm about to tell you all about it. But, in "real" life I have mastered the ability to hide the fact that no matter what is going on I am pretty much pissing my pants inside. I've mastered this ability because I have always lived in fear. So, you know, you get pretty good at acting otherwise after decades of practice.
I'm not sure where it comes from. I have a few clues to how it may have developed just based on my life and moving through it but there was no one defining moment that said: you are now a fearful person. To the contrary, it was more likely several thousand tiny things and how my mind processes experience. None of the circumstances are about blame. We all make our own way in the end. But, acknowledging where beliefs come from is important in coping with negative ones.
I grew up in the shadow of an amazing older brother. A good deal older (8 years) than me so he was actually an adult while I was just entering puberty. My brother was (and is) a wonderful guy who is not only very well liked but is a talented musician, played every sport available to him while growing up, loves people and is still humble and down to earth. He is a prankster and a kid at heart. He is practical and logical and walks the line.
It is a joke in our family that he got all the "natural" ability and I got the ability to dream. LOL. From the start I was a bit different. I spent a lot of time alone, yes, daydreaming. I immersed myself in fantasy. I did not like people much, even as a kid. I hated team sports and was very sensitive. My mom always marveled at my ability to cry over the most random things.
We, my brother and I, were raised by different members of our families for the most part. The reasons were varied and I'll spare the details but the philosophies on life were definitely, distinctly opposite.
I think that a lot of times in life, you learn what is proven to you. I read an article not long ago that said that people who "don't like people" often feel that way because their examples of relationships and interactions between people and with people were for the most part not positive throughout their younger years. It is an overgeneralization yes, but I think it has merit.
I learned to not trust people through trial and major error and if I could not trust people then how could I trust myself? I think this is where the fear was born. Because if you have trust in yourself, what do you have to fear? If, despite all the world is showing you, you have faith in your own being, you are golden. If you question even that, fear creeps in.
It has taken me years and years to even recognize that I am fearful! For decades I denied it. I put on a mask of "I fear nothing" and went out into the world with my teeth gritted, pretending that I was well put together and confident. That got me further than I would have imagined actually but there comes a point in your life where you really want to know yourself and acknowledge yourself in deep ways. So, that began my admission that I live in fear.
What sparked this post was buying a horse. That process really has brought ALL this contemplation to the surface. I lost my daily contact with horses almost four months ago. For a time I was frozen in what I now know was fear. People would ask me what are you doing about the horse situation? and I would have a million excuses as to why I wasn't looking for a horse, or a place to keep a horse. Stuff like - it is winter, there are probably no boarding spots available (without even looking), I don't know what I want, it is too soon... What was really going on was that I was paralyzed by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of fucking up, fear of going and talking to random people, riding random horses, picking a horse with three legs (I mentioned in my horse blog having a dream that's what I did and waking up in a panic).
My fear generally goes like this: I have a decision to make and in making that decision I come up with a thousand "worst case scenarios" that range from the simple to the very elaborate as in: I can't ride my horse over there by that stream because what if a duck flies into his head, he spooks and throws me off and there happens to be some stick lying there that I don't know about and I land on it and impale myself through the heart and then I'll be dead. LOL. Oh, I'll give you another one from just last night when it was late and I was cold and didn't feel like walking with the dog all the way over to where he pees. So, I stood in the doorway and waited for him. Then I start thinking: It is really dark over there and what if he gets attacked by a coyote and I won't be able to save him because it is icy and by the time I get there he'll be dead and what if I fall on the ice in the process, hit my head and the coyote eats me too? This is COMPLETELY illogical because first of all, while we do have coyotes they are not close to our houses and furthermore WTF kind of random crazy shit is that anyway, yet these are the things I am thinking about?
Fear is so my constant companion that in my Winter Solstice (new year) ritual I centered my whole ceremony on letting it go. Obviously, magic and continual work go hand in hand...
So, getting beyond fear is not just a "hobby" for me. It is a daily and constant struggle. I probably will never be able to put it completely to rest. You cannot become another type of person just because you want to. Sheer will cannot overcome these things to any further extent than it already has in my case. I also worry as I get older that the fear will increase as many phobias and other "ticks' tend to do as we age and become more out of touch with the ebb and flow of action and what is happening "in the trenches" of life. It is times like this when I envy people that fear nothing, but even then only to the extent that I think - gosh if they only knew...
What does this frog have to do with doubt? I'll get to that in a bit...
noun: doubt; plural noun: doubts
1. a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction.
Yup, that about covers it. Doubt is my constant companion. It sits next to fear at the dinner table. The only reason I think about it any less than fear is because I believe it stems from fear. Therefore, Doubt is the daughter of Fear. Hmmmm...that is a good and accurate phrase to write down. Let it sink in.
I don't ever admit to having doubts about life, ability, etc. I hide my doubts like I hide my fear. Once, a woman that I ride with said to me after a particularly stressful trip through the woods - you can't be as scared as me you always seem so calm when we trail ride. And I assured her that she was just not close enough to hear my heart beating. Mind you, this is something I have to work hard to control while on a horse. You can hide that shit from people. But, not a horse.
But, back to daughter doubt. I believe that doubt is formed from true experiences. Do we doubt love when we are born? Do we doubt people or ourselves? Surely not. We are a clean slate. We LEARN doubt. We learn it because we equate it with truth in a given situation. When one's doubt is verified by a situational outcome, then it becomes valid. Early, we learn to equate it with validation because if someone else doubts us or a situation, they voice that doubt and then their opinion is verified by what actually happens, doubt must be valid. What is valid is true. Hence, we have learned that doubt is to be trusted and immediately taken as the truth. Then, we are learning to doubt ourselves. There soon is no need for anyone to voice doubt to us, we will automatically do that, even if just inside our own thought process. So, we become doubters of ourselves, our abilities, of situations, etc.
It is mathematical really. 2+2=4. Doubt+Outcome=Verification.
Since I've doubted all kinds of things in my life and have had to fake the fact that I don't doubt a damn thing, people don't know I'm a doubter. People laughingly say - oh, just tell her she can't do something and she'll make it work. Or they believe me to be super capable and entirely independent. In truth if you tell me I can't do something my first thought is normally - yeah, he's probably right. Followed by a lot of other conversation in my brain that isn't the least bit productive. And I virtually NEVER feel either super capable OR independent. Some days I feel barely functional and like I should thank the gods I ever managed to get out of bed.
But, I fake it. And in faking it for a lifetime, some doubt gets beat back to the point where it sits in the damn corner like it should and shuts the eff up until it is really needed for life-saving purposes. Stuff like - Um, hey lady I doubt you can drive 80 mph on that country road and be home in three minutes... Stuff like THAT I appreciate.
Doubt is a holder backer, the slacker of the soul. Doubt is sort of like that toxic friend who just hangs around to drag the whole group down. Doubt never sees possibility, potential or even a chance. There is no "look at the positive side" to doubt. Doubt doesn't have time for that because it is too busy, well, doubting. Doubt is so invasive and so draining that it consumes your every thought if you let it. I have literally been paralyzed by doubt, unable to move and even speak, my brain simply frozen. Doubt will drain you of confidence and continually assure you that you are less than you are. It can be counted on for those things for certain, but not much else really because if you have the use of half a practical brain you can generally work your way through the scenario in the last paragraph without any great help from doubt.
I think of myself like the frog in the picture when doubt takes over. There I am perched on a small, sort of uncomfortable landing, thinking about possibly dipping my little toe into the water just to see if things will work out, knowing full well that I should simply jump because I CAN swim, but instead I sit there...thinking about how maybe if I stretched my leg out far enough I could get a whole foot in the water and that might be more safe... And on and on it goes, until the moment, or opportunity, or decision is taken out of my hands. So, in fact, I have still failed. The difference is that doubt has succeeded in making sure that I didn't even really try.
So, having faked NOT having doubt for a literal lifetime (because I was a really sensitive kid, a dreamer and that combination without a ton of encouragement can be problematic) I have a really great poker face when it comes to hiding doubt. All the "stuff" is still going on in my brain and body, I just have certain things that I do when confronted with doubt that assist me in mostly hiding it. Our coping mechanisms are amazing really, as is our ability to adapt and learn that in this world, doubt is rarely productive.
I'm sort of starting to think that my life on my own at this point has become a necessary experiment against doubt. With every little thing I DO take on, accomplish, or simply get through to the point where I can look back and say - see that wasn't all that bad - I am defeating doubt. So, on I march. Sometimes I'm tired, sometimes I'm afraid, unsure, insecure, quaking in my vegan "this product was constructed with man-made materials" boots, but I keep going. Some days I barely make headway and others I'm very surprised by my own confidence. Those are the days I live for, without a doubt.
I am, admittedly, a generally angry person. I would venture to say that some of this is learned but a large part of it is just who I am. That is to say, I cannot ever remember a time, even as a very young child, in which I was not at least somewhat driven by this smoldering inside me that I was only able to identify later as inner anger.
Now, granted, I don't remember much of childhood before venturing out into the world of Kindergarten so maybe I was just extremely sheltered and my immediate experiences, giving me fast confirmation that there were SO MANY things to be angry about, simply stoked a fire inside that could not be extinguished. Most of my anger stemmed from interactions with people. The kids that picked on me, the teacher that had favorites (of which I was never one), my parents for not somehow knowing automatically what daily hell my life was at school, my mom for making me move away from my dog in second grade, the ignorant preacher at church, my babysitter's daughter that beat me up everyday after school. Even though I was constantly angry I kept my mouth shut (mom's favorite saying was children are to be seen, not heard) and my anger smoldered. With nowhere to go I guess it seeped into my soul, little by little, and became a big part of who I am.
So, in today's world of peace, love and letting go, my anger seems to have no place to call home. I'm viewed as a prickly sort of person. I keep to myself most times and I don't go out of my way to be angry, but if I believe I have the high ground on an issue, you can bet I'm angry. And I might walk away but I'll never forget. Oh, and don't even say that forgiveness word because it isn't in my vocabulary. Telling me to forgive, of course, just makes me angry. Don't tell me to "let it go" dammit. Can't you see there is shit wrong in this world? There are things to be angry about. There are things to DO SOMETHING about.
For a long time I have tried to DO SOMETHING about my anger. I HAVE tried letting go, I've even tried forgiveness. I've tried meditating, ignoring, self-help, self-love, distraction, volunteering, co-existing... I'm still angry and even moreso I'm angry that I've spent so much time trying to rid myself of anger. It seems like a bit of a waste to me at this point, given the very act of letting anger go makes me so goddamn angry. LOL.
There is also the theory of habits and thoughts that serve us and I've asked myself how does anger serve me and does that have anything to do with not being able to let it go? Is the fact that I'm seen a prickly and somewhat standoffish serving me in some way? Well, of course it is. It is like a horse laying her ears back or lifting a hind foot as if to say - come closer and I'll kick the shit out of you. But, still, even admitting that anger serves me doesn't begin to give me significant pause. It isn't a "light bulb moment" type exercise is what I'm saying.
I am doing this 30 day yoga camp thing this month. So one of the mental exercises was a whole thought process on acceptance. A brainstorming session on acceptance. I accept....(fill in thoughts here). So, yesterday the thought that came to me was I accept the past. And this morning ~ I accept my anger.
I accept you anger. Everyday, I accept that you are a part of me that is never leaving. I accept that we'll have coffee together and that we'll sleep with each other and that sometimes you will accompany me even in my dream worlds. I accept that there are things about you that frighten me. I accept that there are things about you that serve me. I accept that you sometimes protect me, that you sometimes are the source of my regret. I accept that I cannot rid myself of you, cannot simply let you go. I accept that sometimes you are the very thing that fosters change in my life and in my world and for that, I am grateful to you.
Liberation from attempts to be someone I am not. Today, it all started over coffee with my soul mate Anger.
I talked a little bit about how the gossip and general nature of life at the barn was getting on my nerves the other day. As part of liberation is owning one's shit, I am making an effort to not be a part of those types of conversations anymore.
I said in my post that my new line goes something like - I don't think that has anything to do with me. So far, this line is working. I say it is working because when I speak it I get all sorts of passive-aggressive responses and even some outright attempts at proving to me that it indeed does have something to do with me simply because my horse occupies the same general location of the horse that is attached to the person we must now gossip about.
Look, I'm as guilty as anyone about wanting to be "in the know" where my surroundings and company are concerned. This probably comes from my mum, who although rarely repeats gossip she hears, always loves hearing it.
The thing about gossip is that once you engage in it, I feel like you give power not only to the person that has engaged you, but to the gossip itself. Think of gossip as a little troll that goes around making a muck of stuff. There was this scary movie from when I was a kid and I can't for the life of me remember the name. But, basically there were several creatures that lived in a house (in the basement I think, or in an old furnace). I only remember snippets but one family member let them out and oops, there goes the neighborhood. Sort of like Gremlins only without the humor, this movie scared the shit out of me as a six year old. In the end, the girl that let them out has to go live with them, creepy little nasty creatures that they were, and they are telling her that everything will be OK but you know it most certainly will not.
Those creatures are gossip. They will get into your life and then you are doomed. As I already stated, you are doomed because now they (and the person(s) you are gossiping with now have power. You are doomed because you have wasted precious moments of your day being mean. And if you are being mean for a legitimate reason, I have no problem with the action. But, if you are projecting meanness "just because" I feel like it is completely unproductive. You are doomed because whatever you are gossiping about may or may not be true and therefore is unreliable information.
Ask yourself, what on earth do you expect to accomplish from it, this gossip? If it is unreliable information you shouldn't be repeating it, correct? So it is just sitting in your brain taking up space. If it is mean and hurtful what good can come from repeating it anyway?
Note that this is completely different than engaging in investigative tactics for things that really DO matter to you individually, to your family, work, etc. Example - if I hear through the work grapevine that an employee is sneaking away for five hours a day that might be gossip, but I'm obligated to investigate it or I'm a poor manager. That is different than engaging in unproductive fodder on a daily basis.
The exclusionary nature of most of the gossip that I encounter is what irritates me most. Gossip is stated for the purposes of soiling the picture of someone specific. Which picture or person can change but that always seems to be the main purpose. You have to ask yourself when YOU will become the person that is being soiled and excluded. This is all junior high school stuff really. I mean, it isn't rocket science to know that we just shouldn't engage in it.
And so, I will continue to practice my line and liberate myself from not only speaking of gossip but even giving it a second thought. We'll see how long it takes for everyone around me to catch on.