Writing from the darkness of domesticity…again

 

 

As some of you know, I have been taking a break from work since September. Three months in, I find myself grateful for the extra time and space and also bristling against my now (even) more domestic mode. (Since there is nothing else to take my focus.)

I hate domesticity. I rail against it. All the time. Almost every day.

I hate everything to do with housework and domestic duties. It is something that I have an ongoing battle with. I struggle, I rage, I despair. I accept, I flow, I enjoy. I struggle, I rage, I despair. This is the rhythm of it for me.

I hate the schedule. The monotony. The uselessness of it all. What does it mean for me to wash dishes, cook food, buy groceries, run errands, pick up toys, change summer to winter clothes? I honestly don’t give a shit. I find it useless, stupid and a waste of everything else I am good at.

I love my children and I honestly don’t give a shit.

I feel like a wolf that has been trapped in the wild and caged. Every day, her wildness dims a  bit. And she forgets what snow on the air smells like.

Dramatic? Maybe.

This place where I am is not where I expected to be. In high school, I did a project with my two best friends and we wrote down what we wanted to be when we grew up. One wanted to be a fashion designer. One wanted to be married with children. I wanted to travel around the world and have “lovers in every port”.

Being the main housekeeper and childcare provider feels like having a job I hate and not getting paid for it.

Maybe, some would say, your healthy and happy children are payment enough.

Nope. No, they are not. Not for me.

And yet, YET, occasionally, there is joy in this role. Occasionally, nothing brings me greater pleasure than being a mother, a mama bear, a goddess of the hearth, a keeper of all things cozy and nutritious and delightful and wonderfully loving.

Occasionally.

And then, there are many times where my rage and feeling of unfairness threatens to rip my brain from my head and light my house on fire.

So what does a woman do, a wild woman do, a woman who dreamed of travelling and having lovers in every port, what does this woman do with her domestic rage?

I allow myself to become untamed. I shed the skin of domesticity and become animal. True to my nature. Wild. Free.

I light candles and they represent the burn of every woman who feels like me.

I put on a black dress. I like where it is tight and pulls against me. I like how it caresses my bare skin. How it will expose me as I move. It connects me to my darkness, my vitality, my angst, my vibrant push against it all.

I know I have a choice in this moment. To dive into the darkness I feel or to pretend it isn’t there. To stuff some part of me down, down, down. To suffocate my soul. To stitch myself up on one side only to have myself spill out on another. To cover my shadow with sparkly glitter which burns like poison on my skin.

So I dive into the darkness I feel. I move and sway and let the music take me away.

I begin to shed, cracking open what I mistakenly thought was me. I am reminded of myself. How much life there is inside of me. How much joy. How slowly I can move; like I am leading the world by the tip of my finger.

I touch my skin and feel where it is velvet soft, where it is warmer, where it curves in and out.

And then, aaahhhhh, there I am. My creature. My animal of all the shades, this breath of life in and out. My curves, my opening wider and wider.

I find the hard parts and soften them with curves. My cells open and breath for the first time today.

Yes, here I am. I become exquisite, mysteries, untouchable, magical again.

I leave with no plan, no solution. Nothing has changed. But I have stood firmly inside of myself and tasted my greatness. I belong to myself once again. And I have reminded myself of how much I am, how deep I go, how wide I am capable of opening.

I have celebrated my truth and made poetry from it.

 

 

What my grief feels like

 

I am beginning to offer grief and rage workshops and I want to share some of my experience with grief with you. To let you know that you are not alone. That you are not wrong for feeling deep sadness. I am right there with you.

There are so many reasons for us to grieve. Death. Of a person or of a dream. Struggle. Being stuck. A change that we didn’t ask for. A door closed. Something we want that we can’t have. The goodbye that we never had.

For most of us, we grew up being told – more by example than by words – that intense emotions were unsafe, dangerous and to be dealt with behind closed doors.

We need to change the way we move through intense emotions and the way we accept and honour our feelings. They are a strength, not a weakness.

This is what it feels like for me to be in my darkness. What does it feel like being in yours?

I know I can reach out but I still feel completely alone. Alone in my house. Alone in my thoughts. I have people around me but I am completely and utterly alone. In my confusion. In my pain. In my crying.

In this darkness, I am alone.

I have been crying on and off all day. I have gone from moments of feeling completely right to sheer panic carving out a ditch in my chest.

I am talking to my children in a calm voice while I hold my hands over my chest in case my heart decides to launch itself forward into the abyss.

They call to me. I don’t have the energy to answer back. I want to disappear into a cave and never come out but instead I have to go upstairs and put a movie in.

I am so defeated. I am so lost. I don’t know what is right, what to do, what I want. I feel utterly incapable of helping myself because I don’t feel like I have the energy to do anything at all. I am tired. So tired. The thought of planning dinner feels so exhausting that I don’t give a shit and everyone can go hungry.

The skin on my arms tingles and my chest is so tight and crying feels like too much energy yet the tears break my face every few minutes.

Is this grief? Is this defeat? Is this giving up? Is this growth?

It is painful and makes me feel helpless. I am a shattered, paper thin version of my warrior now.

I don’t want to move, I don’t want to think, I don’t want to feel, I want to have a hot bath and disappear.

My heart, even, is tired. She feels like she has dropped into a coma. My shoulders can’t lift, they can’t hold the weight of all that needs to be held.

Is this a fight? Is this my glory moment? Is this growth? Is this where I charge ahead or is this where I hide my wide open crying wound under a blanket?

How do I do this? Alone. Tired. Small. Defeated.

It is painful to move. To let this move. It feels better to freeze. It hurts.

I am a shell of myself.

I rock back and forth, I stroke my hair, I am a neurotic disturbing rhythm.

I want a mother. To hold me and tell me that it’s all okay.

I can feel my mind stopping me from falling. It is judging me. What, it wants to know, what the fuck is wrong with you?

I hold my original heart in my hand. She is so open and joyful and ready to belong. Then she has first irreparable hurt. And then, another. And she hardens as, somehow, her underside grows even more tender.

There is no running through it, moving away from it. There is only being in it.

It hurts. It is messy and painful and ugly and too much.

Every door opens closer to that most wounded wound. Being alone. Not being held. Being apart. There is no balm for this one.

And so I move. I move what I can. How I can. I keep breathing. And moving. And let it flow.

And in the movement, in the allowing, there is no fixing. No “over”. No done. There is only having been heard. Having talked without words. Having shown, having been so inside of it. There is only a feeling of having walked through the fog instead of around it. There is a release and relief in not having to carry all of it anymore. Smaller bits I carry only.

Every time I sink into my darkness, I build up my ability to be with other’s darkness. It no longer terrifies me. I also know the gifts it brings. The incredible bigness of the heart in darkness.

I am finding my power and my clarity in my sadness. This sadness is carving away at so much armour, so much of what will lead me in the wrong direction. She is also my courage because once I have gone so far down into her depths, I am unafraid.

There is a sweetness, a delicious relaxation to drop my head back into my grief and stop fighting it. It is the water after the deep thirst.

In my depth, I am absolutely fearless. Because I own my darkness, there is no threat of darkness that anyone can hold over me. I become sovereign.

It took time for me to learn how to feel. Every time I feel, fully and in my body, I learn something new and expand myself in new shapes and areas.

What I have learned is how to give myself full permission to feel what I feel, deeply and without apology. Unbridled. Primal. Embodied. I have learned how to move emotion through my body so I can write my poetry with it.

I am learning, always, how to have grief open me up instead of shut me down. 
 
I know there is a different way to move through our stories of rage, of grief and struggle. There IS another way to do this. Yes, in darkness and also in tribe. In joy. In connection. In gorgeously alive, breathing and expanding beauty.

In love with men

 

There are so many reasons that women have to be angry and disappointed by men. I don’t need to talk about that here but I a few days ago, I listened to the “Cross Country Checkup” program on CBC radio regarding the Humboldt Broncos bus crash tragedy. Most of the callers happened to be men so I got to listen for about an hour to them talking about their feelings. It felt so nourishing and beautiful to me that I wanted to share it with you.

I heard a man talk about how, in the early hours of the morning, instead of putting his three-and-a-half month old son in the crib after getting him back to sleep, he holds him for a few more hours just because he realizes how precious his life is.

I heard bus drivers and coaches and writers and hockey players talk about love. Community. Bonding. Teammates. The importance of family; birth family, billet family and the family of the community. The forever bond between players.

I heard their voices break. And crack. And their silence when it became too much.

They talked about the feeling of being kicked in the stomach. The agony and pain of parents. What it felt like to feel the fear of putting your kid on a bus for a long trip.

They talked about their hearts breaking. Their deep deep pain.

And they talked a lot about their love and appreciation for how the community was coming together. They had deep wisdom about the importance of it. They knew that this is something not to be lived through alone. But in community. In family. In friendship. Together.

They spoke with deep knowing about the intense level of trauma touching so many people left behind. And the importance of healing.

And even in all the pain, they talked about love. Hope. Courage. Their belief in the power of community, friendship and family to heal from tragedy.

Emotional. Real. Authentic. Loving. As a woman, I sometimes think that I have the upper hand when it comes to being able to feel. I pride my gender on holding emotional wisdom. I can get superior about it. And perhaps some of that is true. But these men. Our men. Men all over the world. They feel so deeply. They love, they notice, they care, they feel.

I was melted and filled with love for men.

Before I leave this subject, I want to mention a caller from Nunavut who talked about the devastation she felt for the Humboldt community as well as the frustration she felt about the lack of similar response her community receives when indigenous youth are facing a suicide crisis. She is so right.  And while I am writing this, we are hearing news of another chemical attack on people in Syria, including children. I know for myself that it is easier for me to relate to tragedies affecting people like me; in how they look, what language they speak, where they live and how they live. But I was reminded that I want to take on the responsibility of recognizing pain and tragedy in all communities. Especially the ones that don’t feel like mine.

Update from the tender place

 

If you didn’t read my last blog post, here it is. It is called “Writing from inside a tender place” because I felt so compelled to share a bit of what it’s like for me to be in a dark and hard place.

I was so moved by all of the comments and personal emails I got back from everyone. Hands reaching out to me. It was a beautiful call-and-response; as ancient as the ocean.

Here is what I know about emotions:

  1. In their natural state, emotions are like water. Not ice. They move freely, they shift easily, they go from this emotion to that, no contradiction considered. If you have a chance to watch a child, that is what she does. She moves from anger to glee to bliss to sadness to anger to exhaustion. Easily and fluidly. Perhaps she has not been taught yet that she must turn her emotions into ice by not feeling them. Stop that crying. Go upstairs to your room until you are in a better mood. That is not acceptable in this house. Why are you making such a big deal about this? Come back when you are in a better mood. Inside voice!

But she gets no tools for how to deal with her strong emotions. How does she “deal with” her rage? How does she release this uncontainable joy bubbling up inside of her? What does she do with her heartbreak, all of her tears that seem endless? No-one teaches her how to feel and release. How to move them out of her body. She is told to just stop feeling. To hide them. To pretend they are not there. And so the water stops moving and settles. And in that coldness, in that barren landscape, that water begins to freeze. And it turns to ice.

2.   Emotions demand to be felt. They will not make space for anything else until they have been heard. They do not need to be fixed. They do not need to be justified. Or solved. They need to be felt. And when they are truly felt and truly heard, through our body and our heart and our voice and our breath, then they melt and turn into water that then moves and shifts into something else. And where that ice was, now something new can move into. Growth. Freedom. Love. Joy. Surrender.

3.    Being emotional is a huge gift when we know how to use it as fuel. To feel it all. Our big hearts hold the world together. When we stop feeling, the world stops feeling. But if we weren’t taught to honour and hear and release our emotions, if no-one told us that we were strong enough to feel it all, if we haven’t learned yet that where our emotions become uncomfortable is the greatest place of growth for us, we believe that we can’t let ourselves feel because it might break us. Our great sadness. Our eternal rage. Our disappointment. And our ecstasy. Our limitless joy. So we shut it down.

We become ice.

In my last blog, I talked about how I move emotions through my body. I cry. I wail. I rage. I dance. I open my body. I step towards it. Moving emotions through our bodies is not a mind trip. This cannot be done through the brain. This is a body exercise. And it is what I teach in my feminine movement classes. So, the next time you feel something uncomfortable or strong, how will you let it move through you? Your breathe? Moving your body? Letting yourself moan or groan or scream?

Writing from inside a tender place

 

 

I don’t usually write about something that I am going through at the moment because it feels too tender, too exploitive.

But I feel called to do this so perhaps, one of you is calling this out of me.

I am struggling at the moment. Very much in the last few days. I was away for the weekend on a program and when I got back, I walked into a messy house, demanding children and all of my domestic duties dropped around me, clang, like a cage. The real world felt so tiring, so heavy, so strong, so much.

I am feeling grief, anger, resentment, confusion, fucked up, let down, caged, heartbroken, bodybroken, powerless, exhausted and like I have nothing left.

I can’t cook one more meal. I can’t wash one more dish. I can’t pick up one more toy from the floor. I can’t send one more email, or do anything on my “to do” list. It feels like prison.

What I want to do is to run away. Go to bed and stay there with the covers over my head and my door locked so no-one can ever come in. I want to burn everything around me, if I had the energy. But in my body, my shoulders are hunched and it feels like too much effort to walk. I am broken.

And on top of everything I feel, I put judgement. I have no right to feel like this. Shame. No-one else falls apart like this. Guilt. Do you think life should be all about you and what makes you feel good?

All of these emotions swim around until they have me in a whirlpool that pulls me down into hell.

The hardest thing for me to do, this morning, is to move and feel it all.

I can feel the pain as I open up my chest and drop my head back – it hurts, I whisper.

I howl. I sob. I make sounds that I have never heard before. Sounds that would break my heart if I heard them from another woman. I would think, that woman is breaking apart. I cry more loudly than I have in years. I don’t care who hears me.

I go from the floor to standing, which feels like too much work. I curl up against the wall and try to disappear. All the while, tears running down my face and I am moving between levels of grief and anguish. Like a rollercoaster, I go up and down, up and down.

And still I move. I try to tell my story of loss…what loss, I don’t know, but that is what it feels like.

I try not to fix. I try only to keep moving and to keep feeling it all. Every anguished moment, every painful opening, everything.

When my sobbing feels finished (for now), I breathe and let my body move. It is only the breath now, and my body moving. And an energy shifts somewhere…I become a woman’s body filled with not just grief but, now, hunger. Lust. I pull on my shirt so it is tight and hard on my skin. My movements get bigger. Faster. Thirstier.

I realize that I am fighting for my life.

I can feel the breath where I take back the wheel. I move from victim to creator. I will live this life of mine. I will feel it all and I will fall and struggle and howl with grief. And I will fight for my life.

I am not cured. I am not finished. I am not shiny and happy and back to face the world with a smile on my face.

But I am fully alive. Fully aware of what I am feeling. Fully released, for now. Fully myself. I am the captain of my ship.

In the comments below, I’d love to hear what this makes you feel or think about. We are not alone in fighting for our lives; for the lives we want to live. How are you fighting for yours?

This is how Christmas makes my body feel

 

So, where to begin…

Christmas! Holidays!

Christmas. Holidays. Sigh.

Every year, I forget how mental the holidays can be. Everyone is sick or just getting sick or just getting over being sick. People are dropping like flies and plans get cancelled at every corner. Everyone is tired from a year of going and pushing and doing. Then there are presents to buy (or make….yuck), money to spend, organizing which family gets you when, prezzies for teachers, extra school events, snowy days, etc. It hurts my heart every year when I feel the perfect Christmas slipping away. Oh wait, I know what that’s called! Life!

I needed to have a dance session to release all of the stress and tension from everything that is going on right now. And I decided to film it because if a picture is worth a thousand words, well, a video must be worth a thousand and ONE words.
This video is me releasing all the shit I have to release. (For today.) I release. I breathe. I celebrate. I am fluid. I go fast, I go slow. I am just me, talking through my body.

When I watch this video, I can see (instead of just feeling) how my body talks. I feel a lot of stress and tension in my arms and fingers so I wave them around like crazy. I need to release my head a lot so I get all head-banger with it. I like to pound my feet and sometimes I just pick up one foot over and over again. Who knows why…

I am messy and sometimes I lose my balance. Sometimes I lift my chin and get low and that’s when I’m in my “bring it, fucker” warrior mode. I also can get closed in my chest so I feel a lot of craving to crack that part open by pumping it or shaking it or basically thrusting it forward.

At one point, I stop to fix a rug and you’ll get a full moon shot (with clothes). You’re welcome.

I scoop energy from the earth, I pump to the sky, I hide in my hoodie.

My body is unique and my body is also every body. It has a language of it’s own. It talks and you can probably see the story it tells as easily as you could understand it if I put it in words.

By the way, I am dancing to an unnamed track from this Youtube playlist. The song starts around the 28 minute mark.

Come and dance with me next year. Reveal your body’s language. Learn how she needs to move, where she needs to release, what expression is her’s alone. She is incredible and fluid and strong and expressive and full of all of the colours of the rainbow.

Until then, eat well. Sleep well. Laugh until you pee your pants. Then, change your underwear and keep on laughing.

Diaries of a retreat – Part 3/3

 

This is the final installation in my “Diary of a retreat” writings. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

Day 3

The theme for me this retreat has been belonging. A big challenge to the story I’m holding on to about not being worthy of love and belonging.  I know on a cellular level what it feels like to be the outsider. It feels like my natural state. But I don’t want that anymore. The more I want to fly, the more I need a tribe. So that was where I opened this retreat. I allowed myself to belong. In however and whatever shape that took. And I do feel that I belong here. I belong to the women here. I belong to this movement. I belong to my friends here. I belong! And in belonging, I can bring my whole self here and be a part of this for everyone else. I become part of their belonging too.

Today we had class on the beach. It was one of the highlights for me. Being in the sun, feeling the wind, moving outside. Hearing the ocean. The teacher’s voice was low enough that I could move as I wished. And then we went to the ocean. And I danced all the way there; it felt like it took a million years. I dragged my toes in the sand, I curved my hips, I leaned back, I took my time. And then, in the ocean, I called a few women to join me in swimming (sometimes we are the pusher and sometimes we need to be pushed) and we took our suits off and swam naked. It was glorious. The ocean waves would come and knock us over as if to say, Snap. Out. Of. It. THIS is who you are. THIS is how you should always be, in this state. Free! Wild! Alive!

I know now that by not going to class and taking my own time, I was creating the safety that I needed to jump. And the jump I want to do is to show my truth to this tribe. I wanted to break apart. I wanted to show ME. Because when I can show the truth of me, I can truly belong. Here. There. To myself. To the world. Anywhere. Everywhere.

Day 4

I had my first group dance and it was okay but nothing emotionally happened, except that it felt good to move. It was a safe dance for me. I knew I wanted something more. So then Sheila (Kelley, S-Factor‘s creator and leader) asked me to tell one of the leaders to put me with a group of women that would want to dance to a “break apart” song.

This is what being a co-creator in jumping into your fear feels like. You actually seek out what will break you apart. 

When we got assigned our new dancing groups for the second round, I said I want a song that will break me apart, that will make me cry. The second woman said, I want to dance to dirty sexual music that talks about fucking and licking pussy. (Honestly, I fucking LOVE this stuff!) So, that is where we started off. I just had this knowing that I needed to push for my song and that this dance was mine. We finally all agreed to dance to “Delicate” by Damien Rice. (Even women who love to dance to dirty sex songs have a tender, delicateness about them. We are 100 shades of the rainbow.)

I went to the middle of the floor right in front of all of these women because I wanted to be seen. I started on the floor because I didn’t think I could stand up. I danced. I broke apart. I cried. I showed my fear in being seen and then I was seen, as I lifted my shirt over my head and showed my tear-stained face. And then, at the end of the song, I wept. Lying on the floor. I let it all out as I was held by my tribe. And then, I felt so fucking glorious that I yelled out a cry of victory. I did it! I gave my self the time I needed, I listened to my own voice, I trusted when I was ready and then, I jumped.

I belong. Exhale. 

The evening after the retreat ended…

I spent this night with people! I went out to dinner with them! I belong here! (As you can tell by the exclamation marks! this is not what I usually do!) They weren’t stopping me from belonging, I was stopping myself! Gosh darnit, fucker head shit!

After being home for 4 days

I’ve been back for 4 days now. This re-entry is different Last time, I merged with life effortlessly. So I thought I got it and that is what would happen this time. But it didn’t. I am still quiet about the retreat. I am still holding it in my body and heart like a treasure. I don’t know how it will move through my body and my life but I know it will.

But here’s what I learned. I belong. I trust myself to know what I need. I know how to make myself safe. I want to jump.

Thank you for reading.

Sophie

xo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

    

How to kill a desire

 

Yes, I’m into desires these days. If you didn’t read my post called “Audacious, scary, body buzzing, delicious desire”, you can read it here.

What are desires? For me, they are simply things, feelings and experiences that I want. And, for me, they have a deepness to them that simply “wanting” doesn’t seem to have. A simple want comes from my mouth and a desire comes from my soul.

If you have never made a desire list, do it. It’s really really fun. On your first one, you might end up sitting there, trying to figure out if you actually have any desires. (You do!). You might start rusty as a robot and end up having desire diarrhea.

You start off with a chirp chirp chirp silence.

Then, “new winter boots”.

Then, “a new dress”.

Then, “to take yoga teacher training”.

Then, “to have mind-blowing sex.”

Shazam. Done. Pencil down. Mic drop.

Here’s what I’ve learned about desires.

When you think about a desire, it makes you feel good. You smile. Your body feels relaxed (and maybe a bit scared and excited). It feels good in your heart and your body. Even without making a move towards it, it feel good to think about.

Desires don’t need to come true to make you feel good. (See above.)

If you had to describe yourself on a post-it note in 5 seconds, writing down a big desire would be a pretty concise way of telling the world who you are.

Desires change. They come and go. Or you have a desire for a while and then, it no longer makes you feel good. You might look at a desire list from 6 months ago and find things on there that don’t tingle the way they used to.

Desires are fun. Desires tell us who we are.

So, say you wanted to kill a desire. How would you do it?

Here’s how…

You kill a desire by not allowing yourself to enjoy just the thought of it. By bypassing that very important first stage of desire where you get to just imagine what it would be like. What those new winter boots might look like. What they would feel like on your feet. All the cool things you’d be able to do in your new winter boots because you’d be comfortable and happy and you’d start snowboarding and ice fishing. Imagine what it would be like to be in a room full of people who also want to be a yoga teacher. Being so immersed in those movements and absorbing all of the wisdom from your teachers and also figuring out how you want to teach yoga. You feel it all – the excitement of teaching your first class, the nerves of teaching your first class, the amazingness, the tears, the sweat, the joy.

If you bypass this stage and go straight to “how do I do this?” stage, you will kill your desire. As soon as you tell a desire that you can’t enjoy it until it comes true but you don’t think it could ever come true and you don’t even know where to start because it’s totally impossible and now that you think of it, it’s totally pointless even thinking about it because it’s never going to happen and it’s too much and greedy to even wish for and WHO AM I TO WANT ALL OF THIS?, well… something very sad happens.

You know those cute little angel cupids in old-timey religious pictures? The ones with the chubby cheeks and dimpled butt cheeks and cute little wings and the bow and arrows? You just shot one down. That was your desire.

We are so good at thinking that we always have to do something. Especially as women, we have our flicks continually set to “DO”, so it’s hard for us to not need to take action and do something about everything.

A desire might pop into our brains and we think, what is my first action step? How would I make that happen? What should I do right now to work towards that goal? And then, holy sh*t, my brain is exhausted just thinking about how much work that is so I’m going to shut this sh*t down right now and carry on with carrying on.

And instead of letting that delicious desire (whisper a juicy one to yourself right now) make our blood heat, give us tingles on your skin, let our shoulders drop, make us smile, we kill it.

Let’s just enjoy the desire, damnit.

Here’s one of my desires.

I want to spend a month in Tuscany with my family. I want to wear beautiful dresses that sweep around my legs and leather sandals and look effortlessly beautiful (is it shallow that I also have perfect hair days while I’m there?), calling out “Ciao” to the olive farmers as I walk into town for an espresso. I want my kids to run around in bare feet, picking basil and tomatoes and running in and out of the kitchen as I make day-long meals. I want my husband to learn some romantic/dirty lines in Italian that he whispers to me as we drink red wine under the Tuscan star-filled sky.

When I think of this desire, I melt. I can taste it. I can feel it. I can feel the yearning like this very happy puppy tugging on a leash. I smile.

Okay, so let’s kill it now.

How would I find a place in Tuscany? I don’t know anyone who lives in Tuscany.
How do I find a place that I can rent for a month with the right feel when I don’t even live in the country?
I don’t speak Italian. Do we need Visas?
What would we do for money? How would we afford it?
What if my family doesn’t want to go? Can I trick them into packing for the cottage and blindfold them on the way to the airport?
Is Italy dangerous? Will my children run around barefoot, speaking Italian or will they be fighting in the kitchen as I cry over a ruined risotto?
Will my children come back to class where everyone now can speak Mandarin and meditate and they only know how to make handmade pasta and get dirt out of their toenails? It’s impossible, it’s a dream, it doesn’t make sense, it’s a luxury, I should be concentrating on more important things and STOP DAYDREAMING.

See what I mean? Thud. Another cupid hits the dust.

There is a time for action on a desire, should you want to take it. But I believe that the most important thing to do with any desire is to enjoy thinking about it, feeling it and imagining it. Let it make you feel good.

And should you decide to take action on it, all of that enjoying will help you take steps towards that desire without killing it along the way.

Desires are delicious little morsels of throbbing aliveness. They bring joy just by being. No action necessary.

If I’m lying, I’m buying. Try it out. Find a really juicy desire and just sit and think about it without needing to do anything about it. You like?

What is your relationship with your desires? Do you kill them? Love them? Both?!

Truth telling. Deep breath. Open mouth.

 

 

Telling the truth.

It’s big. It’s hard. It takes remarkable courage. (Not to say something like “I don’t like peaches” but to say something like “Yesterday, I broke down in tears because I realized that I’m not really happy.”)

I believe telling the truth can save our lives. (Along with Wonder Woman.)

I had to start telling the truth to myself. To admit how I was actually feeling. To take off the blinders and allow myself to feel and allow the truth about it all. The resentment. The anger. The sadness. The fear. The wanting.

And who it involved. My family. My kids. My husband. My parents. That person.

Can we tell the truth to someone else if we haven’t spoken it to ourselves first?

Our truth is so sacred that we need to own it first. To speak it to ourselves first. To allow it. To feel it’s edges. To feel it’s heat, whether it’s burning or frozen. We can only move past it when we speak it.

The truth that we don’t speak (or that we tone down so we only speak a part of it) just buries itself in our skin. In our cells. It shuts down our joy. It is a barrier between us and someone else. It keeps us the victim. It festers into self-criticism and self-hatred.

Truths like…

I’m having a hard time with life right now.

I don’t like it.

No.

I am not happy.

I don’t know what to do.

When we don’t tell the truth to each other, we continue this isolation. Each of us in our own small world, thinking that everyone else has it together. That we are the only ones that can’t get it. Can’t hold it together. Don’t know what we are doing.

We think we are the only ones struggling.

We all stay down in the dark. All struggling alone. When we tell the truth, it’s like a ray of sunshine shines in that darkness. And we begin to see a way out of it. Together. Whew. We don’t have to do this alone.

Speaking the truth is a hard-won freedom.

Speaking my truth used to feel like something that diminished me. Made me weak. But now I know better.

Speaking the truth requires trust and someone to hold that truth like an egg they will never drop. Speaking the truth to someone means that you have determined that they are worthy of hearing this whisper from your heart. That they will honour it. Respect it. Hold it for you.

Never speak the truth to someone who can’t hold it for you.

I am learning every day to speak my truths. Some are getting easier. Some are hard. Some still get stuck in my throat. Maybe it is my fear, or my ego, or my heart that is trying to keep the words trapped there; I can feel the constriction as it fights to be set free.

I want to tell the truth. I want to set myself free by telling my truth. I want to set other people free by telling my truth. Maybe one of my truths is one of your truths. Then we are, all of a sudden, not alone anymore. Not crazy. Not wrong. Not unable.

Telling the truth comes with risk. To be hated. To be judged harshly. To be labeled. To be shamed. To be misunderstood.

But it’s a risk worth taking because the truth does set us free.

Here are some of my truths.

I still struggle with feeling that my story is worth telling and hearing. So sometimes I don’t tell it.

I struggle with believing that I am loveable. And worthy of love. I am still surprised how much people like me.

I am resentful (in various degrees from background noise to eruption) over how much my life “stopped” with kids and wifedom.

I have a hard time asking for everything I want. I have a hard time asking for help even though I tell people to do it all the time.

When I yell at my kids, it’s like I am split into different selves. One is totally shut down because she feels out of control. The wise part is shaking her head, sadly. And one part is enjoying it, whispering “Let them feel your rage. They deserve it.”

I miss the days when I got instantly turned-on just thinking about sex. I miss what the first kiss feels like. 

Every time I walk into a group of people, my heart is beating and I’m trying to act cool and confident but inside I’m afraid no-one will like me, I won’t connect with anyone. I won’t belong. I’ll be on the outside. Which is a place I know the pain of well.

I judge. When my heart is tight, when I’m tired, when I’m depleted, I judge. And I rank. I can feel smug about thinking I am a better mother, cooler wife, cooler woman. I can feel superior. (It’s all bullshit, obviously, and the only difference on this one is that I judge less and it now feels like shit. Damn.)

I envy. I have an ongoing battle with scarcity. Somewhere along the way, I claimed the idea that there isn’t enough to go around so I want it all. All of the attention. All of the validation. All of the love. I need to be the best, the brightest. In everything.

I am very comfortable when I am bright and shiny and sometimes disappointed, frustrated and impatient with my quiet, shy, withdrawn, self-doubting self.

I’m afraid of dying because I don’t want to be alone.

Thank you for reading my truth. I hope you can hold it for me.

The next time you are with someone whom you trust with your truth, tell them something. Something real. Something close to the bone. Something tender. Be the first one. Be brave. Save your own life. And theirs.

 

 

Victim much? I’ll share mine if you share yours…

 

As I spend more time on this internal journey to get back to myself, I start to see where my shadows are. The hard crusty parts I need to scrape away. The darkness that I need to shed light on. The twists and turns that I need to follow to get to the truth…the sometimes very hard to admit truth.

Shining light on the shadow parts is never easy, usually uncomfortable but it is the only way that I know of to continue to feel more and more FREE. And more and more myself. Which is the glorious carrot that keeps me moving forward.

And as I go along, I am learning every day how important it is for us to share our stories with each other. As I continue to say, we can’t do this thing called life, well, alone.

So, here are some of the victim personas I used to get stuck in. (And when my self-care goes to shit, I can get sucked right back into them…) The personas and shields I put on that completely neutralize my mojo, deplete me, keep me stuck in the trenches and fill me with toxic rage, frustration and bitterness that only serves to feed the cycle.

Perhaps you will recognize some of them…

I’m a Superstar Achiever (and better than you)

When I’m in this mode, I am really disconnected from my self because this is all about outward presentation. I want to show the world, near and far, what I can do. Balancing work and family with ease! Planning a party with homemade pasta and perfect wine pairing! Mastering self-care, business savvy and happy household on the tip of my baby finger! There is a part of me that wants the admiration of every woman as she looks at me and says, “Wow, how does she do it all?” I want to impress, overwhelm and (what I’d rather not admit) make other women feel inferior in the face of my ability to do it all.

Ouch. Oops. And a million apologies for any woman who has ever experienced a whiff of this from me. Drinks on me next time around…

The real story is that I’m chasing perfectionism, putting all of my power and worth into all the wrong places, walking on thin ice (because the energy of this is unsustainable so there is inevitably a crash coming), and ignoring all of the signals my body is giving me to come back home to myself. I’m trying to lift myself up by what others think of me. What I need to do is honour and value myself so I don’t look outwards to get what I am missing inside.

I Refuse To Make This Look Easy because then I Can’t Complain 

This is all about refusing to find solutions to problems because I really want everyone to know how hard this is. And the this could be work. Life. Managing my schedule. Taking care of kids. Waaahhh, my whole life is so hard! What I do here is resist taking responsibility for my own happiness, even when there are many ways to change my circumstances. I refuse to stand up for myself and instead, feel some sort of self-defeating satisfaction by pretending that there is nothing I could possibly do to make anything better. Because I think that if I find a solution and make things easier, then I won’t be able to ask for, and receive, sympathy. And I won’t feel appreciated because no-one will know how hard it is.

This is an interesting one for me because, at the heart of it, is just my need to express how I am feeling. My exhaustion. My overwhelm. My pain. My sadness. My fear. My questioning. In this mode, I express myself through complaining, anger, rage, bitterness and resentment. And most of the time, this expression gets turned outwards towards those dear to me or twisted inwards towards my heart like a screw. Neither is the kind of expression that moves me forward. Makes me lighter. And nothing gets released and transformed.

If I don’t make it look hard, I won’t be Earning my Keep (AKA, If I have too much fun, it’s not work)

Otherwise known as, my worth comes from what I do. This is about the belief system that says the harder I work and the more I do, the more value I have. In my family. To my partner. To my clients. In the world. This is how I earn my keep so it has to look hard. If I choose to sit on a patio and sip a cappuccino and read a book in the middle of the day instead of doing something, how can I gauge what my real worth is? Can my real worth be just. being. me? Can my value come from how much joy, happiness and truth I allow myself? Am I still valuable when I’m not doing, working, pushing, going, organizing, cleaning, feeding, tired, sacrificing…?

Quick story. I once met a woman on the street who had a week off from work and was planning to just stay home. The weather was supposed to be gorgeous that week and I suggested to her that she should find a time to go and sit on a patio with some friends. She looked shocked and horrified and said that she would probably spend the time getting things done and running errands.

As if it was illegal and shameful for her to enjoy herself and do nothing but feel good and have fun.

This whole doing things that make me feel good for no other reason than to feel good is a big one for women. Like, one of those 1.5L of white wine BIG.

It’s likely I have more victim personas in the shadows, just waiting for their time-release entrance into my life. But as my body and heart starts to have more light than shadow, they are running out of safe places to hide.

For me, seeing what is in the shadows requires me to get uncomfortable. To feel icky and yucky and to resist the impulse to run away, have a drink, eat something or to turn on the TV. Anything to drown out what I might hear if I pay attention. It also requires me to cut through the blame. The resentment. The ranting. The victim talk. It requires me to put on my goddess warrior panties and get right to the heart of the matter – where it’s all about me. It is all mine to own. And mine to change.

And I have learned that there is a difference in how I express myself and what it leads to. When I express myself (with the aim to hurt) by spewing out my rage, bitterness and resentment onto everyone and anyone around me, I am left with a tight, hot, angry ball of emotion that has not been healed, moved, cleansed or transformed. It has been tightened and hardened into place. (Because I haven’t expressed what I’m really feeling – which is hurt, sadness, pain, grief, challenge.)

When I dig deeper and allow myself to really feel the truth of what I’m feeling, when I acknowledge my hurt and my sadness, when I own them and see them in the light, they are released from my body. They are not fixed, necessarily, but they are transformed. They are not as they were.

In the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. What does your victim look like? What is your relationship with her these days? Is she the boss of you…or have you figured out how to get your power back from her?