Alone

Alone

There is this absolutely amazing series on the History channel (also available through iTunes) that has completely shattered any shame I might have had about my feelings about human connection. I no longer feel any shame - like zero - about loving, wanting, desiring, or longing for human connection. I feel no shame for missing the people that matter to me, despite decades long conditioning to believe that doing so was somehow unhealthy or overdramatic.

Fuck that.

Loving people is the common thread that unites MOST of us, and this show proved that to me.alone-forest-background

Let me explain.

Some of the people that I've come into contact with (read: love) seem to have very poor esteem/lack of understanding for those of us who need other people. They appear to view this need as pitiful, laughable, or as a weakness. And I have had first hand experience with certain people who I've witnessed responding to other people's dependency on others with something that looked to my admittedly biased, untrained eye like derision. There appeared to be some pity, some disbelief, and some shaking of the head, bafflement & even confusion. If I'm being honest, there appeared to be a bit of a sneer for the pathetic human who was crying from feeling the ache of loneliness we all feel when we've been alone for a time.

I'm not naming any names, but this is a true story.

I was sitting on the couch in my apartment with someone I love very, very deeply, who has professed to love me deeply, but who doesn't desire my lifestyle of connectedness, relationship, and commitment. Don't ask me why I was hanging out with him. I just was, because stupid, and also hopelessly in love, and also competely oblivious to our irreconcilable differences *up until that point*.

We were hanging out, as humans do, watching the show. I'd suggested it as something said person would really love, and of course, I was right, but there was this thing - this earthshatteringly horrible thing, to which I'd been previously oblivious - that became evident over our shared enjoyment of the show.

During Season One, Episode Nine, a cast member expressed deep longing for his person.

My person-who-is-not-willing-to-be-my-person turned to me with a look of such disbelief on his face that I felt it as though I'd been slapped in the face.

This person, this beloved of mine, seemed to be unable to relate to the cast member's longing for their person *at all*. They wore a look that bordered on scorn on their face as the cast member spoke openly, beautifully, vulnerably about the way he had to *force himself* not to think about his love because doing so was too painful for him to bear.

Being who I am, and feeling the tension rise between us, I turned to my beloved and said "Look, you attach differently from other people. I get it, but this is how the rest of us attach. We miss each other. We long for each other. When we love someone, we ache to be with them."

He nodded, thoughtfully, and then said:

"It would be different if I knew for certain that I would never see that person again, but otherwise..." and he kind of shook his head and trailed off.

Meanwhile, I kind of scuttled off into the corner of the other end of the couch because I felt a little bit like I was in the presence of another species - one that could not possibly begin to understand the depth of my feelings about loss, love, longing, desire, and attachment.

I didn't want this moment of clarity. It was completely unwelcome. But it came on, and it came on like most true things do. Like a sledge hammer. Without mercy. And with no way back from knowing.

Here's the thing.

I don't get people that don't miss people. I don't. I don't get people that could go off into the wilderness for more than a few days without starting to feel longing like a motherfucking razor blade in the guts. Some of my children live in other cities from me, and some live in other provinces. Some live right here in the city I occupy. I miss them. I feel it daily. I cope with it, because one must cope if one is to live with the reality that one's loved ones can't always be present, but I *feel* it all the same.

I miss the people I love. I miss *my* people.

I *hope* I'll see them again (if the fates are kind), but that isn't promised, and I know that. Having lost people I loved (my sister, my first husband, my father, friends I loved, friends I didn't know well at all, but grew to love from a distance) to suicide, illness, and the mysterious randomness of the universe, I have learned not take their presence in my life for granted.

I may never see you again. The last words I utter in your general direction may very well be the very last words you ever hear me utter. I may die with everything unspoken. You may die before I have my chance to speak what needs to be spoken.

I live with this every day of my life.

You know? If you've lost someone, you know.

This is the unbearable lightness of our being. It is brief. It is not guaranteed. It comes with no promises or contracts, and while I am taking a two hour bath with my phone off, something catastrophic could *absolutely* happen that would mean that I will spend the rest of my life missing someone who had *no idea* I would miss them except that I did my very level best to ensure that they knew that I would completely fucking miss them.

Like Goog.

If you know who I'm talking about, you'll know the absolute stunning, awful swiftness of that dear love's departure from our lives. One day, she was administrating my groups beautifully, and the next, she was dead. Gone forever.

It is a teensy, tiny consolation to me that the last thing I ever said to her was "You matter to me."

Because she did.

And I wanted her to know.

That kind of consciousness - the fully, deeply experienced awareness that we are here and then erased as though we never existed - has the power to make you really fucking crazy, or really fucking awake, and in my case, I think it's made me awake. It's made me awake, and it's made me very particular about how I treat the people I love.

I want them to know they matter. I want to be certain of that. I want them to never question for a second that I thought about them all the time, that when they weren't around, I missed them, and that they were wanted, loved, valued...

That guy on Alone, Day 9, missing his wife with an unbearable visceral longing that was only eased by the thought of bringing home a lifetime's worth of abundance *to her*, *for her* is my fucking hero. I get him.

The guy that wanted his dad to be proud of him, who took the adventure on with a full-throated, unabashed devotion to making his dad proud; he's my hero, too.

The guy that said, with tears in his eyes, "It makes you wonder if the people that you love really know how much you love them..." before he shut his camera off because the moment had become too big for him, too vulnerable to share - he's my hero.

The woman in season 2 who went home because she felt her children tugging at her sleeve from across a continent. The man who asked "What good is all of this if there is no one to share it with?". The one who said out loud that he had everything except his wife...and then went home because fuck it. He wanted, loved, missed HIS WIFE.

My heroes.

And the guy who quit second to last because he realized that nothing meant anything without his partner, and the one who hung in there long after his body screamed for relief because he wanted to become the YES MAN to his beloved children at whom he'd always had to chant the words "Sorry" and "NO".

Purveyors of hope.

Shining beacons of light in my dark, dark night of the soul.

***

There is a lot of social shaming around needing and/or wanting to be coupled up/connected, but I think that's fear talking. You hear me? I think the way we talk about being too awesome to be bothered about whether we are loved or not, accepted or not, alone or not, is unadulterated bullshit the majority of the time.

This show really proved that to me.

We are nothing without the ones we love. Nothing. Without our attachment to those we love, our lives go un-witnessed. There is no meaning in them. We exist merely to eat, sleep, shit, and die. We give nothing. We receive nothing. Maybe we do good work that pays our bills (if we're lucky) but unless we're curing cancer or discovering something completely, stratospherically, mindblowingly brand new, our names will be forgotten within months, if not days, of our inevitable death. The name on the product is completely, utterly forgettable. There is a huge difference between the time and energy you invested in accomplishing accolades for shit that will never really matter to anyone but you and maybe someone else's bottom line vs. the gentle, soft gratitude of a loved one who saw what you did there, and loved you for it. Huge.

And that is my bottom line.

Love the ones you love in the verb sense of the word. Do it. Make sure they know, and if they aren't certain, figure out how to make them certain.

Because there will be nothing you will regret more than their dying without knowing how much you loved them. There will be nothing that weighs as heavily on them as your lightweight, half-assed, lick and a promise. There will be nothing you will wish to take back as much as your unresponsiveness to those who loved you best.

But then, I guess you'd have to really care for any of that to matter.

***

Anyway, Alone. Seasons 1 & 2.  Listen to what these people are really saying about what matters, and you might find yourself broken wide open.

Love you,

Effy

 

 

 

 

 

We're All Just Walking Each Other Home

We're All Just Walking Each Other Home

My epic weekend of fun things began last night at the KW Boathouse with a show. I've seen Jackets a few times in the last couple of years and I always try to go out when they come to town. There's something about their music that's strangely nostalgic for me, despite the fact that these guys could be my kids. They sound like something I might have heard at a house party my parents might have thrown. Their music is laced through with something bluesy, folksy, something slightly psychedelic.

They rocked my night, and if I hadn't been up at seven yesterday morning, I would have stayed for the whole show, because I was snuggling with a guy who uses words like Effyness and Museability. My whole heart wanted to stay, basking in the warmth of the kind of touch & attention I am not accustomed to receiving, but my body demanded sleep, so I obeyed. I trust that there will be more snuggling, more banter, more of the same, so I can let it go in favour of the things my body insists I need. Rest. Arms and legs akimbo, laying diagonally in my queen sized bed, taking up every inch of space. Deep sleep. When you know there's more, you don't have to cling.

Anyway. Jackets. Here they are, though, for your listening pleasure. :)

In Other News

I'm making a beef stew today and having a friend over for The Tragically Hip concert. We were going to head out and enjoy the live stream at a public event, but the forecast is calling for more thunder and lightening, and having been caught in the deluge last night on my way home, I'd rather avoid any more dousing. Home, with candles lit and nag champa burning. Home, with someone who never needs an explanation, never needs the backstory, never needs context to understand exactly what I'm thinking or feeling. We're not supposed to be hanging out like this, really, because its complicated, but fuck it. Life is short. I'm looking forward to it.

I hope you have a blessed weekend, and I don't mean that easy, hand waving kind of 'blessed' that people tend to throw around these days. I mean that I hope you find beauty & meaning in the hidden pockets of your hours. I hope you find something worth remembering in among the ordinary, unremarkable moments. I hope you love someone fiercely, and that they love you back. I hope the divine touches you on the back of the neck and makes your hair rise *at least once*. I hope there's poetry in it. Or maybe, song. I hope there's pleasure in it. I hope there is pride in the work of your hands, be they engaged in art making or bread making. I hope you know your own worth, and that when you catch sight of your reflection, you smile with your whole heart beaming out of your eyes at that extraordinarily beautiful person looking back at you.

It's one of my core beliefs that we're all in this together. I may not understand your particular way of being in the world, but I know I don't have to understand to love you. I may even feel occasionally affronted by some of the things you do or say, but I after that feeling passes, I want you to know that what remains is deep affection & devotion for OUR humanity.

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We are all just walking each other home. Ram Dass said that, and when I found myself reading it, I nodded my head so vigorously in agreement that I cracked my neck. It was one of those TRUE THINGS, the Internet as oracle, that comes across my feed now and then, that makes me exhale in a soundless, goose-bump raising OHHHHHHHyessssss. and I took it, claimed it, tucked away in my collection of things I know to be true.

I love thinking this way (after I've finished doing the work of feeling those first feelings we feel when someone pisses us off or behaves in ways that we find difficult to deal with). I love knowing that we all get caught in the same storms. We are all breathing the same air. We all look up at the same moon, and our lives are sustained by the same life giving sun.

The divine is present, all around us, within us, always, known by ten thousand names, dancing to whatever tunes we play for Her, wearing whatever costume might be appropriate given the occasion. (I'm paraphrasing Victor Anderson here.)

I may not necessarily recognize your version of divine, and you will probably not recognize mine. Mine exists in the way my body moves when the Jackets play. It exists in the beef stew I'm preparing, and in the hands that are preparing it, and in the body that it nourishes and sustains. It exists in orgasm. It exists in failure. It exists in misunderstanding, in insurmountable obstacle, in hummingbirds coming to the feeder, in the feeder. It exists in the newborn's cry, in lost love, in devastation, in quake, thunder, flood. In death.

I know it exists, and despite there being so many masks for it to wear, and though I know that I may not recognize some of those masks, I know another thing as well as I know the back of my own hand. I know it recognizes *me*, no matter what mask it wears. I know it recognizes *you*.

We are the beloved, and because we are, you, personally, you, reading this, you agreeing or disagreeing, you, nodding or shaking your head in rejection of my way of thinking, you are the beloved.

The beloved is for loving, so, I love you.

I may not always like you, and I may not always enjoy the dance you're dancing as you dance your way home. I may not always respond from a place of highest goodness to the way you choose to be with me, the things you choose to say to me, but in the still, quiet, reflective pool I carry in the center of my being, I see you. I see myself in you. I see us, together, walking one another home, and I love you.

Blessed like that.

xo

Effy

P.S. This makes me laugh, so I'm sharing it here.

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Growing & Growing Apart

Growing & Growing Apart

growatcThere is something potent in endings that creates space in me to consider how far I've come. Perhaps it is a way to compensate for the sorrow. Yes, I am crying a river, but I am also counting the ways the situation grew me.

Maybe that's where resilience really comes from.

If you had asked me five years ago where I'd be now, I could not have imagined this. Self-supporting, in my own completely adorable, self-pleasing apartment, cooking for one, still in therapy, growing by leaps and bounds. At the time, I imagined a life with my beloved - the same but better, fuller, more joyful, less fraught with the minefield of our un-sorted-through unconscious content. I imagined that we'd grow *together*.

We grew apart instead.

That's sad as fuck. I feel the weight of that sadness. I went to bed last night at 9 p.m. under the full, thick blanket of that sadness, and I tossed and turned and wondered if I could have done anything to save us...and the answer is 'no'. There wasn't. If I'm being honest, the only possible way I could have stayed was to stop growing. The only way to remain was to shrink, be quieter, be less demanding, be less insightful, be less intuitive, be, in short, less of myself.

This foot in the end and foot in the beginning place is always a little bit scary.

There is a deep, deep temptation on my part to run back to the other side, where I am fully engaged in denial, and I am trying to be friends with someone I'm in love with, and I am trying not to say what I see, or know what I know. That is known territory, and as insanely painful as it was, it wasn't scary, because I could draw you a map of that place, and I could point out all the familiar landmarks.

This side of the thing is completely unknown.

I have no idea what's going to happen next. There's a guy pursuing me quite ardently, and I am freaking out about it. I know exactly how to handle ambivalence. I don't know how to handle desire. I know exactly how to be with someone who doesn't really want to be with me. I don't know how to welcome someone who appears to be very, very interested. I know how to respond to being last on a person's list of priorities. I don't know how to respond to being first.

But I'm willing to learn. I'm willing to grow.

safe_image.phpI saw this in my Facebook feed today, and it felt like a message. Pulling back the veil destroyed my marriage. That's the truth. If I'd left well enough alone, we might still be together. But I'd have died. At least metaphorically. And now, having pulled back the veil, I see that I want to live more than I want to 'win' someone's love. I want to live more than I want to avoid being alone. I want to live more than I want to do whatever I can to prevent being rejected.

If a thing isn't growing, it's dying.

I want to keep growing, so I accept the challenge of this next cycle of my existence. I want to grow in my ability to be open to what it might be like to be chosen. I want to grow in my ability to say 'too much, too fast' without blowing the thing up all together. I want to grow in my ability to protect my much needed solitude without putting someone else through what I went through. I do not want to align with the misanthropy I grew accustomed to. I don't want to maintain the cynicism and the unphasedness that became necessary to survive. I don't want to squelch my joy or my delight in ordinary beauty. I don't want to pretend I'm above needing the caring hands and eyes of another human being in order to feel like my life is complete. I don't want to be constantly risking having the rug pulled out from under me.

There's something else I don't want.

I don't want to hold on. Growth requires that we let go. It requires that we not stay stuck in the same phase of a cycle. It requires us to risk blooming, to risk all the transformations that allow the next cycle to begin.

I'm willing to risk it.

I'm willing to fail. I'm willing to be heartbroken. I'm willing to lose. I'm willing to be with the fear. I'm willing to experience pain. I'm willing to come to the well with an undefended heart. I'm willing to let go of my expectations.

I know this was rambly.

I'm mostly just thinking out loud at this crossroads I'm on. Back there, known territory, and so much deprivation, and pain. Up ahead? I don't know...

I'm going to hope for the best, though, and I'm going to let myself grow.

 

 

On Being Chosen

One of the big stories in my childhood is of never being chosen.

I was never anyone's favourite, I was never picked for dodge ball (or any other team), I was never singled out as the 'best' at anything (second best, though - once. Deputy Wing Commander in Air Cadets). My mother chose her lovers, and my half brothers. My father chose the bottle. I chose (and chased) every lover I've ever had, and scrambled after them like my life depended on making them choose me back. They didn't.

I have experienced some of the feeling of being chosen in the realm of my business. My students choose to work with me. Some of my very favourite mixed media art teachers have chosen to collaborate with me. I was chosen for training in something I badly wanted TWICE last year.

Some of my friends have chosen to be my friend, despite the difficulty inherent in befriending me. (I am armoured. I am slow to trust. I am hermity. I am often so wrapped up in orbit around my family that I prioritise their lives over and above my own, and when I had a lover, he was the be all to end all of my existence).

It's been sweet to be chosen in the ways I've been chosen.

But that wound - that 'pick me' wound - is oozing lately. The death of my marriage came with the realisation that what I really want, what I've always wanted is to be *chosen*, to be wanted, to be desired, to be picked out of the vast array of available choices, to be settled upon in that way lovers settle upon one another, to be *included*, to be *valued* above work or video games or drugs, to belong to someone who isn't obligated to claim me by virtue of genetics.

Having just come out of orbit around someone who spent twelve years actively *not* choosing me, actively choosing everything else *over* me, actively excluding me, I am feeling this wound very, very clearly.

The wound, though, wasn't caused by him. I would hazard a guess, actually, that all my life, I have chosen to love (fiercely, desperately) people who will, for whatever reason, *not* chose me. I think there is something in me that has needed to reenact this original wound - this original story of having not been chosen (except as an object to be used for sexual gratification or to prop up someone's stories about themselves), and the outcome I have desired in these choices is that they will *see me* and *value me* and *choose me* after I prove to them how worthy I am of being chosen.

Listen.

I am worthy of being chosen. I know this in my head. But I've never chosen myself. Ever. No one ever showed me how to do that. No one ever chose me, protected me, put me on their wish list, honoured their promises or commitments to me. And I grew into womanhood having no earthly idea what being chosen felt like. And I grew into womanhood having no earthly idea how to choose myself.

This is the next thing, I think. This grappling with the subject of choosing and being chosen.

I wanted to stay friends with my ex because, (I think, I'm guessing at my own labyrinthine psychology) within the context of our friendship, he might still choose me. Meanwhile, I experienced all this longing and desire, this carnality, that meant that being in his presence was like sitting down before a banquet, starving, but wearing a ball gag I couldn't remove. It was masochistic. A form of self-torture. Being 'just friends' meant I had to censor myself, tuck my hands between my knees, deny the very real, sexual desire I felt for him, deny the longing for the kind of intimacy that flows between lovers - the kind that means you *see* one another, know one another, *choose* one another...

It took me two and a half years to accept that this hifalutin goal of being 'just friends' was completely, utterly beyond me.

I choose not to do that to myself anymore. I choose to go where I don't need to wear a ball gag at a banquet. I choose 'alone' over 'fucking torture' and unrequited love and longing.

I have no idea what comes next.

Which is why I'm writing today, even though I have no happy ending to share, and no wisdom to impart. I'm not writing this for an 'audience' or to edify you or embolden you or empower you.

I am not here in service to you today. I am here in service to myself.

I'm writing this is a way to choose myself - over my work, over my 'audience', over my sense of protectiveness and loyalty to someone who *never fucking chose me*.

This is where I am. I've had a very hard life. I have experienced an enormous amount of pain in the last year *alone*, let alone in the other 46 years of my life that have been marked and marred by violence of all the ways there are to experience violence. I have *been in pain* for most of my life. No word of a lie. And yet, I have risen. And yet, I have created beauty and meaning. And yet, I have kept on keeping on.

But I hadn't yet done it *for myself*. I did it (I know this now) so someone should SEE me. I did it so someone would LOVE me and, finally, so someone would choose me.

I want to tell you that all changes today, but I have no idea.I know that my desire is that this dynamic change. I want to tell you that I will only ever work, create, serve from a place of self-love and self-possession. But I suspect, like every other way I've ever grown, that this will be a non-linear child's scribble of a journey, and sometimes I'll succeed, and sometimes, I'll fail.

What I will promise, though (not you, though - me) is that my days will be spent asking myself this question: "Are you choosing yourself in this? Are you being present with yourself FOR yourself? Who is this for?"

And my mantra will be a continual reminder that I exist, that I *matter*, even when no one is looking.

Grief, Anger, & Whiplash {Trigger Alert}

Grief, Anger, & Whiplash {Trigger Alert}

I wrote recently about wanting to be soft.

This is a struggle for me because I don't yet know how to be soft AND have healthy boundaries. I seem to swing between extreme poles of so soft I'm leaking life force all over the place, and allowing (and even welcoming) boundary violations, or so hard nothing can get in and nothing can get out. I'm either melting, Dali-esque, all over my own life, or I'm a brick wall of fuck you.

Anger is hard for me. It feels so unseemly. I don't think I'm alone in this, either, and when I asked my peeps on Facebook how they felt about anger, I got some confirmation that some people - especially women - really struggle with expressing anger at all.  Many of them shared their fears about expressing (or even feeling) anger. To summarize, it is the experience of many women than some men seem to feel entitled to a world in which they don't ever have to experience a woman's anger. They call it a 'turn off'. It is obviously 'unattractive', and we all know that women exist to be ornamental paragons of all things bright and beautiful. They call us crazy. Turn on the gaslight. They demonize it. They think it is an indicator of mental illness. They beat us for it. The belittle us for it. They abandon us for it. It's no fucking wonder women have trouble expressing anger.

TRIGGER ALERT FOR CHILD ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

I am pretty sure that most of what I am healing from lately is rooted in having been raised to be quiet, good, nice, docile, ornamental, undemanding, sexually yielding, and eternally full of nothing but praise, and gratitude for my keepers. Obviously, I failed to live up to these expectations. I have been estranged from my mother since my teens. My step-father (a self-professed rageaholic when I knew him) could not tolerate anger in others *at all ever*. I was berated for anger. I was beaten for anger. (Hairbrush, wooden spoon, and once, I had my head slammed into the door jamb so hard that parents took me to emergency, but made me lie about why I was there. I 'fell' into the door jamb, don't you know.). One of my mother's lovers orally raped me for using the word "BITCH" in anger against someone who stole something from me. I was six. In terms of my adulthood, I've had men lunge at me in a threatening manner, which never fails to shut me up. I had my finger broken once. I've had my things destroyed in front of me. One guy urinated all over my journals when I expressed anger over his lack of consideration for my privacy. When expressing anger over having been cheated on (he slept with my sister), I was beaten and choked to the point of having subconjunctival hemorrhages in both eyes. While I was five months pregnant. That guy did time.

This utter suppression of anger has had far reaching consequences, but the one I want most to share with you is this: If I feel angry, I always feel subsumed by a combination of shame and terror that I think of as 'shameterror'.

So, the pendulum swings. Anger leads to shameterror, and that leads to a desire to melt into softness *where I should not be soft*. The desire to be soft that I wrote about when last I typed is almost never, as I believed, about wanting to feel better. It is about wanting to be safe from the consequences of feeling, and expressing anger. It is about trying to escape the anger/shame/terror spiral.

Grief comes with anger. This is the point I'm trying to make here. This is a huge part of my current struggle, my 'not wellness', my unease.

I have had intense protracted grief for much of my life. Yes. That long. The grief is the result of a complex pile on of losses that I will not recount here, but trust me. It's a big, 40 some odd year old festering pile. It grew, over the years, into a kind of tower of precariously balanced things - think Jenga. I was functional. I was numbed out, and my tower was leaning, and swaying like a drunk, but I was functional. If grief induced anger threatened, like a storm on the horizon, I did everything I could to control it. I self-injured. I self-medicated. I *smiled*. I went soft, like a possum - played dead to the anger, and hoped the coyote would move on. When my ability to suppress was exhausted, I had tantrums, hurt myself, wrecked my *own* things, but as quickly as I humanly could, I shoved a lid back on it, swallowed it down, and apologized like my life depended on it.

"Anger-turned-inward", I realized a few years ago, leads to depression, and one day I woke up knowing that it was time to come to grips with my history, so I went looking for, and found the world's best transpersonal psychotherapist. At least, that's my opinion after three years of meeting with her once a week.

As a very important aside: I could never afford it before, but my business made it possible. You, my loves, you made it possible, so I just want to acknowledge that right here before I continue.

Feel that? It's me hugging you in gratitude. Thank you.

Therapy is a little like a game of Jenga. At least, that's the metaphor that's felt most relevant to me lately. I have been pulling piece after piece after piece of the puzzle out of this dizzy, crazy tower of 'barely functional' out of place. I have been lining the pieces up before me like trophies. I rate the fucking things. This was a hard piece. That was an obvious piece, This piece came out of the blue.

So, you know what happens when you pull pieces out of a Jenga tower?

The tower is coming down. There are pieces of me everywhere. I am dancing with anger. I am confronting the shame. I am saying what's true, often without apologizing - not always, but often.

I have whiplash, though. Because I crave softness. I want to go limp. I want to flop over on my back and give a little shudder of surrender. Being angry & being safe has never been possible in my life. Never. It has always come with consequences, so I have a built in switch to 'soft' when anger means abandonment, being disliked, being beaten, being intimidated, being gaslighted, being labeled.

And I still want softness. I still aspire to it as a virtue I would like to embrace, but I've changed my thinking on the kind of softness I want. I still want to be soft, but I want to be self-respecting in my softness. I want to be soft, but I want to be self-protective. I want to be soft, but I want to be soft for the right reasons, with the right people, under the right circumstances. I want to be soft like this:

The trick is to hold the space for two things at once- a deep belief in everyone’s possibilities, and a deep regard for your own well-being. It’s okay to pray for everyone’s liberation without joining them in prison. Pray from outside the prison walls, while taking exquisite care of yourself. It's okay- you can't do the work for them anyway. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries… don’t leave home without them." ~ Jeff Brown

But before I can do that, I *must* let myself be angry. I must find people who can be witness to and hold space for my anger. Otherwise, this is just another fucking bypass, and the whiplash between overwhelming anger/shame/terror & playing dead will continue.

Thanks for listening.

"Pieces of Me that I lost that you stole" Mixed media on paper.

"Pieces of Me that I lost that you stole" Mixed media on paper.

P.S. I am honoured to be collaborating with Karina B. Heart as a guest in her workshop on personal and collective grief. I will be sharing art journaling techniques for working with grief in the latter part of the workshop. For more information, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soft Is Better + A Gallery of Art Cards + A Speed Painting

Soft Is Better + A Gallery of Art Cards + A Speed Painting

I thought that nursing the anger would harden me, but it didn't. Sitting with it, counting the ways, reciting a litany of reasons only resulted in an overwhelming rush of empathy.

After a month of trying to be hard and then harder, after donning all the armour I could find, after turning my back, setting my jaw, clenching my fists, I began to *long* for softness. I began to miss my own tender heart, which felt impossible to reach beneath the layers of bitterness and resentment.

And then I found this poem by Adrienne Rich:

“the phantom of the man-who-would-understand,
the lost brother, the twin ---

for him did we leave our mothers,
deny our sisters, over and over?

did we invent him, conjure him
over the charring log,

nights, late, in the snowbound cabin
did we dream or scry his face

in the liquid embers,
the man-who-would-dare-to-know-us?

It was never the rapist:
it was the brother, lost,

the comrade/twin whose palm
would bear a lifeline like our own:

decisive, arrowy,
forked-lightning of insatiate desire

It was never the crude pestle, the blind
ramrod we were after:

merely a fellow-creature
with natural resources equal to our own.”

Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language

And I began to grieve in earnest, because I believe in this fellow-creature. I know he exists. I know that if he were to find me with all these thorns, all that barbed wire wrapped around my heart, he would run the other way. Who wouldn't?

So, I'm softening. I'm remembering who I am when I am willing to feel all my feelings - especially the pain, the longing, the desire in my heart for that comrade twin. I'm yielding to what I actually feel rather than trying to manufacture a supposed strength I do not own. I am strong, yes, but my strength is in my power to forgive, my power to love beyond reason, my grace. I am not good at being hard. I am not good at being unyielding, unforgiving.

Besides, my heart knows stuff, and I trust what it knows. Soft is better.

IMG_0018

Here's a Speed Painting I made.

softatc

This is the atc sized art card from week 16 in Book Of Days. We have collected sixteen of these so far, in both atc size and 4 x 4 square size to use as prompt cards or an oracle deck. It's been my favourite part of BOD this year along with the daily journaling prompts. It's never too late to join since the prompts can be saved for next year, and all the content is downloadable. Please feel free to join me at a $60 discount if you are so inspired. xo Payment plan is available.

Other Art Cards From This Session

I'm so proud of these, and how some of my students are collecting my cards and then making their own art to glue on the backs.

So, that's me today. Soft. Tender.