It is 4 am. Some nights like this I am awakened with fear by the sounds of my own footsteps inside my head, as if I have wandered down a hallway that extends too far into the darkness.
I’m fascinated by the things children do to survive their environments with their spirits intact. It’s as if we all have this precious little seed within us and we learn exactly how to bury it deep within, hoping that one day we will live our way into conditions where that seed will be safe to unfold. Creating that environment is both an internal and external process and part of it happens naturally, as I think our seeds are fated to unfold, but part of it is a lot of hard work. It’s that work that gives you back some of the self-love that you may have been stripped of at some point in your life. The harder the work, the more you end up liking, respecting and admiring yourself. If you’ve experienced extreme pain or sadness it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate how you internally quarantined it. You kept it separate from your Self. You didn’t dissolve. There are parts of you which are far larger that contain these compartments of pain and sadness. Once you begin to marvel at how you created this system of self-preservation, perhaps starting when you were very small without ever being taught, you can feel the embers of self compassion and love begin to grow a little bit more brightly as you become more curious about this mysterious seed. You can think of these compartments as actual bio hazardous waste bins within yourself that you stored so carefully separate from your seed and you can now begin to dispose of, as you step into the realization that: You are not your pain.
We are born feeling like we are carefully wrapped in a museum crate. Each part of us is protected and secure. We feel safe and don’t question our ability to protect ourselves. And then things happen and the crate is broken and all the comfy stuffing of the packing material falls away. We lose that feeling of Home within ourselves. We lose our faith, we turn on ourselves (lose the ability to comfort ourselves and lift ourselves up from within), and we disconnect from the natural forward flow of life. We become consumed with fear- anxiety, depression, develop lenses that only register deterioration and doom. It’s been my quest the last few years to get that feeling back- that feeling of being anchored to a solid center. Like I am not free floating at the mercy of chaos. A feeling of Home, a place where my little seed can begin to grow. It’s been a long process (fraught with strange feelings) that has involved many things, some of which I wanted to share:
-Stopped engaging in environments and relationships that deplete me or even worse, cause emotional annihilation.
-Owning that I engaged in such things on purpose. I always blamed bad luck or the infamous “god hates me” that I found my way into these scenarios- a belief which kept me powerless. I see how I crafted these scenarios because they were the only context through which I understood existence, and also they served to keep me in a bit of a dissociative state- slightly removed from life where things felt safer.
-Developing a view of the universe that feels good to me. Fills me with comfort and wonder instead of anxiety and the idea of looming evil, judgments, punishment, etc. I guess you could call this reconnecting to a “source”.
-Coming out of survival mode. There were a million ways that I was showing myself that my environment wasn’t safe. Simple things like breathing, and chewing food thoroughly, sitting on a chair as if I am settling in for a while and don’t have to flee a bomb at some point, actual moving into my living space instead of just setting up a survival camp with the bare necessities.
-Celebrating. Big things and especially tiny things. Holidays. Milestone markers in my life, personal triumphs. This can mean taking a deep breath and just being fully present with a moment of joy over a small personal triumph or something on a much grander scale. Celebration, no matter how small, is so important, it sends signals to your central nervous system that you are not in danger- it is a time of peace.
-Not building the case. We are always collecting evidence. We are wired to do so, it is how we protect ourselves. But you don’t have to build the case. Up until the last few years, my life has consisted of tremendous sadness. I find myself continually collecting evidence that life is a sad thing. I feel my happiest when I notice more supporting evidence and I say whatever, I don’t care how much sadness I see, I’m still not building that case. This has actually given me the ability to decide I want to build a different case, and intentionally look for evidence to support it. The case I have decided to build is that some mind-blowing amazing things are in store for me which will balance out all of the sadness. I look for it everyday and the electrical charge in those feelings are way stronger than the dismal feelings of collecting bits of sadness.
-Realizing my systems of suffering. I have a non-negotiable which I do my very best to live by which is: I DO NOT SUFFER. In reality, I have suffered endlessly (mostly in my own head). Years of introspection led to uncovering that “I must suffer” was the core message of my upbringing. And now, anytime I realize I am suffering I do whatever I must do to end it. This is hard, often it means speaking up when I am scared shitless of being visible. Allowing other humans to comfort me, or help me problem solve. So much suffering comes from problem solving alone, in the darkness and isolation of your own mind.
-Moving into my life. Showing up for myself. Becoming visible to myself and others. Not just the parts that will be approved of, but also: here are my shadow sides…I am dimensional. LOVE ME ANYWAY. Or don’t. Making solid decisions instead of “kind of making decisions” and letting people push me the rest of the way. Setting intentions and working towards them. Speaking up and in doing this, healing the divide between my external and internal environment.
There is a long way left to go, but it is starting to feel good in here. My little seedling is starting to unfold.