I meant to post this a few days ago but had trouble with my web site, which I am still working through. My new year’s post will be up in the next couple of days.
In many ways, I am living the life I want. In some ways, not so much.
When I turned 18 and graduated from high school, I moved away from most of my family and every other person I knew to start fresh in a more liberal, open environment. Oklahoma is a great place to live and grow up, if you are like everyone else there or willing to pretend to be. I was not either of those things.
(I’m sure the last two statements will rile my friends and family still living there, and yet not be surprising.)
Luckily, I knew that there had to be a better place for me. Luckily, I knew that I was not the sinful outcast that I often felt like during my teen years. Luckily, I was not bullied as much as some were, and still are. Luckily, I was resilient and knew that I just had to bide my time to get out. Not everyone is lucky.
But still, that shit fucks with you. Yes, I knew I was a good and smart woman. But I also believed that I was ugly. There was and, frankly, still is a part of me that wonders if I deserve joy, security, and dare I say, love. I struggle with that everyday.
And I still choose to keep opening my heart. Every day, I have to choose between the bitterness or sweetness of life, between trusting and suspicion, between rushing headlong into experience or keeping myself safe. And I don’t always choose “correctly” or for my best interest. But I choose.
Other people’s disapproval is the price you pay for living the life you want, and it’s worth every penny.~Plumcake at Manolo for the Big Girl
And if there was one thing that I could tell Contance McMillan now, or could have told Phoebe Prince or Tempest Smith before they died, it would be “Fuck them. Lean on me now so that you can stand later. Prove them wrong by succeeding in this world. You will be stronger than they can ever hope to be.”
But we can’t say that, or be there for them, without first choosing to be open ourselves, without doing the work of healing our own wounds. My friend Ketzirah is counting the omer right now — this week is an exploration of Gevurah, or Strength. Her post today talks about Loving Kindness in Strength, which I take to mean the compassion and the strength to say “NO,” to draw the boundary between what is acceptable and what is not.
Here is my line in the sand.
Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground. Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are. You’ve been stoney for too many years. Try something different. Surrender. ~Rumi
I spent this weekend living a past experience from the other side.
Much like hosting a surprise birthday party for a dear friend after having enjoyed being the birthday girl yourself. There is something so fresh and unadulterated about opening the door, not knowing what is on the other side, being shocked at first, and then overwhelmed with love. The experience can carry you away, make you giddy with awareness that you are special enough for people to do this for you.
And then there is the experience of throwing the party. The mindful planning, the mature preparation of details, the pacing to get everything set up for just the right effect. If we pay attention to the energy flow, we can sense the gradual shifts and rises that lead to the outpouring of that “overwhelming” love, but we are not ourselves overwhelmed or giddy.
Reflecting on my weekend, I realize that all exchanges need to be felt from these different perspectives before we can even begin to understand the meaning of relationship. There is a giving and a receiving — and I’m beginning to see that we have to experience them both to have a sense of wholeness.
Our hearts are broken. We break hearts. We give of ourselves to people we love. We receive the precious gift of self that other choose to offer us. We betray and are betrayed. We sing out our life’s experience, and we listen to the song of the universe. And we don’t even begin to understand wholeness until we experience fully both sides of the ebb and flow, in and out, of these relational experiences.
What I got an inkling of this weekend is that I have been holding on to my pain from an early betrayal for far too long. That instead of trying desparately to keep the barriers up, instead of scrambling to keep myself together and strong, that sometimes, how about right now, I need to open further. I need to run out to face the storm that threatens to break above me and yell out the the gods:
“I AM HERE! I AM NOT GOING ANYWHERE! COME TALK TO ME AND I WILL LISTEN! I WILL NOT STOPPER MY EARS! I AM YOURS IF YOU WILL TAKE ME AND GROW IN ME!”
(Just typing that set my crown chakra tingling! Uh-oh!).
Photo: Exhileration by Chloe Grayson