the act of writing as self-validation

“if I meet myself, if I am holding my own pain, naturally it’s easier for me to hold yours as well. I’m not waiting to be saved by someone else’s validation. I’m validating myself. Writing has been that journey for me, and though this process, I’ve made some of the most intense connections of my life.”

Who is Wellness for? – Fariha Róisín

I’m holding 2 ideas inspired by this excerpt:

  1. learning how validate myself and hold my own pain
  2. the ways self-compassion ripples outwards/extends towards others

i heard ashe phoenix on Dear Jessamyn talking recently about her experience being poly and navigating the hard emotions of multiple partners (and i’m paraphrasing here) — “when i start with ‘it’s not my fault,’ i can begin from a place of much deeper compassion for the other person.”

(once again, that wasn’t the exact wording, but that was my sense of her message.)

the way that landed for me is: if i can refrain from seeing another’s hurt as a reflection of me and my worth, keep myself from entering that defensive position, i’m much more open to simply receive their pain. [this makes me think of the harm of white fragility]

there are certain spiritual/psychological truths that my human brain struggles to wrap my mind around, such as the idea that if i did something that made someone feel some type of way, their hurt is not about me. see, where this gets tricky for me is that we are accountable for our behavior and in turn any harm caused by it.

so now we enter that space of holding two seemingly contradictory things as true. to quote don Miguel Ruiz from The Four Agreements, “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally. Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”

i’m especially thinking about this in relation to a partner who shared with me that they’re struggling with a lack of affection from me…

so i have two options:
– fall into defensiveness, make a strong argument for all the ways i have been affectionate
OR
– start with not taking it personally and simply be present for the pain they’re feeling. not feeling enough love and care from a partner can be extremely painful, i know.

once i get past the “nuh-uh!” phase of the conflict, i’m able to get into the juice of the matter. and in-turn, i get to validate the pain i’m experiencing caused by feeling like i hurt someone i love, like i’m failing, like i’ll never be good enough (without blaming them).

“You take it personally because you agree with whatever was said. As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you, and you are trapped in the dream of hell. What causes you to be trapped is what we call personal importance. Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about ‘me.’”

don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

ultimately, taking things personally, like someone feeling hurt by my behavior, makes their pain about me. it’s an act of humility and compassion to be able to start from, “it’s not about me.”

it’s makes me think of the difference between someone calling you something you know you aren’t, and someone calling you something you have insecurity or shame around.

for example: someone calls you a slut and you’re like “ha, that’s not even true.” but then someone calls you stupid, and because your intelligence is not favored by capitalism/society, you question it.

the only reason one lands painfully when the other doesn’t is because one’s a personal wound and the other’s not. so even in a situation where you feel hurt by something someone said to you, it’s not about them. because only the things we’re willing to believe about ourselves can penetrate.

[also, because i’m perpetually fearful of seeming like i’m victim blaming… this point makes me think of the adage, “the wounds aren’t your fault, but your healing is your responsibility.” and as much as that can seem like it sucks, it’s ultimately empowering. it puts the power back in our hands, away from those who have hurt us.]

anyways, i’m feeling kinda preachy now and that’s not at all my point. i’m ultimately grateful for the division because my internal work and another’s. i’m grateful to be given permission to start with, “it’s not my fault.”

especially since i’ve spent a lot of my life feeling very responsible for how others feel and adapting to accommodate them. i’m continuing to learn the difference between taking responsibility for my actions vs feeling responsible for how my behavior makes someone feel.

if something i’m doing makes someone feel threatened, it’s then on me to do the internal work of figuring out if my behavior is problematic, or if that’s something they’re projecting onto me.

cause to quote a famous AA saying, “feelings aren’t facts.” they’re valid, yes, but they’re not necessarily telling the full story. we can’t constantly shift our form to keep people comfortable (which is different than safe), because we’ll eventually become a nebulous being with no grounded sense of self and worth.

we need to be uncomfortable to grow. as far as lessons i’m continuing to learn on this healing journey, one of the biggies is the necessity to show up for discomfort. and the odd irony is that when we stop resisting, avoiding, running away from, the feeling/experience becomes much more manageable, less terrifying. [this makes me think of how i feel in a dream when i finally stop running away from the monster chasing me and just face it – relief]

which isn’t to say it’s not hard. some things, when we sit with them after avoiding them for years [trauma], feel like they could rip us apart. which is why having support, feeling resourced, and practicing things like titration are so important.

this healing is a lifelong journey; there’s no need to rush the process.

plus, i recently got a new therapist who specializes in trauma, so i’ll also try and pass some helpful nuggets along.

clarification moment: the ideas presented are meant to be applied on an interpersonal level, not in relation to systemic issues of violence and oppression. not taking white supremacy personally does not liberate a person of color from its impact.

also, i feel like there’s an argument to be made that self-help is generally made by resourced people for resourced people [essentially, folks not struggling on the day-to-day to survive]. this is where spiritual truths can get tricky — without rigorous discernment and paired with a sense of collective responsibility, they won’t necessarily free [all of] us.

individual and collective healing needs to be an interconnected process. if your healing hurts another, that’s not it. the healing is in finding out why/how something that makes you feel good causes another harm. [talking to myself here — thinking about my yoga practice, cannabis, white feminism]

anyways, just needed to throw that in there for balanced perspective type vibes (i mean it is Libra Season).

good luck out there ❤ ❤ ❤ much love, y’all

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