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
– 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

could it be the trauma?

could it be the trauma? this nagging feeling, this sense of being off that i can’t quite put my finger on. the reason i took a nap in the middle of the day, which i rarely do. the reason i still felt exhausted upon awakening.

could it be the trauma? could it be because i shared my sexual trauma story with a partner yesterday? it was hard, yes, but it didn’t feel particularly triggering or anything close to re-traumatizing.

but then again, the body works in mysterious ways. and my nervous often leans towards a hypoarousal state.maybe it’s some sort of residual effect, delayed and intangible.

i often note feeling tired for no seemingly logical reason, and the most reasonable conclusion i often come to is long-lasting depression, something that seems to have been with me for most of my life.

i’m not exactly sure when i started noticing this, this lack of energy without a cause. but i can remember making note of it when i was sober — i remember the frustration and confusion at doing everything right and still not having consistent energy levels.

i’ve been noting it again for some months now, reminiscent of last summer, when i hit a depression peak that i couldn’t seem to kick. but i feel less clearly depressed now as i did then.

it’s the not knowing that fucks with me, the inability to identify cause. or to even put clearly into words my present experience. there’s also a point where trying to figure out the why becomes counterproductive, starts to take away from my ability to treat the symptoms. but of course, not knowing the why behind puzzling symptoms is scary, ominous. and something as vague as inexplicable fatigue could be a product of just about any and everything from a mood disorder to a vitamin deficiency to cancer.

i can stomach the practice of sitting with hard emotions (within reason). i can accept if what i’m being called to do is simply accept. but it’s hard in the moment to have clarity around when to allow things as they are and when to take action, when to try to change how i feel and when to just be with it. when to seek help, to feel concerned, and when to make note but not get too worked up over it.

being human is a fragile experience. there’s so much at play, i don’t really understand how anyone’s able to pinpoint any one particular cause for any specific circumstance. the desire to do so feels more to me like grasping, at knowledge, at understanding, with the hope that in finding the answer, we can achieve some sort of control.

there’s pain inside me that at times i glimpse, get a taste of, and yet i have this intuitive perception that it’s only the tip of the iceberg, a mere sampling of something deep down inside me — some affliction long buried and built upon over and over again. so that the depth of the roots, how far it reaches down, is unknown even to me.

it reminds me of my ayahuasca experience and the profundity of emotional suffering i was confronted with, and to some extent, was able to purge myself of. and yet there was still so much left… the best words i could find to capture this sense was as a “pain sponge” — i could feel that some of the pain was my own, but much of it was others’, people i’ve encountered during my time on this earth whose agony i’ve absorbed like a sponge, along with torment i’ve inherited, passed down to me in my blood and bones.

alright y’all, i’m going to cut it off there. i hope there’s something meaningful in all that for you to parse out. and if not, thanks for sticking with me anyway. ❤

moving through pain

damn, it’s been 9 days since i’ve written anything on here…

life has been.. a time recently. whenever i’m in the midst of personal turmoil, i struggle to remember times in my life when i didn’t feel like a “mess,” when i didn’t feel like i was actively losing someone or something, or when i didn’t feel totally lost.. and i question if this state of internal confusion and chaos is my “normal.”

i’m going through a breakup that feels like it’s ripping my heart in two. most of my breakups have come in the form of slow dissatisfaction with the relationship. but i guess you could say this one was more explosive, more centered around a specific event. and boy, it’s been a doozy.

my deep sense of hurt and betrayal in this one has brought me in close contact with my anger and rage. i’ve found myself saying things i never imagined. and part of me wants to contain, to put barriers around my rage, because i’m so accustomed to trying to be the “bigger” person or not saying things i’m going to regret. cause that’s what adults are supposed to do, right?

not this time around. my anger has gone off the rails, and i have knowingly said things i knew weren’t right or true to say. i’ve been intentionally hurtful and mean.

i’ve been in so much pain, i want revenge. i want him to feel the depth and severity of my pain.

i want to make him suffer and regret. i want him to never be able to move on from me.

i have stepped fully into the scorned woman archetype as i let my rage and pain lead the show.

last night, a week after the beginning of all this, i recognized i had to stop. i knew i could no longer justify using him as an outlet for my pain. i understtood i was on a path that would turn toxic real quick if i let it.

because, of course, the anger insulates me from the fullness of the pain. i feel much more comfortable in anger, blaming, shaming, guilting than in the space of being heartbroken and allowing the pain to wash over me without telling a story about it.

the rage is like a drug with a short but satisfying high. i know it’s not the “right” thing to do, but it makes me feel good temporarily, like i’ve evened the scales of suffering. honestly, i didn’t really get to a point where it stopped feeling good. but i could feel my battery running out, and i made an intentional decision not to feed the monster for another round.

part of me is angry at him for allowing me to continue to attack him without creating space or boundaries. annoyed that even in our relationship falling apart i felt the need to worry about him taking care of himself.

part of me decided that i hate him, and i could sense the desire to make him hate in return. because i wasn’t confident in my ability truly turn my back and walk away like i know i need to.

i know it’s over, but part of me still desperately doesn’t want it to be, doesn’t want to have to let go.

walking away from love, even when it’s been fractured beyond repair, continues to feel wrong in some vague way. because i’m holding onto the idea of our love before the crisis, before this point of destabilization.

it’s hard to accept that this is where we are now, to let go of the hope that somehow it’s going to be okay even as a deep, wise voice in my head tells me there’s no coming back from this, at least right now.

so here i am: single, again. looking back on 18 months and 3 “failed” semi-relationships.

i recently read in Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown, “I now know that I was mostly single because I needed to reach a certain level of healing from earlier experiences of sexual trauma.” and woof, did that hit home for me like someone else telling my story.

cause wow, ya. i think this is something i’ve been realizing more and more — that without healing from the layers of trauma i’ve experienced, i won’t be able to show up in relationship the way i need to in order to actually advocate for my needs and desires, and also, to not get lost in and enveloped by my triggers.

i’ve realized that trusting straight men is just something i can’t really do right now. at least not fully with my heart and my body. the layers of harm and deep disappointment are like heavy blankets weighing me down. and until i work through them, i’m also not a safe place for straight men to make mistakes, because i don’t have the capacity for compassion and patience for them.

so, single… being single is honestly more comfortable than being in a relationship for me. but of course, the loss of companionship hurts. having a person is quite nice — someone to share the mundane details of your life with, who’s a consistent source of encouragement and support.

especially as i get older and more of my close friends pair up, being single can feel much lonelier than back in my 20s.

less of my friends are up for a random, unscheduled calls. for hours-long conversations about life and bullshit.

so the older i get, the more a romantic partner seems to fit my needs out of circumstance. because i yearn to deeply share my life with someone else, and i’ve been finding that less in my friendships these days.

fuck, i can feel my heart splitting open again as i type these words and recognize the state of i’m in. i’m so sad. the loss runs deep even though this relationship was shorter than all my other serious ones, burned up real quick.

i don’t want to be sad. i’m tired of feeling bad. i want to feel joy and pleasure and aliveness. maybe part of the problem is that i view sadness in opposition to feeling good. and maybe that doesn’t have to be the case. because even in tragedy, there is beauty.

so maybe the better intention would be to find the aliveness in my sadness and the beauty in my pain, as cliche as that sounds. i mean, i guess that’s what a lot of art is, right?