To the Center

I wrote a roadmap to true north in invisible ink

A child’s game that became a whole life

I secreted it from even my own true self

Tucked it away in my heart’s deepest strife

Countless skeins of yarn winding backwards in time

I followed a thousand strings

All leading to those who stood behind me, before me

The lost and the found, trapped in wounded wings

One by one, I unwound, to lead back to my self

I righted the order, helped past lives align

Until at last I discovered that all along, all this time

The heart missing from the system was mine

Daring to break silent vows – ejected and lost

I’m a lone wolf whose pack’s long since left

I must find my map to the center or else I’ll remain

A family-less soul, all alone and bereft

#DayTwentySix #TheGetMyWorkOutThereChallenge

The Pleasure Principle

As can happen, a second word has found it’s way to me for the year.

I have been happily living through my deeply-felt word for 2019, which is CORE. (You can read about my Word for the Year practice here and my word for the year here.) Didn’t think or know anything was missing. I was perfectly content with CORE. CORE is a big ask! A truly great word for the year. I was content.

Until I was given an exercise by someone I am working with (a Desire Catalyst!) and I realized that yet another word had found it’s way into my life and demanded my attention. And that word is PLEASURE.

I was given a very simple task: make a list of ten things that create a experience of pleasure for me.

Let’s look at the definition of PLEASURE, according to the Oxford Dictionary:

definition: a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment:
“she smiled with pleasure at being praised”
synonyms:
happiness, delight, joy, gladness, rapture, glee, satisfaction, gratification, fulfillment, contentment, contentedness, enjoyment, amusement, delectation
adjective 1. used or intended for entertainment rather than business:
“pleasure boats”
verb 1. give sexual enjoyment or satisfaction to:
“tell me what will pleasure you”

I totally get the definition. Yes, I know what that means. Sounds great!

Then I get to the synonyms. Whoa. Rapture? Glee? Gratification? Delectation?

Other than a few amazing culinary experiences and some lovely sexual activity that I have known on occasion, where I am finding that kind of PLEASURE in my life? In my day, even? And by finding I mean, where I am taking the time out of my day to seek experiences that are truly pleasurable? Uh oh.

Then I get to its use as an adjective. There’s a bit of a hint. How much do I allow myself to do out of a day that is not in some way associated with business. The business of acting. The business of the business of acting. The business of living. Of being. A lot of business and busi-ness in my life. 

Then I get to PLEASURE as a verb. Now, that is a whole other post for another day. Let’s just say, I am usually “too busy.” Or it becomes the business of being intimate. I mean, you can approach anything in a business-like way. Even sex. “Gotta fit it in.”  Not, I am going to take this hour and just play for pleasure. Nope, just another thing on my list of things to get done.

So what is up with that, I asked myself.

The good news is that I had no trouble creating a list.

That came pretty easy. Great! I have no trouble identifying things that give me pleasure.

The problem is that I have trouble giving myself the time and permission to actually let myself have or do them.

I had my list, and I looked at it, and realized that I rarely allowed myself the time to enjoy or do any of the things on my list. (And some of them were as simple as enjoying a glass of water!)

It turns out that I am fairly anorexic in the pleasure arena. I staunchly deprive myself of things that bring me pleasure. What does this mean exactly?

This Pleasure Practice idea seemed so simple.

Now I am realizing that I have a lot of unraveling to do. And simple does not always mean easy.

What comes up when I begin to give myself the time and space to choose one or two and commit to doing them for two weeks?

I was so overwhelmed at the thought of it! My Protestant forebears reeled back in rebuke. My Puritan roots bristled with disgust. A lifetime (and beyond) of judgement and condemnation rushed through my psyche, channelling all those familial, cultural, historical and societal influences that my ancestors lived through and that I was born into and surrounded by throughout childhood. Words flew across my mind like dark bats hitting the sides of a cave: glutton, whore, lazy, lowlife, no-gooder, disgusting, perverted.

You see, I come from people who believe that self-discipline and suffering are badges of moral merit. To live for pleasure — well, that would mean to be wasteful. My heart craved pleasure, but my cellular memory feared it.

So my Desire Catalyst suggested to just start with one thing on my list: I was to let myself enjoy one glass of water at 1 PM each day.

At the mere suggestion, something in me breaks, some dam inside that I had no idea was there, the dam holding back a thirst for pleasurable things. I cry a deep little cry as the realization follows that I have been living decades denying myself small simple pleasures in my quest for great things.

And then something else breaks through…and I know.

I have found my second word for the year. Or it has found me.

So here I go. 2019, the year of CORE and of PLEASURE. Just typing that makes butterflies in my belly. Who am I to want to have more PLEASURE in my life? I speak gently, but firmly to whomever asked that question within me: I am the person who is going to break this pattern of belief. I am the one who is going to blaze a new trail for all that came behind me. I am the one who is going to seek PLEASURE from my CORE.

I cannot wait to see where these two lead me.

#core #pleasure #wordfor20019

I share my posts here.

Astral Projection

I learned long ago

How to leave my body

Escape what was

Incomprehensibly horrific

I saved my own life

Salvaged my sanity

(Such as it was)

But there’s a price to be paid for such traveling

You cannot escape the bad

Without missing out on the good

I could leave my body

At any time today

But I choose not to

I have other ways to cope

That don’t cost so much

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: astral

Inheritance

I hear their screams of silent disapproval

Feel their arms, clutching me, holding me back

“Don’t go out there. You’ll die. It’s not safe for us.”

My belly’s a stone

Ingested before I was born

I’ve tried to throw it up

Doesn’t budge, it’s mine now

I carry it with me

This inheritance

This heavy key to the past

This memorial to those before me

This museum housing their lives’ dreams and losses

Maybe it’s not something to pass

Like a kidney stone

Or to be removed like a cancerous growth

Perhaps I need only to lovingly lay it down

At the feet of those whose dreams I am now living

Perhaps their burdens are not mine to carry

But mine just to remember, and know

As I move forward into my own life’s dreams and losses

To be remembered, one day, and known

By those who come behind me

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: inheritance

Untamed*

I rise today,

All-powerful One

Mark the date and time

For I am done

I wanted to work

So I appeased

To follow my dreams

I scraped my knees

If you really don’t know

Somewhere deep inside

How wrong it has been

Then why did you hide

But this is not about You

You’re just one of Too Many

Time to change the conversation

To solutions, not controversy

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: tame

*I am tired of the news stories re: the Harvey Weinstein “revelations” focusing on who knew what. Why no discussion of legal ramifications? It feels so insane that we hear about these people in power abusing their authority to sexually harass women (and men) and all they get is fired? Or it becomes a business story – how will the company go on? To me, the whole point is being lost. The conversation needs to be this: why does this keep happening and how can we, as a society, take responsibility for a culture that still allows for it and is somehow even supporting and creating it? Finger-pointing to individuals misses the bigger picture. I had to say something to find some sanity in this very dismal repeating story that keeps getting lost in the stories around the story.

Risk Aversion*

I read my writing aloud in public for the first time two weeks ago.

I began this blog a year and a half ago as a way for me to begin to break the silence and shame I felt inside.

You see, I grew up in an environment that encouraged me to suppress my feelings and my true thoughts. In essence, I learned to hide my truth.

Because of things that had happened to me when I was young, I was afraid that to speak my truth would bring pain to others in my family. I needed their love, so I learned very early on to present a version of me that would be pleasing for them and others. It was literally a matter of survival, keeping my truth hidden.

Additionally, problems in our family were not acknowledged verbally for the most part. We pretended to each other they did not exist. If it was something that absolutely could not be hidden, there was a real strong pressure to keep the family problems secret, to keep them inside the home. I was not verbally warned not to seek help. But I knew it was considered dangerous.

So I learned to keep my true self buried deep inside, hidden far away from my family, and from the outside world.

I got so good at it, I lost touch with my own true self. I had hidden it so well, it became hidden from even myself.

I am a performer, so I need to be able to use my truth to reveal the truths of the characters I play. I learned to go deep within, but I found that as much as I loved bringing what I could to my work, there were internal tensions that made it very challenging. And so I began to embark on unraveling those tensions, to see what was underneath, to find more freedom and to expand my capacity to reveal through my work.

It has been an amazing process. I did not set out to, but I have ended up finding my self in the process. I’ve been making a deep excavation within, bringing out the remains into the light.

It has been excruciating at times, terrifying, wondrous, exquisite, mind-blowing, beautiful, sad beyond belief. But most of all, it has been a becoming whole.

In the process of finding me, I discovered that I wanted to be able to own and share my truth without fear or shame. So I started to practice doing so.

First in small, safe ways. To trusted people. Then, I began increasing the risk level, expanding my level of comfort by extending myself into the world in ever-widening circles.

This blog has been a hugely gratifying experience. It has been so important for me share my true internal experience, my real creativity, here. There have been times I have felt so fearful after hitting the publish button…it has felt so risky…what if someone in my family reads it? What will they think of me? If people know this or that, will they see me differently? Will they judge me, label me, only see me this way or that?

I realized that I was so afraid of only being seen for what has happened to me or what I have done, the mistakes I have made, or what I have NOT done or accomplished. I didn’t have a sense of being valuable just as I am, not what I do, did, will do, haven’t done.

The blog and posting has been stretching me in so many great ways. It has also helped me learn to let go of needing to be seen a certain way in order to feel valuable, safe or lovable.

What I did not expect was how amazing it would be to have people read and then reach out to share back. That has been and continues to be such a gift. (So thank you.)

And then, I had the opportunity to submit a piece I adapted from a blog post for an evening of work written by women on what it means to identify as a woman.

When I began writing this blog, I had never, ever intended to read my work anywhere, but there I was, sending it in, in hopes of being chosen, so I could share my work live, in person. (What?!)

When it was selected, I was ecstatic. And terrified.

Every childhood-conditioned muscle in my body was braced for trouble. Every old voice that wanted to keep me silent was working on my psyche: Who was I to think I had something of value to share? What if I upset people? What if someone was unhappy with what I had to say?

In the week before the event, I was questioning my sanity in having chosen to do it.(What was I thinking?! Why was I putting myself through this?!)

The fear and the voices continued right up until showtime and as the first readers read their work.

And then, my name was called. My turn. I gathered together my courage and began the long walk down the aisle, my heart pounding in my chest.

And then three steps from center stage, I suddenly felt something click inside. When I stepped into the light, I just knew in my bones that I was in the right place at the right time. I felt a sense of home inside. I felt warm. I felt safe.

What an amazing experience! It was an experiment, but it turns out I love sharing my words live, and also experiencing the words of the others involved. Who knew?

I am so grateful to whatever healing force inside me has been leading me on this journey to be free. It is a beautiful thing to break free of the shackles of one’s own past and to be able to freely express one’s own self.

*(Written 10/17/17, but I used a draft from Oct. 1 and didn’t realize I needed to change the date before publishing it! So here it remains, looking like I wrote it Oct. 1. But I promise I wrote it 10/17/17.)

Reposted in Response to The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: risky

Lust Life

Much of my adult life has been about coming to terms with lust.

Having grown up in a fairly conservative family with mainly Protestant roots, I learned early on to deny and repress my lust: for life, for sex, for fame, for love, for food.

So much so that I lived a kind of double life from my teens into my twenties.

I hid many behaviors that all revolved around my various appetites. Somewhere in my somewhat stunted emotional development, I had learned that being seen as having a need (be it physical or otherwise) was weak, unattractive.

And so I learned to pretend I did not have them.

And yet, at the same time, I also had a very strong need to be seen as a sexual object. (See Sexual Healing, my previous post on this issue.) This presented quite a war within me. I desperately wanted to be seen and treated like a sexually desirable woman – that was sort of the ultimate need. At the same time, I had shame and embarrassment around this and had strong messaging that that was bad, and that I should be a good girl with no sexuality, appetites, strong opinions or feelings.

And so I pretended to be one one way while in secret I acted in other ways.

I invested a great deal of time into creating the illusion that I was chaste, a normal eater, and had  a very neutral opinion on just about everything. I monitored my emotions and watched myself around people, carefully choosing mannerisms and tones to project a good girl.

Meanwhile, I was living quite another kind of life, a life I hid from my family, my friends. A life of appetite and lust and danger.

There were certainly angels watching over me. I was often in the wrong places at the wrong time. Somehow, I survived.

At a certain point in my twenties, the jig was up, as they say.

My psyche demanded that I heal the split, and I began the process of recovering wholeness again.

Of uncovering my own genuine appetites from a place of love, curiosity and acceptance. Of letting go of the urge to keep my appetites hidden.

I began a process of embracing of my true nature and wants and needs as beautiful reflections of my own humanity. I began the shedding of the shaming nature that I inherited.

An unlearning of the social pressure that happens in middle school to put a damper on enthusiasm, to keep a lid on want to look cool.

I learned to let myself eat as I really wanted to in front of others.

I learned to let myself be seen trying, excited, wanting, sexy, hungry, angry, hopeful, happy, disappointed, frightened, messy, unhappy, empty, full, vulnerable, awkward, lonely, blissful.

I learned to let myself be seen. As I really am.

Today I value the self-honesty that I live from. Truth is of huge importance to me.

Though I am still in awe of the capacity I had within my own psyche to maintain such a dichotomy the way I did – that I could compartmentalize two such distinct worlds at once – I am so grateful that that is just a chapter in my story.

Today, I have one world with many parts: parts that co-mingle and bring me great joy in their diversity.

I celebrate my appetites, I revel in my enthusiasms and passions.

I love my lust. It is what lets me know I am human. And alive.

So today, I try to wear my lust like a smile.

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: lust