To the Core*

I used to hate myself.

Seriously. I hated just about everything about me. I was fixated on the way I looked: I felt like a monster, something grotesque, misshapen, disgusting.

This was painful, and difficult. It is hard to relate and be in the world when you have that kind of hatred for your body.

But as I look back, the most painful kind of hatred I felt towards myself was the hatred I felt for the ways I felt and thought. I felt tormented by my own mind and feelings and sought escape in every way imaginable, including close contemplation many times and one failed attempt at ending my own life. I could not get away from this internal self I so hated. I felt like a freak trapped inside a monster’s body.

I wasn’t born with that kind of self-hatred. It developed slowly over time in my early years following trauma that created a kind of split from my own core. Losing connection to my core made me vulnerable to the outside world in a way that was devastating.

With a healthy core intact, dealing with bullies and the other social pressures at school is painful and impactful but does not warp one’s self-perception.

With a healthy core intact, a person can withstand the challenges that exist in most childhood homes where there are people with untreated mental issues, and where there are emotional, sexual and physical abuses or neglect as a result of parents who themselves were abused or neglected.

Without a healthy core intact, the affect of these kinds of external forces become stronger, louder than one’s own innate internal sense of self, sense of well-being, of any innate self-support. As a result, these events, people and experiences bend and shape one’s sense of inner and outer self and reality.

The best way I can describe living without that connection to my core sense self is to have been like a tissue blowing in the wind, this way and that, getting stuck wherever the wind took me.

I do not have multiple personality disorder, so I cannot speak to what that experience is like, and I do not mean to offend anyone who does. But I have sometimes imagined that what I experienced was somehow related. I could not hear my own internal voice most of the time. I was “hearing” the world, and it was loud and dangerous to me.

Living when you are disconnected from your core is terrifying. It is suffocating. It is lonely. It is deadly.

I am lucky, because even though that connection was severed, there was always somewhere deep within me some sense of something to keep fighting for. One tiny shred of connection to a core that I could imagine if not feel or often hear. I didn’t trust it or understand what it was. But it was there and I could sometimes hear it in the very darkest moments.

Like the moment some years ago now when I had the razor blade that I had bought and planned to use in my fingers and held to the skin of my left wrist, ready to end my suffering. That tiny shred began to whisper to me, “What if I am wrong? What if it could get better?”

That tiny shred, and the realization in the moment that followed that I was reneging on a promise I’d made to my two cats – whom I loved desperately – that I would always look after them, that they would never know fear or be homeless again after their difficult early lives feral on the streets of NYC, saved my life that day.

I have written about coming home to my own core within myself in previous posts Dormant Child and Cutting the Cord.

The work of healing my fractured soul has been profound, difficult and beautiful. It is on-going work, but I have come such a long way.

To re-connect with and then feel a permanent connection to my own core self – to know my own essence – has been at times a shockingly powerful and painful process. And at the same time, the most intricate, exquisite and intimate experience I have ever known.

One of the greatest gifts of this this connection to my core, this freeing of my inner selves (every age I have ever been) and this healing of the traumas of these selves into wholeness, has been a growing love and appreciation for my self.

I have learned to love my body for what is does, not how it looks. I have grown a gratitude for my physical abilities and strengths, and try to find joy in moving my own body, using my own voice. Today, I have reverence for all that my body contains. It contains multitudes and is wise beyond my mind’s own wisdom. It holds the Truth, and it never lies.

I look for the miracles within and without, and because I have cleared away what I can of the detriment that is not of my true essence, I find them. The detritus that remains from my past does not clog my joy as it once did. I love the detritus, too, for it holds important information. There is often even gold to be found in what remains.

I genuinely enjoy my own company today. I like the way I experience the world: my own peculiar sense of humor, the unique way I think and feel. I am no longer tortured by my own thinking. I am no longer tortured by being me.

This is huge. Not to say I do not experience anxiety, racing thoughts, negative or critical thinking (the Inner Critic, the Critical Mind, the Ego, whatever you want to call it.) I do experience all of those things and more (panic, depression, the pull towards self-destruction.)

But I am no longer a tissue blowing in the wind.

I am a mighty tree, strong and constantly expanding into the world around me. Yet I am flexible and can withstand whatever weather comes my way because I am rooted, and those roots go deep. I take nourishment from the elements that support my growth. I no longer look for sustenance from sources that can not provide what I truly need to thrive.

I live in light today. There is darkness, yes, but it is a different kind of darkness. I no longer fear the dark places, because I am always there. I trust myself to see myself through whatever comes my way.

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt: core

*This is a repost of something I wrote last year. I needed to read it today.

Many thanks, always, to the work I have done with Suzanne Connolly.

Rescue Wanted

I’m an angry cur

I sit and lick my wounds

No longer on a chain

I stay put and don’t run off

Tremble at the feet of my abuser

Long since a ghost: no more a man

Yet his switch is alive in my body-mind

Can I rescue my self

Get myself to a shelter

Learn how to trust and to love

Retrain the cower out of my body and soul

Lose the haunted look in my eyes

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt: cur

Black Box

Warning: This woman no longer accepts less than she deserves. At times, may erupt into genuine, whole-body laughter. Has been known to cry when she is so moved, and could care less about what other people think of her. Determined to use her voice and talents until her last dying breath. Interact with her at your own risk. Could cause deep joy and love when taken with respect.

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt: warning

Do-Be-Do-Be-Do

Somewhere along the way, I learned to value efficiency over my own sanity.

I mean, I can multi-task something fierce. Today, my day began at 7 AM and had been straight through from meeting to class to rehearsal to workout to an hour and a half with nothing planned.

I had intended to relax and have a shake and chill until I needed to leave for the next thing, a class that would go until 10 PM. But no, I ended up doing other things, and all at once.

I ended up troubleshooting with an Adobe support person while making a shake with my Nutri-Bullet, and helping a friend in need on the phone through a rough time. My hour and a half quickly dissolved into a remaining ten minutes to get out the door and on to the next thing, and I still hadn’t rested or had my shake.

It was crazy! And thank God, the better part of me knew it. I was not with any one of those fully. I at least had the presence of mind to tell my friend that while I was glad she called and that I could absolutely make time for her, that I couldn’t give her my full attention, and I wanted to.

The truth is, I have to make a concerted effort to stop myself during the day to drink water, go to the restroom, take a breath.

It is hard for me to not see “downtime” as inefficient.

When did I begin to de-value just “being”? Why the frenzy to always fill every possible slot of time with actions and tasks?

It doesn’t really matter. I could blame it one the world today. This digital age. That I live in NYC.

All I know is that after several days like that, I will crash. My system will revolt.

I need those pockets of doing nothing. To refill me well. To daydream. To be blank. To breathe.

I practically have to schedule them. They are still not second nature. My second nature is to get into the frenzy.

But, today aside, I am getting better. Awareness is all, right? And action.

Or should I say, inaction!?

How do you get yourself to remember to do nothing?

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word prompt: inefficient

The Long and Winding Road

I love to meander. Either literally or figuratively. In my mind, telling a story or on my feet, I find it so gratifying.

Not always so for others. My husband can be driven a bit crazy by my sometimes long and winding way of coming to the point of a story, for example.

I get it. I love straight lines too. There a times I get to the point! Indeed!

Give me a route, I love to follow the way.

But to let that all go: plans, destinations, paths, pre-determined places to end up or problems to solve by this deadline or that…

To simply go where the wind blows me. To follow my nose. To follow clues.

To listen to the guide from within as old as the sea urging me this way or that.

This is how I find the best places. This is how I end up living the most “perfect” days. (Rarely the days I painstakingly plan.)

To sit and let my mind go from association to association, knowing that nothing is crucial but it is all valuable and each morsel may lead to something wonderful.

That is where my creativity comes alive, in the seemingly random twists and turns of consciousness as they dip into the collective unconscious.

Yes, I am a fan of meandering. As long as it is not in the Internet. That is the one place I am best served by staying to a clear intention and boundaries. Meandering there, I usually end up with regret and an emotional hangover.

But a day like today, meandering about Cape Cod. Priceless. Nourishing. Awesome.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: meander

Gone Fishing

I was so relaxed yesterday here in a beautiful old house on the shores of Cape Cod that I forgot to blog!

I slipped! Oops!

But instead of beating myself up, I choose to celebrate this little break from my drive to “get it all done,” this break from my goal of a blog a day, this break from perfectionism.

Just as it feels good to show up for my drive, it also feels good to show up for my need to “be.”

The Urban Dictionary defines “gone fishing” as:

Gone Fishing

1. To checkout from reality. To be unaware of what’s going on.

2. To drop the duties of daily life and go do something else, something nice.

I hadn’t intended to do that, I always blog no matter what. But you know what, it was nice to “slip.” I think I have always feared relaxing my grip, my drive — that if I do so once, I will slide into some kind of lethargy. Lose all will.

Yet here I am, right back on schedule. Happy to write.

May you give yourself a little break today – some change in your regularly disciplined routine, some shift in your thoughts.

It really is OK. The sun will rise again.

It did this morning.

Lift Off

I’ve been dancing on the skinny branches

It’s been a long time coming

No longer hiding ‘neath the foliage

Or burying myself in the gnarled knots of life

I am ready to fly, put these wings to use

I love the skinny branches, they’ve showed me myself

But the sky is beckoning with winking clouds

And the wind is calling my name

And trees never hold on to anything

So why on earth should I?

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt: branch

Messy Is As Messy Does

Messiness has gotten a bad rap.

From childhood on, I was taught to value tidy and clean over cluttered and dirty.

Being seen as a “mess” is something to avoid at all costs today. There is shame in being seen as messy.

Look at any social media feed. Selfie taking has been developed into an art form. There’s been an increase in nose jobs, and the reason for them? It is people wanting to look better for their selfies! No one, for the most part, is proudly posting their mess. Unless it is an apartment reno in process or a confessional “staged mess” to make a humorous point of some kind.

With such socio-cultural pressure, it is no wonder that I learned to strive for perfection in all things, especially the presentation of my self.

I literally dreaded being seen without makeup or with a hair out of place.

And God forbid I was to have a negative emotion! Shove that way down, baby! Slap a grin on it and pose.

Trouble is, the very nature of life is change. And change, my friends, is messy.

Ergo, life is messy.

It has been quite an unraveling, this perfection mechanism. I’ve had to unpack a load to get to my mess.

And once I found my mess, I had to come to love it.

I will be honest. at first, all I wanted to do was get rid of it!

Thankfully, I have some teachers in my life who are artists. Artists know the value of mess. They helped me understand that it is in my mess that my talent lives.

And so began an embracing. Of my mess. Of change. Of life.

It has been challenging at tines, sure. This is not an overnight process.

But boy is it incredible.

My home is neat and tidy. I am an organized woman. I crave order.

But I relish getting messy and allowing myself to be seen in my mess too. And the most fulfilling parts of my creativity are gloriously messy!

Today, I am a love-able mess living a messy, wonderful, creatively fulfilling life. And I say that with pride, not apology.

Messy is as messy does is more than fine for me.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: messy