And then, just like that,
The sky cracked open
And joy spilled out
And then, just like that,
The sky cracked open
And joy spilled out
If you want to break open your heart (and your world) in the best of ways, go to clown school.
I just finished day two of a five week journey into the craft of the comedic world – the world of physical theatre, clown and Commedia del Arte.
I went to clown school once before, in 2014. It changed me and the way I live and act in countless, invaluable ways.
And I have taken a few clown weekend intensives between then and now.
But the thing is, you have to keep using the muscles that clown requires, or they atrophy. The wonderful clown you have freed from inside you descends further and further back into the recesses of your heart. Back into the darkness.
One of those clown muscles is enthusiasm. That excitement and wonder for people and things that give you pleasure, that make you laugh. That thing that males your eyes sparkle and your body happy.
That thing that gets bullied out of you around junior high (maybe earlier these days.)
That thing you learn to flatten to seem cool to the other kids.
The thing you learn not to show to protect yourself from ridicule.
The thing you betray in yourself out of fear of becoming an outcast.
The thing that gets beaten down into adult cynicism and suspicion.
(That thing you forget how to feel after while.)
It is a delicious sensation!
Day two of clown class, and I feel that muscle pinking up again. When enthusiasm is allowed its space to inhabit your body, all kinds of good begin to happen. And fun!
I double-dog dare you to find yours. Shake off the cobwebs and try it on for size. Take it for a walk.
It may feel a bit scary to let it be seen again by others. A part of you may be afraid and want to keep it under wraps.
I say: Go ahead. Be subversive. Be a part of the revolution.
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 Daily Word Prompt: peculiar
With much love and thanks to the gifts and work of Suzanne Connolly.
Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: crisp
Crisp twenties so new that you have to separate them from themselves
Freshly cleaned laundry, folded neatly
Dry cleaned sweaters in plastic protective wrap
Kittens or puppies sleeping on or near each other
Baby animals, period
The release of the receptacle handle after returning library books in on time
A blazing sunset that stops you in your tracks and out of the fray of the day
A child’s unrestricted peal of laughter
The rise and fall of a sleeping baby’s belly
The moments just after re-organizing my purse
How gum tastes in the earliest moments it is in your mouth
A blank spiral-bound notebook or college-ruled yellow pad of paper
Walking out of Starbucks with that little green stick plugging up the hole, keeping the heat in
Discovering urban art in unexpected places
A plant’s leaves reaching towards the light
Sharing eye contact and/or an experience with a stranger on the train, in passing on the street or in a line anywhere
Seeing someone drop trash, thinking they don’t care, and then seeing them pick it up and put it in a receptacle
Feeling heard after a grueling session with any company’s customer service on the phone or on-line, coming to a solution that actually feels fair and human
Those little plants fighting to sprout in-between cracks in the sidewalk
Spreading tree branches that snake between fences, around posts, and survive
Same-sex toddlers holding hands un-selfconsciously, line partners as they pass with their class on the streets of NYC