One of the most difficult things for me having grown up in a chaotic atmosphere was learning to listen to myself. I mean, I have always been able to sense and utilize my intuition which is a powerful force not to be ignored. But having had the pivotal adults in my life constantly tell me I wasn’t feeling how I was feeling, it’s been hard for me to know what I think and feel at times.
The other day an old post of mine popped up on facebook, and it was about the fear and love I felt regarding adopting my disabled nephew. Truly, at this point he is my son although my sister bore him. And he’s been my son for a while. He lives in my heart. Through his growth and maturation I have discovered myself.
Back to fear. It used to be an emotion I avoided, like anger. But when you avoid something, it grows. Most of my life, even now, I felt paralyzing fear. Over the most mundane things. Granted I was able to leave my parent’s home at a young age. I got a degree. Two degrees. Had a baby. I started a business. Adopted a child. Got divorced. Became a single mother. Flying through a fear of flying. Bungee Jumping. Dissent. Disagreeing. Feeling Anger. Handling my business. Confronting people. I learned to do it all on my own, even the things I ( sometimes unfairly) would ask others to do because I was too afraid to do them myself. I do these things now because there is no one else to do those things anymore.
But eventually I learned that shielding myself from fear wasn’t good for me and it certainly wasn’t good for anyone around me. I serve myself by leaning into my fear. I’m not afraid to feel anymore. I seek out ways to access how I’m feeling. If you listen to yourself in the quiet, you can find out how you feel. Meditation. Exercise. Being in nature. These aren’t tired old tropes people just throw around for no reason. There are ways to connect to yourself inside, even after experiencing the most terrible of circumstances. I listen a lot to Nina Simone, the one artist who truly could represent the pain and joy of being alive in her work. Of course my beloved martial arts. I watch movies. Film. Look at art. Drink tequila. Cry in front of my children. Fuck up in front of my children. Apologize to my children. Talk to my children. Listen to my children. And they bring me so much joy. Looking into their smiling faces makes me feel like that’s why I’ve made the sacrifices I’ve made.
Sometimes I find myself discovering what I really think when people ask me questions. Sometimes I hear myself answering and wonder, so that’s it is it? That’s really what I think? Because it’s completely in opposition with what I’m saying to myself otherwise. The most powerful lies are the ones we tell ourselves. And we can’t lie forever. Eventually the truth comes out and inauthenticity becomes authenticity, for the luckiest of us. Prayer and silence aren’t the only ways to get an answer, sometimes. Sometimes you find out the truth by putting yourself out there, where the fear lives, and royally fucking it all up to hell. Sometimes you find out the truth when you burn and salt the earth behind you. And that’s totally okay.
I like being connected to myself. Even when it hurts. After all I’ve done and been through I know that even when I make a mistake, and it hurts like hell that that pain is impermanent. And I can tell myself the painful truth of my life over and over, and eventually I’ll be on the other side of that pain. I control the things I can, look deeply at the things I can not control, and when I can, I set myself free. And once you taste that type of freedom, you aren’t likely to give it up again.