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  • On being single and demisexual

    I was out with my lovely friend Amy the other day, and we got to discussing dating and being demi. I don't really have many opportunities to talk about it with good friends who get it, but Amy gets it. I am SO GRATEFUL for the opportunity to verbalize to her what's been going on inside of me, because putting my thoughts into words often leads to things becoming clearer and me understanding something about myself that I'd had trouble getting my head around. Yes, I need to write more. Writing is great but also rather hard for me. I'm working on it, so here we go. I'll also be putting this up on megg.us but i'd rather type it here than link.
     
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    I talked to her about how much I've changed in the past ~4 years, and how it's been difficult to adjust to this new normal. I talked about having difficulty dating, and before that, having extreme difficulty being sexualized post-trauma. Or even just having people noticeably find me attractive. While I still have some issues there, it's not to the extreme it was (there were times it made me literally vomit). We discussed how my view of myself has changed. Gaining self-esteem, self-love, self-worth, and confidence has been amazing, as I did not have that for most of my life. I actively hated myself. I insulted myself all the time and even self-injured. That urge isn't there anymore—the habit is gone. There's still times when I call myself a dumbass in my head for forgetting something or making a mistake but it's not often, and when I do I notice it, correct myself and replace it with a kind/gentle thought. I'm pretty amazed by this. I tried to change this for a long time, but the root of it was hidden so deep inside that I couldn't reach it. My brain just buried it all in self-defense. Trauma shook just about everything loose. It was horrific and extremely difficult, but when stuff came up I was finally able to face it and deal with it. I don't know that I'd label that as a "blessing" or a "benefit", but I am certainly thankful for the outcome.
     
    I've come to realize how distorted and dysfunctional my relationship with love and...well, relationships was for a long time. I didn't feel confident about myself, didn't love myself, didn't trust myself, and didn't value myself. There was a big hole inside me when it came to self-worth, and so I relied on others' opinions to fill it in. That of course is a precarious position to put myself in, not to mention the people I love. It wasn't just self-worth I sought in other people, either. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but I was also searching for my identity: who I was as a person. Sometimes even my personality. Relationships became my self-expression, became my identity. Who I was changed depending on who I was with, and because I put all this stuff (consciously and unconsciously) on my relationships, they struggled. The hole inside me gaped. I tried to fill it with people, I tried to ignore it with alcohol. My relationships were unstable and so was I. They struggled and failed and so did I. I hurt a lot of people and I hurt myself.
     
    I'm not going to say I'm ashamed of this stuff, because I'm not. I'm not going to shame myself anymore. I've spent too much of my life shaming myself for everything and it's been unhelpful and destructive. Through my healing I did come to recognize that what I was doing was unhealthy and hurtful, and when I finally did come to that realization I worked to change it. And change it I have.
     
    I don't *need* relationships like I used to. I was a serial relationship-ist for a long time. Being alone was frightening. I needed the attention and affection I wasn't giving myself and sought it out in others. I needed the stability and solidity of relationships to function. When I became single, I immediately started dating and hanging out with friends w/benefits so I didn't have to face that gaping empty hole inside me. These days I give myself attention and affection and love, and that's changed everything. I'm not indiscriminately seeking people out to gain affection or intimacy. That sounds bad—I did have some level of discrimination, but I generally let emotion lead me, and it led me into a lot of uncomfortable and distressing situations. I wasn't listening to my inner knowing, or to anything rational inside me. I just felt shit and believed it (whether true or not) and then did shit. Emotions can reveal a lot but they're just not truths, and while I did have some good experiences, a lot of them were anything but.
     
    In my years of healing I've learned that I have ME to rely on. I'm working on that and getting stronger every day. PTSD forced me to have to learn how to adult all over again: how to take care of myself, how to manage day to day shit, how to communicate with people and listen to others. How to be social. How not to be awkward in social situations. It's thrown some serious curveballs at me like brain fog, issues with memory, stuttering, muscle and joint pain/stiffness, all of which flare up if I'm triggered. I get overwhelmed a shit-ton easer when I used to be the multi-tasking queen (not that that's something to be proud of. My skill at multitasking came from an anxious, fearful, overly analytical racing mind) I've had to adapt and cope with this new stuff. Some things I won't get back and I've had to learn to live with it. I'm setting reminders to set reminders. I step away from situations when they start to get me worked up. It's hard, and it's not all good, but I'm doing it. I'm settling into this new life and I'm doing it all myself. I feel PRETTY DAMNED AWESOME about that, too.
     
    Now don't get me wrong, I do get lonely. Last year was really bad due to the circumstances I was in, but this year has been so much better. I'm not isolated. I have [a] real job[s] with guaranteed income and free time. I get to socialize with people on a daily basis. Loneliness doesn't consume me. It doesn't make me want to curl up into a ball and implode. I can spend time with myself and enjoy it. I enjoy it a lot, in fact! I love myself.
     
    I LOVE MYSELF. I can say that over and over and over and know that I mean it. I feel it deep in my gut and my heart as a truthful statement. I HAVE worked very hard on my healing, and I'm continuing to work very hard on my healing. I don't shame myself anymore when I recognize my negative behavior. I acknowledge it and where it's hurting me and others, apologize if necessary and possible, and work to change it. I don't rely on anyone else but myself for my own stability or for my sense of self worth. I don't rely on anyone else to save me. Funny enough, I had so much trouble asking for help in the past because I saw it as shameful, and yet things would inevitably reach a boiling point inside me, explode, and I'd end up getting that help. I do try my damnedest to help myself first, but have gotten so much better at recognizing when I *do* need help and then asking for it. Doesn't mean I always get help, but I can ask now.
     
    So on this "meh" feeling about dating: I'm not having to seek out other people to validate my self-worth and provide me with a sense of stability. I have that now, independent of anyone else. In my head, I'm not constantly putting myself on display for others or wondering if I'm attractive enough. I'm not rating everyone I meet in my head on their attractiveness and suitability as a partner. I'm not constantly evaluating others' interactions with me to determine if they're flirting and/or if they think I'm attractive (ok TBQH I still do this with some women but only because the line between no homo and yes homo isn't always clear to me o_o I am clueless).
     
    With that in place, my demisexuality has popped out and said OH HEY. There's a lot of beautiful people in the world, but I don't feel sexual attraction to many (most) of them any more. I don't even think about it, really. That happened on its own a couple years ago, and it's so completely opposite of how I used to be that it's been hard to adjust to. I thought I was broken for a long time. I most definitely had (and still have some) trust issues, but I worked on them in therapy for a long time. After a while, I felt inside I was willing to try. I enabled my OK cupid profile and messaged people. I downloaded some other dating apps and made profiles there too. I've had extended conversations with a good handful of folks , and yet have been so noncommittal about it. I'm sure this has probably pissed some people off and/or made them nope the hell on out, but I don't know. I can take it or leave it right now. To some extent I'm still afraid of getting close to other people and being disappointed, but after my conversation with the lovely Amy on Tuesday, I've realized that's not what's driving me.
     
    I'm just ok being by myself. If someone comes along and the stars align and we hang out and I feel that deep emotional connection and it goes from there, that's great! I don't *need* it. And I don't *want* to need anyone, platonically or otherwise. I don't want anyone to make me happy, make me a better person, always have my back, or save me. I want that from MYSELF, and I have it and it's getting better every day. I have old friendships and new friendships that benefit from this. Perhaps eventually I'll find someone in that same place, fall in love, and our powers combined will enhance all of it in each other and make it Even Better. These days I don't *need* anyone else to be happy and secure and stable anymore. I just need me. And I'm SO OK with that.
     
    Thanks Amy <3
  • the struggles of forgiving and being forgiven

    The biggest challenge I've faced in the last 3.5 years is forgiveness. At the end of 2011, I was deep into a book which spoke on living life with love and from the heart. When I came upon the passages that delved into forgiveness, a light went on inside of me. I had held on to so many resentments for so long, and at that time in my life was holding on to an enormous amount of pain and anger from a betrayal. I'd carried it for almost 6 years. As that light went on, I realized that what I needed most was forgiveness. A day later, I contacted those involved in that betrayal. We began a dialogue that ended in a morning tea and peace found between all of us, which still exists to this day. What I realized, in terms of these people, was that the reason there was so much pain and anger for me in this situation was because I loved and cared about them very much. For years, I told myself I hated them, that they were awful, heartless people, and in doing so denied not only the truth about these people (because as Mr. Rogers says, even good people sometimes do bad things) but also the truth about myself and my own feelings and actions. Their actions may have been the first to occur, but in the years following there were plenty of times where my own words and actions in response to my powerful emotions were also hurtful, abusive, and cruel. While I'm sure that my offering of forgiveness had an impact on the ones I chose to forgive, by far the greatest impact this had was in my own life. The lightness and freedom I felt at allowing the chains of anger and resentment to fall away was both significant and immediate. Most importantly, forgiveness allowed me to look at the larger picture of the situation, and finally offer an apology for my own actions. The understanding of just how important forgiveness is has never left me, and as difficult at it always is, it’s something I’m dedicated to reaching in every situation. 

    Difficult indeed. There are many situations in which forgiveness seems impossible. There are many situations, including several I’m dealing with in the present, where apologies will never come. It is absolutely possible to forgive without ever hearing “I’m sorry”, but in those moments where you find your mind, body, and spirit wracked with pain and anger, when grief encloses you in a cocoon from which you feel you’ll never emerge, it’s hard to imagine forgiving someone who carries no regrets for their actions, or who firmly believes they have nothing for which to apologize. Indeed, when the pain, anger, sadness, and grief you feel are so great, it’s often hard to offer forgiveness even when the other person has already offered their sincere apology. 

    Several months ago, I purchased The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World, written by Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho. I’ve recently experienced betrayal and abandonment by the people I held most dear in my heart. Once again I found myself filled with anger, pain, sadness, and a deep grief. I knew from my past experiences that forgiveness would ease the burden and the pain and so I made the conscious decision to forgive the ones who had hurt me. What’s been the most difficult for me is that even having made that conscious decision, forgiveness hasn’t turned on like a light as it did in the past; in fact, quite the opposite. It sputters on and off like a loose bulb. My mind grapples with this daily, knowing of the immense freedom and peace that forgiveness brings, yet finding myself, day after day, unable to reach that point. For me, this adds yet another dimension of pain and anguish to a situation: being angry at myself for not being able to offer forgiveness. It’s a terrible catch-22, knowing that forgiveness will free me, knowing that everyone is deserving of forgiveness, knowing that I too have hurt others and want to be forgiven, yet still not finding that place inside where I am able to let go. I have no problem understanding and accepting the desire for forgiveness in my mind, yet my heart and my gut feel and know that I have not yet forgiven. It is often incredibly difficult not to be angry at myself in the face of these circumstances. 

    Tutu’s book outlines a fourfold path to forgiveness: Telling the story, naming the hurt, granting forgiveness, and renewing or releasing the relationship. Well before setting eyes on Tutu’s book, my heart understood these steps and I was able to follow them in a number of situations. The situations I’m currently facing, however, are significantly more of a challenge due to the nature of the relationships and deep love between myself and the people involved. Forgiveness in these cases is neither easy nor immediate. It is a long, painful, and difficult path that winds back on itself, taking me in what often appears to be the opposite direction I want to be. I’ve found myself having lost the path altogether at times. Bishop Tutu makes it clear that this is normal. Forgiveness isn’t a linear progression, nor is it always instantaneous. We will and do find ourselves stuck on one or more of the steps as we attempt to free ourselves. There is no time limit on offering forgiveness. So long as we are committed to that goal, we have the ability to get there - getting to that point will take the time it takes, however long that may be. Every day I remind myself of this fact, even though I struggle with it frequently, even though I’m faced with anger from others at not being able to forgive “soon enough”, and faced with anger inside myself towards others at not being forgiven.

    I am determined to keep following this path, no matter how long it takes or how difficult it may be at times. I do not love lightly or foolishly, and those who are dearest to my heart have become so for significant and valid reasons. Conflict does not erase the deep love I have for them, regardless of any present circumstances. Neither does the anger, pain, and resentment I feel towards these people. Indeed, if I didn’t love them as much as I do, the pain would not be so deep and difficult. That, I feel, has been the biggest realization of this journey: The ones we love the most are the ones able to inflict upon us the biggest wounds. My healing will not come from holding anger against those who I feel have wronged me, nor will it come by dismissing them and/or attempting to deny the realness and depth of the love I feel for them. This is not an easy path, by far. Bishop Tutu stresses that “…the preference is always toward renewal or reconciliation, except in cases where safety is an issue.” I am very much in agreement with this, even though it is not an easy choice to make. Pain can and will inhibit our willingness to work towards renewal; pride and our persistent need to be justified in all that we do will insist that we immediately choose release. I currently face a vast number of challenges manifesting physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and am well aware of how these challenges are affecting my journey down the path of forgiveness. There’s not a day that goes by when my gut screams at me to release, to run away, to avoid any more difficulty, but I know that in the long run this does not honor those whom I love but who have hurt me, nor myself, nor the trueness of the love I feel. I will not be making this decision for quite a while. I will continue to follow the path I have chosen, wherever it leads, however difficult it may be, because I know the immense power of the freedom the journey brings. 

    “There is no magic wand we can wave to go back in time and change what has happened or undo the harm that has been done, but we can do everything in our power to set right what has been made wrong. We can endeavor to make sure the harm never happens again. We all need forgiveness . There are times when all of us have been thoughtless or selfish or cruel. As we have said earlier, no act is unforgivable; no person is beyond redemption. Yet, it is not easy to admit one’s wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness. “I am sorry” are perhaps the three hardest words to say. We can come up with all manner of justifications to excuse what we have done. When we are willing to let down our defenses and look honestly at our actions, we find there is a great freedom in asking for forgiveness and great strength in admitting the wrong. It is how we free ourselves from our past errors. It is how we are able to move forward into our future, unfettered by the mistakes we have made.” - Tutu, Desmond; Tutu, Mpho (2014-03-18). The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World (p. 167). HarperCollins.

  • love hurts

    Sometimes I wish love didn't hurt. But to be honest, if it didn't, it wouldn't be love. 

    It’s to do with knowing and being known. I remember how it stopped seeming odd that in biblical Greek, knowing was used for making love. Whosit knew so-and-so. Carnal knowledge. It’s what lovers trust each other with. Knowledge of each other, not of the flesh but through the flesh, knowledge of self, the real him, the real her, in extremis, the mask slipped from the face. Every other version of oneself is on offer to the public. We share our vivacity, grief, sulks, anger, joy… we hand it out to anybody who happens to be standing around, to friends and family with a momentary sense of indecency perhaps, to strangers without hesitation. Our lovers share us with the passing trade. But in pairs we insist that we give ourselves to each other. What selves? What’s left? What else is there that hasn’t been dealt out like a deck of cards? Carnal knowledge. Personal, final, uncompromised. Knowing, being known. I revere that. Having that is being rich, you can be generous about what’s shared — she walks, she talks, she laughs, she lends a sympathetic ear, she kicks off her shoes and dances on the tables, she’s everybody’s and it don’t mean a thing, let them eat cake; knowledge is something else, the undealt card, and while it’s held it makes you free-and-easy and nice to know, and when it’s gone everything is pain. Every single thing. Every object that meets the eye, a pencil, a tangerine, a travel poster. As if the physical world has been wired up to pass a current back to the part of your brain where imagination glows like a filament in a lobe no bigger than a torch bulb. Pain.

    - Tom Stoppard, The Real Thing, 1982

    Additionally: 

    There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. 

    -Martin Luther King, Jr. 

  • to feel is a blessing

    Tonight one of my guides said to me:

    "You know that saying, that it is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply? That's crap. It's a blessing, plain and simple, to feel so deeply. Especially in these times where man seems not only to have forgotten to feel, but to rail against it entirely. 

    "Never forget that even the deepest pain is filled with the presence of God, or the Universe as you like to say. All the depth of emotion that is unique to this sphere is both powerful and powerfully transformative. Good or bad, happy or sad, you're blessed, kiddo."

    I love it when angels call me kiddo. hah. 

  • New Moon/Solar Eclipse/Venus in Scorpio

    I walked down to the park at around 4:30 yesterday. Gloom and doom clouds were beginning to blow in, greying the sky and eventually covering the sun. I sat next to the tree by the water where I'd sat before, though this time I was alone, hopeful, and determined instead of distraught, confused, and anguished. 

    I knew this celestial event was primed to be pretty transformative, and I decided to sit with it, connect with it, learn from it, and heal from it. The potential to go deep and root out the darkest, most dificult bits and face them was an opportunity I could not pass up. 

    I sat next to that tree by the water and brought to mind all the things I've wanted and prayed for. I opened my heart wide and made room for them. I thought about the way my life has completely deconstructed over the last year in every possible way, and the blessings and direction that has given me. I thought about all these things and knew they were in my life right now, knew they were present, felt their presence, knew what it was like to have these things in my life and live that reality, live these truths. 

    At that very moment, The sun emerged from the cloud bank, directly in front of me, illuminating me. Inside my heart and my mind, I sensed...completion. Success. It came to me not as a thought, but as a response. And so I grinned, and unsuccessfully tried to take pictures of the eclipse.   

    I sat still once more and turned my attention to a tight softball of energy in my solar plexus, one that has been persistent for weeks now. It wanted attention, it needed attention, so I decided to acknowledge it. I spoke to it. I asked it what it was, what it was about, and it told me.

    I didn't want to hear it at first, not at all. I wanted to turn my back on it and run, I wanted to stick my fingers in my ears and say LALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU. I wanted to deny it, reject it, believe it was a lie, anything but look at it and know the truth. It told me as much. You haven't wanted to look at this. You are afraid to face this, you are afraid of this truth. And something inside me gave, softened. I knew I coudn't turn my back on it anymore. I turned my attention to it, stilled my mind, listened, and remembered. Fear. A deep rooted fear that clamped itself into my gut long ago and has lived there for decades. I sat quietly and uncomfortably, and listened. 

    Why are you afraid of yourself? Be ok with you, be ok with being alone. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be alone forever. It doesn’t mean you have to be alone, you won't be. But right now, be alone. Be wholly in your aloneness. Be at peace with it, love it, embrace it. And even when you find yourself in a relationship, be ok with being alone. Be comfortable with it. Know you’re ok even if the relationship ended right then. Be confident in you, know that you are an empowered, conscious, divine being first and always, regardless of whether you're with someone or on your own. Know your worth, for it is great and will always be - no opinion or situation or person will ever fade that reality. Relish your talents, share them, live your truth and be authentic to who you know you are. And LET GO. The best thing you can do for yourself right now is get to know yourself, learn to enjoy your own company, be your own friend, build trust in yourself, and be comfortable in your own skin. Enjoy the silence and stillness and oneness in your mind, in yourself, in your life. The truth is, you're never alone. You're always with all that is, you're always with whatever is in your heart, and you are always full of love. And you are very, very loved. Remember this, every day. 

     I will remember this every day.