the deep dark blue

There is an otherworldly intensity to the deep dark blue  A blue that not only registers in your eyes but in your heart, in your body, in your soul. It has a weight to it, a density like no other. The deep dark blue holds you in this way you never have been held. You are sure it will crush you, demolish you, extinguish you. But as this deepest blue engulfs you, it holds you. As it swaddles you, it reminds you of your wholeness.

Being engulfed in the deep dark blue collects you in a way you have not felt since before you thought about feeling. The deep dark blue surrounds you until you become nothing and you are able to become something again.

– – –

They tell you not to dive into the deep dark blue. They tell you to fight it, to swim against it, to tread water no matter what. They tell you that to sink into the depths would mean you have lost, you have let the sadness and pain get the best of you. They never stop to think that maybe the sadness and pain are part of the best of you.

They tell you to avoid the deep dark blue, to find ways to erase it from your life. They tell you to cover over the deep dark blue. They tell you to not let it have a say in who you are and what you do. Wipe the slate clean. Let the past be the past. Start anew. Move on from the deep dark blue. 

So you decide to lay planks, to construct a wall between you and its depths. You can still feel it flow beneath you. So you amass a collection of distractions: things, people, relationships, habits. Ways to ignore the ocean that rolls and creaks below your wooden blockade. You become determined to prove you don’t live on the ocean anymore; to prove you have done away with the deep dark blue.

Overtime, you begin to forget about the deep dark blue. You come to believe that its depths were a dream, maybe a childhood story someone told you. And maybe, you even begin to forget the fantasy itself. You learn to practice a denial so skillful you don’t feel the slight sway of the deep dark blue under your planks. And in time, you even erase those planks. You aren’t at sea. You aren’t afloat. You are solid. You are grounded.

But one time when you are alone, maybe laying in bed, maybe reading a book, you feel this ache. It starts somewhere in your pelvis then spreads to your chest. This pain is strangely familiar, alerting you to something missing. Your brain tries to brush it off as something from your day, something you saw on tv or heard in conversation with a friend. You brain tries it hardest to keep you forgetting.

But this ache persists. Not all the time, not in everything you do. More like an unexpected hiccup: it pops up when things seem quiet. You sporadically hiccup this pain for a while, it getting harder and harder for your brain to find excuses. You begin to ache more often, until it is almost a continuous pain. Until there is nothing you can project it onto. Until there is no practical answer to its cause.

This amplifying ache, this intensifying loss undefined, pain unexplained, begins to take over. It becomes panic. It becomes mania. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just do my regular things? Why can’t I fix this? What’s my problem? Anxieties bombard you as you remain numb to the sway of the deep dark blue beneath you.

So you set about fixing it. You set about gaining control by controlling yourself. You make an inventory of good and bad parts of you. And then you go about eradicating all the bad. And each time you complete a cull, each time you think you have purged all your evil, the pain arises again. Louder and more overwhelming. You must not have been honest enough with yourself. You must not have worked hard enough to fix it. So you intensify your self-extermination, letting less and less be good. You sever almost all of yourself from yourself. And yet the ache persists.

You are all but gone and the pain is still there. You are barely surviving all the violence you have inflicted on yourself. And, while you lay there, almost gone, almost nothing, you notice the planks. You are too tired to maintain the denial. You feel the woodgrain of the rotting planks underneath you. You begin to feel the sway of the deep dark blue.

The planks, like you exhausted from years of lies and denial, give way. You feel your battered body slip into the deep dark blue. You are sure this must be the end. Finally. You are sure this will extinguish what little light is left in you. Thank goodness. You let go.

But it’s not the end. It’s the deep dark blue.

As you sink into it you feel the banished parts of yourself return. The parts you defined as too much. The parts you extracted to try to be okay. They are not too much for the deep dark blue. They are exactly what the depths desire, what they crave. The ocean collects you, holds you, embraces you, lets you be. All of it truth. All of it you. In the deep dark blue you have become nothing and everything. You have come home. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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the deep dark blue

sex and surviving

you know my histories
you know my traumas and pain
you know touch can be trigger
and touch can be pleasure
you know that sex is a risk for me
and you want all of me
not me in spite of it all

I get to choose to wade in
choose to take risks
sometimes I get triggered, and we need to stop
sometimes I get triggered, and we need to try something else
sometimes I get triggered, and I want to keep going

I want to hold this trauma
with this pleasure
to be able to be in it
even if part of me isn’t
to try to stitch together these holes
with desire and connection
I want to decide what all of it means
how all of it is connected
I want to define it for myself

my triggers get to be my own
you don’t take them personally
you get that I get triggered
not that you are always triggering me
you don’t take on what is mine

it doesn’t always work
it often doesn’t work
and you aren’t scared of me
when pleasure becomes trigger
you don’t run
when shame creeps in
and all I can do is cry
you make space for me
reminding me that all of this is intimacy

sex and surviving

the kindness of welcoming in trauma

I am not very good at being kind to myself. I find myself equating it with selfishness. Or with avoidance, like I am no longer doing the work to get better if I am being kind to myself. I act like healing is this intense process of fixing, an almost surgical action of removing the bad and filling up the holes with good. Defining healing this way means I make lots of rules for myself and then berate myself when I break them. I police myself. I judge myself. Healing becomes a process of harming myself.

– – –

Its not me and my trauma. We are not separate entities. I feel like I often treat myself this way. Like trauma is a cancer, a cyst that is other to me; an invader that must be contained, removed, exterminated. As I dig away at myself, searching for these malignancies I claim are not mine, I end up doing so much damage. Uprooting them and expelling them is actually a process of uprooting and expelling myself. It is not me and my trauma. Trauma is part of who I am. Me as my trauma. Me with my trauma. Just me.

Most people acknowledge that we are all formed by the world around us. That we are all a relationship of body, mind, experience, family, community, society. So why is my trauma not part of me? Why are some experiences outside invaders to be denied, hunted, exterminated and others are not? Why are our experiences of love, joy, happiness considered important parts of the journey of becoming who we are while experiences of abuse, violence, loss and trauma are not? Because they hurt? Because they harm?

Honesty. I think it has to do with honesty. We don’t want to honest about the complex mix of good and bad, kind and hurtful, fulfilling and devastating that actually makes up the world we live in, and the people we become. We don’t want to admit that whenever we move into relation to one another we have the potential to both love AND to harm. To relate is a risk, a risk we don’t want to be honest about.

So we pretend that hurt and harm are not part of us, that they are not important threads in the fabric of families, communities and societies. We refuse to be honest about all we can be, all that we are. We are scared that to do so would make connection impossible. If we have experienced trauma, if we have grief and sadness and pain, we will be unlovable.

Finding kindness for myself means finding space for this honesty. Kindness means making room to bring all of us. Kindness means building relationships of honesty and trust that help us to take the risk of relating to and with all our parts. Kindness means learning to how to be responsible for the impacts of these hurts. Responsible; not always in control, but responsible enough to be honest, to say “yes, I am hurting”. To say “yes, I acted out”. To say “yes, I have done you harm”. Kindness is believing this is a possibility.

Kindness is being honest that we may not be able to heal all the hurt we feel. That we might never end pain and suffering. And being honest that we can change what it means to live with these things in our hearts. Kindness means being honest that we can stop casting out those parts of us that ache with trauma, that bleed with grief and sadness.

We can invite them in, speak their existence. We can stop pretending that hurt is an outsider, an intruder in opposition to growth and survival. We can recognize that hurt has been part of us in different ways for a long time. Kindness is being honest that we can welcome it all in.

The kindness of welcoming in pain, sorrow and trauma is not an act of condoning its causes. It’s not saying that the sources of these hurts are okay in any way. Rather, the kindness of welcoming in hurt is about being honest and open that these experiences are real and have real impacts on us. It is about being honest about the hurt, the sorrow, and the pain of surviving. By welcoming them in we create the potential for compassion and empathy.

– – –

I am trying to show myself kindness by learning to be honest about where I am at. Honest about how hard the day-to-day is. Honest about how overwhelmed I feel. Honest about the role this pain and trauma plays in my life. I am trying to welcome in my trauma. I am trying to sit with it; just be there, not fixing it, not judging it, just being present to witness it. Kindness is being an honest witness to my trauma.

Kindness means being honest about what healing is. Not letting others define it for me. Kindness means letting go of who I think I should be, where I think I should be at and being honest about how I am right now, trauma and all.

This doesn’t mean I have given up on things changing. It means that I am giving up on my fears of not changing; giving up on my fears of being in this place forever. Kindness means being honest about the here-and-now of surviving. It means learning to rest with my trauma, find a home in it. Kindness means being honest enough to know healing won’t be a purging of the my trauma. Healing will not be a process of forgetting but rather a process of honest remembrance.

I am tired of attacking myself. I am tired of judging myself. I am tired of denying myself. I am tired of hiding myself. I just want to be kind to myself. I just want to be honest. I want to welcome in all the parts of myself, no matter how pained, how dark, how damaged. I want to learn to sit with all of me, break bread, share stories and gain comfort from being in this together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the kindness of welcoming in trauma

giving my grieving a voice

content warning: sexual assault, childhood assault

Today we were asked to give our grief a voice. And I remembered I have many different traumas that I am working through. The ones that came up today were: relating to my mom’s mental illness, surviving my grandfather’s abuse, and the experience of being sexually assaulted as little kid.  In trying to give them a voice, I am beginning to realize how connected they all are. And that hurts so much to acknowledge. These have been the hardest words to write so far.

– – –

I just want you to see me. I just want you to acknowledge me. I just need you to say I am worth the time, the effort. I need you to say that you love me. I need you to hold me. I need you to care for me. I need you to take it all on. Take it all on for me.

Swaddle me. Hold me. Kiss me and cuddle me and let me know I am worth it.

Acknowledge me. Look me in the eye. Say my name. Smile when you say it. Come to me. Seek me out. Tell me you are glad to see me. Show me I am worth showing up for. Worth getting through all the other shit in order to love.

Sit with me. Read to me. Hold my hand. Wrap your arm around me. Show me I am safe enough to just be with. And just be with me.

Tell me silly jokes. Make me laugh. Show me that you think I can be fun, I can be silly, I can be light. Show me that I am not just work, I am joy. Show me that you get something out of being with me. Show me that you like loving me. Show me loving me is easy. Show me you’re glad you to be my mom.

– – –

I just want you to believe me. To believe that something is wrong other than me. That something terrible has happened, is happening. Believe me that I am not simply broken, but that someone is breaking me.

Listen to me. Listen to my feelings. Listen to my energy. Listen to my pain. Listen to me even though I have no words for what is going on. Listen to me even though I have no idea how to speak this abuse I am enduring. Listen to my tears and know they are real, they are true.

Do something. Do fucking anything. Hear me, believe me, and then do something. Act. Make it stop. Make it true and then make it stop. Even if you don’t know what it is, protect me. Believe that something bad is happening and protect me. Hold me close, tell me you’ve got this. Even if you aren’t sure if you do.

Stand up for me. Say no for me. Say no more for me. Speak my value. Speak my legitimacy. Set a precedent of love. Set a precedent of care. Show them that you protect your own. You protect those you love, even from others that you love.

Don’t make this about me. Don’t make this a problem with me. Don’t make this some flaw in me, some weakness, some defect. Make it about them. Make about their domination. Make it about their insecurity. Make it about their need for control. Make it about their actions.

No “maybe you should have listened”. No “you can be a handful”. No “you need to pick your battles”. No “you just feel too much”. Don’t make it about me. Don’t throw my pain back at me. Don’t ask me to keep it in. Don’t ask me to be quiet. Don’t ask me to do it myself.

You don’t listen. You don’t believe me. You don’t act. You get caught in yourself. Your pain. Your grief. Your anxiety. You don’t understand so you don’t do anything. If it can’t be spoken, it can’t be real. You don’t want to understand because then you would have to act. You would have to do something.

You would have to admit you played a part in this. You would have to admit you made a decision that caused me so much harm. You would have to admit you fucked up. You made a mistake. You would have to admit you aren’t perfect. You can’t do that.

Instead, you don’t listen. You don’t believe. You don’t act. You continue to make that decision that hurts me. You blame me for my pain. You blame me for being too sensitive. You blame me for being too emotional. You blame me for being too much. If it’s my fault it cannot be your fault.

You absolve yourself by throwing me to the lions. You feed the lions. You feed my doubts, my self hatred, my shame. You protect yourself by taking me out. You finally act. But you act out against me. You blame me. You reject me. You undo me.

– – –

I have hid this for so long I am not sure if it is true. Memory so heavy with shame and hurt I am worried it can only be fiction. And yet, I can feel the truth in it. I can feel the intense need for connection, for attention. To be valued, to be seen, to be engaged with. I can also feel the shameful sadness of knowing somewhere that it wasn’t what I actually wanted. A fucked up surrogate for some need that wasn’t being met. A legitimate need, a legitimate want.

And still, so much shame in the wanting. In some way wanting the violence if it mean that I could pretend my needs were being met. If it meant he would pay attention to me. If it meant I would get the touch I needed. If it meant I could make someone feel good. If it meant I could bring something good to others. If it meant I could be a “good girl”. If it meant I wasn’t all bad. If it meant I could be loved.

I remember the feeling in the back of my throat. And the sense of panic that it induced. The wave of fear that pulsed through my body like fire. I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t want this. But I wanted value. I wanted love. I wanted attention.

I feel so much shame for wanting those things. Shame for needing the attention. Shame for needing to be touched. Shame for needing to touch others. I feel so much shame for not knowing it was bad. That it is was fucked. For not knowing I was being exploited. For not understanding that it wasn’t love. He didn’t care about me. It had nothing to do with me.

I feel so fucked up that on some level I was exited about it. That it made me feel important. Like he chose me. Someone finally chose me. I must be a good person. I must be loveable.

I feel so stupid for being excited that someone chose me to assault and exploit. And I was little. And I needed things. And I didn’t know otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

giving my grieving a voice

when things happened, they all happened at once

content warning: suicidal thoughts

– – –

There is that point in it all where there is nothing that feels okay. That point of panic where you need to do everything and nothing at the same time.

Can’t move.  Can’t sit still.
Can’t breathe. Can’t stop hyperventilating.
Can’t speak. Can’t stop wailing.
Can’t think. Can’t quiet my mind.
Can’t feel. Can’t stop the pain.

When you left, I couldn’t do all the little things. The littlest of things. I couldn’t sit up in bed. I couldn’t walk to the toilet. I couldn’t talk, even to myself. The grief of you being gone shut down all the things my body did automatically. I would find myself about to pass out, forgetting to breathe. Nothing happened without effort, so most of the time nothing happened.

And when things did happen, they all happened at once. Like flood gates being breached, everything came at once. All the hurt, all the sadness, all the anger, all the emptiness. But also all the emotions that made you leaving hurt so bad. All the love, all the joy, all the silliness. I would spend hours lying on the floor weeping, and all of the sudden I would find myself laughing uncontrollably. Most of the time nothing happened; when things did, they all happened at once.

– – –

It feels strange to say that “I missed you” when you left. It feels insignificant and trite.  When you left I was instantaneously dismantled, undone. I felt it coming as I held you, as you slipped out of this world, out of your body. I could feel myself sliding too. I wanted to follow you, come with you. I stayed in my body, but grief erased me in other ways.

For a long time, there was no “I” to miss you. Just this buckling space of panic, fear, hurt, grief. I was nothing. I didn’t think. I didn’t feel. I didn’t move. I just disappeared until the next wave of panic reanimated me.

Living at this point was monstrous. Not being is excruciating. I wanted so badly to follow you, to leave my body, leave this hurt and pain. I wanted to be able to exist again, exist with you again. But alternating between panic and excruciating non-existence exhausted me. It made me too tired to think, to plan, to find a way to leave. I didn’t choose to keep on living; I simply had no capacity to die.

when things happened, they all happened at once

i know where I live: surviving in this desert of grief

How do you live in the desert? How do you find comfort while being engulfed by the intensity of grief and sadness, like waves of suffocating heat? I am not sure if I have been living in this desert, or just surviving. I haven’t tried to thrive, to flourish, to grow, just get through.

Nothing feels self-sustaining in this desert. Nothing comes easy. And nothing stays. And even if it did, I would avoid it. Permanence seems so malice now that the truth of impermanence has made itself known. Now that I know the terror of forever in its only true form: death.

The sheer panic of waking up and realizing you are still gone, you will always and forever still be gone. Why would would I want to pretend that anything good is permanent. I know it is a lie. I know the truth of this lie in my bones.

– – –

I hope in time this desert will grow quiet. That the loudspeaker that is my thoughts will be be muted and I will be able to hear my heart more clearly. Be able to just focus on all the love I still have for you, all the hurt and sadness your leaving has caused. I hope the quiet will bring us closer together again.

In solitude, I want to be engulfed by your memory. I want to sit in the silence until I can smell you, until I can feel you, until I can hear you. I want solitude to bring me back into relation with you. I want emptiness to fill me with your presence. And then we can be alone, together.

– – –

I know where I live. I know this terrain of trauma that is my body. I know the aches and pains that orchestrate how I move through the world. I have studied the waves of panic and mania that flood my lands. I can feel them coming, gaining strength; I can predict their paths. I am the student of my trauma.

I know where I live. I have mapped out the holes in my heart. The big ones, the small ones, the aching ones, the slippery ones. I know how to walk these plains and not fall in. I know which holes need to be sat with, the holes that need my care, my presence, my acknowledgement and acceptance. I am the keeper of my trauma.

I know where I live. I find comfort in the familiarity of surviving. I find comfort in knowing how to explore this trauma body. I know new holes, new currents, new aches, new affects are coming and I know how to get to know them. I am the witness for my trauma.

I know where I live. And I know it’s not going to change overnight. I would be homesick if I woke a new person, a new land, a new terrain. I would miss the familiarity of my body, no matter how pained, how sad, how manic. I have never been an easy body to live in, and I am my own comfort, my own safety, my own grounding. I am the home for my trauma.

i know where I live: surviving in this desert of grief

things for others to know about grief and survivorship

today’s prompt was about what you would tell others about grief, something they cannot know if they aren’t in your shoes. here’s what came out:

 

This one is tricky for me. I feel like I have tried to be honest with people in my communities about pain, trauma, grief and they have not been able to deal with it. I know that in part it is because in some ways they also feel these things. And I wish we would build the spaces and skills to be able to wade in, to exist in a place of hurt and sadness and darkness and still exist in relation to others in healthy consensual ways.

I feel caution about speaking my pain, my experiences and my feelings. It often comes out as prescriptive, controlling and defensive. “you need to do this”, “you don’t get it and that hurts me”. I find it hard to just speak my truths and not to demand something of others or to project my pain onto others. I feel like when you have spent most of your life searching for the words, for an understanding of where all your pain comes from, it can be really hard to not blame others for how hard it was to find those words and understandings. This feels particularly acute when you are supposedly part of a community that wants to talk about pain, struggle and hurt but in actuality isn’t in a place to go there, to be in the thick of it together.

I don’t want to judge others for not being able to be in it with me. And I also want to be honest that we aren’t there, and that if we want to be, there is so much work to be done.

– – –

It feels like a lie when you say that you get it, when you say its ok to not be ok but cannot actually hold the space for others to be messy, to fall apart, to fuck up. This lie, though I know it’s unintentional, can be triggering, especially for those of us who are already dealing with the mistrust that trauma fosters.

– – –

Don’t deny my truth. Don’t pretend to understand. Don’t say you have space for me, for my pain, for my messy coping if you don’t. Know your own boundaries and be honest with me about them. My pain is not a learning tool for you, and we can grow together but its going to be fucking hard work.

When you are dishonest with yourself about what you need and pretend that you are there for me, and then reject me, talk shit about me, villianize me, thats fucked up. I want you to have boundaries. I want you to know what those boundaries are. I want you to feel that you can communicate those boundaries with me. When you don’t communicate them I flounder around trying to know how to be with you, what you need to be near me, what I need to do to be seen and accepted, doubting my ability to respect you and care for you. And to be honest, I already have enough self-doubt; I already feel lost and confused from all this pain in my chest. I don’t want to take on more.

– – –

Trauma make me so lonely. It hurts on this level I cannot articulate. I feel it in every cell of my body. There are days when it fully eclipses me and I cannot find a moment of myself. I am imploding. I become a black hole: all the energy, all the light gets sucked out and I collapse in and over myself. And it hurts; it hurts so fucking much.

Imploding is a lonely state of being. I have no idea how to reach out when i am turning in on myself. I have no idea how to connect with others when I cannot find myself.

I worry that I will pull you in, that I will suck the light out of you. I have done this before. I have hurt people I love when I am imploding.

How do you be a black hole and live in community?

 

– – –

It’s not your responsibility to make it better. You will never know my experiences just as I won’t know yours. It’s not helpful for you to be prescriptive about what “getting better” means. Maybe better means not getting worse. Maybe better means getting worse, being open to sinking below the surface. Maybe better means embracing coping behaviours that are self-destructive. Maybe better means momentary acceptance that I am going to be fucked up forever.

Better for me definitely does not mean getting over it, moving past it. It doesn’t mean letting other people tell me what is best for me. It doesn’t mean hiding parts of myself so that people can find me manageable.

If you want to support, sit with me.
If you want to support, deal with your own shit.
If you want to support, be honest about how much you want to give.
If you want to support, be honest about how much you can give.
If you want to support, be honest about what you don’t want to give.
If you want to support, communicate your boundaries with me.
If you want to support, recognize that support for me is reciprocal. If you aren’t in place to receive support (totally legit place to be) this isn’t going to work for me.
If you want to support, be willing to call me in when I fuck up.
If you want to support, realize it’s going to be an ongoing process of negotiation and communication.

 

 

things for others to know about grief and survivorship