your first death

remember when they taught you
magic is hubris

remember when they taught you
power is dominance

control yourself
turn off your light

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your first death

the condition(ing) of my heart

I needed to take a break from writing. I have been really enjoying learning to write about my trauma, my grief and pain and I am starting to understand it as another important tool for healing, coping, sharing and connecting with others. And it’s fucking hard.

I took to last week to care for myself in the other ways I have learnt  over the last few years. Taking myself for walks, spending time with people who see all of me, solitude, physical activity, treats like Sour Soup and hi-chews.

Today is the first time I have sat down to write in almost a week. The prompt that caught my attention was “What condition is my heart in?” Here is some of what came out.

– – –

My heart is hurting. It throbs with a perpetual longing for connection, for healing, for safety. Safety in ourselves, in others, in community. Hurting heart.

My heart is bitter. In protecting itself, it has become judgmental, mean. From all the times I thought I would get what I needed, that I was going to have connection, care, community. Bitter heart.

We are tired of thinking there are places for us. Places for broken hearts. Places for hurting hearts. Places for bitter hearts. We can sense we aren’t the only bleeding heart in this room, in this community. But like us, those hearts are guarded by sharp-beaked, short-fused egos. By frontal lobes, brains of great dominance, our survivor super organ. It gets us through, protecting our hearts, keeping us moving. We’re mean. We’re insecure. We’re defensive. We’re protective. We’re malice. We’re insecure. We’re heartbroken.

I am a fine connoisseur of over-developed ego. I am the president of the Protective Brains for Feeling Eradication Association. And I am hurting. I am heartbroken. Broken hearts let egos run rampant. Big brained. Broken hearted. Dangerous. Reactive. Unpredictable. Hurting. Lonely. Trauma-bodied, Survivor-brained.

– – –

My heart is an exile. Rejected by community, by relationship, by self. We don’t survive when we hurt. We don’t survive when we feel. Just need to think, to plan, to get in control. My heart lives under the reign of the fascist powers of logic and reason; subject to the judgement, the violence of my brain, my ego’s internalizations of your expectations.

Think. Act. Do.
Reason. Logic. Explain.
No feel. No affect. No flow.
Surviving is “one step at a time”
One calculated, logical step at a time
In the Right direction
Progress.
Move forward.
Not sideways
God forbid backwards.
Integrate.
Don’t disintegrate
ONE self.
Only one self
One brain, no heart
Tin Man ideals
Hold yourself together.
Put yourself back together
Like there was a before

Be the best cog you can be
Functioning means thinking
Means going to work
Means paying your rent
Integrate into society
Not with yourself
Segregate your pain
Eliminate your hurt
Eliminate yourself
Think. Act. Do.
Strategize.
Play the game.
Make your mother proud.

– – –

I have a stronger relationship with my heart than I used to. A direct relationship. Before, I would speak my heart with my brain, know my heart with my ego. Ego knows nothing but itself. Like a politician speaking “for the people” ego only truly speaks for itself.

Me.
I.
Survive.
No Us
just me
just I
Singular.
Logical.
In control.

My body is much better at speaking my heart. My body has always been speaking my heart, even before I understood what it was saying. In anxiety. In panic. In chronic pain. In nausea. If I pay attention, body is always speaking heart. Swollen fingers, swollen heart. Nerve pain, heart pain. Nauseous stomach, nauseous heart.

I have been working hard to learn to listen to my body, to understand the messages my exiled heart is sending through this embodied morse code. I have been learning to decipher the code. And learning to send messages back, learning this body code so that I can care for my heart even when I cannot connect with it directly. This secret code has kept my ego out of it, protected my heart from the violence I enact on it when it directly shows itself.

Panic.
Put your feet on the floor
Anxiety.
Take these bones for a walk
Nausea.
Listen to your inner voice
Nerve pain.
Soak these muscles

Panic.
Put your feet on the floor
Touch the ground, look to the sky
Dirt between your toes
Anxiety.
Take these bones for a walk
To the library
Touch every book you desire
Nausea.
Listen to your inner voice
What aren’t you saying?
Write it down, yell it out
Nerve pain.
Soak these muscles
Stretch them out
Open up the channels again

– – –

My heart knows when people are hurting. We can register another broken heart from a miraculous distance, across mountains, across oceans, across conflict, across isolation. We can perceive this hurt, this intensity with such complexity, with such reverence for the pain, the trauma, for those things ego could never speak. My heart always believes you. My heart always knows it’s true.

Sit with it
Be with it
We see you
all of you
all truth
all legitimate
all honest
Your strength
to feel
to hurt
to struggle
Your exhaustion
at surviving
getting through
If you stopped right now
you would be enough
Sublime
Absolute
True

 

the condition(ing) of my heart

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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