Today I woke up free. The smile on my face rippled and spread into the corners of the room as the ceiling smiled back.
The day before I had let go. Released my desire to be loved by people who couldn't. I finally saw my part in trying to get people who are incapable of caring for themselves, to care for me. In that, all of the pain I felt around my childhood evaporated.
An inadvertant realization at the hands of another deeply damaged person. At the turning point, a flash of pain, then the vision. Eons of waiting to be loved, to be cared for, to be nurtured were a thing of the past, forgiven and forgotten.
I saw all the people in my life who I wait on to care for me, and all the people who wouldn't dream of making me wait. All the people who I would never expect to get what they could not give, and all the people I had done that to.
I am not free of these people, but of my need to get them to love me. I am free of the work I would do to get them to care. I am free of settling for less. I am free of making do with the small amount I am allowed. I am free of the lump in my throat that forms every time I am taken for granted, rambled over, or otherwise minimized.
And now I have more. More more more more more. I don't have to set people up to not love me. I don't have to walk into the habituated pattern I see forming before I enter the room. I don't have to engage in conversations created to belittle me. I don't have to sit and wait to be noticed.
The old ways of being are gone.
The culture of lack is dead.
Today I woke up free.
I am building a house!!! Wanna donate to the cause? I will be using almost ALL salvaged building supplies and building as green as possible. It is happening. I am building myself a home. Wanna help fund it? Go to the picture of the house and heart in the upper right. Click on the pic and donate. It's just that easy. AND you will get to watch my progress. Today my progress was finding out that I can go to the dump and fill my truck up with as much building material as I need for five dollars a load. FIVE DOLLARS A LOAD. See how much difference a mere five dollars can make?
Was it in high school? Was it the girl in my ceramics class? The one dating the miscreant? The gymnast? She had muscular hands and strong arms and she was lovely in every way I wanted to be; clear skin, small nose, and a strong upper body. Her posture communicated strength, and I wanted that.
The girls with broad shoulders and narrow hips, the ones who walked with confidence, bubbling laughter, and grace, those were the ones I noticed.
I walked ugly. Acne, too skinny some times, too big others, oily hair, in pain, too timid to look at my own body and excruciatingly shy about everything. I never felt strong. Always trying to shrink away from my skin. Running away from everything the world was telling me I was supposed to be. I was At The Mercy Of.
After high school, I forgot for a while, unconscious until I found rock climbing. Climbing woke me up. I did it all the time, until my forearms burned, and I ran, biked and swam. My body changed. I started to look strong. I started to feel strong, physically. I noticed that the better my posture was, the more confident I felt, so I worked. I wanted to feel like that girl in high school looked. Powerful.
But how can you feel like someone else looks?
My forearms. They became larger, vein-y and a bit more hairy. I loved them. I loved my biceps. I am so proud of how my body developed because it is the body I wanted. The best thing about my arms, my strong shoulders, my muscular legs, is that I know these are not where I find strength. After attaining the body I wanted, I found myself because it was then I had to defend myself from people who would tell me I looked like a man, or that in actuality, I was a lesbian, I just didn't know it yet.
I had made a choice about my body based on my values and I had the confidence to defend it because I loved that. My conscious would not allow me to let other people tell me how to look or behave. It wasn't that my strong body made me strong, it was that I became a target, and I was put in a position where I would have to stand up for myself. And I stood.
My spine is alert, awake with the consciousness of choice. This is a happiness I hope to have the good fortune to reside in until I take my last breath.
When people comment on my vein-streaked arms now, I say thank you, even when they act disgusted, because I know it is not me they are reacting to, it is them. It is their weakness that cannot allow me to be different.
That's the problem with girls in high school. The pain you feel about yourself often leads you to believe they are better off than, happier than, more comfortable than. But that is never the case.
My pain has always been my pain, and it has never had anything to do with how strong anyone else has looked, or how graceful or beautiful they seemed to be.
That is the other thing about the veins in my arms. They transport the pain from my gut to my fingertips. It is a specific kind of injury that my body deals with by trying to send it out of my body through my fingers. The veins in my arms are fat with these memories. They remind me that everything about my body can be used to grow, just like every part of a chicken can be used to make soup.
My pain is the source of my strength, my beauty, my grace. I would never have come to this place of confidence if I had not resided in my pain.
My veins will some day wither to weakness, my arms will eventually return to dust. I will be nothing as I once was. This is the truth of life, that while I am living I am also dying, but in life, or in death, I will be as much of me as I can be.
Even if that is within my pain. Even if it is not.
I will never again fool myself into believing that I can feel like someone else looks.
I have felt too much of my skin for too long. It began with my raging acne as a teen; all the things I would not say came out in angry cysts all over my face, chest and back. The pain made me aware of it all day every day and forced me to look down at my shoes in public and avoid mirrors at all costs.
At some point in my life I learned that the surface of my body included my digestive track. All the half chewed items forcing their way down my throat and into my gut, along with the emotions I swallowed on a daily basis set my skin up for absorbing trauma of every sort.
Is this why I have skin? Because it is the most effective barrier against trauma? Or is it there to soak up the trauma? Because as easily as things go in, they also go out, and the more I consider my body and the surface of my skin, I begin to see the whole apparatus as a bellows, breathing in and out whatever happens to be in the immediate environment. Is there a way to choose what I take in? Or is my skin a mindlessly automated filter, just doing what it does with whatever comes its way, garbage in, garbage out?
My skin was never perfect. Too fair, too scarred, too hairy to be useful. But to be touched made none of these things important. My skin was too traumatized to be responsive to touch early in my life. It wanted mostly to be left alone as any touch would send sparks through my veins. But into my thirties and forties, my skin developed a deep desire for it. It was baffling at first, the longing. I didn't understand it until I allowed it. Not the touching so much as the feelings the touch evoked.
My skin quickly became a beloved friend and not a thing to be hidden or managed. My skin became a tool I could use to feel good. Touch was a delight; warming, comforting, loving. I see now that my trauma had kept me from this. Had my skin also let this go? Did my skin, maligned and scorned, figure out a way to release enough trauma so that I could enjoy loving touch?
I entered an era where all I wanted was touch and I would do anything to get it. Touch became a compulsion, an obsession, and at times drove me into the arms of the wrong kind of people, just so I could feel that warmth, that comfort, if only for a short time. My poor skin, to be used as such. It was years that I put my skin through this, wanting desperately to feel more deeply the touch of others, I would alter my senses and experiment with my skin. I could go in to a trance and know only skin. There were times I felt it would have sprouted flowers if I had allowed it.
Now it is starting to lose its form. The weight of the world and the trauma and the stress is wearing it down to the thickness of parchment, and as it starts to hang off of my chin and elbows, I am more than grateful for every part of this journey. I love the surface of my skin, for everything it has done for me, everything it has allowed, and everything it has cast off. I love to run my hands over it, grip my shoulders, touch my face. We have all been through so much together, me and this collection of malcontents.
I would not know myself in the same way if I had not gone on this adventure in awareness, and while there is adventure still ahead, I can't help but pause here in mid life, and wonder at how close my skin has allowed me to be to opportunity, possibility, and mystery. I can't belive that this surprising mechanism is such a small part of what makes up my body, for all it has done for me.
I'm excited for what it will allow in next.
Writing helps me understand myself better. I hope it does that a little bit for you too. Let me know what you think in the comments. I would love to hear from you. Still got stuff going on over a A Love Rebellion, so check that out if you're interested. Mostly videos over there. None of this silly writing stuff. I also have an artist website, Spike of All Trades, with artwork dating back a ways. Kinda cool, really. Check it out if you have the time. It's pretty neat.
Different bugs react differently to my efforts. Some curl up in a ball, some scurry as fast as their hundreds of legs will carry them, some put their unborn baby sack on their back and move away as quickly and carefully as possible.
Ants are different. These creatures move strategically to a new shared space in a coordinated set of moves that is completely mesmerizing, until the ones that have been sent to bite you do so. Ant trances are broken by their surprisingly painful bites.
I don't mean to break up homes, or kill things, but that is what I end up doing, and as there is nothing else going on in my mind while I am gardening, this leaves me to wondering.
I don't believe in much, except for that which I feel and know to be true. Not scientifically, of course. I don't trust a process where the scientist must leave the laboratory in order to not alter the outcome, or where a placebo is just as effective as the substance being tested. No, I trust my gut. I trust my feelings. They are linked so it is easy to read them simultaneously.
LIke the bugs I accidentally dig up every day, I have left so many homes. Places I loved at one point became unlivable by the time I was finished. I left all five quadrants of Portland, Oregon at least once, and each time, it was with haste. I have left many places in Bellingham as well, and my home in River Forest? A sling shot would have been a slower form of movement compared to how quickly I got out of there.
No one was digging me out though.
Well, maybe that isn't true, and as I write this, I wonder, was I not digging myself out? Was I not growing past what seemed a perfectly agreeable situation initially, to find myself in a position where I required a new living situation immediately?
Now that I am not actually gardening, I have time to wonder. How do I define home as I slough off the layers of skin that have grown itchy and tight? Why does it seem that I have the need to break free, almost violently, of any living situation that seemed so much better than the last one, whatever that might have been?
Ants coordinate their efforts amongst themselves and move as a single organism toward whatever goal on which they are focused. I had never really taken the time to watch ants before I had accidentally broken up a home the other day in front of a Doctor's office, but I am now in the beginning stages of moving out of a storage space and into a trailer, and I have to wonder if I am not just accumulating situation through which to grow so that I can eventually leave them.
I have to wonder if I, a single creature, will ever be as well coordinated as a swarm of ants?
It is fascinating the things I set my mind to, and how they always lead back to trying to figure out my own behavior. But, if that is not what life is for, that is, making a metaphor for my life out of every tiny detail of the world I encounter, then I don't know what is.
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