Thursday, September 11, 2014

Shoved in the shadows

I began this great new life, pursuing my dreams, working with artists I'd admired for years and feeling like an extremely productive wide eyed child because nearly everything was new and I was finally making a giant leap toward pursuing some of my dreams. A "friend" offered to help me financially and as with everything else being new, for the first time in my life I accepted. But see, what I had always feared is what happened and his help came with a price. Rather than just lend me money, he always wanted to hang out as well. This was before I knew my body the way I do now but something always just felt gross about him and the way he spoke to me. My ex felt it through reading texts and called it out long before I moved cross country. A combination of wanting to prove her wrong and needing to eat while I looked for a job made me play by his rules.

I went back and forth forever about using the word rape. But it needs to be said. Last month a friend confided in me how she was drunk and half asleep when her ex whom she had been only friends with for years now, took it upon himself to spoon her, pull her panties to the side and just have his way. She told me she didn't want to have sex with him but was too intoxicated and tired to deny him. She danced around the word like I have but she was raped. It doesn't have to be violent to leave you feeling violated.

Because it was a "friend" and we shared mutual friends it wasn't as easy to call a spade a spade. In my head for months I tried to justify everything by thinking of myself as a one time prostitute. He had given me money and taken what he paid for. But the reality is that he stole my wings and I've been walking around trying to ignore my wounds ever since.

Before I was given chemo, it was explained to my family and I that the type I'd be receiving was too new for them to know if I'd ever be able to get pregnant. I was 22 so while it wasn't an immediate concern, as someone who loves kids, it always hung in the back of mind as a giant question mark. Bittersweet is too loose of a word to describe the polarized emotions I felt and how each extreme actually made the other that much worse. I surely didn't want to find out that yes, I was fertile and capable of creating a life... through the act of rape and now though some part of me was ecstatic that the ability was there, I was going to have to destroy that life. And it gets better. When rampantly advocating for a woman's right to choose for years prior, I for some unbeknownst reason had been under the impression that abortions could be low cost or free. Maybe in some places they are but being broke in Brooklyn doesn't get you jack. Without being able to stand up for myself yet knowing he was fully responsible and should pay, I found myself muffling my rage and swallowing all pride to ask him to pay for it. He did eventually give me the money but not before berating me for not going and taking a cheaper morning after pill.

It's astounding how much pain one tiny pill can cause. That night I ran the full course of shame, regret, guilt, rage, sadness, despair, fear. Nearly all directed towards myself. I cried on and off for weeks afterwards and figured I had allowed myself to experience my emotions and now it was over. Only now, 4 years later am I seeing the extent to which it has continued to haunt me.

I began to fall in love. Or I began to realize I had always been there. He was fun and made me laugh and I felt safe and warm and like I could spill all my secrets to him and he'd just love me even harder. Yet, he knew the man who violated me and I myself wanted to put it all in the past and just focus on working and playing and exploring this newly realized love. When he did find out, it wasn't through me and all he knew was that I had been pregnant and had an abortion, not that it had occurred against my will. He then began to distance himself a bit from me. Though I can easily rest on the term "everything happens for a reason", to this day I still wonder where we would be in relation to each other if none of the horror had occurred.

I laid in bed the other night digging deep to bring all this to light and what I realized is just how much of the shame and guilt and embarrassment and anger still exist within me and have successfully bled over into every part of my life since then. Somewhere during my NY stint I became conscious of the fact that we create our realities and are responsible for attracting what we do into our lives. Though I was striving to make a living and excel in a creative field, I shut my creative self down. She was the bright, colorful and confident girl. She was also the version of me who either created a situation in which she was raped or attracted a person who raped her. How and why would I ever want to be that version of myself again? I've kept her hostage in a dark corner somewhere in my universe ever since as it hurts too much to stare in the face of someone capable of creating such circumstances.

In January of 2013 I kneeled in the storefront of my work packing boxes to ship to Sephora when my new coworker offered to help. As I had learned, "help" seems to come with a price so I declined. He then kneeled beside me and said "You can't forget who you are." We barely knew each other when he uttered those words but it sparked something in me that eventually led to no longer be working for that company or living in NY to now coming to terms with part of me I had been trying to forget. Months later somehow he caught wind that I used to do youtube videos and asked how to find me. I couldn't even watch my old self let alone share that person I was so ashamed of with him. My job wanted me to film and do youtube videos for them. People leave me comments every so often, taking me back to who I once was and I can't hide her anymore. I don't want to live as a fragmented human being anymore and if I wish to thrive in life as I once did she needs to step out of the shadows and reclaim her power. I will forgive myself for feeling ashamed at being naive enough to think someone may just actually want to help me with no strings attached. Several men and women have shown me their good nature since. I forgive myself for feeling guilty about destroying a creation I never agreed to. I will allow my anger and rage to fuel me, disappearing whenever it does and I most certainly will not shove some part of me in corner because I or others are afraid of her or she's too much to handle.

I finally understand why you've been walking by my side all this time Lilith. Thank you...

Wisdom in wounds

Yesterday I fell skinning my left knee and leaving the right bruised. I couldn't walk without pain this morning and I was reminded that I don't remember the last time I (physically) hurt myself. Emotionally on the other hand I'm realizing has been pretty consistent.

In a bizarre bout of communication, I sat on the phone for 85 minutes today with a person I haven't seen nor spoken to in any sort of way in about 3 years. A person who I am not and was never friends with yet fond of from the moment we met. I don't generally talk on the phone but this man reached out and said he could really use my ear right now. So I listened.

Only because it wasn't my story, was I able to let the pain, sadness and confusion he emitted pass through me. In so many ways I identified with him and in just as many ways I identified with her. It's easy to see both sides when you're not directly involved. He admitted that he had given up things he loved for her. Pieces of what made him, him. Not because she had asked him to, but because it became clear that his light made her uncomfortable. To the world she's shiny and bright and positive and motivational to the masses yet he has been privy to the woman no one else sees. The one who doesn't know who she is without him. The one who doesn't believe she's beautiful, seeks validation everywhere and smothers her shadows with affirmations. I don't know what will become of their story but it gave me food for thought.

There's been this underlying universal vibration of the need for self love over the past few months. This is reflected in both his and her sides of the story. What resonated most strongly for me were the different versions of her. The one I see now, the one I knew back before either of us knew him and the one she now hides from the world. Mirror mirror on the wall...part of me is her.

Before moving to NY I was bright and smiley and mostly confident. I expressed myself freely without much thought about what I was saying and definitely didn't censor myself. While that may or may not have been the most ideal way to live (who's to say?) I was comfortable in my skin, spoke my mind and mostly listened to my heart.

I partially blame myself. I am embarrassed that I was weak enough to let it happen. I was angry that my ex had been right. I was told by my best friend that my emotion surrounding the situation was "too heavy" which left me afraid to burden anyone by speaking about it. I began to lose my voice, to hide my shadows and to swallow and internalize my "negative" and "heavy" emotions the night I was raped.

I keep seeing these posts and quotes around social media about how you have to tell the truth even if your voice shakes and how you have to speak up and if people don't like what you say then they should have behaved better. I barked at someone recently about how he needed to deal with his emotions and though I still believe that, the same is true for me and I'm just now feeling it. There's something powerful and freeing about releasing your story and being heard that brings about healing. I've been here before in a different life. Shutting it all away and choosing to edit carefully so you focus on and only show the world anything bright and inspiring and sparkly doesn't actually solve the problem. I am an amazing editor but it's time to release the monsters I've been trying to hide from myself and everyone else. Time to wear my wounds and tell the whole, often ugly truth.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Moon shine

"In divinity opposites are always reconciled." - Walter M. Miller Jr

2 weeks ago I walked south along ocean beach, drinking in every detail I could. When it's difficult for me to really understand what I'm truly feeling, the world always tells me if I venture out solo. Being alone leaves absolutely no room for crossing my wires with anyone around me and everything I encounter feels like a more pure reflection.

On my morning run I stopped beneath a tree to sit, breathe and write in the sand. A man walking his 2 puppies joined me and began to tell me about the demeanor of his 2 dogs. The male he explained was a big chicken who barked at everyone until he knew them and the female was friendly but shy. A beetle landed on my hand and I came across a flock of birds whose species I don't recall ever seeing before.

Later that evening, the sky became a bleached rainbow and the ocean waves were just as gentle. I walked by a man flying a red kite and as the announcement of completing mile #2 played in my headphones, I realized I had walked into a giant heart with a crack running through it that someone had drawn in the sand. I stood dead center and laughed. Every little detail I had come across perfectly illustrated the myriad of feelings coursing through me. Walking back in the direction of home I bounced between the oddest combo of feeling sad and amused. A little girl wearing a mermaid tail sat right where the water was touching the sand and her Dad photographed her flipping her tail while laughing. Seeing her made me push the sadness away as I needed to make more room for the added amusement.

And then I sat and meticulously made my list of goals to achieve. A new found fire lit under my ass though I'm not sure how. My willpower felt like it had gone to shit over the last 10 years and it was time to invoke the stubborn, goal oriented scorpion I used to be. I had been slowly building up to this and it was time.

Plans. Whenever plans are written both in mind and ink and things seem to skew themselves, there's always that mild scent of chaos on the wind that marks the pot being stirred. While I did in fact write every day along with perform reiki and meditate, my clean eating was interrupted by glorious Mexican food *drool* and my every day exercise wasn't exactly every day anymore. But I traded running/walking for spurts of running uphill and swimming for hours. And while I may have indulged in huevos rancheros, I didn't even have one single french fry when we drove through McDonalds and every other person got food on our road trip.

Yesterday after spending a week down south and a few days nurturing myself, I returned to walk beside the ocean for the first time since that new moon. My intentions were many; exercise my body, charge with the vitamin D fueling this full moon, talk to the ocean and check in to see how I was feeling. The sky was filled with rays exploding behind dark clouds and I found myself running down blocks I generally walk. I wanted and needed to reach the ocean as quickly as possible. Before my feet even hit the sand, my eyes landed on a girl wearing a crown dancing in the sand while her sister sat a few feet away wearing a glitter black cat mask tied around her head with shiny black ribbons. I crossed the sand and as the completion of mile #1 was announced I decided I wasn't going to push myself physically or mentally. I'd let my shuffle continue to play and I'd walk as fast as I felt like, stopping whenever I pleased to look at or touch whatever I wanted. I had begun to take working out so seriously that I had forgotten the playful, light-hearted, less serious part of it that was just as important. As mile #2 was announced I swear I saw a shockwave ripple around me. In the exact same spot I had stood in the center of a cracked heart 2 weeks ago, now was a new heart someone had drawn filled with pieces of broken shells. Musing on this idea of broken hearts becoming broken shells and whole hearts I saw bright flashes of orange light at my feet.

When I stop to consider all that I've attracted (and that which I haven't) over the past 2 weeks, I'm presented with quite the spectrum of feelings I'm dancing through. Despite the shift in the sand art, my heart still feels broken in moments but maybe that's the point and in reconciling differences, broken is actually whole and healed or at least on its way?