Flow

Last night I was talking to a friend, about how we both felt a bit disconnected from our ‘creative flow’. We both like to write. Talking about it again today made me remember a few things I had planned to include in my last post, but that had escaped me. Pre baby, words would bubble up inside me and I’d rush to a pen or some device. There would be no thinking or planning, it would just flow

Post baby, sometimes I can’t even run the tap without being interrupted by my daughter, and her needs trump my need to write about 80% of the time. Maybe all %s of the time, or maybe less. Who knows. My point is that I can’t write freely like I used to. Not always at least. That had left me feeling quite stifled and it’s taken me until now to even attempt to break out of the writing rut. Even my new phone is against me, because I can’t type as fast as I used to without spilling gobbledegook onto the screen. It’s like some force is trying to slow me down and make me think more carefully, plan better and create more space and pace for self-expression. Based on the last post, that force will be me if I want to be liberated into sole responsibility for my life experience!

When I was pregnant, I had this overwhelming feeling that, as she was born, my body was going to ‘release’ all this shit I didn’t need anymore. That my birthing her was going to birth the end of carrying all this suffering around in my body. I’m not entirely sure why I thought that, but apparently that’s written into our ancestral heritage and belief structure, I recently found out. Perhaps I had thought it because I had come to understand the female menstrual cycle to be a beneficial cyclic build up and let down of potent and powerful energy like life force, creativity, emotional power, or hormones if you just want to be boring. I figured pregnancy and birth would be a massive version, and after 9 months without menses I was longing for such a release. Especially after my crap experiences.

I didn’t get my release, but I did get my beautiful daughter and I haven’t felt creative much at all for a little over a year. Perhaps because I’ve been busy looking after a wee one, or perhaps because I’ve missed the flow of womanly cycling. Breastfeeding and pregnancy left me without a menstrual cycle for just shy of two years and once it retuned, I felt alive again. Before I’d felt so disconnected, like I was floating out at sea, tethered to a bouy and unable to rise, fall or drift wherever the current took me. The return felt as if a dam had burst and everything trapped was swept away. Free flowing.

It is by no means exclusive to women, but I associate creative energy with ‘the feminine’, because of the uterus and breasts being designed to create and sustain life. We all know how babies are made, so I don’t need to explain the role of the masculine in co-creation. We all come from that place, so we are all ‘coded’, if you like, with the same ability to create and to be created just because we are alive. Not solely through creating a life, like a baby, but through art, cookery, science, building or by ‘simply’ creating our life in the way we want it to exist. That goes for animals and nature too. All of co-creation.

The reproductive organs are governed by the sacral chakra, which is an energy centre in the body and part of an extensive energy system that powers our physical existence (If you so choose to believe, as I do, but each to their own). The sacral chakra also governs relationships, and the last two (or thirty) years of my life have been teeming with deep, difficult life lessons associated with being in or out of an array of familial, platonic and romantic relationships. Its been a bloody hard slog – trying to heal myself enough to return to seeing in a more loving and harmonious way like I used to. It would have been easier to keep fighting, resenting, blaming and wallowing, but I felt exhausted of living behind so many barriers. I wanted to feel peaceful again.

When my life had felt like it was flowing the least, the most important work I may ever do has been undertaken day by day. I had thought ‘the shit’ would leave with our birth, but was wrong. From prior to her creation, right through to my body signaling it is ready to create again (no babies yet please), everything was flowing exactly as I was commanding it to, unconsciously, by steering with my past, pain, suffering, fears, shame, angers and so on. My life had not stopped flowing, I was just feeling that way because I was resisting the natural flow of growth and change. Some part of me, my heart most likely, had known exactly what I needed to do to get to the places I want to go. Another part of me, my ego, didn’t want to do the work and just wanted to get on with surviving.

Ego and I made an unspoken deal, unbeknownst to me, that it was allowed all the time it needed to make itself heard, to play out all the trapped trauma and to finally wear itself out. Like a small child that needed help to figure itself out. I have felt things that are decades old and full of shame and self loathing simply because I’m sick of it being supressed and repressed deep inside of me. All of the barriers to peace, happiness and well-being are the things I’ve been relentlessly picking away at. They are the dam that burst, the sludge that clogged my awareness and that blocked my heart from being open. They weren’t keeping me safe, they were keeping me stuck.

The only way I could have come to understand the weight of that burden is to have felt it, heavy, as I worked to set it down. If it popped out easily at birth I wouldn’t now appreciate its looming absence. Only as suffering ceases do we appreciate being free. When we’ve gotten used carrying so much shit for so long, we don’t realise whats in there, but we do know we’re exhausted. If we feel like things aren’t flowing, we need to look to where the obstacles are. What is impeding our flow, if anything? What if we are standing in our own way so that we cannot see a solution?

We cannot stop the flow of life. Like raging rivers it will rush on, changing anything lying in its path if you fail to work with it. Even the most stubborn object will eventually be weathered by a river’s force. The ocean will welcome all bits and pieces the rivers collect, and all oceans are inseparably connected to eachother. The air draws up the ocean and rains it back into the rivers. They ready themselves to have another go at the most stubborn obstacles, washing the earth clean and smoothing all its jagged edges. This repeats. Forever. Perhaps until there’s nothing, or all of the pieces in the ocean create a new cycle.

Our healing is this same journey. There is no point in resisting the flow of change – there is no obstacle great enough to beat the time and space river. We can choose to be the river or the rock in its way, the ocean or the air, or we can observe that we are made up of all things.

We are the flow of all life.

Ego schmego

Well I went and disappeared, didn’t I? I started back on starting up again and then I stopped and flapped around like a fish out of water. Stop, start, stop, start. Three steps forward, two steps back!

I did my talk and suddenly nose dived into a bit of a despairing couple of weeks! First I had to contend with remembering all of the stupid things I said in my talk. I freaked out to my friend when my memory told me I basically said people need to just get over the Holocaust. That is totally NOT what I said, as she rightly pointed out, but my brain decided to shame me because it was feeling insecure. I actually said that people experience different levels of trauma and suffering across their life and across time and space, and the Holocaust would have to be on the extreme end. The talk on the whole was about how to start letting go of suffering.

Multiple things happened in the days that followed my talk that made me remember that you can’t let go of your suffering until your suffering is done being suffered. I tried to stress that in my talk, but it’s really rather hard to get it across. Its really hard to articulate that you can and will move past suffering when someone is in the midst of it, because during that dark place, it’s really fucking invalidating. When you’re the one in that hole, it feels like someone saying your anger or resentment or pain or shame or blame is not important, what happened to you wasn’t bad or was too long ago now, or aren’t you over that already? “Something is wrong with you for feeling this”, it feels like. Like saying your new reality, your reality that keeps you safe, is wrong, and you’re bad or negative for not being more well rounded or recovered or ascended and nun-like.

When you tell someone to let go of their suffering, it feels like they’re being told to let go of the strategies, mechanisms and safety nets they have used to survive. It’s like starving people of the wellness they have clawed back at. It can feel insulting and degrading. Dehumanising. It’s alienating and infuriating and it makes people think that we don’t have a fucking clue what they are going through. And we probably don’t.

We probably don’t have a clue, because we are not in their suffering with them. We are in our need to fix their suffering. We are in our shame about our historical struggles to just snap out of our pain, or we are in our self-appointed elevated perspective where we think we know what they should do or feel or think better than they do. Or maybe we do understand, because maybe we have been there before ourselves in a similar experience. Whichever of the above it is,or even if it’s something else, it doesn’t work to just try and end suffering before the energy has done it’s thing. Nobody is helped by being told to hurry the fuck up. It doesn’t just stop abruptly with jazz hands and drum rolls and celebratory fireworks.

It’s a hard old fucking slog to let go. I wish I’d stressed that more in the talk. Maybe the talk was some kind of foundation for this blog. Day one…talk…day seventy million and twelvety three…’and that, my friends, that’s how I let go of my suffering’.

I should have anticipated that standing in front of a room full of people, playing the greatest showman and basically saying ‘FUCK IT, LET GO OF YOUR SHIT!’ was going to bring up alllll of my shit, but I didn’t. I’d had this idea that after my shit year I’d do the talk and then my year would get all easy peasy, but nope. I had some of the deepest and most painful feelings buried deep in the bowels of my being show up for some perusal. For some space, fresh air, a cuddle and some cake. I even had a panic attack! That was completely random. There was such a violent surge of past swelling up inside me that I found it really overwhelming and I was trying to fight it away and bat it off for a while. Who knew a birthday could raise the dead feelings?

In the end I just dived into it and looked it in the eye… All my ugly feelings of isolation, shame and unworthiness… And I just waited. Then I cried a bit. Watched some movies cuddled up with baby, and then it was gone. Like it had never been there at all. Only I know too well that it will be back at some other random time when my ego recognises a series of emotions or events that made me vulnerable before. And I’ll work, again, to reassure myself that I don’t need the wall to protect what’s already worthy and loveable by default. I’ll be a bit more whole and a bit less bitter, twisted, wizened witch.

Past pain rises, crescendos and then falls away. It happens over and over so that we think it’s the same pain, that we’re not letting anything go, that we aren’t getting anywhere. Our pain is as impermanent as the seconds passing on our watches, changing bit by bit by bit. We are constantly shedding and shrinking it. We must incoporate it into our well-being, by learning how to love ourselves enough, not to deny huge portions of who and what we are. Our suffering is valid until we don’t need it anymore.

It’s ok to not be ok yet, or to not be ok for all of the time… We aren’t failing or fucking it up. We’re pausing for breath. Letting go of pain is very simple. It’s just not easy, not even slightly!


Pain suits

I might be harping on about this but if there are other angles maybe it will better resonate.

An analogy. Kinda…

I was born pure and pain free into a world that hasn’t been free from pain for a long, long, long time. Everyone I met from day one had pain. Some more than others, but everyone had endured suffering. Some wore it gracefully, others wore it honestly, some wore it with anger and vengeance, but mostly people wore it blindly.

I stored up pain. I stored up other people’s pain as my own – they instructed me on my worth, on my value, on my level of safety based on the level of comfort they had in their own pain endurance. I created a bank where I could make deposits and withdrawals of suffering as and when required. This bank had an endless supply because I could refill it as fast as I could empty it. I was using it to repay debts, I was spending it positively, I was saving it up for a rainy day… pain became a currency to me.

Pain is a currency for all of us, perhaps. Or a costume, an accessory or tool for navigating through life disastrously.

First of all pain – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – was this surprising, shocking, debilitating thing that happened to me in my innocence. In the absence of healed people, I wasn’t taught how to process and overcome it. I wasn’t shown how to let it go. Pain, at first, was an attack on my purity. My childhood was affected by the pain I was born into.

Pain became a jacket then. I could take it on and off. It could lay on the floor, disregarded, when I knew I was safe in my innocence, but if there was any hint of anything remotely uncomfortable or hurtful, the coat would go back on and I’d store all the new bits in the endless pockets and compartments of this jacket. As I grew out of the jacket I needed more items to carry around all the experiences I needed protecting from, like our clothes shield us from the weather and hide our naked vulnerabilities from the world. I had a whole wardrobe, for any occasion, and I loved shopping so I just acquired more and more and more outfits.

There would be particularly bad winters sometimes and I’d layer up. Layer upon layer upon layer of pain to protect myself. And if it rained I would be so laden. It got really hard to cart it all around on my body. I was exhausted and I eventually came to realise that if a awesome summer ever came I would probably die under the weight and the heat… if I even made it that far.

I started taking all the layers off. There were so, so, so many that it took me many seasons. I struggled through all of them but I was making progress. I never discarded all the layers, in case there was a particularly bad winter and I needed them. I just started carrying them around in suitcases, dragging them behind me. It was all organised and tidy, ready if I needed it. Some people thought it brilliant to be able to take off all those layers and carry them so neatly. Others tried their best to help me let go of some of the unnecessary items I needed. Some laughed at me carrying all that pain in cases before noticing how many layers they were living under themselves. We are experiencing global warming… there is not enough need for all these extra layers of pain in the world. We have to start getting rid of some of the things because we couldn’t have such terribly cold winters anymore – we have to get more prepared to brace entirely different storms and we can’t adapt under all that mess.

I thought I was doing the right thing giving all these things I didn’t need to a boot sale or charity shop. I was giving away my pain unknowingly. I’d unpack it and give it to other people and walk away feeling lighter, not noticing how much more laden they’d become. For years I just gave this pain away. Over and over and over. I had nearly emptied my cases before I realised that in giving away my pain I was inviting all the hand me downs from other people. It was just a pain exchange that I couldn’t see I was complicit in. I thought I was right and they were selfish.

I got pissed off then.

I started using my pain as a sword to fight people off with, no matter how close I wanted them. And when I realised I did want them close and I couldn’t keep swiping with a sword, I used it as a shield. I couldn’t hurt people so much but they couldn’t get near me with their pain. Nor their love. And I couldn’t love properly from behind a shield.

I realised, eventually, that the antidote to pain was love.

I tried to love everyone’s pain away but I was just giving them more, because I wasn’t really loving. I was trying to fix them. And by trying to fix them, I was trying to fix me. I realised I needed my love more than anything. So I just loved me. Over and over and over until I realised how necessary all that pain was to understand how to learn to love. I got better at loving others. I started teaching people how to love themselves!! This kind of love was blind and conditional… it made me blind to all the pain I hadn’t overcome because…. Well… pride is very blinding and I had let go of more pain than most!

I wore my pain like a badge then. And I gave people trophies for their pain. Little award ceremonies for our well done’s… well done we suffered greatly… we made it. We are warriors, fighters… survivors!!!!! Look how badass we are at suffering!

And we did… we each made it and if we hadn’t yet we would. And we will always do it, and we are bad ass and we WILL survive.

And that will always be amazing.

We were stronger and more whole and healthier and life would be hard but we’d survive, because that’s what we were… we were survivors.

But now I realise.

Now I understand.

A survivor is NOT who I am. I was never, ever meant to be a survivor. A survivor is who I had to become to overcome all of the pain in the world. The pain that belonged to my parents and their parents and their parents. The pain that belonged to everyone I met and the world around me. The pain of friends, partners, their partners, their friends. My pain, all my pain. A survivor is who I had to become to overcome all the things that were never, ever meant to belong to me. We had to become survivors to overcome all of the things that never belonged to any of us at all.

I was never broken to begin with so I never needed fixing. I never needed saving or rebuilding or curing.

I was always there underneath. Waiting.

I don’t want the badge anymore.

I was born pure and pain free into a world that hasn’t been free from pain for a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, longggggggggg time.

I want to be pure and pain free again.

If I keep wearing the badge… If I keep carrying the pain I survived then I am never who I was meant to be.

If I carry my suffering, in any form, I am not me. I am the sum of a world that was broken from my first breath. And the only way, perhaps, we will ever, ever make it pure and pain free is if we stop carrying our suffering and return to our truest form.

We have a lot of journeying to do to get there… but the more we let go of, the easier the route will be.

I don’t want to tell my daughter the story of my pain, or of my surviving. I want to tell her how she can live a different story and help make a better world.