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!
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.
When I got up I felt the stress of failing to prepare for today getting louder. I had a major grump on some rice crispies and then my friend kindly entertained bambino whilst I showered and got myself ready. Breathwork never fails to connect me back to a better mind state. Actually that’s bollocks. It often fails, but nevermind. Let’s pretend for now, because that is another blog. I used the water of the shower to imagine a better mood pouring into my crown and filling me with insight and awareness about what the fuck I was going to say today. I sang too. Not words but just sounds. Trying to find and clear my voice so I could hear my heart not my chattery brain. Eventually it all clicked and I wasn’t nervous again until I felt jelly legged when queuing outside the room before starting.
I played This Is Me from the Greatest Showman and asked people to close their eyes and connect with the song, paying attention to how it made them feel. People said empowered, strong, fierce like a warrior and emotional. This is the gist of the talk. Kinda. I can’t remember a lot of what came out!
When we are born, we are pure, emotionally unhindered and we fully embody unconditional love. We grow up to play, create, laugh, dance and forcefully lunge ourselves from our bellies to our feet with determination. We are always moving forward, but only as a byproduct of wanting to enjoy more, reach more and to evolve more. We are never trying to be better, we are just trying to participate in life more fully. Our eyes are bright, our hearts are open and our bellies shake with laughter, because we are completely free and authentic.
Ego forms when we become shocked, scared, hurt, or any other thing that makes us feel unsafe and vulnerable. It happens whether the experience is small and simple or huge and deeply traumatic. Ego becomes a small warrior that stands in front of us to protect us. As we grow older and go through life, ego collects feelings and experiences, cataloguing them and learning behaviours to action should we ever experience vulnerability again. Ego can respond healthily or unhealthily, but its primary function is to protect us. It is our sense of self, it does everything in its power to protect us and is a beautiful servant when mastered, but can be a destructive leader when left to run riot. Behind this ego, we remain pure and child like. Our sense of wonder, our unconditionally loving source, our freedom and creativity… our truth… it is always there underneath. We don’t actually need protection for this element of our self. It is infinite and limitless.
Life gives us painful experiences of disconnection and separation nonetheless. We start to fall apart. We crack and we feel broken. Sometimes we attribute this to allowing love in, or hope, happiness and excitement. We attribute the painfulness to allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, for letting the wall down, for letting ego rest. The pain actually comes from the sudden slamming shut we experience when ego gets scared.
We also unconsciously recognise the feeling of home in the freedom we experienced whilst our walls were down. Every time we crack, we feel more of our infinite worth subconsciously. In this way, over years, every painful experience brings us closer to our truth and we fight harder to protect ourselves. Ego later obliges us by changing tact and working with us to start defending our worth, allowing us to speak our truth, fight for our value, work hard to defend our rights, our well being and our place in the world. We acknowledge we are valid and strong and powerful and worthy. Our warrior self is the strongest its ever been, because it recognises the hard work we have endured, the struggle and the suffering we have overcome to finally…. finally…. believe that we matter.
That is what that song above represents to so many. Look out, here we come. We are worthy, we are glorious. We are bruised and broken, like we are meant to be. It is fierce and powerful and liberating. I love the song. I love it so very much, and I chose to play it at the beginning for two reasons. Firstly, i’d have to talk for five less minutes! Secondly, because I knew it would help me connect to my centre and speak more freely. The song is fighting talk. And that’s what warriors do. They fight.
But aren’t we all done fighting? Haven’t we had enough?
We are in an age where personal responsibility is needed if change is to come. We have to start owning our worth, but we also have to start owning our shit, too. When we bound through life saying THIS IS ME, I am worthy, I have suffered, and I am not taking any more shit… when we identify as warriors… we are only going to create more suffering. Our ego stands in front of us, tooled up to the max. Swords, nun chucks, daggers, axes, maybe some bombs and fire and fuck knows what else. And don’t anyone DARE try and tell us we are not worthy, or treat us in any way less than we desire to be treated.
Thats ok…its a really important and necessary stage, but we’re only meant to stay there for a while. For however long it takes to realise that it’s not self-worth. Its fear. It is so far from self worth that it causes more and more suffering. Like anger and resentment at people who don’t behave perfectly around us. I referred to Brené Brown in my talk and her TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability. She talks about how we cannot protect ourselves from one feeling without cutting off others. We cannot selectively numb emotion, she says. If we want to keep out sad and angry, we are going to numb happy and joyful too. What if our fighting to maintain our worth keeps it away? This is the path of the unhealed warrior. It is ego fighting to survive and it keeps us from our truth. It keeps us suffering, it keeps us in our painful pasts. It forces us to seek out external validation to confirm what we believe about ourselves. We are unable to maintain calm, peace, happiness and consistent well being unless people behave exactly as we want them to. Of course there are behaviours and actions we should never, ever accept and that rightly we should fight against, but self worth, enoughness and well-being are more about an internal equilibrium that we must try to maintain regardless of external forces.
And it’s bloody hard!!!
I asked the group near the beginning what ego was. Some people thought it was negative, others more motivating, but one lady said it causes separation. I told her she’d finished my talk for me, because that’s where I was heading. The more we fight for our worth and well being, the less important we make that of others. It separates us further, and the more we are disconnected, the more all of us suffer. The more we prioritise overcoming our suffering, the greater the suffering of those around us increases.
So, Ego is our catalogue of suffering and it protects us from our truth because its scared. It is absolutely terrified of pain and vulnerability and it protects us by keeping us closed off from the beauty it wants to protect. It is full of shame and sadness and unworthiness, even when it is defending our enoughness, because it was born when we first ever realised we were separate from all other things, and we never wanted to feel that disconnected again. It is almost comical that ego is the disconnector. But what a loyal warrior! Imagine if we could empower it to act in our best interests instead of for preserving and maintaining our smallest sense of self. Imagine if we could programme it to motivate and inspire us, instead of to shrink or react explosively to criticism. To retrain ego, we first have to heal our warriors.
When considering the above, it also isn’t our responsibility to heal and fix all other beings. What we are personally accountable for is our healing and the damage we do to others with our suffering. We are not living our truth if we beat others up with our worthiness. It is our responsibility to remove barriers to recognising our inseparableness. If there are injustices we must fight, they should be fought for change and not for recovery. When we are healed warriors, we move mountains instead of carry them and try and throw them onto the shoulders of others. The more healed we are the more capable we feel of effecting change around us in the wider world. That quote from my home page comes to mind!
It is painful to imagine ego as a terrified child, desperate for the connection it cuts us off from. And whenever we argue with someone, or see someone behaving badly, angrily, someone shitting on our worth… imagine if we could see them as a terrified three year old absolutely shaking and quivering and crying, pleading for our love. Imagine zooming out and viewing all beings on this planet just crying out, whatever way they are behaving, begging for love and acceptance. For connection, for help, for peace and for inclusion. So few of us could look at a deeply unhappy child and refuse to love it. Our job is not to save the child or protect it from pain and struggle, but it is to hold space for them to retain their sense of freedom to become themselves. Change is really hard when you don’t feel nurtured!
I told the room that our work here on earth is not done until everyone’s suffering has ceased. In a bigger picture kind of way. I told them that when we are carrying our suffering around, as a badge of survival or unconsciously because we are yet to heal, that we will never live our happiest truth. If we can let go of our suffering, we can’t skip blissfully into the sunset and think we are done, because what of our loved ones? What of the other people? How can we be happy when there is suffering all around, when we’re disconnected from eachother?
I hope I don’t need to point out that an important part of healing is knowing that out suffering is valid, that it matters, that we matter. I’ll write much more about the actual processes of healing I’ve encountered to get to this mindset and how I’d have stabbed my future self in the throat if she had said all this shit to my past self. (Sometimes present me kicks present self’s ass too). Depending on how much we are hurting and how deep our wounds are, this work feels like toxic poison. It sucks. It really fucking sucks and I totally get it. So if you want to punch me, I’m right there with you!
Ego creates a battle of Us and Them. This mentality of victim and perpetrator, it is prevalent in all issues everywhere, whether internally or externally, locally or internationally. If we can perceive two or more sides of war and disconnection outside, it exists inside of us too. In reality there are no winners and losers. When there is any fighting anywhere, everyone is suffering somehow. Hurt people hurt people, as they say.
Our sole job here on this earth, I believe, is to heal that war inside of ourselves, to allow the space where we are truest, purest and inseparably connected to each other and all things, to shine through.
Our deepest suffering is our disconnection. It is in seeing others as more or less than us. It is in seeing our suffering as separate to the suffering of others, or more or less worthy. It is in not recognising that we come from and return to the same vastness, or emptiness, or timelessness. Our suffering is duality and our healing is in oneness. Being at one with our self means to integrate our egos into our truth, and that is one hell of a fucking task, I tell you!! Ego doesn’t integrate without a fight, because fighting is all it knows. But we can retrain it to lay down its weapons for all of us to know less suffering.
If self worth is not fighting for our worth to be recognised, then what is it? It is a strong connection to that self that stands behind the ego. The playful, free spirited, kind, warm, creative, excited, joyful, liberated and loving being that we were all born as. That is our aim… for all beings. When we can listen to that song above and have the same sense of passion and empowerment for the worth and value of ALL beings, including non human and including the earth and all our natural resources, then we are getting somewhere.
There’s so much more to say about all of this some other time, including how wrong it can feel sometimes! What I’m not sure I got across was that this work is hard and that there is no ‘wrong’ way to heal… There is only oneness and however long it takes. We are our only judge.
We’ve been living for eons trying to get there and we will live for many more. It takes a lot of soul searching and healing and labour and time and patience and tantrums to start seeing how laden we are by carrying our suffering around to protect us. When we’re done… when we let it go.. when we are unaffected…
…take a deep breath and imagine there is absolutely NOTHING in the way of infinite love, happiness and well-being… For all…
Breathe that in…
What could we build? It would be amazing.
We are all worthy. We all matter. Equally. When we are ‘bad’, when others are ‘bad’, its our acting from our deepest pain with our most engrained patterns and what is really needed is love. And if we can’t love, we step away so we don’t cause more hurt and then we heal and start again. There are many, many, MANY stages to this work and we all come at it on different levels. There is no hierarchy of worthiness or ability or success… anyone who thinks so is in an ego trap! We are all just living how we live and if it resonates, stick with it, and if it doesn’t, you will find your way to healing and happiness, because all routes lead back to our source.
As a final add on- on the way home from the talk I saw a huge flock of Geese fly over head. I decided to look it up and it seemed very apt.
Tomorrow I am doing a talk at my friend’s spiritual health and well-being fair, Souls Awakening. I felt I had to volunteer myself for it towards the end of last year, even though I was in the shittttttest of shitty stressful times, heavily pregnant, essentially homeless, hating on life and angrily daydreaming ways to singlehandedly take down the state. I survived (so did the state) and I still don’t know much about what I’m going to say tomorrow. If I stand there whole-heartedly and talk as freely as I’m able, I know what needs to be heard will come out, because it’s happened before on many occasions…but it’s a little bit daunting…
Friends and strangers alike will attend the talk, thinking I know what I’m going to talk about if I’m standing in front of them, talking at a public event with my subject advertised in advance. My subject is simply ‘how to let go of your suffering’, but that’s such a ridiculously impossible subject to fit into 30 minutes! Then people might assume I think I’m done letting go or that its even possible to just erase it all and skip away into the sunset. I’m not done! Some days I fucking suck at it. I also look ridiculous skipping.
If it were an essay I’d have written 99890 words over the 2000 limit, even if I’d planned it out, because the more I think about what to say the more vast the subject feels. What I am basically going around the houses to say is, I should be shitting a brick about possibly looking like an utter idiot tomorrow, when I fall flat on my face and stare out at expectant eyes with nothing to give them, because I’m so unorganised that I don’t even know what time my talk even is!
But I’m not (much) because I know this shit. I know alllll about the stuff we all drag around with us that gets in the way of our worth, and I know about many ways to work it out (some are great and some really, really suck!). I know I can ramble on and I know when there’s a greater good, the universe never leaves you hanging if you take a leap of faith.
To be quite honest, tomorrow was my way of forcing myself to step up to the plate whether I strike out or not. In true me style, I’ve left it to the very last minute to finish my homework. I asked to do the talk so I had no choice but to try and heal all year, and I’m ignoring the internal dialogue about failing and fucking up the talk because I’m clearly not done working on myself.
I’m ignoring it because none of us are done, not until we are all done. We all are in it together and I’m inviting you on a virtual road trip into the sunset…
We’re on a road to nowhere and nothings gonna stop us now.