My Favorite Parts of Me
Oh man I just re-read this post and boy does it meander. But I promised myself stream of consciousness no editing…except adding this sentence I guess. Yeah, this is kinda editing. In any event…
There is nothing wrong with your heart. It’s hard for me to swallow that as true. Because I have such a history of labeling everything I have done. And labeling it in a really negative way. So I reckon that whatever I have done must constitute the state of my heart while I was doing it? And because I look back at a lot of the shit I’ve done as just that…shit…that must mean that I am shit. It looks ridiculous to me now, but that’s how I lived my life and that’s the attitude I took towards myself for the longest time. And because of that I let other people take that attitude towards me too. That’s the kind of love and attention that I let in. The kind that had a label…usually one that I could work out as “bad” somehow.
Very slowly I have realized that I will never hate, shame, or punish myself into any kind of loving relationship…least of all with myself. Not with my emotions, not with my body, not with my past. The only way in and out of everything we experience is through love.
Along the way I’ve also been afraid that I would just have to stop feeling. It’s like my ego gets a hold of the idea of yoga and says that I should be so fucking evolved that I just stop feeling. That I’m supposed to be like a walking monotone. Just a constant dull hum. That’s enlightenment, according to my ego. No waves of thought or feeling. Just a nice steady hum. Yeah. I had that once. In rehab. When I was so hopped up on seroquel, ativan, and oxycodone that I couldn’t touch a real feeling or emotion or experience for all the reaching out in the world. Just dull, numb…dying. And it strikes me that the habit of numbing myself or distracting myself somehow from deep feeling found its way into my practice as well. But recognizing that doesn’t do anything about the fact that I’ve started giving myself super anxiety for continuing to have deep feelings and experiences of high and low.
Aren’t I supposed to be getting past that? Isn’t that the point? That I don’t get swept away by all that I’m thinking and feeling? That they aren’t making my decisions for me? Shouldn’t the practice be bringing me to a place where these feelings aren’t running the show anymore? Well, yeah Bobby. But that’s not the same as not experiencing the feeling. So is the practice here so I can continue to experience these insane and wildly unpredictable fluctuating roller coaster-y beautifully disastrous scope of human emotion?
In the name of evolution no identity or story is safe. Lately that means opening to the possibility that I not only examine the old narratives where I have labeled myself as “clearly the victim” ie surviving childhood sexual abuse. What about the stories where I’m more casually victimized? The martyr? The conquering hero? I’ve been going back into my past and taking love into the places that I thought felt the darkest. And that has been important work. Now I learning to open to the exploration of the old narratives that I hold dear that I have used to define the good and safe places in my history…in my story. Like…”I came home from work one day and my wife had left me.” Or, “once the Marine Corps found out that I had a drug problem the didn’t help me, they left me to die.” Here’s what I mean when I say that those places merit a little attention as well. I’ve kinda labeled these areas as off limits because I was the hero in these stories. No need to re-examine or change them. My wife left me when I was at my lowest and most in need of help and there’s no other way to look at it. I survived that I’m a hero Bobby’s the big hero. Well…I mean…I did survive it. But it didn’t exactly go down like that. But going back and allowing that shift in my heart…allowing the truth of that experience to rise up and blossom, that was fucking hard work.
I can’t give you an end to the story because the thing is the whole story itself is disappearing. When I detach from the autopilot emotions and narratives that try to immediately fill in the blanks with material that fits into a narrative of any idea I have of myself I sit very still and observe. I close my eyes and listen. I hear what I really needed when I was at those lowest points. I hear myself longing for connection but feeling so unworthy of connection that the only option I really believed in was the one where I punished myself into feeling a way that comported with my narrative. Because, my whole fucking life was out of control but at least through a little self sabotage I could keep proving to the world that I was as worthless as I felt. It is a low, low place to be. And those in my life that offered connection, and insisted on loving me not in spite of my darkness but inclusive of it, I treated them the worst of all save how I treated myself.
It is a lifetime of exposure to this kind of narrative that has made me question a lot of things about who I am and how I behave now. I am especially suspicious of anything that reminds me of the weakness, aloneness, or lack of control I felt during that dark night of the soul. I’ve been so scared of some of these parts that I have been a little scared of romantic love with another person. There are a lot of nooks and crannies there that can only be fully seen when we are in the experience itself. So I told myself I’d be content to keep to myself as long as it takes, to stay away from romantic love until I wasn’t such a disaster. But once again I was just learning to short change myself in a different voice. You see there is this big beautiful part of my heart that I showed someone not too long ago. I will only say that after that experience I was more afraid than ever to try it again. But I’m not really afraid of fear anymore so I kept digging in. I wanted to know more about what I was feeling here and why. Here’s a small philosophy of my heart as it relates to romantic love…
I don’t need anyone to tell me I’m beautiful. I don’t need to have my ego stroked or to be held and told that it’s ok to cry. I don’t need any of these things from anyone else in order to be whole. I am whole. I am sufficient. And I really dig the company I keep when I am on my own. Because I know how to silence the ego. I know that I am beautiful. I know that it’s ok to cry. And, yet, some days I don’t feel it. And some days I need help. Some days I need a friend. So while I don’t need any of these things that I love to hear in order to be whole, I do need them from a partner. There is a difference between co-dependency and clear communication of needs. I’ve been afraid to trust my heart with the difference. That was…until I met someone who felt the same way. As it turns out, I may not be crazy after all.