Wonder

When I was struck speechless by beauty that spoke to my soul,

in words of line and color, patina and composition,

he grew impatient, angry, scornful.

“It is confronting to me,”

he said in the beginning, when he was still making an effort to be kind,

“when you delight in things.”

Never pledge your life to someone who seeks to shame you when your soul expands.

when something in this world calls to you and has your heart lift, gives you wings,

if the person whom you think you love, whom you think loves you,

shames you.

Leave.

If you are in such a relationship now,

Leave it.

Do whatever it takes.

The right person won’t tell you that you’re extra, too much, you’re too sensitive, you feel things too deeply.

The right person will not seek to smother the flame burning in you.

They’ll delight in your light and they’ll even add fuel.

“Wonder” was to be engraved in our wedding rings.

He called it his word, but no- it was mine.

It could have been ours- I was willing-

But he shamed the wonder in me.

Wonder was to be “our intention word,” but not really mine. My “wonder” that was allowed in his eyes was a highly controlled substance.

It would be doled out by him; only approved in small drips, in the way I echoed him, admired him, stood in his shadow as his acolyte.

My wildish, Celtic, dragon heart was to be dampened, shamed, caged, silenced.

Then after he broke up, he gave the word to a procession of blondes that followed. I’m sure it was his own version, though – hemmed in with a lot of rules, defining them as “summers” or “springs,” manipulating, “fixing,” and telling them who they are allowed to be, telling them how to be “Queens,” in a trite, dull, petty, utterly shallow way of controlling women, which any thinking person can see through rather quickly – and so it has nothing whatsoever to do with MY intention word, and the way I walk in this world.

Someone who has all the answers, and goes through life giving them, filling the silence with his determinations and taking up space, never leaving a pause for something else to come in, never giving air to something outside his echo-chamber, will never be able to live in the questions, which is wonder. Will never be able to truly discover, without his own pre-conceived definitions, another person. With curiosity, with openness, with … wonder.

I could have shown him that, but he wasn’t interested in learning anything. He was interested in controlling, while he supposedly yearned for wonder. I feel profound pity for him.


But did he ever once feel any remorse for the way he treated me- no.
I learned to accept the apology I was never given, so that I could forgive.

Wonder- in the rings that were to symbolize our union- was not for me in his world. Support his wonder, perhaps, but my own? Absolutely not. Too dangerous. Never too much wonder, don’t be too alive, don’t sink into Breathing in the line and color and examining the negative space, shadow shapes and patina like you did with your beloved grandma when you were a tiny girl-

Don’t speak the language you knew before words,

and above all, do not feel too much.

My heart is how I see. The questions are where I live.

I will never again be with someone who wishes to blindfold me in this world, to shrink and stifle my life force,
who sees my dragon wings unfurling and throws a net on them to shrink me, and attempts to dominate by silencing my power.

And oh – wonder! – a spirit-igniter that is available to all, and is only the more joyous when it is shared, was to be squashed and bullied, belittled and mocked out of me. And of course, we would both focus on his. Celebrate his, whatever wonder could twist itself into small enough, predictable enough shapes to make it past the security laser beams in his controlling, rule-bound brain.

There was one rule for him, and another rule for me. I could hold him while his emotions racked him; I could hold space without judgment for every one of his emotional and thought experiences, as is my gift, but I was not allowed to feel, (unless the feelings were shame, guilt, and brokenness, of course) or break out of the confines of the little, boxed, polite, beruffled yes-doll he wished me to be, so he could feel powerful.

The great knight, who convinced the dragon to shrink herself and bank the fire of her questioning, limitless, expanding heart, so he could conquer her, but oh, she had to be small, shrinking and beaten, before he could.

I tried to explain to him, over ice cream in Clarabelle’s, after he had told me that people were laughing and making fun of me when I was gazing so long at the marketplace, falling up into that jewel-bright creation, learning its lights and shadows, absorbing the rich colors and soaring, free-

“They wanted to take a picture, and you were standing there, just looking, for the longest time. They were all laughing. I was ashamed.”
“You were ashamed of me? For looking at the marketplace?”
“Yes.”
“None of them thought to ask for what they needed? To ask me to move? They laughed at me instead? You, instead of asking me to move or telling me what was up, stood there by them and felt ashamed? of ME?”
“Yes.”

I cried as I tried to tell him, to defend the exquisite joy that he had smashed with his mockery, joining with others to throw stones at the lovely, fragile bird that was my heart in the marketplace, “you don’t know what I’m doing when I do that,”

“No. I don’t.” He said. And, impatiently, “why are you crying?”

“It makes a jagged tear; it is painful, to hear you join the people making fun of me, rather than stand up for me, believe in me, communicate with me, be curious about what ignites my soul. It would have been so simple for you to come to me and say, ‘they want to take a picture of this area.’”

but he never did hear what my grandmother had taught me to see. He never did hear how lovely it was to see, and see again, and see even more deeply, and to imprint things on the heart so I could paint them, later, capture the energy, not just the outward form. He didn’t hear, because he was NOT interested. Not interested in the magic and mystery and – wonder – that makes me, Me.

Never. Again.

My ring is engraved with wonder

Because I have a vow that I will honor my heart first. Anyone who shames the expansion of my spirit will be shut out of my inner sanctum.

They will not be allowed to know my heart. They will get only so far as the surface, and no further, for the rest of my life.

there are dragons guarding my gates, now.

If I am too big for someone, too much, “I’m so sorry, but it looks like you’re not on the guest list for this party,” the ever-so-polite guards at the door will say. “Do you have an invitation?”

That person will hold out the invitation they once had, and the guards will look it over.

“Oh dear me,” they’ll say, shaking their heads in sympathy (and warning),

“It appears this has expired. Kindly leave, we wouldn’t want to make a scene, now, would we.”

If something ignites your heart and spirit in this world, drink it in. If something lifts your heart, fly, unapologetically.

This is some of your gift. Take it. Be it. It is your ability to wonder, and your soul’s path to soar above this society where threatened ones would seek to keep us controlled, within their approval, homogenized, mediocre, non-questioning.

Exile anyone who seeks to silence, shame, dominate, own, or control your fire. Shed them ruthlessly. Fall into the limitless sky and soar, and never let anyone weigh you to the ground.

Do what you have to. Whatever it takes, to follow your own wonder.

Days 4-8: No Bat Belt

There’s a scene in Dark Knight Rises where Batman is trying to climb out of a prison. The climb could mean death if he falls- so he has a safety rope tied around his waist. He works out, gets stronger, makes the leap, and falls. The only person to make this leap and survive was a child, with nothing but desperation and fear to spur him.

Bat man’s prison mate says:

“make the climb as the child did. Without the rope.”

He doesn’t need more strength; he needs to let go of his last tether to safety. He needs to know that there is nothing to break his fall, and he’s truly risking everything when he leaps.

This weekend was a time of removing my bat belt, my safety, my rope. Strand by strand, I unraveled and dissolved it, thanking it deeply for all the times it had saved me, but also recognizing that I hadn’t yet been ready for it. I wasn’t yet worthy of a bat-belt, a lightsaber, or a spear; I needed to learn to be strong on my own, first. Leaning on the assistance had me not trust my own strength or worth, to the point where I felt helpless, scared, certain I couldn’t make it on my own.

Dark Knight Rises: Prison Escape Scene

And so, I took off the rope. It was a painful, days’-long process.

I’m preparing for the climb again now.

These days had some victories: I discovered again how good exercise has me feel. On days I couldn’t go to the gym, I went on hour-long walks, bringing my focus to breath, and the feel of my feet on the ground as they rolled from heel to toe. I canceled some friend dates (thank you for being so understanding, friends ❤️) and I also reached out and called people, and wrote to one friend, when the despair got too heavy to carry alone. (Thank you for lending your steady strength and compassion in my dark pit, friends ❤️)

I’ve leaned on trainers, a counselor, and friends – but I haven’t leaned too much. There’s a balance. There’s a time when no one can prep us for the climb but ourselves.

I realized I had been hanging onto someone as he made the climb for us both, and we both fell.

But accepting help from community with deep gratitude is an important step for me. Hitting rock bottom and not being able to show a “perfect” face to the world has had me discover that many people are understanding, kind, and empathetic. They didn’t judge me. They didn’t even seem to think twice, just held me or let me cancel…

yes, there were those who surprised me with a lack of empathy, but having no resources to deal with that also made turning away from those few, and dropping those communications very easy.

There’s nothing like having absolutely nothing left, to teach a person how to say no, and how to say thank you.

And so here we are at Day 8 of the training. I’ve bribed myself with inspiring shirts to get me in the mood to go work out 😉

Day 8: Padawan

I’ve stuck with the challenge of dietary change (I’ll put a sample day’s meals here, one of these blog posts…maybe tomorrow …), of drinking half my body weight in ounces of water daily, (not as hard as it sounds, especially if you get some exercise in,) and of exercise.

I have discovered that I am most unhappy when I don’t allow myself to be as expansive as my nature demands: so when I was living in the “shoulds” of: closed off, reproachful blame, and victimhood; when I wanted above all things to understand why, I felt sick. I don’t need to know someone’s reason – all I need to know is that they chose.

As soon as I allowed myself to do what people told me I “shouldn’t,” which is: love, forgive, understand, be okay about things, let go, be actually happy about things just as they are, AND continue to wear my rings because they mean that I belong to myself now, and are inscribed a with these words: Present and Wonder, that I must live in now,

I felt better. I feel – good.

Ready to make the climb and leap with no rope, no bat belt.

What if I fall? Oh,but my darling,what if you fly? -Erin Hanson

Anger: Four Steps to Release and Heal

Anger. What is it, why does it happen, and what is the healthiest way to deal with it?

These questions have been coming up as I have carried anger for the past three days. That doesn’t feel good in my body or heart, so I decided to really examine what was happening.

I came up with these key things: four ways to diffuse and heal the anger.

 

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1) Name it.

What am I REALLY feeling? Anger is a secondary emotion – there will be something underneath it.  So go through, list the things you feel out loud. “I feel angry because ________.”  Keep going until you run out of reasons. Then, dig deeper.
“I feel minimized because _________.”
“I feel used because _________.”
“I feel threatened because _________.”
“I feel betrayed because _________”
“I feel afraid because _______”  whatever comes up, name it.  For each one, list reasons until you run out of things to say. Let yourself cry if you need to. purge it.

When you have done this, sit silently with your heart and give yourself love. Give yourself approval. Remind yourself that you are safe. No one can harm you or detract from you without your permission.

 

2) Reach Out.

Connect with other people who remind you how loved and how incredible you are – not necessarily with words, but simply with the way they are happy to be around you.

When we interact with others, the way we relate to them is a reflection of ourselves. We are creatures who project — and that’s why if we find ourselves continually saying negative things about others, if certain words/phrases keep repeating/patterns keep repeating with every relationship, it’s time to examine ourselves. For example, if people say their ex is “crazy,” (they’re likely to say that about all of them), it’s time to take a hard look at their own issues. Or If we are continually suspicious of others, it’s time to do some counseling to heal whatever it is in us that is living in a lack / fear of loss mentality.

So : go interact with the people you have good things to say about. The people you love. The people who make your heart smile. The people who know, love, and bring out the best you.

3) Take Personal Responsibility.

After a time, if the anger cycles and re-cycles, it’s time to examine what it’s trying to tell you. Anger is a signal. I was told once by an incredibly brilliant person that “Anger is a sign that we need more self-care.”
It can also be a signal that our boundaries have been crossed in some way. It can be a signal that we aren’t being true to ourselves.

In my case, I betrayed myself in a huge way. I kept silent. I fell into old people-pleasing behavior and did not speak what I wanted or what I didn’t want; I didn’t speak what I was feeling — I did something that was NOT o.k. with me in that moment.
It was a very horrible, difficult experience, and the rage aftermath was nearly crippling.   Apparently I have healed so much that my subconscious is telling me in no uncertain terms, it is NOT ok with self-betrayal anymore.

This anger is mine, I own it, it belongs to me.  When you say that, you stop putting it on others. You stop saying “He did ….x,y,z” and listing the actions and circumstances that triggered you into reaction, that were a catalyst for the anger response. We can waste years of life if we continually justify our anger with someone else’s actions — because the focus will always be on something we cannot control. We will be in reaction, telling the harmful actions and choices over like rosary beads, re-opening the wound and reacting again as though it just happened. The stress hormones will flood the body anew. I can feel them come up even now, if I play over in my head the circumstances that led to my anger.  This is not healthy for the body or soul,  and it keeps us stuck. Stuck in old circumstances that no longer exist (the past does not exist except in our own head, since everyone’s experience of a moment is different!) stuck in reaction, basically — it keeps us a victim.

So. Owning the anger is an empowering thing.  I KNOW people can do absolutely horrible things, and depending on the degree of the harm, there may need to be years of processing anger. This is a healing step.  But once the healing has occurred and enough time has passed, there is a time to own it all, take responsibility for our emotions, and know that we can make choices.  We can’t choose what others do. Sometimes we are truly helpless and someone else’s behavior is deeply violating. What we can choose is how we heal, how we walk forward, how we honor ourselves – how we talk to ourselves from that moment on. We don’t have to take any responsibility for what someone else chooses to do – if they treat us badly, we don’t have to choose to say “They treated me badly because something in me is not worthy of respect,” or “I invited that,” or any other variation of taking blame for someone else’s shitty behavior. No…what we can instead choose is “I love myself/I am incredible/ if they can’t see it, their problem,” and so on. This is owning our anger, owning our response, and knowing that we deserve better and can walk away faster next time.

I uncovered that the person I was truly angry with was myself. I was livid with myself for staying silent, for freezing and complying, falling into a very long-ago established abused-victim behavior. I was furious with myself for being afraid to speak up. Underneath that, I was deadly afraid. If I had betrayed myself again, when would it stop? When would I finally learn my own worth, stop caring so much what others think, and SPEAK UP when something wasn’t ok with me, or when a boundary had been crossed?

This was a harmless, innocent situation, (albeit thoughtless and rude-) and yet the old harms came up due to a chance dynamic.  What, I wondered, would teach me to believe in myself and know that I was valuable and speak UP?

The answer is : the anger. The anger is teaching me. The anger is there TO teach me. I just had to stop ratcheting around the room like a burning ping-pong ball, and create stillness. I had to stop running from the anger, I had to stop reaching out to try to communicate with the person I had been angry with, I had to look within and tell it, “Ok, anger, I am listening.”

Every human being is going to experience anger. If we could stop putting shame and fear around it and start listening to what it’s trying to tell us, we might all be healthier with it.  Anger in itself is not a bad thing. It’s natural and it’s vital to our survival. What is important is how we use it – if we can create some stillness and listen to it, if our subconscious feels heard and honored, it won’t try so VERY hard to get our attention.

 

 

4) Self Care.

Now it’s time to remind ourselves that we are loved — and that we are accepted and whole just as we are, anger and all. When something happens that triggers anger, there is a great vulnerability afterward, and the self-esteem will take a big dip.
We  need to feel some solidarity and safety, and the awesome thing is, we don’t need anyone else to give that. We always have that available, because we can give it to ourselves!
A good start to rebuilding self-esteem and feelings of security & being loved is to do some self-care practices.  Cook a healthy, delicious meal, or take yourself out on a date! Take a bubble bath, or do some self-massage with oils or scents that soothe you. Take a walk in beautiful surroundings. Write a gratitude list, and really ask your heart to feel the goodness of these things in your life. Exercise – do something that isn’t a punishing chore, but fun and playful! Something you enjoy. Write yourself notes about why you are awesome. Write affirmations (short and sweet!) and say them to yourself while meditating, or while taking a walk.

Do the things that empower you, do the things that make you feel most YOU.

If we feel empowered and safe, we will experience less anger. If we feel loved, we will experience less anger. The constant work is to give these things to ourselves.

I wish everyone healing in this continual process… I know I feel a lot better 🙂