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Self care

I’m pre-menstrual
The silence is deafening
The blank page blinding

I’ve stumbled out of the forest into a clearing
And I don’t know what’s supposed to happen here.

I managed to write about the benefits of plastic pipes
Yet I’m terrified to write anything about me.

I believe for a moment in the need to offer
Only a shiny sellable self.

I don’t believe, for a moment, in the
Self that sits here and shakes.

I have a dog now.
He believes in me, I think.

I don’t want to talk about me
Because I don’t have the answers to
The questions that will come.

I’m blindfolded walking a precipice.
The only compass I have is trust.

Following the tiny sparks where they flicker
In my heart.

Dare I believe
That if I look after myself
My self will look after me?

 

 

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Reading the signs: getting clear on connection and commitment

I’ve been repeating a pattern for a chunk of my life which involves getting attached to people who are, for one reason or another, unavailable for the kind of relationship that I’m interested in at the time. Or any relationship with structure or commitment. It usually begins with them telling me so and me nodding, and ends with me in floods of tears wondering why on earth they won’t just love me in the way I want them to and what terrible character flaw I possess that makes me so deeply unloveable.

Most recently, after falling head over heels for someone who had expressed clear disinterest (for good reason) in forming a committed relationship I found myself almost a year on licking my wounds and trapped in the pain of unrequited love. Pushing it down and kidding myself that what was on offer was enough. After finding myself in an Airbnb on the other side of the world for work, mooning and missing this person and writing to tell them so, and feeling utterly unmet by the response, the blackout curtains of denial fluttered open for a moment and I saw the light. We were in different places, he had been right all along telling me so as I sing-songed back my totally-fineness and utter lack of attachment, deceiving myself totally, and him by extension. It had to stop.

So I wrote and told him so, with as much kindness for the both of us as I could muster, in the middle of a tear-soaked coffee stop in a day of walking the streets for money (not like that – I collect data for a living, sometimes). After about 20 minutes (quite the anomaly) there was an answer back. He had suspected as much and was truly sorry but was not in a place of being willing or able to commit to a relationship, as stated, nearly 12 months ago… I’m trying hard to be kind to myself right now as I write, about how long this took me to truly grasp and to him for not nudging me a bit harder, against his interests perhaps, to wake up – though nudge me he did. I stormed with grief for the rest of the day, flooding the streets with salt water and stamping my pain into the Tarmac. Howling into the wind and the faces of passersby and singing out my sorrow to every pop power ballad I could summon.

Almost 2 months on, it has taken daily courage to keep walking away, step by step. I’ve had to turn myself back around several times, as I find myself metaphorically stood knocking at a closed door again. My good friends have listened to me talk myself back into a world of delusions and self abandonment and back out again more times than I’d like. I’ve sent messages I regret, made myself feel vulnerable, worried I’ve hurt his feelings. I’ve received beautiful listening, compassion and friendship from him. I’ve met silence and confusion. I’ve raged, fantasised and broken apart. I’ve doubted myself and derided myself and watched with detached disbelief as I disentangle myself from the affection of a wonderful human being.

Breaking my own heart, for my own good, is the weirdest experience. Emotionally it’s like cutting off your leg to get out of a bear trap. Hideous analogy but anyone who has experienced the withdrawal pains of breaking free from this unilateral pattern of relating will know that in the most arm-gnawing, hair-pulling, eye-scratching moments, it is true what science has shown us – the emotional pain of a breakup is experienced in the brain in the same area as physical pain and is hardly distinguishable by our nervous systems in the moment.

It is in those moments of anguish and disorientation, when just dropping them a text or going back for just a cuddle would make it all stop, that it is hardest to uphold the courageous choice to walk. In the moments when my head is clear of anguish and ambivalence, and I am not pacing around clutching my mobile waiting to receive the response that will never come, I know the choice was the right one and that I am healing a pattern that does not serve me or anyone else. Repatterning feels very disorientating and sometimes I find myself experiencing a sort of inner scrabbling for ground, clutching for false anchors, seeking out a shelter I have dismantled, and I know I’m on the cusp of building new ones that will stand.

I know I’m not the only one to go through this. People choose, at certain times of life or perhaps for their whole life, not to be available for deep emotional commitment. It is a totally valid choice to be respected like any other. The difficulty comes when these people, still wanting to connect and enjoy the company of those they are attracted to, lay this out dutifully and clearly and… for psychologically complex and I’m sure totally varied reasons… the other person just does not hear it/believe it/accept it and gives the go ahead.  Maybe we think it won’t be a problem for us, maybe we think it might change, maybe we just flat out don’t understand what they mean. On we go hurtling headlong into heartbreak.

As a woman, I know that my brain chemistry works in such a way that as soon as I am physically intimate with someone, then my brain releases oxytocin and gets me nicely bonded and emotionally attached to this person. The more this repeats, the stronger that attachment becomes. I might think I have a handle on the situation but all of a sudden I am playing out all kinds of attachment behaviours and my capacity to think rationally about the situation is going fast out the window. I’m in deep, and getting myself out activates the same regions of my brain as heroin withdrawal. So just know yourself. Know what’s happening in your body and brain, know your attachment style, know your vulnerability.

I believe in loving whole heartedly, I believe in going all in, and because of this I need to take better stock of what I’m getting all into, read the signs and read them again til I am clear what I’m signing up for, and what I’m not. Work on understanding the beliefs and desires that cloud my vision. Get clear on what my own vision is for relationship, and be brave to say no when what’s on offer doesn’t fit.

 

 

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Call from an old friend

I received a call today.

From my body

And from Mother Earth herself.

“I’ve sent so many messages

Through so many messengers.

I love you.

I want you to come home.

I need you to keep me safe.

I invite you to cherish me more.

Honour me more.

Show up like a mama lion for me.

Soothe me with your touch when I am stressed.

Stop everything and put me first.

Listen long and lovingly to my needs.

Delight in meeting them.

Because you love me.

Don’t hand me over to someone else

To do it for you.

Instead of you.

Don’t abandon me when I feel unsafe

Stop everything and put me first.

I need to feel your presence.

All the time.

Always.

Put me first.

Honour me with your choices.

Put me first.

Honour me.

Listen to my every tiny desire.

Welcome and adore my desires.

Delight in pleasing me,

Nurturing me,

Lighting me up.

Treat me like a goddess,

A temple.

I am you.

I am that.

Act like it.

Come home.

 

Reading this message back, it feels like the deepest call of the feminine in me, to my masculine energy, which has been so active, doing and thinking and striking out. Building and shaping and directing….

In so many ways this call for union has been resounding in me. Even now, as I am here writing a blog post hunched at the desk, a wild little puppy is tearing at my ankles – “Hey!  I am life embodied, I am the earth in motion, be here now with me.” So I’ll end here, and go roll around on the rug by the fire.

 

 

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Don’t believe the hype

Wow. Today feels like a big hype day, a day where there are lots of capital letters. A New Moon and a Solar Eclipse offer a cosmic invitation for Big Releases and New Beginnings. It’s also International Women’s Day.

For me personally it’s also the Last Day of a wonderful 30 day challenge I have been taking part in (more to follow on that) and the First Session with a new coach. I’ve done some Big Releases and acquired some New Tools. It’s also the beginning of a New Chapter where I will be shortly moving to a new base and arranging my life and resources in a new way.

It all feels very much right this minute. I feel a pressure to come out shiny and glorious and embrace the massive newness and unlimited potential and epic joy of it all. To pull rabbits out of hats and scatter stardust all around.

It feels like. Way. Too. Much. Hype. I’ve been in with both feet for the build up, eager and excited for Big Shifts and Emergence. Waiting for the fanfare which heralds the grand event. Now I’m stopping – here at the threshold of pushing my dazzled self out onto a carnival float to dance the hula – and instead gathering myself up in loving arms to rest and to just be.

Yes I’m learning, yes I’m progressing, yes I’m growing, yes I’m healing. This is what our bodies and souls just do organically. We don’t need to be doing the doing, it is our nature. No need, really none, to press and push. It all happens, it all comes, it is all done.

These last weeks I’ve experienced huge shifts, internally and externally. Waves and voids and revelations. I haven’t made any of them happen, they have just been the content of my days, simply what happened.

Today I sit quietly and allow myself to be carried over the threshold. Stay in surrender. Allow the Dao.

I feel the slightly hysterical climactic energy of days like these in a similar way to the frenzy of Christmas. A layer of expectation is created which lays traps for the tenderness of souls. Paints a glittery gloss on the realness and rawness which is also present, which is always present where real growth and real healing is in play.

I celebrate too, I celebrate all the joy and the leaps and the new beginnings. For me the new beginning is this. It is being enough as I am, just right now. Not a carnival, not a dancing girl, not an empire being born. A butterfly, with soggy wings, exhausted from the struggle which formed it, from breaking through the cocoon of a former self, and wanting to get an early night with a hot water bottle.

It is knowing my expression is welcome.
It is knowing that I am here for me, and everyone benefits.
It is knowing that I am surrounded by love and support from all the divine beings in my life.
It is knowing that the entire physical universe exists to support me in physical form.
It is knowing that the more I let go, release and relax, the more I experience the support already provided for me.

This is what I am taking to bed tonight under the new moon.

“Practise not doing, and everything will fall into place” ~ Dao De Jing

I love you all, I share your joy, this quiet joy is mine today. The joy of self acceptance and feeling enough, at home in myself and safely held by life.

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Boundaries, empathy, connection and seeing clearly

A friend recently sent me this poem that he found on a wall…

image

To see each other clearly, allow space to be, listen allow and smile, unearthing internal lies….

This for me captures the alchemy of relating, of presence one to another. What do we need to support this clear vision, this ability to let the other be and to bear witness to the internal beliefs that cloud our vision of them?

There is a paradox at the heart of it all which the image in the poem captures beautifully – we are separate branches in the same tree. How to hold the apparent paradox of interbeing and healthy boundaries was a question raised today in one of my communities, and it is one which has been present for me in several different conversations and contexts over the last couple of weeks.

As a highly empathic person, It can happen that I become so attuned to the experience of another that I enter into it energetically and almost exit my own. For me boundaries are the tools of time and space physicality which I use to meet the needs which support my energy levels, emotional and psychological clarity and connection to myself.

When these things are taken care of and my boundaries are clearly asserted and held, I can be open and fully empathically present to others without needing to guard my energy or personal space. My boundaries allow me to be more open. If my energy is depleted, or my mind and emotions are chaotic and I don’t take the space I need to restore balance and to process my experience, then my capacity to stay in my own centre is less and I will shut down compassion and empathy to others around me until I am able to reconnect with myself.

This for me highlights the difference between boundaries and disconnection. I can hold a boundary without disconnecting from you. I am more likely to disconnect if I have no boundary in place to meet the needs which support me to stay in connection.

Exploring the role of boundaries in relationship I have noticed that they also create greater intimacy. The presence of boundaries creates a safety which supports vulnerability, depth and risk taking within the held structure that we provide for each other.

Boundaries also provoke challenge and testing, and how we respond to that can be a real area of growth between two people also. Boundaries which are very rigid may suggest the presence of fear, whereas boundaries which are open for revision as the needs of individuals evolve can signify the presence of a growing mutual trust and respect, with enough safety to be allow some fluidity.

I enjoyed this insightful blog by a friend on the topic which relates particularly to children but holds universal wisdom. Also this video which was shared today in my community. This is a live inquiry for me and my experience of boundaries is an active growth area which feels very rich right now.

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“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” ~ Mary Oliver

Glancing sideways into your window as I pass on no particular business, a glimpse like a cannonball of the warm hearth within. Not for me this rich tapestried chamber, not for me this flickering firelight, not for me this shelter. I must make my peace with the storm.

This is harder than I thought a hard thing could be. The fire is so enchanting… Do I need to follow this pain to the ends of the earth until it becomes a treasured friend or falls away like old skin?

I’m resting in myself, nestled in the crook of my own heartbeat. Warm home fires burn, cleansing fertile flames.  Keeping safe from dungeons and dragons, making light what has felt so heavy. That’s not the way we ebb and flow, not the way we learn and grow, not the way we are…

The sea finds the shore by being still fluid, allowing the rhythmic sway of the moon to send soft ripples of energy through it, propelled to meet the land in perfect time.  The distance between two waves of the whole never closes until they disintegrate on the shore and return deep to the belly of the ocean to be born anew.

“To love purely is to consent to distance, it is to adore the distance between ourselves and that which we love.” ~ Simone Weil

I love this man sitting before me now, because I do not possess him and he does not possess me. We are free in our mutual surrender. I need to repeat this dozens, hundreds, millions of times, until I finally believe my own words.” ~ Paulo Coehlo, Eleven Minutes

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A good rest is half the work

“It is not the being, and not even the doing that exhausts. It is the trying. Trying to be present, to be awake, to hold the whole world, to be better, more self-aware, more conscious.”

— Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Invitation Plus

Winter is whispering  at the door and whistling through the windows. Taunting the tireless, provoking the restless.

Come into my cool, dark embrace – rest awhile. Lay down your doing and being, tether up your trying and stable it over the long night I bring you. Let the flames of the hearth consume the sodden off-cuts of Summer until all that remains is smouldering fertile beginnings of Summer to come.

Now is the time for incubation, slow cooking – deep underground where the earth’s molten heart warms through the sacrifice of Spring’s bright optimism and the summer’s lush grass- until it is tender and nourishing for hungry souls come in from the cold.

Longer days will come soon enough and you’d better be fresh and ready to roll!

“I want to quit running from my own tiredness. I want to be willing and able to move only as fast as I am capable of moving while still remaining connected to the impulse to move from deep within, stopping when I have lost that slender thread of desire and having the courage and faith to wait, in stillness, until I find it again.”

—Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Invitation Plus