Fearless: I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be important and beautiful and afraid of nothing as though I had wings. ~ Mary Oliver
I recently admitted to a friend that a lot of the sex I’ve had hasn’t indeed been consensual. The line of course can be blurry, but I do know that more than once I’ve ended up in bed with a partner without the voice to say “I don’t want this.” In turn, the ability to not say no when I needed to most has turned me into some sort of automatic “yes” machine. I’m quick to agree to do anything that will help you even if it puts me at a physical or emotional disadvantage. I always put my friends first without even a thought. My therapy sessions are my safe havens, where I drop the mask and sometimes cry, sometimes talk a mile a minute, but cry often just breathe. Breathe. It seems like it would be hard to forget one of the major things that keeps us alive, but every damn time whether I’m anxious or tired or stressed or scared it’s because I haven’t taken a few minutes to sit, silently, and feel my breath. It’s a grounding thing for me. I used to struggle in yoga classes to breathe when the instructor said to do so. I couldn’t time my breaths. I couldn’t feel the rhythm in the room. It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a yoga class, but sitting on my yoga mat in my own apartment staring at an altar I had constructed from the very things that bring my the most happiness in this world I still couldn’t quite get it. It’s like there’s ticker tape in my head and frankly I’m surprised it hasn’t spilled out of my ear yet.
Last night I watched the first few episodes of The L Word. My mind and heart were blown to bits and pieces very quickly. If anyone had been at arms reach there’s no guarantee I wouldn’t have thrown them into bed with me. But I’ve done that enough before to know I’m not going to get the end result I want if my lust is grounded in need. A need so deep that sometimes I feel like no one ever on this planet could possibly fulfill it. And that’s probably true. It’s also no ones job to fix that. I have a hole in my heart. I like to picture it as the size of a medium coffee lid, a little curled at the edges, patched up by various band aids and stickers, like a child’s toy who’s been doctored up one too many times. I can see straight through to the other side.
Cheryl Strayed talks about two empty cups, having to fill them up for herself after her mother passes. The program of AA talks about them as a god sized hole, it’s why I am the way I am. Believing it exists is the very essence of my being here today, it’s a survivor’s wound, a reminder that I am here despite, but also a challenge to every potential mate. Will this be the one to fix me? Will this be the one who loves me enough? Those are the wrong questions. Because the answers are completely dependent on frivolous things for me. Do you use your words well? Can you be next to me forever, but also go stand over there? Can I have it both ways? I’ve heard for a long time that healing the relationship bits of ourselves start with (spoiler alert) OURSELVES. But it’s a lot easier to talk the talk than walk the walk. I can say I’m working on me but scrolling through Tinder every night, getting a quick fix, and then deleting the app like it never even happened does not a healed hole make. Also, embracing my flaws and wearing them as badges of honor, accepting them as things I just can’t change, doesn’t work for me. I have to be able to change the behaviors that have hurt me in the past. If I can’t do that I can’t move forward. And if I can’t move forward then I’m stuck here, stagnant, just me and my holes. What if I took a different approach this time? What if I embraced the brokenness but loved myself so intensely that the sharp edges never pierced me again? And if they did I’d have so much love and support I wouldn’t even need a bandage? What if I started to change slowly, but perceptively. What if I could do this with someone else?
Today I woke up and put on the polka dot special occasion top I haven’t ripped the rage off even though I loved it soooo much. I put on the lipstick and the earrings and walked out the door with a smile on my face. Because when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see you, I saw me. For the first time in a long time what reflected back at me wasn’t who I was trying to be, but who I am. A freedom. A beauty. A wholeness.