Burning through the chokehold of stifled freedoms. The epigenetic smell of charred flesh, the sound of neck bones. The inheritance of absolutes, deadweight in my gut. Nature recalcitrated, culture asphyxiated. I come in through the cracks, my purpose ciphered, like trying to hold on to the fog. How could there be an answer to the questions that don’t want to be asked? There is the tenderness of bruises inside the flush of my fever. What following the rules is meant to prevent. But there is no such game for me, I do not know how to play. Buried in the sand under the sea, to be resurrected by the waters. The wish of fallen eye lashes. Like the wish of fallen angels. Nothing plain to see, nothing evident to grasp. Liquid eyes and frozen hands. No more form than fervor.
I’ve been holding on to all this writing… It’s a funny thing, to hoard thoughts like that. I think there’s a fear that I can’t say them out loud unless I know they make sense. But it’s not my job to make sense. It’s my job to be myself. So here they are, in no particular order, so that I can make room for what’s next…
It’s day 30 of my menstrual cycle. I seem to have regained the capacity to express myself. That usually means my period is about to start. The more I observe myself in my cycle, the more fascinated I become by how it influences me.
I can’t help but feel like rest is a dirty word. When I need to rest, how I need to rest… It always ends up making me feel like I’m scoring high on the mess-o-meter. But why is there a meter in the first place? What the fuck am I trying to measure?
I do this thing where I have imaginary conversations with people in my head. I came up with this line a while back: When they ask you what the hell I’m doing, tell them I’m trying to be alive before I die.
Always looking for the meaning of things, it’s a lot to ask for. It’s just that, free floating in the void of everything and nothing, I need something strong enough to keep me in orbit.
I don’t remember a single day of my life where I haven’t thought about death. Most days it’s only fleeting. Some days it’s compulsive. I think that’s why sex is at the heart of my art. Sex is one of the few things strong enough to keep me in orbit. To balance out death and loss, to take me back to life. And to take me back to love. Love is the only thing meaningful enough to stick. Everything else always seems to slide off after a while…
All the ways that I am torn
I want to be earnest
I think I’m coming off cheap
I want to free myself
I might just be needy
I want to mean something
I’m trapped by my inadequacies
I am by no means the only woman exploring her image. Some days that makes me feel like I belong, like I am one of my generation. Part of something bigger, part of something human. Most days though that just makes me feel insecure, like I’m being redundant, unimaginative, fake.
How can every opposite coexist inside my head? How much ping ponging can a mind handle without hurting its integrity?
I am not one to believe that cutting anything away is ever the solution. I would rather learn how to cool off the flames of contradictions, how to make peace out of enemies. I think learning to breathe with everything is the way to start.
I guess the question is, how do I feed more oxygen into my sense of self? Ha, and I’m right back to breathing! Maybe breathing is the answer to everything. I do know for a fact that it’s the only way I have of influencing my nervous system (cardiac coherence, check it out if you need a quick non-pharmaceutical fix). And I guess a lot of people have been talking about breathing for a lot of centuries…
The thing about breath is, it’s one thing that includes two poles. It’s not like you can skip one or prefer the other. There is no inhaling without exhaling, like there is no eating without shitting, no waking without sleeping, no living without dying.
Maybe that’s why even when I’m doing well, I’m still torn. Because that one way momentum I so wish for, that got-it-all-figured-out consistency I’m told to seek is actually unachievable. And undesirable. Because the light and the darkness, the void and the matter, the in and the out don’t exist without each other.
Something is coming into focus for me. One of the reasons I keep falling off track all the time is because of how involved I get with everything. I think I just can’t keep up with myself. It’s like I don’t know how to regulate my own volume, how to maintain sustainable levels.
I extract so much meaning, I engage so deeply with what I encounter… It turns almost everything into an all encompassing high. Of course that’s not necessarily a bad thing, that’s kind of a great thing actually. It just takes its toll in ways that make me need to retreat, give myself a chance to digest, come up for air, regain my footing. From letting so much light in, you end up with extra long processing times.
It’s probably one of the reasons I so often resist engaging with new things. Because I know that once I allow something in, it will seep in fast and deep. It’s also why I am most afraid of the things I actually want. I want them so much, and yet I wait and wait, taking my time, avoiding, a bit of both. Trying to make sure I am ready before I open myself. You don’t open the floodgates if you’re not sure you can handle it. Especially when you want to ride the rushing waters and not just be swept away by them.
A long time ago, I used to wonder if I was bipolar. I was worried for a while, but I honestly don’t think so anymore. Most of it is the flow of my menstrual cycle, something that should be normal, acceptable, and why not even enviable. Then the rest of it is just one of the many ways that I am me. One of my evil re-christened as what is best in me. I am an extra sensitive spirit with a fast revolving mind and a heart that somehow keeps expanding… My my, won’t you listen to that. I’m starting to sound like someone who likes herself!
Got herpes on my lip again. It appeared for the first time in a decade three months ago, then it took weeks to get under control while never seeming to completely heal, and now it’s back.
I feel like my body is a battleground. The forces of good and evil, the past and the future, all that I don’t want and all that I do want. Everything clink clonking like the sound of swords and axes hashing it out.
The herpes isn’t the only thing my body is struggling with. My menstrual cycle, my gut, my mood, my weight, my fitness… Everything keeps going up and down. I even have a cold and ear pain coming on and off. I’m working on it all, but I go from motivated to frustrated. The past few years, I’ve had big stretches of time where I was ruthless in my management of myself. These days I seem to have as much counter will as iron will. Honestly, I’m not convinced that being overly controlling is the way to go anymore. I was doing better to some extent because I was limiting myself. It may be easier if you don’t allow certain experiences, but then you’re not having those experiences. And I think, at this point in my life, I am starving for experiences. Whatever consequences they might bring can’t be worse than the pain of missing out.
I’ve been watching Margaret Atwood’s stories on the screen, and thinking about how different it is from reading her on the page. It’s late and it’s raining now, and this thought is stirring in my head… The page can be a woman’s refuge in ways that the screen cannot be, because the screen can be a woman’s dungeon in ways that the page cannot be.
Because of how our sexuality gets turned against us, we have to divorce it, or fear being participants in the hurt that happens to us. And/or the only other choice, the one that’s rarely a choice at all, to learn the way that we are wanted to be sexual, a way that can be used, sold, controlled. Either case, it makes us walk around life like our hearts have been cut out of our chests. Seeking in vain, in other places and other people, our own stolen power.
Unwhole. How can anyone who feels unwhole not be utterly sad, angry, despaired, depressed? Hysterical. From the Greek hystera, uterus. The origins of the world. Now not so doctor kosher a term, and yet I can’t help but feel it might very well be the perfect word to describe the state of this world.
When I write, do I hear the sound of my own voice? What do I see when I look at myself on the screen? Can I see the hollowed out parts? Can I hear the secrets I keep? Are all the reflections and artifacts adding up to a whole or are they patching up the holes?
I want to think that I am being clever. That I am an artist. That at least I’m trying. There is so much to be unearthed. There is so much noise and so much silence. What does it take to break through? What does it take to mend the broken seams?
The thing about what happens when you’re growing up is that subject and object cannot be separated. What happens to you gets processed as who you are. Being shamed becomes being ashamed. It becomes a matrix that rules over how you see everything, trickling down into your behavior, so you can keep proving to yourself that this is the reality. This is how early circumstances become conditioning. This is how we don’t leave the room, even after the doors have been unlocked.
My shame matrix is multi-layered. Like a wall with coat of paint over coat of paint. I work on freeing myself from it, each round feeling like I’m taking off another pair of stained glasses. Life looks brighter for a while, until something else happens and I get triggered. Becoming aware again of the feeling of weight on my nose. I thought I was seeing only through my own eyes, but no, there’s another pair of glasses on there, distorting what I see, what I feel like I can do, or can’t do. So it’s back to the shedding work, the remembering, the crying, the trying, the yearning, the waiting. Then one day I notice I don’t react quite the same, I feel lighter. And I realize I’ve taken off yet another pair of glasses.
I’m still thinking about how much my Vimeo account saga acted as a trigger playground. The first time, positively, because I fought for myself and won. That’s such a rare experience for me. That’s what gave me bounds of fresh energy. A feeling of earned freedom, like I was jailbreaking straight out of the shame room. This is how I was able to work on my project the way I did, in such a driven and direct way. Then the second time, negatively, because I tried but it didn’t work. The fact that Vimeo shut me down so completely made me feel like I couldn’t be heard anymore. It made me feel like I was back in the locked hospital room, back in my childhood bedroom, back in the shame room. Back where you truly belong, whispers the distortion venom in my ear… I know that’s just another pair of fucking glasses, but now I’m back in the matrix, ruled again by the old conditioning. And the thing is, it may not be, but it feels real. It feels like the doors really are locked.
I believe that everything exists for a reason, but that without balance, proportions go out of whack and you end up with corrupted files. Shame exists for a reason. It can be an appropriate adaptive behavior. But living your life inside the shame matrix, living your life as an ashamed person, that’s a fucked up proportion. It’s like chronic inflammation. It’s not good for you, and it’s not good for anyone.
Being ashamed really is like being in locked room. It keeps me isolated even in the middle of a crowd, even in front of someone who loves me. Like I’m locked away in a box inside my head. It keeps me away from what nurtures me. Making my videos freed me, and I made them because I felt free, but I feel so out of step from that loop now. Vicious cycle versus virtuous cycle. It’s pretty clear how Vimeo restoring my account the first time acted like a permission slip for me. But now I don’t have the luxury of an outside party giving me what I want. I can’t make Vimeo embrace me again. But honestly, that would be a shortcut anyway, and it would rob me of what I really need. I need to learn to empower myself. No outside permission necessary. It sounds so easy written down. I wish it was as easy to get to.
So I’m back to the shedding process. Being aware that I’ve got a big pair of stained glasses on my nose. That that’s why I wake up in the middle of the night like my head is on fire, feeling like anything I do is wrong, because I am wrong. Knowing that it’s not real even though it feels like it. Knowing that it’s ok, because I’ve taken the red pill, and I’m on track to take off yet another layer, yet another filter, so that life can be that much brighter again.
The desire to be accepted whole, all parts known and included. That is what I want.
When I speak. When I stay silent. When I reveal myself. When I hide.
My good girl. My not good enough girl. My wanting to be seen. My wanting to be left alone.
My own voice. My head under the covers trying to hear it. My days long food and tv binges. My hating myself for it and my wanting more of it. My art making. My todo lists crushing. My endless thinking.
My exhaustions. My elations. My turnarounds, my breakthroughs, my breakdowns.
My moaning and bitching and cussing. My sweet sound seeking. My awakening. My sleeping.
My crazy creatrix. My wild sex goddess. My monkey mind. My inner child.
My inauthentic habitual self. My fearful victim self. My shy vulnerable codependent self. My impatient rushing destructive self. My old tired grumpy self. My mothering caring empathetic self. My spongy no boundary self.
My softness. My hardcoreness. My prettiness. My prickliness.
All me. All of it is me.
The great epochs of life come when we gain the courage to re-christen our evil as what is best in us. Friedrich Nietzsche
Reading these words hits my heart with such a sense of recognition.
It’s a challenging quote for a world so intent on knowing where the line between good and bad is, so intent on being on the right side of the distinction.
My heart doesn’t know what’s good or bad. My heart just knows how tired it is of all this fighting. It knows that I have been at war with myself for as long as I can remember. It bears the scars that prove it. My heart isn’t concerned with questions of morality. My heart just feels.
Now that it is coming to an end, I’m realizing that I have spent this entire summer on a quest to make peace with myself. Going into it, my goal was to be selfish, in search of self-reliance. But in trying to think of only myself, I was forced to face the enormity of my internal battle. To face how much I seek the gold stars and brownie points that count towards my “good person membership card”. To face that as much as I want to be my own north star, I am in fact keeping my ear to the ground for the sound of the approaching rectitude police.
I got to spend some time alone this summer. Truly by myself kind of alone, not just avoiding others kind of alone. It’s not something I have a lot of experience with. Making every decisions for myself, not having to think of anyone else. Being in that space is what allowed me to open my eyes to the truth of my constant chastising, my constant berating of myself. It’s kind of like opening your eyes under water. It’s not easy, it feels like it would be better to keep them closed. But you keep blinking until things come into focus. And then you see. You see the water. Like Foster Wallace’s older fish passing by young ones: morning boys, how’s the water? The kids looking at each other all puzzled, what the hell is water? My weeks of solitude have opened my eyes and I cannot not see the water anymore.
Let me tell you, turns out it ain’t pretty the way I’m used to relating to myself. And it’s not like I haven’t been on an intense healing path for years, or that I don’t use concepts of non-violent communication diligently, or that I don’t already believe in the importance of trumping hate with love. That’s what really got me. The realization that trying to feel good about myself by doing the right thing is actually the very thing that hurts me. Cause it sounds great, doesn’t it, doing the right thing, being the good person. But when I look under the hood of that, I see how much fear, pressure and shame lives in the pursuit of goodness. It’s like a tension line, propping you up, but it comes at the high price that it might be cut, and that you might fall down, right into hell. Plop.
For whatever reason, I’ve always had the compassion that makes me look at people who have done bad things and still see their humanity. Murderers, rapists, dictators aren’t a different breed, a different race, a different species. They’re just as human as I am. Thinking like this makes me feel like a spiritual hotshot, but it never occurred to me before that by judging my own worth against some sort of goodness template, I’m not being very consequent with myself. Like not at all. You can’t truly opt out of the stigma of bad while still holding on to the doctrine of good. If I really believe that a murderer is a fully worthy human being despite having committed an act of murder, than why the hell am I constantly holding the threat of losing my worth over my own head? And how is that threat not an act of war actively killing my inner peace?
What is my evil? All the ways that I have failed. All the ways that I am different. All the ways that I am difficult. All the ways that I am me. Me. Not the imagined best me that I will be happy with when I finally get to be it. No, me, the me that I am right now. I could make a long list of all the things I wish to change about this me that I am, and I used to believe that working through this list was called living, and succeeding. But isn’t all this saint seeking really not evil avoiding? And isn’t all this evil avoiding really not self avoiding?
This realization has felt like being slapped in the face, hard. The only reason it didn’t topple me over is because it comes with the recognition that I am wholly worthy just as I am in this exact moment. That holds me up like strong roots going deep into the earth. Nevertheless, feeling bad about myself is not just a belief, it’s also a habit. So, predictably, the habit still kicks in, everyday, but now I have a choice. I can remind myself that I don’t believe I am bad because I don’t do good and bad anymore. I choose to opt out, return my membership cards, thank you but no thank you.
It’s funny, it even says it right there in the phrase: I feel bad about myself. Yeah you do, because you feel that you are bad. If I don’t feel that I am bad, I stop feeling bad about myself. It’s deceptively easy. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to see. But my heart has always known, it didn’t need to see it to feel it. It’s been trying to tell me all along, by letting me feel it. But I was all confused, thinking that feeling bad was the proof something was wrong with me, making me feel even worse, leaving me no choice but to work endlessly at making me good, or else give up from exhaustion, making me bad. But good person cards, bad person cards, it’s all just paper. The worth of anyone, of everyone, is not an arithmetic game of good and bad. We are all 100% worthy, 100% ourselves, 100% human.
Oh and about courage, I’m repeating myself here but the root of courage comes from the word heart. What is courage? It’s love. Loving ourselves as we are is how we come to the great epochs of our lives.
It’s not as easy as I thought it would be to follow up my last post. I feel a bit like when you want to say too many things at once and end up saying nothing.
I’m going through something big, and I’m having trouble finding the language to talk about it. It’s turning out to be a long transition, but who’s to say how long anything is supposed to take? Our time measures are mostly constructed, matrixes we impose over processes that really have their own innate logic.
There’s a voice that’s been whispering in my head all summer: I am here to let things go. It’s ok, I can put it all down and nothing will be broken. This obliterating pressure I feel to keep up, it’s optional, it’s a membership I can cancel. I can opt out of constantly feeling bad about myself. Because good and bad is in itself another constructed matrix. I can continue to participate in it blindly, seeking gold stars on my report card, or I can dig deeper, all the way to the place where all humans have an intrinsic immutable value, no matter what they’ve done that’s either good or bad. I can let myself feel everyone’s wholeness, including my own.
It’s an acquired reflex that’s telling me I am failing when I’m not being productive. Where’s my value if I’m not creating anything consumable? Fuck that reflex. I have taken true pride and joy at making and sharing my videos. And I can’t wait for when this outward flow returns. But for now I am involved with an inward flow, which is just as immensely valuable.
It’s kind of a funny thing to say in a blog, but these days I want everything and everyone to leave me the fuck alone. Isn’t that the contradictory thing about being human. Part of me is so isolated and wants so badly to connect and belong and yet another part needs to feel that I have time and space to exist for myself, by myself. It’s not easy to conciliate but I know that my artistic capacity is dependent on both. So I have to find a way to rise beyond the idea that I am better when I publish a post or release a video every x amount of time. I have to believe in my life more than I believe in the life I should be living based on the interferences of every other rationale out there.
I guess it’s pretty easy to see how this all fits in the context of my story. I’m still recovering from the habit of putting other people’s needs before my own. I’m always searching for the feeling that I belong to myself. This is why I end up spending so much time alone, why I am so wary to participate in anything. It explains why being engaged with this project is such an extraordinary success for me. And why Vimeo’s censorship triggered me back into feeling so ashamed and interrupted. Crazy how everything always cycles back around.
At the end of the day, this really is just a call to peel back another layer of the healing that I need for myself. That’s what repetitions are for. Getting confronted with what still seeks resolution.
It’s when I hear myself say stuff like Vimeo is ghosting me that I know I am a true millennial after all.
(Oh and btw, WordPress just informed me that apparently I made 100 posts. That’s insane. Happy blogaversary?)
Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flame. – Rumi
I am high on social excitement. Yesterday I spent all day at an amazing conference on women’s sexuality, then I spent all night on the dance floor of a party in my neighborhood. It’s hard to explain what this means to me without getting into how much I isolate myself. In short, I almost never do these kinds of things, as in the last time needs to be counted in years. I’m very used to blaming my withdrawal on my health issues, but walking home last night I was asking myself, do I not go out enough because I’m constantly exhausted, or am I constantly exhausted because I do not go out enough?
Let’s get honest here. I know I hide, especially from what is meaningful to me. The truth is, I’m afraid of facing the feelings of jealousy and grief that come up when I see others engaged with what I wish I was doing. So yesterday was an especially important breakthrough, because it was all about what calls to me the loudest, what is at the heart of my work. Sex, healing, freedom, self-expression. I usually feel too paralyzed to interact with other people’s contributions to these subjects. Like, I’ve been collecting names of interesting artists that I want to check out, but I always keep them in lists for someday later. For when I will feel better, when I will feel stronger. Which is going to be never if I keep this up, because the less I engage, the weaker I get.
It’s a lesson I know yet can’t seem to learn. Not doing something out of fear does not make the fear go away, it amplifies it. Whenever I decide to avoid something, I immediately feel safer, out of relief, but ultimately, I feel more and more unsafe in a world full of triggers. Life becomes a mine field, where it’s hard not to fall apart at every turn from being reminded of all the things I’ve been missing out. By now the grief from all these missed opportunities has become yet another thing I’m trying to avoid. That’s when you know you’re deep in the mud of a vicious cycle. And that pain pops up everywhere, because I have been using avoidance to (not) deal with things for so long. I’m quite skilled at it too, though that’s not the kind of talent that helps my self-confidence whatsoever…
But, but, but, don’t let me fall back into the taking it personal, permanent and pervasive again, which I was reminded yesterday is the definition of pessimism. Cause that is not where I want to live, no thank you. Everything good in my life I owe to moments of grace where I have broken out of this habit. Where I have transcended avoidance and dared to step into what looked like lava to my fear stricken mind but turned out in reality to be deliciously nurturing water. Yesterday was one of those moments. I feel so regenerated and blessed. And I keep repeating to myself, yes, yes, yes, this is exactly what I wanted to remember!
My creative spirit is a slumbering fairy tale character. Snow White in a glass coffin, dazzlingly dozing. I need to find my way through the brambles and thorns, be the prince to awaken her, be the kiss that returns the blood to her veins…
I think being creative is so much about permission giving. Making your expression a priority over everything else needing your attention, squashing the fear of being selfish. Very much like orgasms. Someone else may be creating the pleasure that gets you high, but the tipping over is on you, and it’s all about giving yourself permission. Grabbing your plenitude by the horns and saying this is mine, I deserve this, I want it, I’m going to ride it. Once you let it happen, then yes, it takes over and unravels you, but surrendering is an active action, not a passive one.
Surrendering. I’ve had this written on my arm for the last few weeks. Every morning retracing the temporary tattoo with a pen that sleeps on my bedside table. I hadn’t done it in a while, but I used to do this all the time about two years ago, around the time I first started making videos. My body was changing and I needed to feel that it was mine. So I would put handwritten mantras all over my skin. Please be gentle with yourself on the inside of my elbow. You are beauty on my right thigh. You are loved on the left one. I guess I am back to a similar place, back to a new beginning. I need encouragement, I need guidance, I need to remember.
I wrote this last week while traveling but couldn’t find the energy to publish it. Lassitude all over me, slowing down my movements, diffusing my concentration, tempering my desires…
But this week, oh my, well this week I am back in town and my energy just snapped like lightning in the night sky.
Realization # 1: I am not sick OF myself, I am sick of being cut off FROM myself. Meaning I’m not failing, I’m just trying to make something work that clearly isn’t working for me. So I need to quit trying harder and CHANGE IT UP! (Wow, I never use caps, this is quite a different inner voice waking up here!)
Realization #2: If I want to be more, I’m going to have to be what I haven’t been being. As per Einstein, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results + we cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them. So I’ve made some pretty major decisions, completely reshuffling the cards for what the immediate future is going to look like. I don’t know if that’s what’s going to do it, but I do know that what I have been doing sure isn’t. Where the resistance is, where the fears lie, is where I need to swim towards.
It’s funny, I have spent the last couple of months truly agonizing over this feeling of having burned myself into a pile of ashes. But you know what, maybe I’m a phoenix, and maybe that makes me perfectly on track.
I have been pressure cooking myself. I didn’t realize it until a few days ago. Too much fucking pressure. Flying just under the surface of my conscious awareness. Stay the fuck away from me. Oh wait, I’m talking to myself. Now how the hell does that work?
Picture a giant knot of messed up strands. The goal is to untangle it, but every time you try to loosen up one part, everything else gets jammed up even worse. This has been me this whole past month.
I feel a strong urge to apologize. I wanted to write a triumphant I am back post. With something to show. And be all like, I have struggled and I have figured it out! Check it out! I would have loved that. I tried. I can’t. Guess I’m not there yet.
Btw I usually know better than to make declarations stating my return to health (referring to my last post here). Way too much wishful thinking involved. Plus it sets the stage for expectations. Expectations. Pressure. Pressure cooking myself. Cock a doodle doo. Chicken’s almost ready folks.
Ok so I’m a little crazy tonight. Must be. I’ve been trying, and failing, at writing a new post for a month now. I’ve got nothing to say. Well, maybe not, but I’ve got nothing happy to report. I want to be happy. I want you to be happy. I want to make you happy, that would make me happy. Starting to smell the chicken yet?
Aye aye aye. Crazy me’s got a chip on her shoulder. I need to take anger management classes’ prerequisite, how to get in touch with it in the first place.
Btw number two, I am having menstrual cycle issues, seemingly too little progesterone, or something like that, I’m not sure, it’s still being investigated. So basically my issues at being creative have psychosomatically been summoned up. My uterus is crying. And I’m trying to listen and I’m realizing I don’t know how to be there for it. It being me.
I don’t know what to say to the comments that have emerged in my absence. I was going to respond right away but couldn’t, stuck as I am, and so it created this space where I have been observing others be more caring and understanding of me than I have been to myself. It’s… Well, I mean it, I don’t know what to say to that.
I am attempting to do things, sure, doing things is great. But beyond that I am attempting to be someone. And I don’t wanna be just anyone. I only want to be me. This is why it’s taking so long. It’s not just about what I can show you. It’s about who you’re going to be looking at.
Tell the truth little girl. I keep telling myself that. I just don’t know what truth I’m keeping from myself these days. The truth will set you free. You just gotta find it first.
Ever pull the veil covering up your ambivalences? I have this explanation that I am always falling in the potholes of the road I travel on. Maybe. But maybe I’m just conflicted, keeping myself still on a perfectly paved piece of pavement.
How do we ever know what we know? Fuck epistemology. That’s another rooster needing roasting. Boy oh boy. This is one messy post. I kinda like it. It feels like I feel right now.