What is heavy in your heart? What stories in your heart contribute to your spiritual stagnancy and the withholding of the greater evolution of our world?
A friend poses the question as a writing prompt and my first thought is that my heart feels light. Then I remember, my love feels heavy in my heart right now. A distancing from a lover and how I perceive rejection when I feel misunderstood, and then I need time to go find my own space and feel what is true for me, over several emotional waves. I don’t want to disappoint him and lose his love. I trust this love enough to know it isn’t so easy to lose, but still the tenderhearted child part of me believes it fully! She believes I will not be loved if I don’t please the other, if I don’t do as the other wants me to do. So, this question of surrender is heavy in my heart. What does it mean to surrender while still having healthy boundaries? It feels like a lot to navigate, and it feels heavy to cut myself off emotionally in order to find those boundaries…and surrender? Well, it gets put on hold for now.
What stories in my heart contribute to my spiritual stagnancy, and contribute to the withholding of the greater evolution of our world?
The stories that say I cannot contribute unless I am 100% clear, that what I offer isn’t worth all that much or will not be appreciated in the market place, the stories that say I am never ready and therefore not able to give. Those stories keep me stagnant and wallowing in my own sense of emptiness. Getting stuck on the how and getting stuck in the mental figuring out of the big “how” while the heart is holding out the flower of her gift and often there is no one to receive it, because often I am the first one who is missing. Ah, heart, I am sorry. The story runs deep, the conditioning runs deep, the traps and barriers to love are built deep into the ground and that ground has to be tilled. Letting the heart break is letting that soil be tilled.
When was the last time my heart broke properly? My father’s death. I have not let anyone or anything get close enough to break my heart since then. I have lived in the shelter I created to protect my heart and I don’t blame myself for it. It’s just that she wants to breathe more fully again, to expand again.
I will write a letter to that lover, I won’t just stay silent and slightly sulking from the hurt I felt. Yes, I am sensitive and yes, I can still stay open and say the truth of how I am feeling.
How does all of this intensely personal stuff relate to the greater evolution of our world? What is the greater evolution? It is a spiritual question, after all, this question of evolution. We are at a crucial moment where we are becoming more and more machine like and less and less aware of our connection to the natural world. The way I know the natural world is through the body, since I don’t live in intimate daily connection with “nature.” I notice myself becoming programmed to be machine-like, my attention siphoned off into the small and glowing portals of screens where I can get lost for countless hours, unaware of sensation, unaware of the physical world around me, the sensual world of sound and light, real color, warmth–the world of kinesthetic wonder.
I vote for an evolution that brings us back to that innate goodness of our connection to our bodies, and each other, and the earth. I wonder if I am naive and simply part of a dying generation. I wonder if I am merely to become a thread of humanity that died out as we evolved into a more robotic future where humans forgot about soul, where humans gave up their access to something like spirit in order to live totally plugged in to the matrix. I wonder. And I have to chose what feels true to me even if it does break my heart.
Have you noticed how the most bad-ass adults felt like outsiders growing up? While it seemed tragic to be the high-school nerd, or that quiet goth kid, or whatever variety of weirdo you might have been, you must admit, it ultimately helped to grow your superpowers. Unbeknownst to you at the time, you were writing your heroine’s journey, complete with awkward beginnings. Here’s how:
1. You lived on the edges, where you saw and experienced life differently.
By definition, an outsider has a different vantage point on her world. How do you come to decide that you’re an outsider? You feel different.You were an immigrant, or gay, or one of those artistic kids.I have a friend who felt like a little alien from the time she was a toddler, while for me it really kicked in at puberty. The popular kids might have secretly felt like they didn’t belong, but their identity wasn’t shaped around it.
I had a high school crush on a boy who spoke to no one and hung out alone, literally on the edge of the school grounds. I romantically assumed this dark clothed, brooding figure must know things. When I finally had the courage to talk to him, it turned out I was right. He was smart, well-read, and sophisticated by high school standards. He also had brain damage from a car accident and was extremely self-conscious about the speech impediment which resulted from it. (I never saw him after high school but I’m willing to bet he grew up to be an amazing adult).
I’m counting myself and my dearest friends among these badass adults. How dare I? Because I get to define what it means: To see life as an adventure and one to be embraced as an experiment where we discover what it takes to know ecstasy, connection, and creativity. It’s not about the trappings of success or being defined by societal dictates of “doing it right.”
2. Because you saw life differently you developed an uncommon set of skills.
It wasn’t easy, but you spent years honing a completely different set of skills from the common, “muggle” sort they teach in school. You honed intuition and creativity, and dreamt what some called impossible dreams. You were something of an exotic plant.
My outsider story began when I was twelve and my family moved to the U.S. from Costa Rica. Not only did I turn twelve and move to a new country, but I also got my period all within the same week! I remember standing in front of my new American school that first morning, in agonizing self-consciousness, while all around me kids chirped and giggled in the non-sensical sounds of a language I didn’t speak. I felt as if I were naked, covered in tar, with bugs crawling over my entire body, while everyone watched. The irony is that I desperately wanted someone to see me and be my friend. I hid in a bathroom stall during lunch.
That tough, identity crushing period was painful, but it was also an initiation. It eventually opened me up to possibilities I wouldn’t have imagined otherwise. Part of the adventure was building up an identity of the misunderstood outsider, which I then had to overcome. How cleverly I was crafting my own story!
One skill I developed was seeing through double eyes. I became a hybrid of two cultures, learning from both, able to hold more than one point of view at the same time. It made me able to connect to people from all sorts of backgrounds–a much needed superpower these days.
3. Being in touch with your wounds and the darker realms of experience, you gained access to true power.
By true power, I mean power which can only be found through telling the truth and facing your pain, rather than the old paradigm of force or power “over” another. Whatever had you feel different, so much the outsider, even broken; whether you were born with extra sensitive emotional wiring, or went through a traumatic experience, these challenges were all potential doorways to knowledge.
Of course, when we are depressed or addicted, we aren’t necessarily thinking how great it is that this is an entryway to wisdom or creativity. But the possibility exists that through your wounds, you had an initiation and were given access to a broad range of emotions and sensations, highs and lows, and a keener ability to see into life, other people, and your own soul.
4. You came to see that your gifts were forged alongside whatever pain and wounds you carry.
In your deepest knowing you are magic, you are free. Something inside you always guided you to seek out deeper experience and knowledge, no matter the inner or outer obstacles. Whatever conventional success eluded you, this turned out to be a blessing because you had to get really honest about what matters to you, what truly turns you on.
But it didn’t seem as if you had superpowers until you discovered that hiding from your pain never resulted in the connection or creativity that you craved. Nobody asks for a dark night of the soul, or to sit face to face with the shame that causes them to sabotage their deepest callings. It doesn’t make for nice cocktail party conversation, but then you never cared much for small chat.
There is a pitfall here as many never see past the identification with that tragic story of the “broken” kid. These folks can stay addicted to the strange pleasure of victimhood or to self-help and personal development. And the story becomes boring and stale. But if they undertake the deep work to integrate the lessons from their wounds, then it turns out that the gifts are side by side with the wounds and there is a rightness to all of it, even if discovering so was extremely painful.
5. You decided to “fit out” instead of fitting in.
Joshua Rosenthal, who taught me about holistic nutrition and getting out of the matrix, talks about “fitting out,” which is admitting that you don’t fit in and you never will and that is well and good–and choosing to rock that. The all-you-can-eat buffet prize of having followed all the “right” steps, only left you with an overstuffed, numb feeling. You redefined success according to your own values and began to protect your dream from the dream killers who lack imagination and instead become pushers of fear through numbing entertainment and pharmaceuticals, who would convince you of your powerlessness, and leave you addicted to authority.
Paradoxically, once you embrace fitting out, there gradually comes a letting go of the identity of the outsider, the stranger looking in. While it would be easier to stay out there pointing in at all the absurdity of the “normal” world, you made the choice to find out what you’re truly made of, and to contribute in a way that is authentic to you–a new vision, large or small, but true to you and your gifts.
And so, you grew up to become the sexy rebels, innovators, artists of living, lovers of life, creators.
6. Your journey came full circle when you owned how much you have to offer the world.
You came to see that you are not truly separate, and indeed what you offer is needed by the larger culture. You’ve grown beyond the outsider box you once used to label yourself. Having re-written your story, you are free to contribute to the very world from which you once felt so estranged, and even to create a whole new paradigm.
You dreamer of impossible dreams, who started to awaken within the dream, thereby unlocking the keys to the Queendom. You know that you don’t need anyone else’s permission to live your wild and precious adventure.
Leading with desire and with every breath casting your spell, you have become the ones described by the inimitable Walt Whitman, “I no longer seek good fortune, I myself am good fortune.”
I know sometimes longing hurts. It feels like your heart is being squeezed by a cruel unseen hand. When you are in the grip of it, it can feel like hell. And if someone comes along and tells you that you can soften, even inside of that torturous grip, you may just want to slap that oh […]
Hello there, my name is Patricia Black and this is the very first post in my new blog, my baby–Food, Sex, and God.
I chose some biggies in terms of topics, I know! So much of what I’ve spent my life delving into connects to these big three, and they are inter-related. We all have hungers. We crave, we are moved by desire and we negotiate with our desire or run from it and sometimes even manage to forget about it to the point that we don’t even feel it. Me, hungry? No, I’m too busy running on this treadmill of work, success, whatever. But, at the end of the day we can’t really run from our obsessions. What if we were to actually dive in and trust our desire, trust that it will not lead us to chaos and destruction but to some truths with heart. Well, I know how scary that can be. And there’s no guarantee that there won’t be chaos. But this is life, it’s an amazing ride when you can open yourself up to all of it.
I could’ve thrown money in there too, but I’ll admit that I don’t have too much that’s useful to say on that topic. And I like threes.
But on Food, well, I have the qualifications of having had an eating disorder as a teenager and into my college days, and of continuing to struggle in my relationship with food for many years–just like most women in America. But that was the thing that led me to learn about nutrition and yoga and the whole world of holistic health. It opened me up to seeing myself and the world through new eyes. So, the suffering and the obsession were the seed that grew me. I worked as a holistic health coach and natural nutrition counselor for many years, helping women make peace with food and shift to friendlier relationships with their bodies. They often came because they wanted to lose weight, but there were always many other desires beneath that one.
Sex, where to begin? When I worked as a holistic coach I heard from so many women about the shame they felt around their bodies and the constant trying to control what and how they ate. And I started to see that there was a connection to how they felt as sexual beings. The body image stuff, the sense of self-worth being tied to feeling desirable, and again the question of hunger and desire and just how to “deal with” them. Being something of a personal development junkie, I managed to find a life coaching program centered around a practice called Orgasmic Meditation. The practice blew open the doors to exploring my sexuality and everything I knew about relationships. Thing is, I’m still shy about writing on this topic it but I guess it’s just like being in bed with a lover and feeling shy–the desire pulls you through. And I do have lots to share with you about my explorations, and insights, and my own on-going questions.
And lastly, God! Did I really decide I’d write about God right next to food and sex? Well, yes, if not next to these very earthly domains then where else? My relationship to God and even to the word “god” was for many years fraught with anger, confusion, resentment. You see, I’m what they call a PK, a preacher’s kid, and thus the complicated relationship. When I was much younger I thought I wanted no part of God, but that wasn’t true at all; I just didn’t want spirituality in the way that my father’s church and religion prescribed. And all that teenage angst and rebellion was wrapped up in how much I resented God for taking my dad away from me and from our family. But underneath all that there was so much yearning and so much love waiting to find a place to pour itself into.
And so, the common theme in all of these is desire. Yes, yearning, longing, hunger. And women have I complicated relationship to desire. I know I do. And I find it worth going deeper to discover what it’s all about because it does carry so much power, regardless of how we choose to relate to it.
Why am I doing this, anyway? Being this rather private introvert and choosing to write about these very personal topics. I write for myself because through writing I discover what I really feel and what I know. But I also write for others because I hope that in writing honestly and being willing to expose my metaphorical belly, that I will be permission for others as they grapple with their own questions and embark on their journeys. I hope this blog will be read by women who are tired of holding it all inside and holding it all together. Women who are tired of swinging between self-deprivation and mindlessly acting out. Maybe I’m writing for the addict in all of us. And for the recovering perfectionist too. I am one for sure. Oh, and if some men find their way here, I hope they will get a view into the inner lives of women and learn something about what makes us tick.
My hope is that this will be a place for connection and conversation. I welcome your comments and your musings on these topics.
As you can see, it’s a newbie blog. There’s a lot to do to make it more pretty and fancy, which is not really my skill set. But, I wanted to get started and to connect with some readers and begin the ride already!
Here is a quote from Mary Oliver. A short and sweet mission statement: