Let it out
Violence is a result of unexpressed emotions and unmet needs.
That is really all that needs be said to complete this concept.
It's excruciatingly simple. Excruciating because of the damage we see as a result in all parts of our lives.
We've all heard the adage "if you want to change the world, change yourself."
We aren't listening. We aren't doing it. We are too afraid to express ourselves and ask for what we feel we need.
I promise, just like any other species on this planet, humans learn their independence. There is no right way or wrong way to guide a child into experiencing autonomy. It's the dynamic of unclear communication and the underdevelopment of emotional intelligence and expression that has created our volatile climate of codependency, addiction, domination, abuse, neglect, anger and violence.
What we see outside of us reflects what is happening within.
If we see struggle and pain.
We are struggling to connect with ourselves and in pain as a result of denying ourself acceptance.
If we see manipulation and domination.
We are manipulating our own hearts and our intuitive findings to fit the current conditions.
Then we don't have to feel vulnerable.
Then we don't have to experience the lack of control that goes along with new environments, viewpoints and change. We dominate our inner knowing by shutting it up because we have the street cred. We have the past experience to prove that "this is how it goes and this is why we can't, won't or don't.
We see war because we are at war with ourselves.
It's a pandemic. It's absolutely everywhere and it's the reason this world is in such disarray.
I promise you, no one being on this planet is here to heal and save the world.
We all are.
We can only accomplish that by saving and healing ourselves.
I was a committed, excited, obedient and grateful child on the external surface. I was always happy, agreeing, showing appreciation. I rarely had a complaint. I rarely asked for anything.
It was not because I had what I needed. Something happened. I don't recall. It was likely a reaction to someone's words or, as is the case with most of my responses to others, I likely felt that that was what was expected of me, that those who cared for me couldn't handle upsets or problems or complaints. I recall a time in my tween years where I was literally scream-crying at the top of my lungs, sobbing, losing my breath, wailing and lying immobile at the top of the stairs in my childhood home.
No one reacted. My father was disgusted by my "obnoxious" display. "You're not a child. Get up and knock it off." My mother just couldn't handle it. She left the room and got as far from the display as she could. I went on and on until I was completely exhausted and, to my memory's best assessment, it clicked. Right then and there. I stopped, dragged myself to my room, laid down on my bed and picked up my first journal. I wrote:
"Rachel, it's not ok to NOT be ok".
For years to follow I was a continuously agreeable and gracious young lady to every other and when I was alone, I was angry and disgusted by my self. I would stare at myself in the mirror telling ME to "Shut up and deal with it." "No one wants to hear your bullshit." "Get it right and you won't start into the self pity sob story." "Pay the price if you don't."
And there was a hefty price.
I didn't let people become close to me. I didn't share a word of my experience unless it was positive. I was sarcastic and distant. I had tons of "friends" but few knew who I was.
I was absolutely alone.
It destroyed what was a fairly successful career as a ballet dancer. It spawned an eating disorder. It led me to relationship after relationship with unavailable partners. It led to hidden physical self-abuse. Picking at my skin, scratching myself, bruising my body under my clothes. I sought out people who'd aggravate those behaviors or, even worse, were so detached, I could behave this way in front of them and they wouldn't react.
It, quite literally, took over my life.
It wasn't the incident that made all of that happen, though. The incident itself, was a result of me holding it in. It was a result of refusing to express my emotions and ask for what I needed in all of the small and seemingly insignificant situations prior to that explosion at age 12.
Those situations may actually have been insignificant. That does not mean that it was not important to learn what I was feeling and to learn the language of making requests.
This, I find to be the most challenging concept of project: love me. It is the daily practice of daily practices and you have to get laser sharp and in tune with yourself to catch yourself holding back. you have a lot of ammunition and experience as to why this repressing of yourself is important and beneficial.
I promise you're wrong.
You're wrong because you aren't here surviving your life. You're here living it.
This next portion of this entry is a tough pill to swallow for many, so take a deep breath and don't stop reading. Turn off the "that's not true" part of your brain and bear with me.
The above story may have started your personal Freudian analysis of my experience and the psychological atmosphere of my family.
Stop. It does nothing.
Every human being has issues stemming from their childhood. It's the human condition. No parent or guardian or teacher or friend or first love or first failure or anything comparable to these categories can actually MAKE you become who you CHOOSE to become. There is no sense in sharing past hardship or blaming another. It's victim language and it has you irresponsible for yourself and your life.
I had a boyfriend once (during the early years of my project: love, me). He had this amazing fabrication of "why I can't love myself" (and, yeah, you guessed it, definitely couldn't love me). He was consistently referencing not having his needs met and feeling neglected as a child. This was his favorite excuse for disconnecting, behaving disrespectfully and being unfaithful. Though he may very well have been neglected, it was his CHOICE not to give himself what he needed when he was younger. It doesn't matter what and it does absolutely no good analyzing to find the thing that started a behavior. Honoring that you do not express yourself, hide, blame or lack responsibility for creating an environment where you are cared for and loved is one of the most important steps to taking this project on.
It is absolutely anxiety inducing to come to the space of responsibility when you've been living your life at the mercy of your experiences and circumstances.
It's like being cut off in outer space and floating into oblivion with nothing to grasp or tether your little heart to.
And it's incredible.
There's nothing you can reason, control or attach yourself to that will heal you.
There's no external experience that can fill the void you are allowing for in your heart and soul.
And yes, YOU are the reason for it. YOU are allowing that void to exist by refusing to feel, disregarding or dulling your emotions and not getting what you say you need.
First with yourself.
LET IT OUT.
Give yourself the time and space to feel whatever it is your feeling. The deeper you go, the closer you get to understanding. Your heart, your intuition and your spirit know what is happening. Within yourself, a space is held for you to allow for the "why" to come forward. It is right there. It always has been. Letting out what is masking it from you let's you see and the understanding you develop frees your need to repress.
While you're practicing, this is where your crew comes in - those people in your life you know you can share with. You must find them and you must share with them. You must ask them if they can listen. They may not be able to at every given time. You will know they are those with which you can practice when they let you know where they are and what they can handle. If now is not the time, they will tell you when is. They understand because they are experiencing the same in themselves.
Those who turn away are still afraid to look into the shadows. That's ok. They just are not the ones you want to share with. They are the ones you've been using to fortify your belief that you must stay quiet.
When I got to this part of my journey to loving me, I started the fight with the internal dialogue that said I was being inappropriate. After a long hard battle, it gave way. What I saw on the other side was what had been driving the car in my life, what I had broken down into so deeply that day in my 12th year.
I was feeling my disappointment.
If it is not ok for Rachel to NOT be ok, I can not acknowledge where I'm at a loss. I cannot acknowledge where I had an expectation of myself or another that was left unfulfilled.
Buddhist philosophy encourages the release of expectations.
That is a beautiful goal.
It's also not HUMANLY possible.
And honey, you are a human.
You are going to have expectations.
You are going to be left unfulfilled.
You are going to be disappointed.
It's as real a part of life as growing, aging and dying.
It is just going to happen.
It's what you do with that disappointment.
When you sit with yourself and let the emotions come forward, you get to understand what you need.
You get to see what you have been neglecting for yourself.
And then you get to give it to yourself.
Yes, you and you. You get to be your own soother, your own friend, your own parent.
When I got present to disappointment in my life I started seeing how I had begun not only to be disappointed by unfulfilled expectations, I had begun to expect disappointment.
So guess what I got?
A whole heck of a lot of unfulfilling experiences and relationships.
I got a storyline of sadness, of being misunderstood and unworthy.
I had taken on a belief that not only life was disappointing but that I was a disappointment.
So I practice. And I practice. And I practice.
I catch myself when I start that berating and self judging.
I express emotion.
I LET IT OUT.