peacemaker, you have all the love in the world

I recently have been studying the Enneagram model for human personality, a bit, with my Yoga teacher, she herself having trained in it.

I struggled with the analysis model in the past, as I claimed not to believe in what I considered boxing people in.

I did not wish to be pinpointed, or narrowly confined.

I now realize that my strong reaction was primarily due to my ego’s misinterpretation of the whole thing.

Eventually, I consented, and decided, that because none of the numbers truly fit me, I must then be a four. The artistic, intuitive, sensitive and moody type. The one governed by emotion.

It was the only piece that possibly made the slightest bit of sense.

Until I ran into conflict, fairly recently, and through my reaction to the drama, my teacher kindly opened my eyes to a new possibility.

Upon confrontation, my insides twisted and turned and became shaken to such a degree that I tossed through sleepless nights, and wanted desperately for it all to go away.

It is exactly these types of circumstances I work so dearly hard to avoid.

And as I mentioned this to the wise one, she calmly stated,“That isn’t how a four would react. You might be a nine.”

Nine is the starry-eyed peacemaker.

Often checked out of reality, we are the dreamers who idealize the world and our emotions to such a degree that we can lose all touch with reality and our sense of self in the process, not to mention the uncomfortable feelings that go along with human life. Including, among other emotions, anger.

It occurred to me, when she told me this, that maybe, in fact, she was right.

I embraced my nine-ness and began confronting the discomfort of the drama face forward, in remedy.

A few weeks into my newfound approach, I waffled a bit, losing my sense of self, yet again, this time in the story of myself as a creator.

You see, I am highly emotional, as well as an empath, and extremely sensitive. I feel everyone else’s emotions to such a degree that I have no choice but to take them all in.

Every child’s blinking, wide-eyed stare, and every stripped shoelace life slumped by the side of the street, pierces through my paper-thin skin to a heart that dances at the wonder and rends at the very sight of despair.

And the best way I have found, for processing all of this feeling, is through words.

Family members used to laugh at the intensity of the letters I would write, when I was a teenager going through all the aches and pains of growing up.

I would grow so heated and all the emotions would become so bottled up that the only way I could possibly begin to coherently organize my thoughts was through pen and paper.

Even today, I tell people I write because I cannot talk.

Spoken words stumble and trip on my tongue.

The thoughts, ideas, and feelings swirl from my heart, through my head, to an outpouring rush from my fingertip to pounded-upon key, and only then do I begin to feel even remotely okay.

I cannot achieve this same level of okay-ness, in any other way.

Yet, through my brief Enneagram study, I realized that writing is, by no means, the end-all, be-all for me. Writing is not where my true spiritual work lies.

Writing is merely a gateway, a door opening to the horizon of the desert of real growth, through which I must walk for centuries with parched lips croaking at the far-off dream of a droplet of water.

As I waffled between understanding my intuitive, artistic,deeply emotional side, the side that must write, must create, every single day, without negotiation, in order to feel alive, and my neurotic tendencies as a passive peacemaker merely floating by, it suddenly dawned on me.

It became evident, with a spring-into-cold-water awakening, that writing holds the potential to serve an incredibly passive aggressive form of communication, depending on what I then do with those words.

Hammering out my deepest feelings, only to free the thoughts and post them in threads of ether, is a significant form of cathartic release.

But it does not take the place of picking up the phone and reaching out to those who may have hurt me, or even worse, who I may have hurt, in whatever way, shape, or form, of the moment. Even those whom I hold most dear to my heart.

And why do I write about the generality of my feelings, skimming the bottom of the ocean for shells with closed-tight eyes lest I feel the stinging of the salt?

Why do I hold other people at arm’s length, keeping them just far enough from both the brightness of my heart’s beating pulse as well as the sharp flashes of true, human emotion I at times feel toward and around them?

Why do I numb myself from feeling the deepness and the fullness to the rawest degree?

I have no problem speaking my mind around those I know to be just passing through. The temporary coworkers, transitory housemates, and people I meet on various travels.

And in the process, I have been able to foster real connection with so many strangers. Yet with my own family and friends, I am afraid. I hold back.

Because what if they don’t feel the same way? What if they do not love me as much as I love them? That could very well be the case.

In fact, who could possibly hold this much love for itty-bitty old me (as I hold my arms wider still than the span of Earth, moon, and sun combined).

When your love touches mountains, it can never be reached. And so I guess this raises my deepest, darkest fear. Of only ever being able to love on human terms, under human conditions, and in the very limitations of our earthly ways.

I once saw my life flash before my eyes.

I have been waiting for the right moment to write these words aloud (Lord knows, I’ve written them thousands of times, before, in the privacy of my journal’s safe leather binds, as well as in notes for my therapists’ ears alone).

But now feels as good a time as ever to get this off my chest. At the risk of sounding starkingly mad, I was attacked once, and in the moment, I knew I was about to die.

My attacker, as he tazed me with a stun gun shot to the neck, also had a knife, and I intuitively knew in an inexplicable way his every intention to stab me. Only then he didn’t.

And, clear as day, I felt a message from God (because God doesn’t always speak, so much, in the linearity of words or images.)

And the message filled me with a new kind of love, a feeling so full and pure that I knew I had experienced it before, possibly as a child, or perhaps in another life. As I was filled with this feeling, I knew it was not my time to go.

I was here for a mission, to feel this kind of love, again, here on Earth. As I received this divine message, my attacker stood, and walked away. Without reason, he let me go. He let me go, to run.

And so run I did.

I ran until I found the haven of my bed, in a city that would not feel safe for months to come.

I ran until I found a shell in which to hide myself away.

I ran, and I ran some more.

I ran until I found the familiar sensation of numbness I had discovered in recent years, as a soother to all the hurt.

I allowed being numb to swallow me whole.

For far too many years. Under far too many methods. Some physical, but many of which appeared as mental inflictions of an imagined sense of control.

Until I could no longer bear the shutting-down engine, sputtering in the wake of a smogged-out highway full of flat tires and pierced dreams.

I could no longer stand sleepwalking my way through life.

The re-awakening has been a slow, painful process, full of much, much feeling.

Crawling my way back to the light of day has, at times, left me battered and bruised, and feeling deathly alone.

But this aloneness, I am forever in the process of realizing, was always part of the delusion.

As was the idea that I would never be loved, just as I am, anger and all. As well as the idea that I, with all of my feelings, am too much for anybody else.

So, for all you other peacemakers, floating through life on idyllic daydreams so far, up, and away in an effort to keep your too-muchness at bay, please know, that I can feel the rays of your love, down here, from where I stand, as well as those of your anger.

I can reach to the very ends of your dreams, and I will not let go of what I find there, however slippery and gruesome the mess. I will not let go, just as so many, here, did not let go of me.

 

This article was published on Rebelle Society.

learning to hold hands with myself

IMG_5489Right now I’m in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. Every morning, I practice in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Out on the deck, facing the ocean. Open air above me, I make shapes and play amidst the salty breeze. I gaze forward and witness the horizon extending out into infinity directly to my front.

Yet this morning, I had a visitor join me on my mat. A black fly, just like the biting pests who nearly forced me off the beach our first day here with their relentless stings.

And as I moved through the practice, the more frustrated I became with this uninvited visitor. Although he was somewhat courteous in that he did not bite me directly, he continued to skirt around my body, traipsing through the open-faced poison ivy wounds on my arms.

I began to stomp and cry out. Tears forming at the corners of my eyes, I shouted, “Fuck you fly, get off!” So yogic of me, right? But one thing I’ve found in my years of practice is yoga is nothing like the cover of a magazine. It is a messy, salty, sweaty, living beast that changes shapes and form as consistently as the changing tide, and all too often involves curse words and the occasional toddler-reminiscent temper tantrum. Because that is real life.

And then I remembered where I was. I realized the fly was taking me out of the experience of the ocean, the natural beauty all around me. I blew my nose to find a passage to breath again and then allowed the air to carry me, returning within and moving forward despite the distractions.

There will always be a fly. The flies are the doubters, the disbelievers, the ones who nag at you and tell you that you’re not good enough, just as you are, in this moment. The flies are the ones who don’t understand what it’s like to be in your body, your soul, your spirit. So they attempt to take you out of yourself. They don’t understand, so they continue to swarm, possibly catching a glimpse of the light that you emit from within, and craving more. They come ever closer, yet they do not stop their incessant buzzing.

Just the other day, I asked my family members to read a story that I worked on for the past two months. This morning one of my family members told me he had finished it. He told me he liked it, and then told me no less than twenty things I need to change about it.

It’s important to have people who push you forward, toward growth. But from where I stand, it feels like there are twenty things I need to change about myself, in order to be able to communicate with other people. And that’s the part that hurts, deeply. I could not convey this feeling to my family member in words, so I just began to cry. He responded by saying it makes him uncomfortable when I “get emotional” about things that are simple. But it’s not simple. It never has felt simple to me. It feels overwhelming, like I don’t know where to begin, and words don’t even begin to capture what I feel inside. It’s like the ocean. I can try however I might to put words to the vastness and the beauty, the ethereal existence. But the written description always seems to fall short.

Right now in practice, marichyasana b has been the bane of my existence for a few weeks. I struggle with the bind. My teacher tells me I have the strength and the flexibility; I just need to learn how to hold hands with myself. I believe it’s all connected. Practice, life, writing, love. All intertwined and maybe my hands don’t quite reach yet, but I can continue to wrap around in whatever way I can, and try my best to take things one at a time. Learning to hold hands with myself.