Saturday, February 15, 2014

Searching for Connection with Unknown Words and Actions

It's 6:20 a.m. I was rudely awoken by a scorpion that stung me in the foot when I turned over in bed at 4 a.m., and although I am relieved to say a friend of mine was right when he told me that scorpion stings don’t hurt that badly, they certainly DO hurt for a long time.

It’s probably a good time to write you anyway, invisible audience. A lot has happened in the last 10 days or so since my last blog post, but I’ve been having problems trying to articulate it in a cohesive manner, and that’s been enough to keep me from trying.

It’s a recurring theme, actually: if I don’t know that I’ll be able to do it well, it’s scary to try. It’s that perfectionism thing – the thing that tells me that it’s either perfect or nothing: that I must impress people with whatever I’m trying to do or no one will love me.

It’s even worse than that, however. Underneath a bunch of other crap I have cleared away, I have found a deep-seated fear of being alone, and a realization that I have kept myself isolated because of this fear: because the feeling of isolation is more acute after losing a connection than it is when I feel like there’s nothing to lose, so why not just get used to feeling alone to avoid hurting so much?

I did it by resisting all good things I knew about myself; all the ways people showed me that they loved me; all proof that I am worth that love, and dismissed it as luck, happenstance or a mistake. While I was ignoring all the good, I was gathering all the bad – the criticism, the rejection, the imperfect attempts at human connection, all the burned food, all the pain – into a fortress that I could sit in and say, “See? It’s true. I’m not lovable and here’s the proof.”

It’s still that black and white thing. I’ve written about this before, but recently it’s become clear just how deeply I carry it. It's the idea that it’s nothing or everything; if I can’t make sense of it in my head AND in my heart together, it cannot possibly be true; if I do not have it all together all the time, then I have nothing.

How exhausting, and limiting. I spend a lot of mental energy trying to figure out how I can love someone deeply and yet hate them in certain situations. I spend even more energy trying to align how I act to match this idea: how to reconcile that I can have certain parts of my life dialed in and yet beat myself up over and over again for the parts that aren’t yet working the way I want them to.

Realizing that I’ve been such a monster to myself has been hard to process. At the same time, realizing what I’ve been doing is actually leading to some clarity, and an ability to recognize the thoughts and patterns when they emerge and try to do something to change them.

For the last 6 months or so I’ve been taking a voice class. I had always thought that I couldn’t sing, and yet recently and as a result of the class, I have found that I can sing. In the last couple weeks, more than one person has complimented me on my voice: its range, its resonance, and its strength. The class has nothing to do with learning scales or doing exercises and everything to do with finding one’s true voice: finding the part of yourself that really has something to say, and letting it say whatever it wants. It’s been a lesson in trusting the voice to speak for itself and practicing over and over again until, suddenly, my real voice emerged, and it’s more beautiful, real and ALIVE than I ever thought possible.

In the midst of letting my voice lead me through these classes, I’ve found that I have a longing to make other sounds, but I don’t know how to make them and I don’t even know what they are. The same idea that I’ve always had that I couldn’t sing has kept me in the same box, and there are only certain sounds available in that box. Outside of the box, where I find myself singing out loud – and loudly – while walking down the street, in my house, or in the shower, I find I want to come up with something else: something more original, less scripted, and more ME than any other sound I’ve ever made before. I think it’s similar to my discovery that the words were not enough: that there have been some missing pieces that I have only recently become aware were missing, not because I’ve found them, but because, suddenly, I can sense the space where they should be.

This all seems to be related. I hear the sounds I’ve been making; I see thewords I’ve been writing; I recognize the scripts I’ve been using all these years now. Even better, I am now seeing the holes in these sounds, these words, these actions, and where the space is around them: where there’s room for improvement, where there’s more space outside of them; where they don’t actually have any legs to stand on. And even though I don’t yet know how to fill these empty spaces or how to get from what I’ve been saying or writing to whatever it is I can’t quite yet fathom are the words, sounds and actions that will give me connection, at least now I’m willing to allow that the answer is out there. With some trust in myself and a lot of practice, I now know I can find it, simply by showing up and saying something different than what I’ve always said, until I find the words that I didn’t know were there, backed by my new voice that has gained its strength and resonance simply from being given the freedom to say whatever it wants. That, and knowing that that kind of sharing – the sharing that comes from an authentic me – is perfect, in all its imperfect glory.

Love and {insert unknown word here} kisses,