Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Reviving Intuition

My life is magical in so many ways that I can no longer attribute it to luck, first because it takes away the part I’ve played in it and that’s just not fair to me and everything I’ve done to get here, but also because I have a sneaking suspicion that I could actually have whatever I wanted if I would stop getting in my own way and let myself believe I deserve the best that the world has to offer me. My life here seems to reflect that, to the extent that I’ve been able to let it.

On the other hand, even when the sun is shining and the rainbows are gathering over my beautiful little casita in a Panamanian mountain town, the storm clouds are thundering away in my head, and it is very, very often that I vacillate between ebullience at the world I see around me and wailing grief and rage at what I find within. It may not be a black and white world, invisible audience, but the color contrast is often just as stark between my inner and outer worlds.

“She’s not the kind of girl who lets herself get stuck in situations that aren’t serving her.”

One of my friends said this about someone we know, and it has stayed with me. This is a friend that I admire most because of his ability to tap directly into his intuition and just go with whatever it tells him, unlike me. He and I have had many conversations like this one:

Me: “I know her. When I first got here, she roped me into something and it took a long time to extricate myself, despite the fact that I knew something was up when I first met her.”

Him: “When I first met her, I felt myself automatically backing away. That’s when I knew she was no good.”

I can look back on nearly every situation that hasn’t turned out well for me, especially the ones where I’ve been taken advantage of by others, and see that at the beginning I knew that it was a bad idea, but I got caught up in the other person’s needs, their enthusiasm, and often logic and common sense, ignored myself and went with it. Not only that, but when I started to figure out just how much a situation wasn’t going to work for me, I didn’t crash through a window to escape. Instead, I tiptoed around apologizing, taking all the blame, and letting myself be convinced that I was the one that wasn’t good enough to be able to handle the situation better. In fact, it is usually only months later, once I am completely removed from whomever or whatever happened and when other people are in the process of discovering for themselves how terrible things are revolving around that person or situation, that I finally let myself think, “Hey, yeah. I was RIGHT!”

But you know what, invisible audience? This is what we’re taught. I am not the only one who has a problem with this, and it’s not just because of my mountains of self-doubt and insecurities.

I am certainly not the only one who’s ever been told to hang in there; that whatever job or situation is worth the discomfort or unhappiness because of the benefits; because of the paycheck; because it’s an important career move. How often are we told to forgo happiness – which, aside from and as part of survival, is all I’ve been able to figure out my intuition wants for me – for what’s safe, what’s logical, what is good for us?

That’s the one that’s really gotten to me lately, invisible audience: how often I have ignored my own internal mechanism, as ancient and true as animal instinct, because I was convinced that the exact opposite was what was good for me.

I can look back at my life and see them now: a string of decisions that I made because it was the most logical and good-for-me choice; a choice that ultimately took away my happiness and shackled me, either emotionally, physically or financially.

The editor at the Guadalajara Colony Reporter who verbally abused me and whom I was convinced to continue to work for for three more weeks to finish my internship; to hang in there and therefore give the impression that what he had done was ok.

The mentally unstable and jealous boss who hired others over me and left me a contractor, meaning I didn’t have health insurance through the company when the stress she put me through caused enough of a breakdown to trigger appendicitis and depression. It also meant that the week I spent at home post-appendectomy wasn’t paid.

Taking on debt or buying things that were not important to me because of where I “should be” by this point in life: the kinds of gadgets or cars I should have; etc.

Maintaining friendships with people who cannot offer me anything emotionally and yet suck the life out of me in every encounter we have in the name of friendship.

Responsibilities that I did not ask for regarding who I am supposed to be as a friend, a family member, an American, a woman. Expectations of what I should be, impressed upon me as what was best for me while they were slowly but surely tearing me apart.

Do I sound enraged, invisible audience? Because I am. I am enraged that sometime in my life, someone made it clear enough to me that I couldn’t trust myself that now it’s taking everything I have to revive the part of me that knows better. I am enraged that I have been so hesitant and self-doubting that I have let countless opportunities that didn’t make any sense pass me by because they weren’t logical, while picking the logical ones that made me feel sick to my stomach because they’d be good for me. I am enraged that I’m even having to relearn how to listen to what my body actually wants me to eat, because my whole life what I’ve heard was good for me makes me physically ill. I am enraged that sometimes I feel like the crazy one, and that I have spent so much time apologizing for the moves my intuition has made on my behalf, sometimes without my knowledge, and many times without my permission, because I was never taught to trust what it was telling me.

My intuition, with not just a little bit of kicking and screaming, has pulled me out of jobs, situations and relationships and put me in foreign lands, over and over again, until I finally realized that maybe, just maybe, what was actually good for me was not what everyone else said was good for me – things like a corporate job, buying a house or a job with benefits. Maybe it’s finding my bliss amongst overcrowded taxis, other travelers or expats, and outside of the idea that all that is good for me can only exist in my own country.

I am enraged, and it’s a pretty new feeling for me. Polite people don’t get enraged, you see. Rage is not an acceptable thing to feel, it’s not good for you. Tell that to my intuition. I am enraged that it’s taken me until now to consider that I might be the one who knows what’s best for me. It’s probably going to take a little bit of time to get to a point where I can listen to others’ ideas for me without becoming angry at them, not because of what they’re saying, but because of what so many have said before them, and mostly because I’m angry at myself for having listened.

It will take some work, but I’m ready for it: I’m ready to learn to trust myself, and if it takes some rage to clear away the expectations so I can listen to what I have to say to myself, then so be it.

Love and enraged kisses