Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Owning the Authentic, Sensitive Me

Dear Barbara,

It has been four years and one day since you died in my arms. I tried to let the anniversary pass unnoticed, but I couldn't -- it didn't.

I am in such a different place than I was when I met you, the same day I lost you. We did not have a deep connection as such, except for sharing the last moments of your life together, which are perhaps some of the deepest moments of all.

It still hurts, Barbara. I have felt raw all week; dragged down and in need of space -- infinite amounts of space. I told someone that this anniversary always felt a little rough to me, especially because it comes the day after 9/11 and right before my birthday, and they were surprised. It made me feel ashamed that I still feel it so deeply, but I cannot change the way I feel, anymore than I could keep your airway from closing off on that night.

"Did you tell her to remember The Light?" someone asked me the day after you died. We were at an ashram, you remember, and a lot of the teachings focused on the Light -- there was even a meditation around it that people would stop and perform together during the day, called The Light. No, I said, I didn't. I didn't because The Light didn't resonate with me. As with many of the teachings at Yasodhara, I did not find that they spoke to me, and I felt shame about that, too. I have realized lately that it's a recurring theme: someone tells me something that will supposedly help me, it doesn't, and I take it on as something I'm doing wrong. I'm not doing anything wrong.

There have been many times in my life that I have wished someone could just tell me how to feel better or get better. I have sought out many healers of various kinds in search of an answer. I am realizing now that the shame I feel each and every time is because I cannot live up to their standard. However, that shame means that I am not owning my right to take what I like, and leave the rest. Instead, I use the ways I don't measure up as a whipping stick to beat myself with -- everything from not telling you to remember the Light, to not being able to let this anniversary pass without pain, to what I should and shouldn't eat according to the latest medical research, to whether or not I can fucking meditate.

It makes me tired, Barbara. I am tired of not listening to myself, although many people tell me I am better at living authentically than others. If I can let go of the black and white thinking, I can know that I am actually both of these things: I struggle with what others think and judge myself harshly for not being able to do it "better" while also casting a lot of society's norms to the wayside.

I feel deeply; I am sensitive. Depending on who you ask, this is either my biggest weakness or my greatest power. Depending on the situation, I vacillate between which of those beliefs I subscribe to. Someone recently paid me the greatest compliment of my life when they told me that it was clear to them that I was open hearted, then asked me how they could become more like me. I nearly wept, because it's true that I wear my heart on my sleeve and I cannot pretend otherwise anymore.

It's not that I miss you, Barbara; I hardly knew you. I do not miss the person who I was when I met you. I do not want to rewind the years I have had between now and then. But sometimes, I want it to hurt a little less, you know? I want to be able to hold my emotions up to the light and smile at them instead of finding them coursing through me like my very blood. I have not found that kind of detachment yet -- I am not there yet, and I want to be ok with that. I want to be ok with feeling as much as I feel; for being exactly who I am, open hearted and weepy, and also moving forward at the pace I am able. I want it to be enough; I want to be enough for myself, so I can put down all these expectations that I heap upon my shoulders in others' names.

Ultimately, even though I didn't say anything about The Light to you in your last moments, I showed up, Barbara. I was there for you in a way I didn't even know I was capable of. I held you, and I let your last moments be about you. I held the space, which is no small feat, especially for the amount of pain I was in then. Although I am feeling raw this week, it's different. I am better -- infinitely better. And owning how much I am as myself -- how far I've come -- is a major step toward owning my sensitive, amazing self.

Love and sensitive kisses