Saturday, May 31, 2014

Beyond the Agony and the Ecstasy

They talk about broken hearts like they’re a bad thing; like they’re only something that can happen in a romantic relationship. I have found neither to be true.

Instead, I have found my heart breaking over and over again, having little to do with romance at all, and everything to do with finding myself with a deeper capacity to feel inside my broken heart than I ever did when I thought my heart to be whole. Whole, or, perhaps more accurately, wholly closed.

There’s another word that we’re missing in this language, invisible audience. It is the word for whatever lies beyond the limits of agony and ecstasy, when suddenly you find that your heart has split nearly in half. It is like fresh road rash exposed to the air: it hurts more than you can imagine to allow oxygen to brush against it, never mind anything tactile. It hurts that it is open to air, and it also hurts to know that air is what will make it heal the fastest and with the least amount of scar tissue.

In the case of emotional road rash, it’s not actually pain. It’s something else. It’s not love; it’s not hate. It’s closer to grief, hangs next to anguish, but also near to the ecstasy that comes from deep passion, connection – orgasm, even. It rides a tightrope between agony and ecstasy and feels like a delicious terrible concoction of both at 100% potency.

It, well, it feels far more than anything else, and that is what it is. It could feel like pain, but it also feels like change. It’s scary, messy, causes tears to well up and overflow, and an ache in the chest. It is a deep unnamed feeling that leaves everything beyond and outside of it pale in comparison.

What is it? It is heartbreak. It is the nerves exposed to air, measuring the humidity, the heat, a better barometer than anything manmade, and it is also completely inexplicable, try as I might to explain.

Oftentimes, in a moment of profound pleasure, be it sexual, emotional or physical, I find that a lump appears in my throat and my chest begins to ache. It is not pain, necessarily, but it is certainly not all pleasant. Instead, I think, it must be the feeling of my heart expanding: cracking open over and over again, each crack creating more space, more room, more heart.

And that is where I find myself this week, invisible audience. I am heartbroken, in a way that causes me to weep openly, to shy away from touch as if it burns on the nerves laid bare within my skin, although the wound is invisible. It feels as if the bandages I have wrapped around myself are unraveling, and my pores are drinking in the air as if they have been starving and deprived.

Although there is pleasure in this feeling, there is also a lot of pain. Although it is growth, it is also a shrinking of an old self; a withering of old ideas as new ones burst forth to grow something wild and different.

I can’t say it hurts, but it sure as fuck doesn’t feel good. I suppose that all I can say is that it feels, invisible audience, in a way, a depth and a mixture of burning hot and icy cold that it has never felt before.

Though it is near impossible to explain without having the word, it is there nonetheless, like a scar peeling away from the inside of the skin, finally allowing the air to come in, the lungs to fill to capacity, and the world to burst into vibrant, violent color before my eyes.

Nothing in the world has changed, except me. And in me, everything is different.

Love and ecstatic agonized kisses

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Breaking the Silence

“Hi Litty. I'm going to walk around the table now. Here I go. I’m coming toward you.”
“Hey there Litty. Nice to see you. I’ll just be over here if you need me.”
“Hi Litty. Are you hungry? Here’s my hand. Don’t worry, I won’t come any closer.”

Litty is one of four cats I’m petsitting for the week. I was warned that it would take her awhile to warm up to me. Litty – Little One – was a rescue cat – rescued from two kids that were torturing her.

Litty came halfway down the stairs to stare at me while I was working at the dining room table. She was skittish and skeptical, and at first any movement I made was enough to make her bolt up back upstairs. Slowly she grew accustomed to me, moving out of the way when I came near, but only far enough that I couldn’t grab her if I tried. That was ok with me -- I've known enough cats to know not to try. The more I talked to her, though – the more I told her I was coming out of a room so I wouldn’t startle her, the more I started talking before I started moving – the more she relaxed.

I’m a lot like Litty, I think: I need someone to tell me they’re about to try to get close before they do, or I’m likely to bolt, expecting the worst.

Since I don’t need a babysitter, the real world version of this is a little different. I have learned through much trial and error that I stoke silence into a growing wildfire of dark thoughts, fears and rejections, and the easiest and best way out is to break the silence myself or ask someone to break it for me.

I have a friend who shows me in countless ways that he cares about me. I also know that he only checks his email once or twice a week. Remembering the ways he’s shown me I’m important to him feels about as easy as trying to grow a third arm when I’m waiting for a reply to an email whose contents make me feel vulnerable. Even when I’ve just forwarded him some benign piece of information, my mind is much more likely to leap to the most terrible option available instead of to what is most likely the truth: he hasn’t read the email yet.

The same woman I wrote about last week, Jeanne, pointed out to me that I need to hear it: I need people to tell me how they feel, because, well, because the words are important to me. I’m a writer, after all. Although I can say I write for a living, I actually call myself a writer because writing is where I turn for understanding and legitimizing my feelings: I write when I am happy, sad, afraid, vulnerable. Writing is where I go to feel more alive, and the words are what bring it about. Yes, recently I’ve found many holes in the language and I have been searching for a way to describe what does not exist in the words I have been taught, but I’d rather you bumbled the words and tried to say it loud than simply show me.

This is a new discovery for me, invisible audience, but an important one. Now I know that I need the words to feel safe, and that’s changed something: it means I can’t be silent anymore. Now, when I’m starting to feel skittish and like I want to bolt for the door, I gather my courage and say, “What do you think about this?” OUT LOUD to the other person. And where before I always feared the rejection in their answer, now I am finding sweet relief in hearing the silence be broken, regardless of what words they use to break it. By breaking my own silence, I have managed to ask others to break theirs around me, and I’m finding that the sound of their voices, regardless of message, was all I needed.

Love and broken silence kisses

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Truth of the Matter

Her: “Who told you that you were a big woman? You seem pretty normal sized to me. You might want to consider letting go of that idea, especially if it isn’t serving you.”
Me: “I wish we’d had this conversation much earlier.”
Him: “Why?”
Me: “Because I somehow had the idea that you would be critical of what I believed or thought if my ideas weren’t based in science, and it kept me from telling you things about myself.”
Him: “I tried to disabuse you of that idea. More than once, in fact.”
Her: “I don’t believe in THE truth. I believe in MY truth, and that my truth is going to be different from others’ truths, even if we’re recalling the same situation or moment.”
Oh Jesusfuckingchristonastick, invisible audience.

So it turns out that reality IS what you make of it, and over the last couple weeks that’s become so apparent, it’s like someone has taken a baseball bat to my reality and beat it repeatedly until I saw stars through the cracks of what I always believed to be true.

I’ve talked about this a lot, but it turns out that I’ve actually been injecting meaning into conversations that wasn’t there, because finding proof of the reality I had built was much more important than hearing the truth of what the other person was saying.

I recently sat down with a woman who asked me to tell her my story – my life story; what had brought me here, to this point in time. What I told her was basically what was in the book I’ve been writing, in the same way I told it in the book -- a book that I now could care less about publishing.

She listened, quietly and respectfully, and said, “You did a great job. Now, I want you to tell me that story again, but I want you to retell it so that, ever time you chose something different, you claim responsibility and credit for it instead of claiming you were a victim that was forced from one part of your life into another.

“For instance," she said, "Instead of saying, ‘I was drowning in depression and felt like my only option was to move to Panama,’ what if you said, ‘I chose to break a pattern that wasn’t working and move away, and because I am adventurous and resourceful, I knew that it would work out and I’d be able to take care of myself, because I’d done it countless times before.’?”

I thought a long time about it. She sat patiently and waited.

The new story that came out was jilted, lumpy, and hesitant. It took me four or five times before I could say it with any sort of fluency. I could actually feel the new pathways trying to form in my brain; trying to pull out of the paths they’d been in for so long -- paths that had cast me as an unwilling player in this game of life -- and reform me as a courageous woman who had managed to make a monstrous change despite deep fear; a woman who somehow knew under all the other chatter that the unknown held much more freedom than the predictable.

That new story has freed me, invisible audience. Not only that, but many subsequent conversations have made it clear how deeply I had subscribed to the reality of the victim, even as a braver, wilder part of me would sneak out every now and then – but with more and more frequency – grab the reins, and yank them to a new, thornier and incredible path, away from everything that had ever been and into uncharted territory.

Now that I can own my story, I can see that that person was me.

I have realized that I took the words out of peoples’ mouths and twisted them into stunted little beings that would better fit into my idea that I was worthless. I realized that I have discounted the many, many ways I have been shown that I am loved and sought signals of my mundaneness in others’ eyes, looking right past the sparkle that came over them when they looked at me. I refused to see the magic, invisible audience, because there was no way to explain it, and it didn’t fit into an idea of reality that I’d picked up from others; a reality that has nothing to do with how the world actually works for me.

I have a magical existence. What I need shows up when I need it. The people I love show me that they love me in the ways that they know best. When I keep that in mind, I see huge, fragrant gardens where before I only saw dead, barren landscape.

All because someone helped me see that my story was writing my reality, instead of reality creating my story.

Love and choosing your own reality kisses,