Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Ocean Between Us

A friend had written me a letter mentioning that they've noticed how much I've changed in my photographs. They asked me about myself, how I was doing, what I was doing and although I've written much of it here, in this blog over the years, I wanted to share my reply because through so much heartache and yet also experience and wisdom, while there is often an ocean between us, we're only only breathes apart.

Dear Friend,
There are a few things about me that you should know if we're going to keep talking. I'm very raw expressing my emotions and thoughts and it can overwhelm people even if those thoughts and emotions aren't directed toward them, ie; I'm telling them a story about my life and it's powerful and makes them think of their own failures, accomplishments, flaws, strengths, loneliness, etc., so I just want to give you that caveat if we're going to continue to chat which I really do enjoy.

That being said, as much as I do share, there is a whole world inside me that I don't because I trust people in increments because of bad experiences. It has less to do with trusting them as it has to do with trusting myself with their reaction and whatever follows once I've trusted them, if that makes sense. Will they accept me? Will they embrace me? Will they judge me? Will they love me? Will they disappear? Will they reject me? Will they misunderstand me? Can I trust them with more? Will they trust me?

I've had to come to terms with the fact, for example, that all I've wanted my entire life is to be loved. I was an abused neglected child. I was treated brutally by family in front of family and no one stopped it for years. I was told to not 'feel' and yet I 'felt' and when I did, I felt guilt and fear too, so there is guilt and fear attached unhealthily to many emotions. I work on cutting those cords and the negativity carried over from my development and then adolescence. I want to feel pure undiluted joy without fear of losing it and to be completely loved without dread of being abandoned and I came to the conclusion that would never reach any of those desires, dreams and goals (and many unspoken here) until I realized a few key things:

#1a You have to love yourself fully first. You may find it very easy to love others automatically but many of us don't love ourselves at all. Love yourself.

#1b You are loved, loving and lovable, no exceptions, ever.

#2 You have the right to exist because you were born and the right to be loved for exactly who you are so go back to #1.

#3 Whatever happened to you when you were a child whether it happened to you or you witnessed it or were immersed in it is not your fault.

#4 Whatever happened to you when you made poor choices, may not be undone but you can find the lessons and gratitude in them and you'll be freed by knowing that some of the most horrible things became gifts. This can be very hard to digest but it's part of processing so it's okay to not be able to handle this one right now.

#5 You can't embrace the future if your arms are full of the past.

#6 It's okay to have feelings, emotions, urges and even over-think and analyze everything. Feel them and think them. Accept that they're a part of you, fully. Embrace them, really. And knowing THAT, move on with the reassurance that you can revisit them whenever you need to or they spring up unexpectedly. Don't deny them because they're part of who you are. Go back to #1 and read it again.

I was born Roman Catholic and when I was about 15, my mother who was very domineering decided the entire family had to convert to fundamentalist Christian. First Assemblies of God, a branch of pentecostalism to be exact. I was the most reluctant in the family as I was more analytical and rejected their very unscientific (to me) beliefs. I was also trying to create boundaries with my mother especially and my family in general because of the past and because they didn't respect me as an individual in ANY way, even the most basic ways. I contributed to the church community in some ways to appease my mother and because they were enjoyable things like running the crying room (church nursery) and singing in the choir, doing specials (solos) during services and performing in plays and musicals.

 My family was deeply entrenched in the church community which alarmed me. My mother was in fact, a board member and they invested a great deal of time and energy into controlling the private lives of church members and participants and their families. I was eventually thrown out by the pastor for not being submissive to basically anyone they deemed was an authority and/or male. I was relieved. I can't say that I felt anything spiritual in Roman Catholicism except the spirit of community and the beauty of ritual and history and in fundamentalism, I enjoyed the music, the fervor of others and in every religion, the beauty of faith.

When I had no faith at all, especially since I left the ex husband at the end of August 2011, I was able to have faith in the faith of others. It was all I could do. It was enough, though.
I would ask people to pray for me when they told me they were a believer or a Christian or even a person of any faith. I was angry at God and told him I didn't know if I believed in him and even denied my belief in him and I raged at him that I didn't trust him, I didn't trust a patriarchal system that made me a second class second thought by virtue or failure of my sex and that I had prayed for a godly husband and was given a brutal cold man and in fact had remained a virgin because I truly believed in keeping my vows even before I would meet my husband-to-be and here I was married to a man who never even kissed me. I was married to a man for ten years who didn't even touch me.

 Oh I hated God.

I laid in bed at night and there was an ocean between us. I asked God to make me a better person, a better Christian, a better wife, a better woman, a better human being, for years.

I didn't know he was a feeder when we married and his intention was that he wanted me to get so fat that I would be so immobile I could never leave him. He admitted it gleefully. I was married to a sociopath.

If I had known up front that he was a feeder, we could have worked it out but that he was sneaky and manipulative about it and took joy in my illness and discomfort was beyond my comprehension. In the same time period, my mother, my godmother, my only sister and my baby brother died. I was so sick with a horrible illness, my ex was told to make funeral arrangements and I was starving myself. I was sick for so long I have no memory of at least six months of that time period.
When my sister died, I stopped taking the narcotics I needed for pain, cold turkey, and although I was violently ill, I wanted to grieve for her. As my head cleared and I became more lucid for the first time in about 2 years, I realized my marriage was over and if I stayed with him I would either die or kill myself.

I would lay in bed at night asking God to free me. Every night, the ocean between us, my husband and I, and God and I too.

On the night before my brother's burial (both he and my sister died suddenly) my husband brutally sexually assaulted me while pretending to console me. I was in shock and pain. I was ashamed that I thought he wanted to show me love after years of rejection so I didn't even think to call the police. Instead, when I went home (we were staying in a hotel near the funeral home) I took a bottle of 120 Percocet and was about to swallow the whole thing when I looked in the mirror and said, No. He's not worth it and I am. I put the bottle down and called a friend and met her at a Dunkin Donuts and she gave me the number to a domestic crisis center and a lawyer and I carried those numbers around with me for a few months as he became more openly controlling and abusive, and now in public. I was a shadow of myself and a friend who would visit to check on me and never gave up on me said that I was like a beautiful butterfly that was losing all her color and fading into dust.

In the middle of Hurricane Irene, I had the flu. We had lost power and I was sick and on the couch and he walked past me and threw a flickering flashlight at me and told me he was going out to hang out with his buddy and he left me alone in the cold and dark, sick and with no food, water or plumbing. My friend texted me that she was coming to get me but that the roads were blocked and I told her that I was leaving him in the morning. The following morning I packed what I could and told him I was going to my dad's for a few days until the hurricane let up and power was restored and I never went back. I've never been back to my own house. I've never returned for my things. I only see him in court (now he brings his fiancee') so he and his lawyer can scream at me why I'm not getting my belongings and how they're going to throw them out on the street. And his girlfriend screams how I'm holding up their wedding and I think about how he's telling friends and neighbors that I was unfaithful to him and to this day I still haven't been touched by another man, to this day, to this day. And he's engaged.

So why am I telling you all this?

To get to the spiritual parts and to tell you that I relate to the overanalyzing and obsessing and baggage, family and relational.

To say I don't judge and in fact you might be reading this and am horrified and now thinking to yourself, Well, crap. I haven't been through anything this bad and now I feel like shit telling her my story, venting and unloading when it's nothing by comparison. It would be a completely natural feeling and I'd suggest you just feel whatever and let it pass. Friends let friends vent and we're friends, I think. Or at least, I consider you a friend.

The point is that if I can reach a point through all that (and so much more) to love myself now and have hope and faith, peace and happiness, anyone on earth can and that includes you. It isn't too much to ask for, friend. It's what I pray for.

I believe there is purpose to our lives and to our existence in this world, this universe. I believe in a higher-power although maybe not so much more of a Patriarch God as a loving benevolent energy that has unlimited abundance and wants us to have it too. I believe that when we feel alone and afraid, it isn't God or Universe or Spirit that's pulled away from us but our own chaos and confusion that makes us feel isolated, even though he or it is right there all the time. I believe in angels, I believe in goodness. I believe that there is evil but that it's an absence or void of goodness and that our love can overcome it.

I meditate. I find truths in all faiths. I find faith in people of faith. I don't idolize or put people on pedestals because it's so fucking lonely being on a pedestal, I know what that feels like. I'd rather be loved, to be honest than to be gazed upon like a painting in a museum, beautiful, genius, don't touch. I'd rather be accessible. I still want love. Now I have the faith to believe it can happen because I trust myself more. I love myself. I forgive myself.

There's so much more I could write but now I feel like maybe I'm venting so I'll end this here now and leave it up to you to message next. Looking forward to it.

And if it is overwhelming, it's really okay. I do understand. It's very powerful, isn't it. It's both a blessing and a curse, I think, this ability of mine to express myself. Kind of like a hurricane.

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