I have come back to this page so many times over the last year.
Where to begin….
I have always been my own torturer, it is fitting then, that only I could be my remedy.
It has taken me much time for this to come to fruition. It is not a coincidence that I came to healing through being alone, or rather through being only with myself. It is a heavy place, the site of being only with one’s self. I think we often lose sight of the weight we carry within ourselves by constantly helping to relieve the weight of others. And perhaps I had avoided it or maybe I just did not understand the importance of learning myself, of truly understanding the condition of my existence. I think we come to healing in our own ways and some of us not at all. But nonetheless most of us have incurred the kind of trauma that needs healing.
I often think about my mother when working though my own healing. Sometimes I feel as though I am healing her too and maybe all the women that came before her. All the things she could not or would not do for herself, I find myself drawn to and seeking out. I hope my spirit reaches her one day and she can exhale the breath that she has been holding since birth, the one that made her a prisoner to her own abjection.
I believe we are all equipped with our own unique capacities and thresholds. We just reach them differently. After the birth of my daughter and the year of enduring the trauma of having lived through her father, I found myself at capacity. I felt such a profound numbness. There was no space in my body, or my psyche to process anyone else. And what I would have needed in a lover or partner, I did not find. I had no interest in discovering new emotions, allowing vulnerability or expressing desire and empathy. I felt a very strong sense of isolation, of emptiness. I was keenly aware of what my body had endured for the 10 months prior to her being born, but the physical healing was the easiest. The first 6 months of motherhood were the foundations of my other healing. When I was pregnant the sheer inability of my body to protect me and to align with my psyche to resist physically the constant assaults on my womanhood was devastating. My mind was incapable of processing anything more than the basic needs of my psychology to move from one day to the next. The kinds of emotional, psychological and physical abuse that I endured while pregnant are heartbreaking for me to recall. These are things easier to put on to the page than to say out loud. And it took me a very long time to have the strength to write them down. I wish I could have been there for that woman, I would have fought for her and protected her. There is still the shame in recalling the woman I was enduring that, it rises on occasion from the depths of my consciousness and brings me to tears. I have learned to let those tears flow, to save myself from drowning in them.
As soon as I gave birth, my body was preparing itself for defense and in the six months after birth slowly my mind and body started to realign. It was as if subconsciously, I was being prepared for the moment I would reach my threshold, where my own capacity was to be tested. The exhaustion of having to constantly toggle between my needs and wants and for my own survival finally exceeded my inclination to protect or save anyone else.
My healing came really through a well- coordinated series of events orchestrated by both my own choices and the universe truly conspiring with me. You see, I had never truly ever been with only myself until I really had no other option. I was a stubborn lover, a tenacious caretaker and an overly optimistic partner. I don’t know where I learned these things from…but they have been with me from my earliest memories of loving, and of being. What I see now, is that I kept giving and giving, all of the things I so needed and deserved and tragically thought would come back to me precisely because I had given them so freely. It took so much time, so much hurt and trauma for me finally realize, that this was not the direction of the reciprocity I was seeking. I had inverted the cycle only to inflict pain onto myself. This is not to take away blame from those who hurt me, but part of my healing came through the confrontation with myself about why I allowed it, why I chose it. That was a painful and very necessary encounter.
The last man I allowed myself to truly love was the way I got to find myself. I had thought that through him I could find some healing, a place to release the breath that was suffocating me. I had hoped he could be my peace, that he would assuage my insecurities, reaffirm my worth and put to rest the men haunting me from my past. And he did. For a moment. And while my body felt the pleasure of his presence, my heart instantly recognized the emptiness that came with being with a man who knew how to say he loved me but didn’t quite know how to love me. And while he was for a very long time the man I thought I had always hoped for I knew better than to search for safety where there was no refuge. And while there was some hurt there, what truly emerged from my time with him was the release, and the recognition that I had to be with me. He was never going to be able to release me from my demons or from the intoxication of his presence. Only I could do that. I had experienced with him the recognition that while I loved him, I did not have the capacity anymore to give more of myself than I was giving to me. Or to hope he would become the man I needed and wanted. And perhaps he knew this and we let one another go because there just wasn’t enough to hold on to. Whereas I used to fight beyond exhaustion to keep my lovers, with him I felt for the first time my grip releasing because my body literally could not keep the grasp. I did not want to fight for it any longer.
A year ago, I realized that only I could release myself from the entanglements of desire and hope. There just came a point when I had to reckon with the truth that no one was going to stop hurting me until I stopped allowing them the space to, and that I wasn’t going to extract the kind of love I wanted from someone reticent about giving that love, by loving for the both of us. I had to find my way to giving myself the love I was seeking. I found my way out of everyone’s else arms by going through my self; in, through, over, around and under…I searched and searched until I found the woman I had wanted to be for so long. I needed silence and peace to do that, in the ways that only solitude can offer.
I was….alone. It was me I needed to be with.
There were many quiet mornings, late nights of films and books, … alone with the everyday rituals of making my coffee, of coming home from work and hearing only my voice.
And there were silent moments during both day and night, of contemplation, tears, isolation and epiphany.
The cacophony of insecurity, doubt, shame, longing, sadness (and then happiness), or waiting for phone calls, text messages, dates or no dates …was finally being silenced. The quiet of it all became so alluring that I have found all the places within myself I hadn’t known existed while listening to all the sounds of people around me.
I don’t presume to think I am healed. I understand this is a process. But I want to tell you it is remarkable, the ways in which your womanhood will honor you when you let it. When you give yourself the space to breath and hear nothing but that breathe reverberate all around you. I am not saying this process is easy, let me be clear about that. There are moments of despair, sadness and confusion…tears and the absolute lack of feeling. Sometimes both simultaneously. But the point I think, is to grant yourself permission to move along the spectrum of your own being, and to confront and conquer what led you here.