This is going to be a short one. I am typing with one hand in the most awkward position imaginable.
I have a dog head in my lap. There is a gentle snore happening which is the sweetest sound I have ever heard. His head will fall if I move my other hand. This is what’s important to me in this moment.
The truth is, he isn’t feeling well. He has been a little “off” for a couple weeks, nothing that I can really pin my finger on, so we are going in on Monday for a whole gamet of tests. This dog HATES vets. Well, no, not the vet really but anything to do with restraint or sitting still. He lets me do most of his work, but being an equine vet there is a lot I don’t know so he will be sedated and poked and prodded for a bit.
My last dog was my heart dog. She was this amazing creature. She got me through so much shit in my life. I loved the hell out of her. She was a really beautiful dog. She died the day before I was supposed to move cross country for my job. It was the most devastation I have ever felt. I don’t really connect with many people. It’s weird. I will open my heart as much as they do and it turns out, with many people, that isn’t very much. Or maybe my heart is just really big so it feels like a small opening. My dogs though, they get it all. When she died… I was not sure I wanted to move on. It was BAD. Then I got my current boy. It took us a long time to bond but now that we have we are pretty inseparable. I didn’t think another dog would ever fill my heart, but he does. He has a lot of anxiety and so do I and quite frankly we calm each other. There are not a lot of people who would take on a dog like him, he’s a bit of a nut, but, as with any dog, his heart is pure and his love knows no end.
He has helped me through so much and is the warm comfort of safety that allows me to sleep at night.
With my last dog I knew something was a little off for a few months and I kept taking her in and saying I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was wrong. We could never find anything. Until one day she woke up bleeding into her abdomen from a tumor on her spleen. In a way I am happy I didn’t know sooner. She was great up until her last day, and there was nothing but happiness and love in her last moments. My regret is that I didn’t do more with her, see more of the world. Realistically, she was probably happy just to be with me, no matter where we were.
This situation feels a little similar. I am trying not to panic. He is young, 5 years old. I envisioned years and years with him and many more adventures. Hopefully, this will be nothing and he will come through with a clean bill of health. But this situation has weighed on me and made me really step back and look at what is important in my life. It makes me consider why I do what I do as a vet. Most importantly it has reminded me that life is short and we never know what’s around the bend, so it serves us best to be present with the moments we are given, try not to live in the past or future, show appreciation and love to those important in your life, and love like a dog…. with a fully open heart and a lot of tail wagging. ❤ ❤
As I look back on my life I have had some ridiculous and crazy health scares. I have been through test after test after test only to have doctors tell me they couldn’t find anything wrong and yet I would have all of these weird and random symptoms.
You know what it is? Emotional constipation. Yup, decades on decades of dry, hard, crusty emotional shit that is just stagnating and rotting inside me. Sounds dramatic, eh? That is what it feels like some days. Some days I am so exhausted I don’t know how I am going to get out of my bed. Some days I have such bad stomach pains and nausea that I would happily resign myself to never eating again. Some days I have dizziness so bad that I want to scream please, for fuck’s sake just take me now so that I can be out of this miserable torment. I used to hope, every night before I went to sleep, that my heart would stop beating so that I didn’t have to wake up to the physical symptoms. My body, even now, literally controls my life. I am fucking sick of it. Chronic health symptoms are no joke.
Before anyone has a conniption, I am a doctor. I fully understand that there are real diseases and believe me, I have been through SO MUCH testing to make sure I don’t have them. The one true physical ailment that I have had so far was exhaustion that turned around within two weeks as soon as I cut out gluten. The rest of it though…. I KNOW it’s stress. I know it is anxiety creating these unpredictable events and usually when I can acknowledge that and realize there is no underlying physical issue, magically, the symptoms will go away. Until some other weird ass thing starts to happen to my body. This is how I know I haven’t really processed all of these chronic, distorted emotional patterns. My body has become accustomed to reacting to my emotional states with a few very specific sets of embarrassing clinical signs that I will not delve into further.
It’s funny too because as a small kid I used to think that love was really powerful and could heal. I distinctly remember having that thought. Somewhere between kindergarten and middles school I put all of that wisdom aside and became more separate from my energy and my body. Slowly these things that I used to think are being reawakened and brought to the surface. I do think love can heal. But I think the person doing the healing has to have enough love in them to be able to heal. For me, I want to heal myself which means that I need to create more love in my life. I do this through perspective shifts and all this other shit I am writing about. Do I think that if you snap your femur falling from a ladder, that love will cure it? Fuck, no. Exceeding physical limitations like that requires a little help from the doctor.
I’m going to go off on a little tangent now about our healthcare system. In my humble opinion, it is completely broken. There are so few doctors out there who actually treat preventatively. Most also do not treat holistically, and by that I mean, looking at all of the body systems and their interactions. It makes zero sense to me that a doctor of just one system can be that useful. Yes, they may be able to control symptoms within the confines of that particular system, but there will be other ramifications in the body and those other parts must be supported and strengthened as well. Don’t even get me started on all of the freaking medications they prescribe. Here’s a pill for blood pressure, oh it’s causing nausea, here’s a pill for that etc etc etc… when really the damn root of the blood pressure needs to be addressed!!! And really, it isn’t all the medical professionals fault because people are fucking lazy. It’s much easier to take a pill and keep eating my twinkies than it is to get off my ass and move my body or change my lifestyle. I get it, I’ve been there. Again, I know there are people who do the work and need the medications and I am not trying to demonize everyone but there are WAY more who just lean on healthcare providers to bandaid them up until the day they die. Whew… rant over.
Me, I am choosing something different. It’s not an easy way, but it is a way that will work for me, and that aligns with my values and ideals.
I decided I would start actually LISTENING to my body. I know, dramatic concept. I am getting more and more interested in “intuitive eating.” Such a buzz phrase… I don’t know what the “proper” definition of intuitive eating is but for me, it just means listening to my body about food. I have incorporated some woo woo tactics in an attempt to open my mind and heart to alternative methods because obviously what I have been doing hasn’t worked.
(It’s interesting to me that even though I believe in this stuff… mindset, energy etc., there is still some feeling of the need to justify or explain why I am doing what I am doing so that maybe it will seem less “weird.” WTF. I am weird! Some day I will love myself enough to not care about those things! I think that stems from this vision that I have of self growth people walking around clutching crystals and singing Kumbaya. This is not a vision that I am alone in sharing and it makes the personal growth world seem …. unattainable? Otherwordly? I don’t know what the right word it, but I think these stereotypes prevent “normal” people from embarking on a journey because they feel like they will have to dance with fairies naked in the woods on the full moon when it’s in retrograde. What the fuck does that even mean?! See… I just got some clarity about making this stuff more accessible and less….. mystical.)
This will be a fun experiment. Okay, fun may be a bit of an oversell but here’s my six step plan for taming my gastrointestinal tract (I didn’t even really tell you guys of my health stuff, I’m doing this completely backwards….. welcome to how I live my life).
Ceremony – I am trying to create more mindfulness in my life, generally speaking… so by having a ceremony before I eat it causes me to slow down for a second. What is that ceremony? I dress up in fishnet and ecstatically dance to the song of my elders. Just kidding. That would be quite a sight when I was visiting my local Taco Time. Ceremony for me just means that before I dive into my luscious dinner or dessert or whatever I take a second, close my eyes, breath deeply and find appreciation for the nourishment that food brings as well as appreciation for my body and how it utilizes the nutrients. This type of stuff is really hard for me, as it sounds completely fucking ridiculous to my logical brain. You eat food, your body does its thing and boom! End of story… but there is so much more to it than that and so much we don’t know about the interactions between emotions and digestion so… woo woo it is.
Eating slower and chewing more – This is pretty self-explanatory. I am usually like a shark when I eat. I open, extend my rows of teeth and swallow all in one fell swoop and then I swim off into my day. Am I going to become crazy and count how much I am chewing? Not gonna lie the little OCD part of me finds that appealing… I tried that one night, 40 chews per bite and I’m gonna tell you the mush that was in my mouth became disgusting to swallow, which I guess is the point in breaking down food. I will settle from somewhere between bolting my food whole and maceration beyond all joy.
Eating smaller meals and eating only when I’m hungry- I love to stuff myself. To feel that fullness. This is probably a sign of lack of love or something in my life, so I am working on eating smaller meals and filling that void with other things.
Eating a better diet. Duh…. I know this is a no brainer, but I get into these slumps where I don’t give a shit about cooking and my body always feels worse when eating a lot of take out but sometimes I can’t argue with the convenience. I decided instead to only take in nourishing things. This is a challenge as things we traditionally think of as nourishing (veggies and fruits) I lot of it I have trouble digesting right now. I actually have a little list started of all of the things I can tolerate eating, because as silly as it sounds, when I don’t want to cook I can peek at that list and say okay, rice and sweet potatoes it is! Something about being hungry and lacking time to prepare food renders my brain completely useless and I ignore all of the “don’t eat that” signals coming from my body. I have also been incorporating veggie powders and am on my way to buying a juicer because I know I need the nutrients from veggies but I cannot tolerate their actual ingestion.
Breathing. Turns out when you are constantly in fight or flight mode, blood flow is altered to the intestines (it leaves the organs to power the muscles so you can, you guessed it, fight or flight) and can result in chronic issues with digestion. *Raises hand* So I have set the intention to breathe more, and not just that automatic breathing (obviously I am still doing that…) but I am talking mindful breathing with a purpose. I breathe deeply and slowly, in an effort to 1. calm my nervous system and 2. I am intrigued with Wim Hof and studies done on body alkalinity through breath work. In my mind I should be able to create an environment more conducive to healing through my breath. I am stopping myself from going down a rabbit hole here as to why I think this will work….it has to do with blood flow and the bacteria connection. If anyone actually wants to know…. just comment below.
Meditation – I am pretty terrible about a regular practice. I was good for a while and I really enjoy meditation, but sometimes my mind takes over and I feel like I just wasted 30-40 min of my life calmly overthinking things. I know I need to be consistent enough to move through that barrier, so every night I have been doing this body healing meditation. I also picture what a healthy, normally functioning GI tract looks like and imagine all those little cells repairing and recharging themselves and I pay particular attention to my vagus nerve because when that badass gets pissed off… watch out… 6a. movement and water… thought I’d sneak that in here cause it’s so important.
I was not going to go into all of the gory details of my struggle, but fuck it, no one knows who I am right now and maybe this will help someone else.
Here’s the laundry list of things that my body does in an attempt to get my attention:
bloating and gas – sometimes I look six months pregnant, and in a farting contest with my dog, I am capable of blowing him out of the water… pun intended
diarrhea (fuck that’s embarrassing to see written out….) diarrhea, diarrhea, diarrhea… just threw a few more in there until it felt a little less appalling to put out there on the internet
eczema like patches on my arms – I say eczema like cause it could be eczema or something else I’ve never had that checked out
acne – still waiting for puberty to take care of that one
stomach pains that occasionally will double me over and leave me crying on the bathroom floor
passing out – sometimes on the toilet! Super fun times. Mostly at really inopportune moments, like when I am trying to impress a guy or when I am mid workout, or when I am underneath a horse… <– that sounds SUPER awkward if you haven’t read my other post that explained I am a horse vet…
thinning hair – this happened after a really deeply grief stricken few months and I haven’t been able to slow it down
A relentless internal heat while my outside body feels cold – It’s weird. I can be super hot at night but touching my skin I feel like ice. My acupuncturist keeps telling me I have excess heat. I have no idea what this means or how to fix it but I believe it!
back and sciatic pain – I actually had surgery for this…. that is a whole other story
I’ve read all the books, I know all about the adrenal fatigue, SIBO, Candida, leaky gut. I’ve done gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, low FODMAP, low carb blah blah blah the list goes on and on. I’ve been to gastroenterologists, MDs, sleep doctors, pain management clinics, neurologists, psychologists…. I have been tentatively diagnosed with narcolepsy, vasovagal dysfunction, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel…. all of the vague syndromes that really mean, we have no clue what’s wrong with you. I used to vehemently oppose anyone who told me all of this was stress related because it made me feel like it was all in my head and if it was in my head why couldn’t I control it better, what was wrong with me? And male doctors… no thank you… they have been some of the worst in my experience. I would be told about these “vague syndromes effecting women” because “you girls are all so delicate”. I was told that. DELICATE! um no… I am a lot of things, but delicate… come over here and let me delicately plant a uppercut on your face. About a decade ago I fired all of them. I was so sick of pills and tests and condescension and feeling like utter shit and not making any improvements. I was completely on my own advocating for my own health care, which is what you have to do. You have to become unafraid of saying no thank you, I don’t agree with you. The more… awakened my internal self becomes, the more clear the signals are that are coming from my body and I have a lot of catching up to do. I have ignored my body for so long…. because they told me it was all in my head!
Here’s a secret for anyone suffering from some of this stuff… it isn’t in your head. It’s in your heart, you mind, your soul… The body responds to energetic dysfunctions in the only way that it knows how… through physical manifestations. I struggled with this concept for so long, and still do…. especially because I see illness on a daily basis and feel incredibly limited with my current tool box. Each prescription I write I ask myself what else can I be doing to support the whole? I feel like a hypocrite some days when all I can offer my patients is a pill.
It also takes massively large balls to confront the medical community and insist on another way, another perspective, another approach. It’s really hard to look at a Western trained practitioner and say, I know I am complaining about my stomach issues, but I am asking you to look beyond the body to help me. There are so many “other” bodies than just our physical one. We have an emotional body, and intuitive body, a mental body… no, they aren’t separate, we are this amazing integrated beautiful machine that cannot be compartmentalized. Everything has to be treated.
As an aside… the word doctor… it gives immediate credibility. People elevate us. And yes, we have been through a tremendous amount of schooling that 98% of the population will never experience. But we are still people. Please remember that. If you go into a doctor and feel like a number and like you are talking to a robot, I urge you to find someone that actually maintains their humanity. I promise you, they are out there. And the ones that are are worth their weight in platinum.
This is getting super long winded… I think this justifies a second post about my relationship with food, how it came to be and the ramifications in my life. So hold on to your skirts tomorrow is going to be a thrilling one!! ❤ ❤
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay – Incidentally I used to HATE blueberries, tart and weird texture. I had to force myself into liking them for the incredible antioxidant effect. Now, yum.
There is a lot of information out there on addiction, 12 step programs, the science and psychology behind all sorts of things like addiction to gambling, drinking, drugs, pornography. These “modalities” provide an external focus that lights up the reward centers of the brain and releases this flood of neurotransmitters. We go on a dopamine high and when we come down we need another hit. External addictions can be identified, placed out in the open and worked on. But what about addictions that aren’t external?
What about the addictions of the mind (okay, okay that’s a little bit of a misnomer because all addictions are addictions of the mind, but go with it, okay)?
I describe an emotional addiction as repetitively reacting to situations based purely on feeling or seeing the world through anger or fear colored glasses, for example. There is a little more to it than that, though and many other potential examples. Take love for instance. Falling in love is one of the most compelling and strong emotional pulls out there (at least in my book). I LOVE falling in love. The first shy glances, the piercing of that person’s heart and soul, the rush of feel goods that come with every adorable thing that person does, it’s glorious. The addictive behavior can come in when, for instance, a person routinely dumps every partner as soon as the honeymoon phase wears off, they go from new partner to new partner getting hit after hit, all the while wondering why they can’t find “the one.”
Other emotions are, maybe, a little less obvious. Take anxiety (read: fear) for example. Maybe as a young child you were screamed at and physically threatened so you learned to be hyper vigilant of your surroundings and you learned all of the nuances of the people in your space so that you could help prevent an explosive event. As you went out into the world maybe that showed itself by being labeled as a people pleaser. Maybe you were the friend everyone counted on because they knew you were the one to remember all of the big dates and events because you were hard wired to do it, not realizing that it was a coping mechanism and the body was still residing in fight or flight mode. Perhaps the body is addicted to the anxiety because through that hyperviligance you were able to create safety as a young child.
Any addiction plays part on the reward centers of the brain. We do something well we get a flood of feel good chemicals. We fall in love, we save ourselves from an angry outburst…. all of these activities, though drastically different all release the same chemical response in our body. Our system then starts to create these neural pathways creating habit. These habits turn into addiction.
Is every habit an addiction? Of course not. Identifying intrinsic triggers can be very difficult to do and is a process which many people balk at because, if I am feeling it, it must be true. What happens though when anxiety, depression, anger, or fear start to take over your life? Suddenly one small hit doesn’t last very long and we go into more prolonged states of whatever the drug of choice is, in order to light up those pleasure centers. Soon we find ourselves in a constant fight or flight state looking for the next fix and the fucked up part is that if we don’t identify our emotional triggers, we will create a life that supports our addiction. We will literally surround ourselves with scenarios that support finding those feelings and we will see each situation through that skewed lens.
My family is very fear based. Their entire conversation revolves around all of the scary stuff on the news, all of the hypothetical issues that could arise, all of the perceived dangers. I can guarantee if there is any new story that could even remotely “effect” me per my mother, she will text me about it. It makes her feel good because she is being “protective and loving” and speaks to the lack of security she had as a child. I have spent a lot of time trying to unlearn this and will no doubt, spend a lot more. Each new event or person that comes into my life is met with fear initially. I have to consciously calm my nervous system and realize that most of the threats I am seeing simply aren’t real or worthy of such extreme focus.
Emotional addiction is tough because it’s pretty vulnerable to say to someone, hey I am working on rewiring my addiction to fear, what’s on your agenda for today? There are groups of support for these external addictions that are shown to work in decreasing and eliminating addictive behavior so to me, that says support is crucial which means taking the risk to be vulnerable, to find the group of people that you can say those things to and to work diligently on correcting these behaviors. One must have an awareness and focus that far exceeds the “normal” operating capacity of most individuals, because the trip down to those addictions can be really sneaky and quiet. Even on my best days I often still find myself stuck in a pattern of behavior I know isn’t good for me. The difference now is that instead of having to look back through my day to spot these moments, I am much more apt to catch them in the middle or even *gasp* at the beginning. Those are proud moments for me. I also have some amazing friends that will lovingly, but firmly call me on my bullshit. These are the friends that when I say I am having a bad day don’t say “Aw, I’m sorry,” but instead say, “Oh really, the world is imploding on you? Is that a useful view, what about this other perspective.” Sometimes I get super mad at these friends, because I realize they are right, and to be honest sometimes my diligence is lazy and I am addicted to the feeling of being a victim, of seeking that attention, because then I feel loved. But these friends ask me to stand up to a higher version of me and for that I will always love them.
How does one overcome an emotional addiction?
Become aware. Bring awareness to your thoughts, actions, feeling, choices, language. Find the areas where there are patterns and recognize then, thank them for doing their part in keeping you safe and move through them. And repeat that…. again and again and again, until new neural paths are formed and the addiction becomes displaced with a healthier outlook. Displacement is key. One cannot just say I’m scared so…. go away now. The emotion has to be displaced or it will never stick. I can feel scared to take a new job or I can see it as an adventure and recognize all of the strengths that will come with the journey through that process. Own your emotions, create space between your true self (the being observing the emotions) and the emotions themselves, acknowledge them and don’t beat yourself up when the show up time and time again. Realize that as you move through these patterns, they will not just quietly disappear from your life, they will show up stronger and stronger until there is no longer resistance and they can dissipate. Know that this will make you feel crazy for a while and that you will feel like you are not making progress. This is the time for support and guidance. And know you will come out the other side, a little stronger, a little wiser and a whole lot healthier and happier. ❤ ❤
I woke up this morning with the space I brought forth yesterday still present.
Before I did anything else, I reached over to check my phone. It has been days since me and Mr. X have talked. No word from him…. still… my heart sunk…. again. I had a really clear moment of seeing just how much power I give him.
As I wrote yesterday, I am trying not to duck and run when things get hard in my life. The situation with Mr. X has been one of the most challenging puzzles in my life with regard to keeping my heart open and working on our friendship. I have had a few close friends tell me I need to cut off all contact in order to heal. The truth is, I don’t want to. I rely on him, heavily, for support. His being in my life has changed and elevated it in so many ways and he is the only person who truly sees me. He has asked me to trust that this will work out like it’s supposed to, that our paths will cross again romantically if they are meant to, he has asked me to trust him. And I do, but fuck it hurts when we aren’t talking regularly. This is a feeling I don’t experience with my other friends, so clearly I have a lot of work to do still to get past the romantic bits.
I spend too much of my energy waiting for him. Hoping he will message me, hoping he will tell me he is ready to be together, hoping he will show up like I need him to. The truth is, our agendas are different. He is happy having me as a friend, and I am looking for a life partner. I realized this morning that the waiting around is killing me. He has never asked me to wait and I know he would tell me to go live my life. It is in these moments I see just how dysfunctional and co-dependent my idea of love really is.
So I muted my messenger.
The immediate relaxation I felt with the KNOWING that I 100% would not hear that glorious chime today was a breath of fresh air. I made that decision and it felt good and my heart lightened for a moment. I asked myself, okay what else do you want?
I made a list of the things that are stressing me out quite badly and I wrote down actionable steps that I could take to relieve some pressure and I did them.
One of my other big stressors, aside from my relationship at work, is my health. My body is exquisitely sensitive and all of this emotional turmoil is resulting in GI issues. I have always had some issues and they improve a little with each suggestion from a doctor, but the changes don’t last and I think that most of it is emotional stagnation and dysfunction. I have decided to really focus on my health for a bit. I am trying to put only good things into my body and really honor it as much as I can. I had some really bad stomach pain and nausea this week and I woke up one morning just thinking, I cannot take this anymore. There has to be change.
I happened to listen to this Wim Hof interview on Russell Brand’s podcast and the scientific evidence behind his breathing technique was pretty impressively presented. Given all of the information we are discovering about our bodies and the potential that we haven’t even tapped into, I am really confident that we can heal our own bodies. I don’t know how in the hell I am going to do this, but I am embarking on a quest to figure out how. I am sure there will be a lot of trial and error and I will welcome it because I cannot live like this anymore. I did the Wim Hof method twice today. Just like anything, especially when talking about chronic issues, there is never an instant change, but there is usually a heart reaction and today when I was doing the breathing I felt like it was right. My goal is to get my body working at its optimal capacity. I realize this will also mean healing the mental and emotional bodies.
What did I do for myself today? I rested and I took an inventory of what was working and what wasn’t in my life and how I could change it. I was able to listen to the space between my fear and my inner being and figure out what I wanted and connected with my heart enough to get some feedback on next steps. Up next, meditation. I have gotten away from consistent practice and in many ways have shunned a lot of these modalities even though I know they are really powerful. Once again, it comes back to do I really want to change? Some days I do and some days I don’t. Today is a day of change so I will harness all of the motivation that I can to keep moving forward, even if it feels like I’ve taken ten steps back. ❤ ❤
What are some self care routines that you guys have that keep you grounded?
I’m feeling pretty defeated by the world this round. Like, knockout defeated.
We had a snow storm last night and got about 8 inches dumped on us in a region of the USA where there is typically not much snow fall which means there is not a good system in place to handle that. So my power has been out intermittently for the last 18 hours. 13 of which was a continuous blackout so… no heat. I woke up to quite the chill this morning.
A patient that I referred for surgery took a turn for the worse and died today. Another is likely headed for the same fate this week. The second one I have been working on for the last four weeks.
I was in the middle of making food and once again, no power. It’s 5 PM, pitch black and cold and here I sit. I’m writing to you on my phone, curled up in my blankets like a gnarly little gremlin.
To be honest I’m not even sure that cruciality is a word and I don’t want to waste precious cell phone battery to find out. That’s what we are working with here.
There are things in life that we require to survive, food, water and shelter. Once those base needs are met and satisfied a whole host of options opens up. Having the freedom from the stress of survival allows for breathing room and the focus can shift to creating a life worth living.
And creation is what it’s all about.
When I started out on my journey to self love I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it on my own. Even though the actual process of self growth is a solitary journey, having the right support can make or break your travel.
Support can come in so many forms. It can come in the form of a cheerleader, a mentor, someone delivering tough love or even the circumstances that crop up in life.
If you are able to look around and realize that even the tough times are supporting you somehow it can make dark times seem a little less heavy. The tricky part here is having to trust that they are delivering you somewhere that will be of benefit which is, admittedly, hard to do when you are caught in the thick of it.
For me tonight my support showed up in the form of a phone call from a friend. He reminded me that even though I had a rough day, I still showed up for myself. I didn’t let the trials stop me from doing the things that I know will benefit my future. I worked out. I took a call from a coaching program that I am looking to join. I was able to shower at the gym. My day has been a little tough but it’s been a good training ground for changing my mentality and luckily for me, barring any unforeseen catastrophies, I will have a chance to try again tomorrow.
Strategic ignorance is a buzz phrase right now in the personal development world. Influencers tout it as a way to live a carefree, blissfully happy existence. Just strategically ignore anything that causes a twinge of pain or fear. You ignore any inconvenience in this world, including the people in your life that may be causing discomfort. You simply ignore anything that doesn’t please you!
I would venture a guess that these people also have relationships that are very superficial. Probably a lot of them. Probably not many people that would actually stick around for the hard stuff. And why would a person in this state even need that, because we are ignoring all of the hard stuff, right?
Pair this person with someone who has a huge heart, one who values connection, presence, elevation of relationships and … well… it can be a recipe for disaster. People with huge hearts aren’t made to connect superficially. They see beyond that. They see beyond the happiness facade to the truth underneath and they still love and cherish the connection. Even when it hurts them.
What do you do when you are in love with one of these huge hearts and you see them walking back into the lion’s den? When you have a huge heart yourself? You let them go. You watch from a distance and you stand by to pick up the pieces when they let hurt in again. And you keep showing up for them, because you see what they have to offer the world.
Loving someone is not always easy. It isn’t about ignoring all of the inconvenient parts. It isn’t about walking away when things get tough or you don’t see eye to eye. Sometimes loving someone is watching them walk a dangerous path and you quietly walk behind them, distracting evil from them as they journey. Sometimes loving someone is having a hard conversation when the time is right and sometimes it is keeping your mouth completely shut and silently crying your tears because you know that serves them better. When you truly love someone you want to protect them, you want to fight for them and with them, but sometimes they are fighting themselves, and that is a battle that you can only observe from the sidelines, cheer them on, and wipe away the blood, sweat and tears. This is one of the hardest parts of love.
Strategic ignorance. Yes, it can be useful. I can ignore the physical soreness in my body and keep working out because I know it is making me stronger. I can ignore people in my periphery that don’t hold the same values that I do because I know engaging will only lead to strife and close minded conversation.
What does strategic ignorance look like when it isn’t making a positive contribution? It looks like ignoring the $30,000 in credit card debt to continue living a lifestyle you can’t afford. It looks like ignoring conversations that require vulnerability and courage because walking away is easier. At the end of a life, I believe, it looks like regret. That is, of course, assuming the person in question is capable of true introspection.
Strategic ignorance. The quickest and easiest way to end up alone in life. Unless you are one of the lucky few who has someone with heart in your corner. And you can strategically ignore every time that you hurt them, knowing they will still show up for you. Unfortunately, people like this fail to recognize that there is one person that can’t be ignored, and that is the person inside. The self, the identity, the one that feels the happiness and the sorrow and the pain. And you can run from those feelings and cover them up in layers of superficiality but at the end of the day those emotions that don’t please you are still there, alive and thriving, pulsing at the core of the heart, growing stronger and stronger until the day that they are finally recognized, honored and processed.
For me, that is no way to live. I want all of it. I want the blissful happiness, and the joy and triumph, but I also want the edges, the pain, the tears, the fear of facing who I truly am and walking out the other side. This to me is authenticity. This is self love. And I will fearlessly stand beside anyone else lucky enough to be in my circle, because I’m not ignoring shit. ❤ ❤
Need. A small word with HUGE implications. Add a -y to the end and you have a cringe worthy identifier.
But what is need… something that is essential or required. We all have needs, and different levels at that.
What do I need to survive? Food, water, shelter.
What do I need to thrive? Food that I enjoy eating, water… just water… (okay okay, maybe a La Croix once in a while cause damn that dirt water is addicting), a comfortable shelter that I can relax in where I am not under threat, a place I can make my own, a job that I enjoy, love, connection, companionship, support, encouragement, growth, probably like…. five dogs.
Each of those things have their own set of requirements to be fulfilled. No one ever has a problem saying in order to be happy in my home I need x, y, z… Or I’m going to start a business so I need this and this and this. These are empowering needs, these are the “I’m going to find myself and make myself happy!” types of needs.
But what about our emotional needs from other people… uh oh, gray zone alert! Need too much and you become needy, a trait that suits …. no one really. Neediness is a repulsive energy and has the capacity to suck the life out of everyone it comes in contact with. It is a weakness, this being needy. It is a refusal to admit you are capable of standing on your own two feet. It is a crutch and a reliance on someone else to hold you up. But where is the line between need and needy? Fuck if I know, it’s different for every person and every relationship.
Need is such a charged word. Especially for people who come from backgrounds where their emotional and mental and/or physical needs were not met in those formative years. Yes, I am talking about those huge hearted souls who learned early on that needing something meant you got screamed at or hit in the face. Or maybe it was a more subtle neglect. Regardless, these people (raises hand) learned at a young age that the only real need was to survive and to protect the fragility of our tender hearts. That usually shows up later in life as a staggeringly brutal independence. We don’t get our needs met so we learn not to need. We put everyone above us and take care of them because, well of course, they have needs! They need to be loved, protected, cared for. And it makes us feel good because we get to be the superhero. We get to swoop in and save the day and we get to feel significant and important all the while tamping down this hidden, powerful little piece of our heart that maybe for a while, we even forgot existed.
And then we meet a person. A person who sees us so completely that they find that little piece. They find it in the darkest, tiniest recess of our soul, underneath a pile of dust bunnies and abandoned Lego’s. They brush it off cause they love us enough to help find all the pieces that we set down and forgot where they were. They see that fuck, that little component is almost withered away. It’s small, almost got swept into the rubbish bin, but it’s covered in sharp spikes laced with arsenic. This was the only protection that seemed sufficient when that piece was set aside because the owner of that part knew how critically delicate it is. And if no one can reach it then there will always be something preserved, something pure that no one can attack. Never mind it may be a missing puzzle piece. There will always be safety of at least one particle of our heart. And when we have given and given and given until there is nothing left but that little chunk and that person holding a wash cloth and some soap we have a choice to make. We can either crack that bitch open with the person that found it, that wants to care for it and love it and cherish it…. or we can savagely reject it, add some more layers of spikes and try to keep up our frantic spinning as we struggle to hold our shit together in these darkest of moments.
That need is different for everyone. Maybe its an overnight cry session in the arms of someone that loves you, snot bubbles popping out of your nose, tears running down your cheeks. Maybe it’s 15 minutes of a total breakdown with your head in the lap of someone that loves you as they hang on and ride the storm with you. Whatever it is though, it’s a depth of human connection that us “superhero” kids actively avoid experiencing, sometimes violently so. Some of us never do. It is a piece of us that we hate to admit even exists because we are scared that it means we are weak. It is a vulnerability, an emulsification of energies where two people connect completely raw. And there has to be a trust like no other if that is to be opened. A trust that in the morning when the tears have dried up and the emotional hangover and embarrassment drape your body, that that person will still look at you with a sparkle in their eyes because all they see is their superhero. It is knowing that they love you to the very core of your essence and that they accept and cherish the light and the dark equally, because they know that in order to be bathed in the purity of love that you offer, there has to be the opposite. but equally strong, darkness. It is deep and thick. And they love all the pieces, because it is you.
Need. Can it be a weakness? Only if you make it so. Need can also be a gift. Need brings people together. Need allows us a place for our love and support to settle. It is as much for the giver as it is for the receiver. As long as there is an awareness and both parties giving their 51% to the relationship then the line to neediness doesn’t get crossed and you have instead, a symbiotic partnership where the traits each person has to give are the exact things the other needs.
I can’t even tell you how often I have heard some iteration of “you’re too independent,” or “why don’t you ever let anyone help you?” Cause I don’t fucking need it that’s why!! But I do need. Sometimes I need to break down, to reset, to walk through fire with someone holding my hand in support and solidarity. And knowing that someone can see me at my worst and still loves me just as much when the tears are over…. I wouldn’t trade that connection for the world.
Needs can be set aside for a long time. Until one day, they can’t. They constrict the heart so much that it’s impossible to see any light spilling out. It’s impossible to feel the core of what you are anymore and suddenly all you are left with is that suffocating need. On the other side of that lies some peace, and clarity and the beginning of reclaiming your life. But you have to walk through the hell of staring yourself down before you can get to the other side. That is scary as fuck, but you start walking, and your feet start to burn and suddenly you see, you aren’t alone. And instead of being weak you realize you are actually becoming stronger. And that person beside you…. that’s your superhero, and all they want is to help you fly again.
So how do you love a superhero? With all of your heart, knowing that they will never ask for what they need. Sometimes you have to find it, dust it off, invite it in, and just be there. Because sometimes even superheros need a safe spot to land. ❤ ❤