I… am a Sisterwife

You might have heard rumblings around the blog world of this whole “Sisterwives” thing. “Who are the Sisterwives? Is this some joke?” you might ask.

Although we do like jokes (and that’s pretty clear by the fact we call ourselves Sisterwives), we are so much more than a joke. In fact, the Sisterwives are a group of truly bad-ass women, coming together to make the world a better place and to remind everyone, everywhere, that they too have a voice. As evidenced by my last guest post (which I encourage you to go read, right now!), having a voice is something I am deeply passionate about. I have been lucky enough to unite with these women in that same cause. I am so proud to say that I, too, am a Sisterwife!

Our site went live today. Comments are closed here so you can go comment there! Please go visit, drink in, enjoy: The Sisterwives

I’m… Tired.

So, I’ve been ramping up and speeding up and trying to organize so that I can shift this blog over to a new design and a new domain name. (Yes, for reals! Coming soon!) But one thing keeps coming up for me.

I’m tired.

I look across the blogging web-o-sphere and my mind automatically starts comparing and compartmentalizing. “Oh, this one has that many followers, oh that one writes so cleverly, oh that one is good at branding and marketing” until suddenly I am so small that I look like a mouse and my voice comes out in a squeak. How dare I think I have anything to offer?

I get discouraged because I try to build readership but let’s face it – I’m shooting in the dark. I don’t know what I’m doing, to be honest. I want to market myself, brand myself, speak up for myself, but I look around and get overwhelmed. Everyone else here seems to have it figured out. Me? Well… I’m just one. step. behind.

Until finally looking at it all, I’m so tired that I just want to toss in the towel.

Of course, this means it’s time to lean in. Lean right into that nasty pain that’s whispering insidiously, “You’re. not. good. enough. What makes you think you have anything worthwhile to share?” And keep leaning. Lean forward so far that I fall over the cliff and suddenly I’m flying, out of the nest like a baby bird, flapping my wings and looking socially awkward but hey – I’m keeping myself afloat.

The thing is, I need some air currents to catch my fall.

I’m hoping you can help. Listen, I’m stubborn and it isn’t easy for me to actually ask for that heavy word – HELP. It’s a four-letter word after all, and far more damning than any curse. But I’m tired of being tired. I do believe, so deeply and genuinely, that my words are worth it, but I just can’t do this alone anymore. I need you. So I’m asking.

Can you tell me what you’ve done to market your blog? To get your voice out there? To be so audacious and daring and brave as to believe that your words are powerful and deserving of an audience, and then going and getting one? How do you get past the overwhelming feelings that comparison brings up, and what you do on a daily basis to combat it? How do you manage keeping up with your readers through social media? Would you be willing to share your secrets with me? If so, share below or send me an email: bornsirius at gmail dot com.

This is Where I Say I’ve Had Enough

This is where I say I’ve had enough
and no one should ever feel the way that I feel now.
A walking open wound,
a trophy display of bruises
and I don’t believe that I’m getting any better, any better.
-Dashboard Confessional, Saints and Sailors

You know it’s bad when I’m quoting Dashboard Confessional in one of my posts. Going back to my “emo” high school days with all of THAT emotion.

I feel like I’ve been tricked by the Universe. Or perhaps, I’m just being led into a place of dealing with a very painful wound. The Universe/my Higher Power has a way of using certain situations to single out what needs work.

Remember how I wrote that post two posts back about my abandonment issues?

Well, they continue to come up. I’ve been trying to ignore it or something, thinking that maybe it’s just a one-time thing and it will pass. It hasn’t. Things have continued to happen that trigger me in the extreme. I’ve had so much pain going on that it’s been really tempting to find something to numb it. I finally just admitted that to my sponsor in a voicemail. And saying “I want to drink” was an extremely painful admission. I shouldn’t be weak.

titanic
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My head is screaming that I shouldn’t be so many things. There’s a post that’s been resounding in my head lately that Glennon Melton wrote over at Momastery. She talks about breaking out, about being who you are, about defrosting. I wish I could sit down with her and just ask, “How do you do that when, if you are a bit off kilter, the world looks at you cross-eyed and thinks you’re insane? How do you do that when your heart is in a meat tenderizer?”

Is it a coincidence that my word for this year, not by my choice but by some kind of Divine Guide, is audacity? Of all things. How does one have audacity, pray tell?

I see now that I shrink back in invisibility not because I want to be small but because I am so, so big. I am so big that I am afraid it will scare people and it will be too much and TOO big. I feel like I’m holding a firehose that will twist and turn in my hands out of control, too much water coming through. My inner self is so big I don’t know how to handle her. So I stuff her away because if I can’t handle her, how can other people?

And if she’s so big, what if she’s all big and dramatic and narcissistic like my dad? What then? Am I just like him in the end? Am I crazy?

I am terribly, terribly ashamed of my inner, overly dramatic self. She’s embarrassing.

I’m crying at my computer screen writing this, and I cringe writing that because that seems dramatic, too. But it’s true. My shame is overwhelming and I want to hide. I’ve just been laying on my bed for an hour trying to hide. I’m crying now because this crazy girl inside me is so ridiculously shameful. I’m screaming at her, “STOP! Just stop! Just quiet down! You are too loud. You are too big. You are too much of a bother and I wish you would just go away, maybe forever. Then I wouldn’t have to deal with you trying to escape all the time when you shouldn’t be let out at all. You’re too dangerous.

Most of all, my big, dramatic inner self is just going to drive other people away from me, in the end. So she needs to just go away now. She needs to become the quiet little nun in the back of the monastery, silent, serene, one with the Universe. Meditative. Keeping everything behind the sweet face that everyone knows. If everyone really knew how monstrously large she was inside, they would be afraid.

I am afraid. She’s going to destroy my life and leave me here all alone.

And another part of me inside is 7 years old. Laying face down on the grass near our townhouse, sobbing my heart out. “Amanda!” I’m crying. I tried getting her attention by crying loud enough that she could hear me up the hill. I couldn’t go up the hill to be with her and her friend because I wasn’t allowed to play up on the hill. And she picked her friend over me. Finally I cried loud enough that she came back and gave me a flower. I proceeded to throw myself down and cry some more. “She came back just to give me a flower and say goodbye to our friendship,” my seven year old mind said. I sobbed and sobbed but she didn’t return again. I was alone and no one wanted me. I knew I was being dramatic but I couldn’t stop.

I can’t unseparate my little, histrionic, overdramatic 7 year old from the big inside, beautiful artistic part of me, so they become completely snarled together. The terrified little girl grabs the firehose in an effort to get attention. Instead, it just goes everywhere and sprays everyone, and they all run away because they don’t want to get wet. She’s just a little girl so she doesn’t know how to direct it.

The adult me still struggles to untangle them because the 7 year old is still so afraid, and the adult still doesn’t know sometimes how to take care of that. Because adult me still never learned that people are sometimes more consistent than that and only run away because it’s wet and they don’t want to be wet, not because it’s strong and beautiful. The adult me also has a hard time figuring out still that the 7 year old just wants to be seen and just wants company. The adult still thinks sometimes that she’s the 7 year old, waiting for a rescuer to come. She forgets that she is actually the rescuer.

Okay. That’s my heart, out on a page. I’ve written myself out of the tangle in my head, now. At least for this moment. I can see now that I need an ocean full of compassion today for all my inner selves. The poor dears. No wonder when I asked for my Higher Power to show up, all They said is, “I’m so sorry, honey. I know this is hard.

I can’t guarantee that I won’t get snarled again later. That’s kind of life, sometimes. And this is my work right now, apparently – this issue within myself. It hasn’t stopped coming up, so I’m guessing this is where I’m supposed to be.

But I did find it interesting that when I went to find firehose pictures just now, many of them have TWO people holding the hose. Even when adults are holding it. Maybe hoses are not meant to be held alone.

firehose
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And when I went to get the link for Glennon’s recent post, I had to re-read it. And that told me that I’m at level one today and I need to pay attention and accept myself so I don’t go to level two. That I am not safe to others until I stop trying to kill my real self. (See the post here) When I started reading all her other recent posts they told me how to do that… told me not to keep running from my broken heart. Told me that small women build cages for everyone she knows but the sage drops keys for the beautiful rowdy prisoners. Maybe little girl inside needs that key – bringing me back to the LAST post on this subject where I realized I am the key. How’s that for full circle?

I could just backspace this messy, stream of consciousness post but in the interest of honesty, I’m going to put it out there (even though that one part of me still says that’s pretty overdramatic). And if you read through all of that – thank you.

Neruda; the flowers.

I have had a little obsession lately that has sprung up in my bones. It’s really been waiting for me for years, ever since I saw the first line in a Neruda poem. I don’t remember what that first line was. I do remember the feeling, though.

“Oh, hello. It’s so wonderful to see you again.”

As if I had written that line years and ages ago, and I was meeting it again after a long parting. The way we met was with a joyous pang, a breathless smile, a freefalling of surrender into the bonds that once held us close; that held us even still.

A few months ago, I got a huge book of Neruda poems in both English and Spanish. I read them as if I were in a trance. I fell into the ocean of words and wanted to drown. I lost myself among them…

“…little one, red grain
of wheat.
the struggle will be hard
life will be hard
but you will come with me.”
(
Neruda – The Mountain and the River)

—–

My mom sent me a card recently. We had met for coffee and I had broken some news to her, about going away. Depending upon this or that. Afterwards, she was sad. We live in the same town, but a few days later I got a card in the mail, with a flower on the front.

“You still stop and look at the flowers when you walk by,” she wrote.

I don’t remember everything from when I was two years old. But my parents tell me about this facet of my early personality. It’s one of the lovely times when I was young. They would walk along the Highline Canal in Denver, and I would stop. Because there was a flower to be looked at. They used to call me Ferdinand.

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(Source)

I have been rather unfamiliar with this story, but looking it up just now, I am moved to tears. Silly me.

“My love, to my life,
you came prepared
as a poppy and as a guerilla fighter…”
(Neruda – Ode and Burgeonings)

—-

In life, there is fighting. And some things are worth the flaming chaos of battlefields.  The point is to pick flowers in the middle of it all.

That was poetry for me, always. Since I began, it was a way for me to endure the ceaseless fighting. To find my own internal ceasefire despite the rain of grenades, bullets, and bombs all around. I was awkward with words at first. Trying to fit them together in ways that opened my soul to the light. It wasn’t until the deepest dark that I split myself open and scooped out all of those slimy little seeds buried in the red flesh.

Now I have vines growing everywhere. And flowers.

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—–

Even in the darkest of times, I only need look around and my soul is eased. The gift of Ferdinand, bequeathed on me from the start. This morning, I looked out of the windows at work and snow was dancing in the sun. The sparkling flakes reminded me of a quieter place, deep within yet high above myself. I caught my breath and was brought back to silence, again.

Ceasefire.

——

I love Neruda because words get me through things. And his words are like lassoes. When I am fighting, fighting, fighting, here they are suddenly. A beacon on the hill to keep my eye on, a lighthouse in a rocky sea, a handful of daisies with yellow suns in the middle.

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I bemoan my lack of funds on a regular basis. I pinch pennies like a tax collector in Bible times. Poverty licks my feet like a stray dog.

“If you can’t pay the rent
go off to work with a proud step,
and remember, my love, that I am watching you
and together we are the greatest wealth
that was ever gathered upon the earth.”
(Neruda – Poverty)

I fell in, again, to this ocean of words. Words I could have written myself. I want to lose myself in them, because for a moment there if my eyes are on those words, I forget the battlefield.

——

My favorite collections are the ones that has both Spanish and English versions. Through the eyes of Neruda, Spanish has become like a coded language for me. Not only do his words trap me in English, they seduce me in Spanish. It’s like getting lost in someone’s eyes and completely forgetting yourself.

So I’ve been learning Spanish by learning his lines.

“Mi lucha es dura y vuelvo
con los ojos cansados
a veces de haber visto
la tierra que no cambia,
pero al entrar tu risa
sube al cielo buscandome
y abre para mi todas
las puertas de la vida.

Amor mio, en la hora
mas oscura desgrana
tu risa, y si de pronto
ves que mi sangre manche
las piedras de la calle,
rie, porque tu risa,
sera para mis manos,
como una espada fresca…”
(Neruda – Your Laughter)

With each line, I feel as if I am speaking rosebud petals. Wrapping words like chocolate around my tongue. Gathering in my hands, in this wild battlefield, a fresh sword.

——-

“Because while life harasses us, love is
only a wave taller than the other waves:
but oh, when death comes knocking at the gate,

there is only your glance against so much emptiness,
only your light against extinction,
only your love to shut out the shadows.”
(Neruda – XC)

Neruda’s words are how I talk to myself. They are the way I am learning self-compassion. They are, for me, as Thich Nhat Hahn’s “Oh my darling, let’s talk on Friday.” When I say these words, I am saying, “I love you. I will never leave you. I will always take care of you.” (Elizabeth Gilbert) These words keep me from the edge of death. When I’m standing on the precipice, they give me the desire to walk backward. When I’m on the battlefield, they rouse my courage as Aragorn – “But it is not this day!”

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These words are a way for me to keep the faith  – they are the flowers.

With these words, I endure.

—–

“Stand up with me.

No one would like
more than I to stay
on the pillow where your eyelids
try to shut out the world for me.
There too I would like
to let my blood sleep
surrounding your sweetness.

But stand up,
you, stand up,
but stand up with me
and let us go off together
to fight face to face
against the devil’s webs,
against the system that distributes hunger,
against organized misery.

Let’s go,
and you, my star, next to me,
newborn from my own clay,
you will have found the hidden spring
and in the midst of the fire you will be
next to me,
with your wild eyes,
raising my flag.”
(Neruda – The Flag)

Fighting vs. Unfolding

I have had the privilege of going to a free yoga class at school for the past 2 weeks over the lunch hour on Tuesdays. I’m sending over loads of gratefulness to the sweet (and scattered, and adorable!) woman who puts it on. One thing she always says in her classes is that how we are on the mat often correlates to how we are in our lives.

One thing that has come to me from the class is the idea of fighting vs. unfolding. On the mat, am I fighting to get into a pose, or unfolding into it? There is a distinct difference. Fighting presupposes that external forces are preventing my pose. Unfolding presupposes that my body has what it takes to come into a pose as I can, today.

In life, I am prone to fighting. I assume that external forces are against me, and I have to summon my resources to withstand them. I feel like this is a a huge reaction to my trauma. An external force assaulted me without warning. Therefore, I assume that the external will always assault me, and often without warning. The only response then is to assume a hard, fighting stance.

I’ve started asking myself what it would look like to unfold.

What if life is not externally directed, but internal unfolding into external?

Think of a flower. Unfolding is like that; internal processes, provoked by photosynthesis which is provided by sunlight, are expressed in a beautiful flower that unfolds.

A flower is touchingly vulnerable, prone to the elements at all times. But this doesn’t make it any less beautiful. In fact, it is startlingly brave, to show such beauty in the face of what seems like madness.

It is really hard for me to approach life in this way. It is much, much easier to be hard, rigid, braced against the external and often threatening influences.

This is my current challenge, to soften myself and unfold into something stunning and wildly courageous.