When bravery leaves…

Trigger warning: suicide, suicidal ideation, death
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There was a suicide on my campus.

I can’t help but think of the pain that drives such a desperate act.
I can’t help but feel that most people can’t understand.
I can’t help but remember.

If you looked at me, you wouldn’t know that these thoughts still visit me on a regular basis
the allure of death as an end to the pain
the seduction of nothingness to put a stop to the eternal torment.

If you looked at me you wouldn’t think that more than once I’d very nearly been that person
that statistic
that “crime” report sent out to others.

If you looked at me you wouldn’t deem me likely to have spent over a year and a half of my life looked up in mental institutions and treatment facilities
I don’t look like the “type”
But what is the “type”?
And does it even exist?
Or is it just a comfortable way for people to separate themselves from seeing how easily it can happen
how an unknown plot twist can change all
how no one is immune

to the sadness and sorrow that pulls into the depths of despair
where drowning is your savior
and death is your respite
and everything is so backwards
even life and death can be flipped without your knowledge.

I like to talk about it as if it were long ago
like these things never touch me anymore
never encroach on my present day life
are not still considered when the pain feels like more than I can handle.

That would be a lie.
I’ve spent more of my life wanting to die than being willing to live.
Three decades of pure struggle
brief moments of light that still seem to slip through fingers
out of reach just when I expect them to be there.

People say that I’m brave…am I?
What makes me, the one who lived any different
from him, this one who died?

it was brave to have lived as long as he had
it was brave to fight as hard as he had
it was brave to acknowledge as much as he had.

I have no idea how much it was,
but it was too much
it always is, after all,
is there really any other reason?

Dear one unable to continue to live
incapable of forcing yourself to breathe again
too tired to try
too weary to reach
too hopeless to ask again.

May you find peace.

They will say there was another way:
to end the pain
to quiet the plague
to finish the tale,
but I know that there was not,
not to you.

May the compassion you needed find you now
carry you to your overdue respite
a warrior man…a warrior child
fighting unseen battles
losing unseen wars.

Some will never see the courage that was you
but some,
like me,
will never forget it.

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Nothing to say

I’ve been waiting for a while for some link issues to be sorted out before really writing much on this blog.  Funny though now that it’s free and clear I have nothing to say.  Nothing to say and everything to tell.

When I say that I have nothing to say it means that there’s too much…too much inside to sort out…too much to put into words…too much that isn’t yet clear…too much to explain even to myself.  Nothing to say means that there’s a welling of emotion that hasn’t made it’s way into conscious awareness far enough to have any verbal recognition.  It means that I need help to conceptualize my experience…to discover the words that have been locked inside me for so very long.

Sometimes I think that it’s not worth it…it’s all been held inside for so very long.  What does it matter if it’s held inside for another day…another week…another year?  And yet sometimes it comes rushing up in senses and feelings and intuitions that are just beyond the reach of my conscious mind.

Okay, I keep wanting to say “we” and keep correcting it to “I”.  So, we’re a we…first person plural…DID…dissociative…there’s lots of us in here and we (mostly) work together.  Technically it’s dissociative identity disorder, we usually describe it in its simplest terms like this: People have different parts that make up who they are…parts hold contradictions…so the easiest way to meet two of your parts is in that moment after the second snooze is activated on your phone.  One part of you says, I need to get up and go to work.  Another says, just one more minute and then I’ll get up.  There’s a part of you that is responsible and a part that says screw work we can just call in sick. Or there’s the classic internal conversation when you’re trying to decide whether to do something that goes like, go for it, it’s going to be great (part of me is super excited) and then maybe this is a bad idea (part of me is scared stiff).

So everybody’s got parts…maybe you believe that maybe you don’t, but just so you know that’s how we view the world.  Thing is that usually parts are pretty united…sharing information acting as one for the most part.  But some people’s parts hold contradictions that are unable to be held united…and sharing is limited or cut off completely and parts function with various levels of autonomy…in essence as different “people”.  So we call them parts when we talk to people who we’re not “out” as multiple to, but from in here we just call them insiders.  We’ve been working to share information among ourselves and to let the walls and barriers become slowly more porous for a long time now (okay, it feels like a long time 8-ish years or so).  So yeah, we’re multiple…we have dissociative identity disorder although of course we disagree about the disorder part.  We’re starting to believe that it’s possible that we’re actually “normal”, with normal reactions and normal feelings and that maybe the disorder was actually outside of us.  If you grew up like we did you’d be multiple too probably…that’s the beauty of this life…we can adapt to our environment.  I was raised to live in an environment that was nothing like what most people experience.  Naturally, I adapted to it.  It was all I knew…but we’re learning that maybe the world is a lot bigger than we were ever allowed to see growing up.  So really, it’s not a disorder…it’s an adaptation that’s perfect for where I grew up and that’s somewhat disastrous when navigating the real world without awareness.  So that’s what we do…we cultivate awareness, sometimes at least.  Other times we high-tail it in the opposite direction.  Still working on that.

These days we try hard to balance our life…external and internal, personal and professional…trying to find a way to cultivate awareness while living in the real world…trying to bring our worlds together so we can thrive in all the different arenas of our life.  Sounds so easy…we just summed it up in a single sentence really.  It’s fuckin’ hard.  Some days we’re not sure if we want to embrace awareness, but something deep within us drives us to it.  We’ve always been relentless in our pursuits.  Or maybe it’s more that awareness pursues us and we’re learning not to run from it.  We’re learning to make friends with it…to negotiate life with it.  We’re learning that the very thing that would have killed us in the “then” is what makes life worth living in the “now”.

So we’re becoming friends with awareness…building relationship one awkward encounter at a time, and all the fears and excitement and worries are literally multiplied making it quite the process.  Every now and then though we catch an imagination of what life could be like if we lived in awareness and those glimpses are starting to look really good.  Scary as hell of course, but good.

The beginning

This was originally posted on my previous blog.  I was reminded of it by a post on a forum referring to owning one’s story.  It was over eight years ago now…awareness and acknowledgement are the beginning.

“I was sexually abused.”  As the words left my own mouth, I pulled back sharply, not expecting the secret that I had been hiding for years to actually be spoken aloud.  My eyes widened in terror as I stole a glimpse of my therapist’s face out of the corner of my eyes.  There was no surprise that registered in her eyes; rather, the sigh that escaped her was heavy-laden with sorrow.  I didn’t hear anything she said even though her lips moved, probably speaking some comfort and an assurance that we would talk more the following day.  I made the statement right as she was leaving, slipping it in as if it were an afterthought she might forget by the next time we talked.

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Softening into joy

I’m drinking in the moment right now…my heart so full of goodness that tears are threatening to drown my eyelashes.  What is this feeling so unfamiliar to me…this aching beauty…this unbounded joy?  Is this the joy they say can so easily become forboding?

I begin to see how difficult it is to lean into this feeling that is so big and soft that it feels like falling.  The body instinctually grasping for something solid outside of itself…something sharp and angular, certain and strong.  It feels so beautifully unprotected…so painfully free…too good to be true…too easy to be believed…too authentic to be real.

My heart is naked…free from pretense…free from illusion.  Without the shroud of my own deception to block my awareness, I nearly fail to recognize it as mine–so free it now is from the trappings and baubles whose permanence I have never questioned.  But, even in the midst of such unsettling unfamiliarity my soul recognition is unmistakable because it’s so clearly me…so clearly myself as I truly am.

Facing the inner radiance that threatens to blind my eyes, it takes all my surrender strength to prevent turning away.  I reach deep within and refuse the urge to shield myself from my own nakedness…refusing to protect my eyes’ adaptation that has allowed this previously dim existence to pass for life.

I spurn the desire to escape this palpable enlightenment…this gut-deep knowing that accepting this majestic experience means giving up the option to return…the inherently-activated realization that this is risking every certainty and security for which I have so obsessively labored.

As I consider the ramifications of submission, my breath catches within my throat threatening what seems like my very existence.  And yet, I inhale the fear, I welcome the resistance,  I greet the panic with gratitude and trust.  I close my eyes daring to exchange the certainty of disappointment for the danger of hope.  I breathe in and I breathe out.  I relax into the moment, soften into joy, and am caught by mySelf.

How do you…

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Photo by Penny Matthews

How do you…

Embrace the new without denying the old?
Acknowledge your past?
Give yourself permission to be different?
Honor the journey?
Share the path even without a destination?
Shed the skin you’ve grown out of?
Surrender to the process?
Uncover your hidden self?
Refuse the allure of perfection?
Inhibit your instinct to hide?
Meet your whole self compassionately?
Choose connection although it’s risky?
Change your perception of vulnerability?
Live your values intentionally?
Prioritize internal healing?
Speak truth even when it’s uncomfortable?
Author your own story?
Accept uncertainty?
Silence the fear?
Foster awareness?
Challenge old patterns of behavior?
Rewire your brain intentionally?
Learn to trust?

How do you…live?

You stay, you feel, and notice the now.
You do less, surrender more, and always try to grow.
You reach out, speak forth, and reside in truth.
You love, you lose, and you revere them both.

You breathe.

Over and over and over again.

Along for the ride

imagesI’m returning to writing here.  At first I was going to make this completely separate from my former blog, but in honor of the journey they are now linked.

I’ll also be re-publishing some of my favorite posts so that they can be here as well.

I’m going for imperfection.  So if it’s really bad, that just means that I’m an overachiever.
I’m learning to embrace humanity–mine and everyone else’s.

Feel free to come along for the ride.