I’ve been sitting enjoying one of many secret pleasures. I’ve been listening to ‘I’m only human’ a version by Madilyn Bailey and then ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’ by Yusuf (formerly Cat Stevens) among others. Shhh don’t tell anyone. I’m letting you in on this because part of my blog plan this year is make myself more visible and more vulnerable. For some reason music is one of my most intimate joys and I find sharing my music taste deeply uncomfortable and exposing. I used to listen to music a lot when I was a child and I didn’t have words for my feelings or anyone to talk too. Now sometimes with other people I have the feeling that there is no barrier between me and them and I can’t quite bear the thought that they wouldn’t feel me in the music or understand my connection to the song, or even worse that they might mock or shame me for enjoying some of the cheesy, old fashioned music that I do. Sharing music for me is much more vulnerable than talking about my emotions or crying (most of the time). Just like the first time I share a story I’ve written, or a part of myself, it feels like a way to open my heart and soul. I’ve learnt to laugh at myself and find a bit more protection for myself around this now but still, exposure it’s excruciating especially at the beginning.
So many areas in my life have felt unshareable and even unnameable. My politics, my spirituality, gender differences, my sexuality, my emotionality, being autistic, being sent to boarding school, self harm, mental health issues, infant and childhood neglect and abuse, unusual experiences and perceptions. I’ve often experienced that talking about my day to day experiences or sharing stories which seem quite normal to me from my past is not going to be comfortable or manageable for many other people. I used to sit and listen to conversations and wonder how to join in or share without exposing myself to other people’s shame and abandonment, or triggering self attack. I felt lonely and I learned to be for other people to avoid having to be myself. After a while I couldn’t tell I was pretending. I just thought being with other people was worse than being alone. I felt split into pieces. If you’ve had a lot of early trauma you can end up becoming invisible or becoming an object, of curiosity, pity or speculation. It can be hard to find people who can regulate in relation to a wider range of emotion and experience. People who are willing to get it wrong in and hang in there with you. Of course the only way to do that is to risk and find out… it’s been decades of painful learning and exploration to find a more authentic way of being in relationships and to accept that my path tends to be at the edge of things and this is where I am comfortable and find peace and ease. I’ve really worked hard and I’m still learning so much. I’m bench pressing new neuronal pathways and now I feel like it’s paying off.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It’s been a year of old structures falling away (not just for me). Sometimes things have to get really beautifully messy in order to see what stays internally and externally. I’ve now decided that I can’t do ‘marketing’ - it just isn’t in me and it feels at odds with visioning a different world. Instead this blog will be a place for me to share and reflect on my artistic and spiritual process and my ongoing healing journey - of course these are intricately entwined. Perhaps like the waft and weave on a loom. If this draws people to me and my work then great and if it repels them, equally I trust that process of natural organisation.
Lately, I’ve been finding myself very conscious of old/conditioned beliefs - they’ve come into my awareness in a more explicit and less somatic way and that is empowering and a little overwhelming - there are soooo many! It’s like a sea of ghosts all chattering in my ear and more than beliefs they are patterns, personalities, energies and perhaps inherited fears or memories living inside me. I’ve found it helpful to play and engage with these before I sit down to write or work on the graphic novel. I’ve shared some of the doodle with you and in some cases my witnessing responses to them.
This process gives me a little distance from the experience and allows me to feel some tenderness and space in relationship with these injured or fearful parts of my living. It also allows me to bring spirit and present experience to meet them and accept them so that they don’t get the reins and start sabotaging me.
There’s so much I want to say and talk about on this blog some of which I am absolutely terrified about. I’ve given myself permission to start here and start gently because as a fellow boater and trauma survivor said to me the other day. ‘Half a step forward, or staying still is a change from two steps back.’ It felt very kind if a little goal oriented. Half of what I’m allowing myself right now is to just be who I am where I am to really let in the feeling of enoughness and let go of all my striving and hiding. It feels very moving to share this and I feel so happy to be where I am and with all of my complex self. I feel so full of life and love of life, full of gratitude and curiosity and humility the longing to learn and unlearn more like the source of life is running in me again at last. I think this original aspect of who I am has been overshadowed by the pain of the past and the social stigma or being different and I am so delighted to continue to reclaim that authentic power and agency.
Sending courage, love and rage and softness to you, all of who you are, where you are. One step at a time.