Tue, January 16, 2007
In response to the question: how do you let go of childhood stuff, and bounce back so quick? How did you pick up the reins of your life like that?
I'll preface it by saying that I dealt with some seriously sick shit as a kid. Violence, first physical and then when I stood up to my aggressor (now ex-stepfather) it became several long years of systematic emotional and verbal abuse. I became a very very angry and aggressive teen, with a tongue so sharp I could cut glass with it. The defenses were high, fast and complete. My natural strength and sweetness had become replaced by fear and I no longer remembered who I was.
Ahh, well. I guess the work I've done over the last 14 years to release my childhood stuff is to take a good long look at it and realize that none of it was my fault. When I was in Peace Corps Panama, I wrote a lot of it down and analyzed the hell out of it. I came to realize that I could not control the choices the adults in my life made for or towards me. I try to be gentle with myself when I find I am reacting badly to something, or with old patterns. Indeed, I just try to keep watch for patterns in general; and when things happen I say, "oh! There is that thing again!"
My friend July said something very wise once about patterns:
"Step one is when something happens, and later you say: hey, that's a pattern!
Step two is when you are in the middle of doing that something again, and say- hey, I'm doing that pattern thing again!
Step three is when you are about to do that thing again and say- oh, whoa, I was about to do that again... and deftly avoid it."
And then you have overcome the pattern, and the likelihood of it happening again is pretty low- because you are aware and watchful of it.
For example, I used to take everything anyone did very personally. If someone forgot to call, it was because they didn't like me (too ugly, stupid, said something dumb, bad, wrong, whathaveyou- echoes of a man who never should have had that much power over me). I learned with time to look objectively at things, and realize that you can take a step back and think:
Does this person really mean me harm like that? Have I truly 'done something' that would really cause that?
And since self-awareness is not always enough, I took to asking. It made me feel embarassed at first, but I learned with time that people aren't generally mean spirited (especially friends/ lovers) and to not take their every action personally somehow but wait for the answer.
I'd guess the most critical bit came when I realized:
Hey! I'm an adult! And that means I get to choose what I do, when I do it and where! Neat! Yes, it means responsibility, but to me that word means that I am responsible for my own choices, and I can choose how to act and so forth. After many years I've relaxed back into the sweet and generous person I know myself to be, because I am making the choices and if there is pain in my life, it's because I have allowed it or I have created a situation where it could occur.
Yes, I still have claws and fangs. They are there when I need them- and I pity the poor sucker that evokes my anger. I'm not really big, but when pushed I can do damage, truly. This is a power, and power has responsibilities- including when and where to use it. It takes a lot to anger me now, since I have mellowed out. I deal with things differently, and trust people until they give me a reason to stop doing so. I'd say my sharpness still peeks out now and then- I am a firecracker, let's be honest- but for the most part, I have a pretty good understanding of how low human beings can go to hurt one another, and I'm not interested in going there. I also know that most people aren't interested either, despite what the media would tell you.
One skill having a childhood like that has given me is that I am super aware of asshole behaviour. I do not tolerate it for one second. I can sniff an aggressor from a mile away and do not keep them in my sphere of influence. My entire being repels people like that, and I have learned to really trust my instincts and intuition. I've never been wrong, not once.
How does this make me a cork, like I stated in my last blog? Well, because I have seen what true pain is, and true aggression, I know that the day to day annoyances I feel sometimes are nothing, really. I know what being held down and held back is like. I also know what real depression and fear look like; I know how real the thought of suicide can be (wouldn't you want to kill yourself if you heard everyday that you were stupid and ugly, bad and wrong, no matter your efforts? Like the dog in the pool experiments... only I never ever gave up.) So nothing I experience in this life right now is as bad as what I have gone through. It gave me my wisdom and so I don't regret it, because I would not be this insightful. Nor would I have the degree of empathy that I've got; there's nothing like living in fear of an adult's moods to prime your instincts to 'feeling' out people's emotive states into the highest degree. I know how people are feeling just by walking into the room- that is why I was such a good waitress. heh. Anyway, it is what it is, I can't look back and hate or fear what happened, I can only walk forward and promise to stop the violence there. I do not perpetuate violence in my own life, and prevent it when I see it.
I live in joy, finally able to admit that I'm smart, talented and beautiful- you have no idea how hard that was, to get here and be able to say that and mean it! Nothing can ever ever ever be that bad again.