because life is messy
I used to have such a resistance to the fact that life is messy.
It’s not like my life hasn’t been messy—it’s been motherfucking messy—but it was more a resistance to the fact that I could get messy, be messy, within that.
And that life being messy was a ‘normal’ part of life—it wasn’t and isn’t me doing anything wrong.
Being a child of trauma, the belief and thought pattern that when something goes wrong—when shit gets messy—it’s my fault, or something I’ve done wrong, is completely normal and understandable, because to my inner girl growing up, this theory appeared true. Even though it couldn’t have been further from being so.
As an adult, the idea that shit getting messy is ‘life’ is an idea that used to make me nauseas and uncomfortable as fuck. It still does, but I have a softness around it, now. An understanding that it is just life.
And life is messy.
As this truth increasingly feels like mine, I am beginning to realise that if life is messy, I can be messy within that.
Because to be messy is to be human.
To be messy is to survive wholeheartedly.
This truth is something people have told me, something people have showered onto me as an offering of reassurance and solace—peace amongst my inner storm that began to show externally, too—yet it was never something I could hold onto completely.
If at all.
You see, to give myself permission to be messy is like allowing myself to be truly seen. Something that I have feared for so, so, long, yet something I have craved desperately for all my years, too.
To give myself permission to be messy is like giving the critic inside me, permission to shut-the-fuck-up. Or for me to just witness rather than feel all-consumed by his theories and his presence. It’s like painting a new picture on top of a canvas that was once covered with thick paint of confusion, isolation, desperation, isolation, and sorrow.
To give myself permission to be messy is introducing a new way of living, a new way of being, a new way of being me. It’s like giving me the opportunity to be authentic, to be whole, to be 110 percent me.
To give myself permission to be messy is like giving my inner perfectionist permission to take time out, and even typing those words feel scary.
Typing those words, I hear her scream. I hear the agony of needing to keep it all together, to keep the world inside me as insane as the world outside me, is terrifying. It goes against everything she’s ever known, everything she’s ever experienced, everything she’s ever been told—by her, my inner critic, the world around me growing up.
To give myself permission to be messy, is like shattering the belief my inner girl holds that she needs to keep it all together, she needs to keep it prim and proper from the outside, she needs to appear fine on the surface when inside she’s crumbling, she’s grieving, she’s feeling so incredibly messy and desperate.
That’s the thing, it’s not like parts of me aren’t messy, it’s just the idea of showing the world My Messy, is what used to fill me with terror and discomfort. But an idea that I’m now becoming able to witness and see, but not completely experience.
As a parts of me grow—my inner healer, my inner parent, my inner mother, my inner wise woman—I’m able to see that the same rules apply to me, as they do to everyone else. And in that, I notice my band-with of compassion and acceptance of other people and their Messy in my life, grows, too.
The more I forgive myself, the more I allow myself to be messy, the more I allow My Messy to be out in the world, the more I want others to show me theirs, and the more time I have for theirs, too.
In fact, I am increasingly loving other peoples Messy.
I can’t get enough.
I want tears, I want stories of shit going down, I want to witness things that I witness in my bedroom—meltdowns, tear storms—because it makes me feel normal. It reminds me that who I am, what I’ve experienced, what I currently experience, is nothing more than being human.
It’s fucked up and confusing and often so painful, but it’s what brings us all together, it’s what unites us as humans and as animals.
And, it’s life. And life gets messy.
I used to think that to give myself permission to be messy is like telling the world my story, showing the world me, without roses and buttercups beside it, showered on top of it, or growing all the way through it. But I’ve recently been noticing that by being messy, I’m giving the world my story, me, in all my glory, all my sorrow, all my pain, all my beauty, all my discomfort, all my struggle, and all my wisdom.
Because, to be messy is to show those roses and buttercups, and the horse shit—the compost—that’s covered on the ground beneath them in order to help them grow.
Because, to be messy is to offer it all rather than just the shiny, pretty bits.
To be messy is to be authentic.
To be messy feels like opening up my soul to the world. Opening up my heart in all her glory to the potential of abandonment and hate, neglect and betrayal, but also so much unconditional love, acceptance, and forgiveness.
To give myself permission to be messy is like offering the wounds and the defensive armour that is here around them, a band-aid of forgiveness, acceptance and the opportunity to be here with me, not living in the shadows, where they’ve become so able used to being. But somewhere my heart they now don’t need to be. Because life is safe, now.
Life can be messy and I can be, too, because things are different.
I am different.
The world around me is different because it’s empty of the trauma and abuse that made these wounds externally invisible but internally ragingly visible, and these defences so strong and so present…so here.
I used to think that life being messy was me failing, that me being messy was me fucking up, or me being fucked up. But the more I challenge this theory I’ve held for so long, the more I’m openly messy, openly authentic, I am, the easier things are.
The more I feel supported.
The more I feel seen.
By sharing my dark and messy, painful and confusing, restricted and wild, emotional and physical experience, I feel a sense of freedom and understanding, and a decreasing sense of isolation.
And I feel so much compassion—for myself and for the world.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ~ Brene Brown
Originally published on elephant journal.
making friends with time
For my entire 25th year and half my 26th, I spent the majority of my time tucked away from the world, believing that I needed to work it all out.
Work me all out—heal, change, grow and learn everything I needed to learn—before I could step back out into the world as a new woman: bad-ass, beautiful, confident and deserving.
The lenses I had in the self-evaluating glasses I was wearing prevented me seeing the fact that I was all of these things already.
My hours of socialising were replaced with hours of solitude. It was partly done with the aim of protecting myself from the world—I didn’t feel ready for any more hurts or any more traumas until I’d begun to heal the sharp-edged mountain ridges of all that lay inside me already.
It also gave me a chance to begin to get to know myself on a deeper, more intimate, level.
This was beautiful and much needed.
But tucking myself away was also done to protect the world from me. From me, my flaws and the parts of me I was terrified or ashamed of. I was tripping through acres of judgement for who I was, where I found myself in my life, all that had happened, and where I was going—according to my critics—if I didn’t get my shit together…so it just made sense to hibernate until I had figured it all out.
I believed I could only be back in the world when I was whole and unbroken and there was absolutely no risk of me being a burden or fucking up or being wrong or heading down the wrong path.
I would get glimpses of the person I was becoming, and the change that healing would—and was—bringing me, so I just wanted to speed up the process. The world couldn’t see the messy, in-between stage. It just wasn’t pretty and it certainly wasn’t safe.
I wasn’t safe.
I began to notice that it meant I was depriving myself of feeling part of the world. (This, it turns out, is a pretty key ingredient for a healthy mental-health.) I was depriving myself of showing up however I was in whatever moment it was, out of fear that who I was (wasn’t healed enough; was a too much like the old me; hadn’t learnt enough; didn’t know enough; couldn’t articulate my experience enough; couldn’t be open or vulnerable enough; wasn’t bad-ass enough; wasn’t generous or kind enough; wasn’t easy-to-be-around enough; wasn’t cool enough; wasn’t wise and strong enough; wasn’t able to protect or mother myself enough) basically, I was (supposedly) never enough.
I noticed that I constantly felt stressed and as though I was never living up to my goals—because I wasn’t. I was never being who I thought I should—or could—be.
I’m not sure exactly what shifted it but like with anything, it was a culmination of events. It rapidly began to click that it isn’t a case of me doing it all, learning it all or healing it all, all at once. I can’t just paraglide from A-to-B.
Instead, it is a case of letting time help me find my way too. Letting time be my BFF along this journey, because along this journey is where I grow.
I used to hate the expression ‘time heals’ but now I’m beginning to see that it’s completely true.
I will become the woman I am meant to be, but I am already that woman now. By striving to be her, and by trying to leap through this process of growth and healing and figuring it all out, I miss who I am now. And I miss the magic in the healing that is happening and I miss seeing all the many ways I have healed so much already.
Gradually allowing myself to step out and show up in the world has been—and continues to be—terrifying, messy, confusing and often painful.
I regularly retreat back into my four walls for a stint of hibernation, but I allow myself permission to do that because when I’m back out there, the connections that come are overwhelmingly beautiful and monumentally healing.
My imperfections make me wonderfully human and connect me with everyone else on this planet.
I don’t benefit anyone by keeping them to myself, despite my good intentions.
Hiding away protected me during a time I most needed it, but I deserve to be seen.
We all do.
So I’ll see you out there, on our own roads, together.
Originally published on elephant journal.
Because Everything Changes
Today I realized, everything changes. Like, everything.
People have told me that before, and people will tell me that again, but to really know it, own it, trust it, come to terms with it, allow for it, hope for it, almost expect it, feels like it’s been mine, lately.
I keep thinking back to things that have changed, and keep realizing that despite life still being hard and full, things are very different from what they once were.
I find that hard to hold on to and fully believe, because life is still hard, and life still feels confusing and messy, and I often feel perplexed and lost. But the thing is, I never feel lost in the way I did before.
Feeling lost feels more temporary. It’s like a passing state that’s often here regardless of what’s happening, of where I am of, of what I’m doing.
A familiar passing state that my body and mind have been so used to feeling that when it’s here, the familiarity springs up and takes hold, and I forget all the times in recent months where I haven’t felt lost. The times in which I’ve been coming home, and holding that sense, deeply.
In these moments of the familiarity of lost-ness, I forget all the ways in which I’ve changed.
All the ways in which I’ve grown and am no longer as thrown off by the sense of not knowing what’s going to happen, because in me is a part of me stronger and more content, wiser and more open, bolder and more convinced that this path I’m on is a path that will take me to where I want to be.
It’ll take me to other places, too, but the thing I want to hold on to — and the thing I am holding on to — is that it’ll take me somewhere different from where I am now.
Somewhere different from this destination I’ve reached this very moment, and somewhere different — even if only different by an inch — from the destinations I’ve reached before.
Sometimes I feel like I know where I’m going. Other times I realize I don’t, but I have ideas. I have solid dreams, ambitions, and desires. I have a heart that knows the truth, and where I need to go, what I need to do, and that I’m doing that all already.
And I have a head that knows the difference between fears and reality, criticism and truth.
But I also know I actually have no idea, and where I am right now isn’t where I thought I would be in. In many ways — self-criticizing ways — I could look at that in a bad way, but in many others I could see the ten-fold leaps of goodness that have come from where I am.
To see the fact that I’m healing, and that I’m right here, where I am, is something I can give myself in the moments I feel abandoned by worry and stress. Because I’m twenty-something and I’m figuring it out.
I’m giving me a gift of something — I’m giving me Life.
People have told me that my life will change so much and I’ve often found it hard to believe. Like, truly believe, and for it to truly change. I know that it will change a bit but part of me fights this theory because I don’t want it to be true.
Part of me is so afraid of change because what if I don’t like what I turn into? What if I don’t like what my life changes into, what my life becomes? What and who I become?
But that’s fear, and that’s worry — two things I’ve known so well, but two things I’m increasingly learning to spot and tell to pipe down, or reason with, or simply ignore.
They’re two things that also make my heart open wide and fill with warmth as I write this because I know that the fear and worry come from parts of me who are here –or telling me these things—to protect me.
They’re parts of me wounded by trauma and parts of me consistently afraid, because to them change meant un-safety. Change didn’t mean warmth.
Change meant hatred and wounding and bullying. Change meant excessive worrying and being alert, stepping on tiptoes, waiting for abuse.
But change is different now, change does bring warmth. Change brings other things, too, but the change I keep noticing and the change I keep bringing myself back to, is change that’s within me, within myself.
I notice change in the life around me, but the change inside me feels like the most powerful, and reassuring, one.
I almost constantly notice little bits of change, growth, inside me. I write them in my happiness jar, or in my journal, as things to come back to when I’m needing faith and reassurance from the parts of me that can see the difference, see the growth, see the new-ness flowing through me.
This is when I feel grateful for my self-awareness, sensitivity, and perception. Sometimes it’s a bitch, and sometimes I wish I didn’t feel things like I do, but in times of feeling crazy, feeling a little (or a lot) lost, I bring myself back to these little things I notice, and that feels fucking wonderful.
Watching myself change and watching myself grow in ways I didn’t know how, before, leaves me knowing things can be different.
I look back on how far I’ve come, I look back on what I used to know, and I see that things I never thought would change — but desperately longed for them to and, deep inside me, knew they would somehow — have changed.
About four months ago, I wrote a piece for an online publication about my journey with self-destruct, and how it’s changed and softened in not such a big amount of time.
From days of severe eating disorders and days of crippling suicidality and an attempt, to days that are still scattered with self-destruct or self-sabotage but in a much gentler way to how they were before.
Still painful and frustrating and lonely, but days that are also scattered with a shit-ton of love from myself to me.
Since writing that piece, I’ve brought myself back to it so, so, much. Like, if that can change, if that can change in me, if that life I used to lead has softened in the way it has in not that long, then I know I’m going to be okay. Things are going to be okay.
I know that what I’m struggling with now will change, because that did.
I know that the inner turmoil and the seeming inner madness, the inner sense of doom, will shift. One day I’ll be able to look back and realize, again, that nothing is permanent and that everything will be different.
In me is a part of that knows this is true, regardless of the rest of my experience. She’s the part of me listening and noticing, opening my heart up and bringing me awareness. She’s the part of me guiding me and showing me all the things that have changed and that are different.
She’s telling me she loves me, she’s telling me, I do. She’s telling me she’ll be here through it all.
She tells me that even though things look a little funky, a little sad, a little hard, right now, they won’t always be. And that within me is a change, a growth, a wellness, that won’t ever stop happening.
This wellness and growth and change are part of me just as much as she. Because wellness, growth, and change, are a part of being human. We can’t escape it, no matter how hard we try. And I don’t want to, anyway.
Even the self-destructive gremlins in me want things to change because then they have something new to bash my head against. And the parts of me that fear change? They know it’s okay. They know they’ll always be here, regardless of difference, regardless of consistency, because that’s their job.
The difference is, their voice will soften and their trust will grow, as I grow too.
With the help of the unconditionally loving part of me, holding me tight, watching my back, and catching my tears, I will listen to the words of strangers or passers-by, I will take breaths from the wise people in my life, I will read passages of people’s stories and sections of fictional ones, and trust that everything changes because everything does.
Everything changes because everything is going to be okay.
And everything already is.
Previously published on Rebelle Society
riding my rollercoaster & no-one else's
To me, life feels like a tumbleweed of beauty, pain, sorrow, compassion, heartache, love, destruction and repairing.
It’s like a roller-coaster that I had no idea what it was going to be like, until I found myself in the front seat, watching the world whizz by, often wondering why the fuck I had bought a ticket for this ride, and not the other ride I can see my friends on.
I have life-ride envy, a lot.
I look at other people’s lives and wonder how they’ve gotten away with being on the ride they have. I wonder what took them there, and why my life and my ride, my rollercoaster, can’t be a little bit like theirs. Even if just one corner, one bend, one high, one low is like theirs. I also have life-ride envy for my own life—the one I used to lead. I end up comparing to myself and those around me, and it’s always really fucking painful.
I forget all the pain that the me I’m comparing myself to used to experience, or the pain that others may be experiencing but I don’t know about, and see perfection and complete beauty and abundance in all the ways I feel those things are missing in my life, at the moment.
That wondering and wishing and comparing only lasts for a few moments. I don’t have patience with it anymore. Plus, I now know that every ride has its rickety patches, its missing planks, its heart shattering loss or bone shaking struggle or mind numbing pain. And that everyone has a time when the way they knew how to ride their own roller-coaster comes crashing down in their own unique way.
At 15, at 26, at 39, at 54…or even at 80…there’s always a time for everyone when shit gets really messy.
I used to spend a long time sat in that place of looking at others lives and wondering what I had done wrong to land myself on this ride and not another.
Wondering why, and giving myself shit about the fact that I had bought a ticket for this life-ride, and not a different, easier, softer, one. One that didn’t contain so much pain and turmoi, trauma and healing-that-is-happening.
Wondering why I hadn’t known that this ride would be as intense as it is.
Giving myself a really hard time around the fact that I’m here, on this ride—on my ride—and I’m (according to my critic) “letting life be like this, and allowing these curve balls to be thrown.” According to him, this is/was me failing and fucking up…according to him, the shit that happens is my fault.
But the thing is, it doesn’t work like that. Life doesn’t work like that.
Life throws curveballs. Shit gets messy. Life is painful and crazy things hit the fan.
When I hit drastic bends or gentle curves along my roller-coaster, I can fight them and try to turn my speeding cart around, or I can roll with them…go with the curveball, ride round the bend, and nourish myself in the best way I can whilst doing so.
This is something I’ve gotten really fucking good at over the years, and so (weirdly) my ability to do this comes with an extra load of shit from my critic around the fact that—according to him—I’m not doing enough to fightlife, and fight the ride I’m on…to buy a new ticket, and get on a new roller-coaster. To trade in the person I am, for a different person—someone else stood in line at the theme park, waiting.
But, again, it doesn’t work like that.
I am changing, I am healing, I am learning, and I am continually growing and being reborn, but I can never just switch myself for someone else. I can’t just hop on over to a new kind of life. These things take time, and by doing that, I would be abandoning the me I am growing to love
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~ Steve Jobs
Part of me believes I didn’t really buy a ticket to this life—that the ticket was bought for me.
Perhaps, some would argue that at some point I did buy a ticket—when I was hangin’ out, up in the sky, waiting to come down here, waiting for my rollercoaster ride to begin, I was stood in-line at a ticket booth choosing a ticket for this ride, knowing that I could handle it and knowing that I could thrive on it.
When I think like that, it gives me faith that this ride isn’t here for me to bail on, it’s here for me to ride the shit out of it, because if I couldn’t handle it, I wouldn’t be here.
I’m not 100 percent sure what I believe, but this is the ride I’m on.
This is the life I’ve got.
This is the person I am.
One time, I tried to get off this ride, but quickly realised that I wanted and needed to be back on it, just sitting in a different seat, riding life in a different way.
I often feel angry and pissed off, and in shock, at the injustice of so many sections of my ride.
I long for a sense of fairness, rather than a sense of, “what-the-fuck, are you kidding, life?”
I wish for something more, for something different to what I have now and to what I have experienced before now. But I also see the utter beauty that wanders into my life—the beauty I pass or go through whilst sat at the front of my ride—and the way that my ride, so far, has meant that to notice this beauty is to survive.
To survive is to notice and appreciate and experience the beauty.
I increasingly realise that if I was sat on someone else’s roller-coaster, I would feel sick and dizzy and wonder when I could get off. I wouldn’t get the beauty, and I wouldn’t get the pain, that I get whilst inhabiting my own roller-coaster. I would get different experiences of both those things, but I wouldn’t be experiencing what was mine.
I would be abandoning my own experience, and I would be abandoning myself.
And I really don’t want to do that.
Originally published on elephant journal.