"The martyr sacrifices themselves entirely in vain. Or rather not in vain; for they make the selfish more selfish, the lazy more lazy, the narrow narrower." ~ Florence Nightingale
"'no' might make them angry. but it will make you free. -- if no one has ever told you, your freedom is more important than their anger." ~ Nayyirah Waheed
I was raised to believe that nobody mattered more than me, except for everybody. I was raised to believe I should question everything, but that everybody probably still knew more than me. I took care of myself from a very young age, yet still, I was taught that I could never do anything on my own. Such self-efficacy would have offered me too much freedom and my unintended captors still needed me. How do you learn to value yourself, when you're raised to believe that you need to, but you aren't shown the tools on how, or educated on where to begin? I was raised to believe that somehow I could save the world, that I should offer my soul to anybody who wanted it, as my duty. I was raised to play a role I never intended to play, and yet nobody seemed to have any problem taking what they needed from me. I was raised to be sacrificial, to give all and take so little. Like so many other girls, I was raised to believe that I will always need outside approval, to believe naivety was cute, I was brought up to stand there and look pretty.
"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live." ~ Norman Cousins
I had my first Romiromi massage a few weeks ago. A friend of a friend whom practices this ancient healing technique had reached out to me saying that he thought a session could be of benefit, although he wasn't exactly sure in what specific area, he said that he felt it would give me a new clarity on life. Romiromi massage is an ancient Maori (indigenous people of New Zealand) healing technique that works with the physical body, emotional body, and etheric body to release anything that is no longer serving the person being worked on (me in this case). This is done through the stimulation of pressure points and the activation of cellular memory in order to release the old and increase cellular vibrational frequency. Being that I do not believe in accidents, I of course welcomed the invitation and made an appointment. I felt like I was being blessed with a gift and I also felt nervous, like I was about to disrupt some dormant things that I was more comfortable forgetting. I'll be honest, the deep tissue massage is uncomfortable, it resembles pain but on a more psychological level rather than physical. I was told beforehand to use it as a meditation, breathing through it, surrendering to it. There were times I wanted it to stop, times I felt like I was being forced to face traumas in my life that I wanted to erase from my memory, but I breathed through it. I'm at a point in my life where I want freedom more than my comfort. After the session I stopped at a gas station to get some water, since it's good to drink lots of water after massages, it helps flush the toxins out of your system that have been released from the muscles they were once encased in. I felt oddly frustrated and angry, and then all of a sudden like an unsuspecting bystander and a bus, it hit me, and the tears came.
"Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while, so that we can see life with a clearer view again." ~ Alex Tan
I've cried for others, many times. I've grieved people I've lost, the ways I've treated those I've loved, the pain I've caused the world with my actions before I knew any better. I've blamed others for hurting me, I've held anger for being victimized, I've put up armor to protect me. Yet, somehow, it has taken me all of my life to realize the heart wrenching truth of how horrible I've been to myself. It's taken me all of my life to cry for me. I've given explanations for boundaries when none were deserved. I've allowed people to use me because I was too afraid of losing approval. I've questioned my own judgment and cast aside my intuition for the flicker of love from another. I have betrayed my own soul, countless times, again and again. They say the truth will piss you off before it sets you free. The weight of this truth merely crushes me.
"Sometimes we go out and seek the fire that will burn away what is dross in our lives. More often, we awaken suddenly to find ourselves encircled by flame. Intense experiences of the heart transform us. I want to know if you can stand with me, eyes wide open, when the fire - asked for or unbidden - consumes all we think we know. I want to know if you will offer yourself as fuel for the flames and let the Mystery we seek, the Divine we long for, which comes in unpredictable ways, consume and transform you... Talking about the fire, we forget what it is really like. It is only in the stories of our burning and rising from the ashes that we remember the flame." ~ Oriah, The Invitation
That feeling you get when you've done something so hurtful to another that you aren't sure you deserve to be forgiven, that stomach churning feeling, that sickness in your gut. I've felt it before, the shame of causing pain to a life other than your own. On this day, I felt that sickness, the thought that I may never be able to look at myself in the mirror the same way, I felt that, but I felt it for my actions toward my own being. I found myself encircled in unbidden flames, engulfed in the smoke of the denial I had grown so comfortable in. How could I have lived with this for so long and denied its very existence? The power of the ego in the midst of pain, its ability to make you forget, its propensity for survival, it's a hell of thing. Here I was, shattered and burning, and all I could do was cry. I cried because of the immeasurable pain I denied every time I simply said "I'm fine," the weight I felt nearly breaking the bones in my chest everyday I tried to believe my own lies. I cried hard, for what seemed to be the most truthful moment of my life, my own betrayal. I cried, not for the things that people have done to me, but for all the things I've allowed, the things I have done to myself. All the boundaries I never set, all I have enabled to happen in my life, all the pain I've inflicted, all the hate I've felt towards my existence, all the wrongs I've sanctioned, all the covenants of my soul that I've let give way to appeasement. I cried for all the times I never stood up for myself, all the times I expected people to hear me but never MADE them. I cried because it's heartbreaking, the damage that I have warmly greeted at my door and granted entry.
Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX) "Love is not all; it is not meat nor drink Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain; Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink And rise and sink and rise and sink again; Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath, Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone; Yet many a man is making friends with death Even as I speak, for lack of love alone. It well may be that in a difficult hour, Pinned down by pain and moaning for release, Or nagged by want past resolution's power, I might be driven to sell your love for peace, Or trade the memory of this night for food. It well may be. I do not think I would." ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
The truth is I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. It pains me to become aware of all the times I put another first. All the times I heard the whispers of my heart speaking to me, cautioning me to briskly walk or run away, all the times I knew better but chose to act from a broken neediness rather than a place of clarity. All the times I chose to trust another over myself. All the self sacrifice under the guise of love. Despite what they may tell you, love is not sacrificial, love gives life, it does not strip you of it. I was conditioned as a child, I didn't know better than to believe in the lies I was fed, I hadn't yet learned proper discernment, I hadn't yet learned of the unwitting faults of man. As an adult, I had convinced myself that I had been freed from the shackles of my childhood, that I had brilliantly escaped the unhealthy cycles of dysfunction. It took me all of my life to realize that my clever masks of deception had hidden these cycles well, but they remained alive and well in my unconscious, actively perpetuated in my experiential life. It took me until now.
"'i love myself.' the quietest. simplest. most powerful. revolution. ever. -- ism" ~ Nayyirah Waheed
Life always has our back, even in the unlikeliest of ways. Going into that seemingly harmless massage I felt as though something was about to change, but I would be lying to you if I told you that I was ready for the decimating blow to my seemingly "healed" psyche. Healing disrupts our lives because it is uncomfortable, wounds ooze and scab before they heal, sometimes the only way out is through. It's uneasy to look into the places we've sworn to never acknowledge again, it can be painful to revisit old wounds, but what is more terrifying is that it can be imprisoning not to.
"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." ~ Oscar Wilde
I wish you all courage in facing your demons, freedom in breathing through the discomfort, and clarity whilst standing amongst the flames. Free yourselves, it may not be the smoothest of rides, but I promise you, it will be a life worthy of remembering. It is in accepting all of ourselves that we surpass the falseness of mundane existence and embrace the reality of the simple complexity in the true beauty of the human experience -- a life well-lived.