Epiphany!!! Both personal and governmental...wow.
At work I am experiencing what I always experience in a work environment, eventually; at least up to this point in my life.
I experience my natural strength and intelligence acting as a challenge to those above me, without my saying a word. And no matter how silent I remain - no matter what I do - I am pinpointed. "J'accuse!" they cry. I see them looking at me angrily or with confusion, feeling that I am challenging their authority, that I am judging them, that I am - in short- being one or both of their parents, looking down on their efforts and finding them completely lacking.
In truth, I don't give a shit about 'em. Not one. What they are seeing - and MADLY projecting on - is my lack of shit-giving. I'm not interested in the game they are playing. I just want to do a good job and get better at it, and find a way to move up in my work. That's the long and the short of it. I don't give them a second thought. And that terrifies them. They are playing a game of Mommy and Daddy disapproves of baby, where baby is supposed to cry and freak out and beg for forgiveness. Only I am nobody's baby. And when the baby opts out of the game, Mommy and Daddy feel foolish in the face of their made-up and wholly ineffective posturing.
This is also (this is the epiphany part, and it's a doozy, if you ask me) what is happening in our world today, and particularly in our country. The people at the top - the misnamed "leaders" - are a bunch of immature fucks with no spirit, no soul, no compassion, no brains, nothing but a adherence to The Rules. Like those who cling to the Bible as a literal and earth-bound instructional manual, like a Procedural Manual for your computer programs - something that if followed step-by-step perfectly, will give The Good Life as a First Prize - they believe and hope and fervently pray with all of their might that by behaving well, by being "Good Girls" and "Good Boys" they will get God's Good Will, God's Smile, God's Blessings. Finally, at last, God will LOVE THEM! Because finally, at long last, they will be GOOOOOOOD!
Perfect, in fact.
So, here is the energy of the world, and of the country, saying, "Excuse me, old fucks, but we see exactly what you're doing, and we think it's kaka, and we are not going to kiss your ass nor suck your dick in order to be approved of by you, nor to assuage you, nor are we particularly frightened of nor impressed by your dollars."
Well, that's the most threatening thing in the universe that could be said to these people. "Whaaaaaat? You don't feel frightened by my power and my might? You don't feel like kow-towing just to get MY blessing on you, MY approval of you? What the hell ARE YOU?" they keen, hiding behind couches emotionally, while verbally posturing like the Terminator. They just have no idea what to do with that kind of reality, other than to kill it.
They will cheerfully kill this energy - us!, these people who stand up to them and say, "Hey babe, get a new game, because your Emperor thing...well, you still got no clothes." We, yes we, scare the ever-loving crap out of them.
Remember this? "What if they gave a war and nobody came?"
In terms of the Woke Energy happening in this country, this is exactly what is happening, so the old fuck energy is trying to kill us. Quite literally. Remove health care, remove food, remove support. They want us dead, because only then will there be this Stepford Wives/Pleasantville reality that will make them feel oh-so-revered and safe in the worldview they MUST have. They must have it if they are to feel safe enough in their smallness. They are malformed humans, and that is the truth. These are not fully fleshed humans of the incoming age of humankind. The rest of us, those who strive to create something that works for all, not just for 1% - what the hell IS that, anyway??? - we are the humans of the new age.
The epiphany this evening is that connection between the micro and the macro. This is the evolutionary struggle in which every single one of us is engaged: the struggle to leave the parental approval model, and enter the self-actualized, mutually caring model.
This is epic battle we are doing, my friend. Whether at work in a cubicle, or at the top levels of government.
Tally frickin' ho!
It’s ongoing. There’s always something. It's always everywhere, that push-me-pull-you struggle of Who Gets To Win the Good Girl Prize of "Parental" Approval, from lovers, bosses, political leaders...
I see it at work.
I see it at work where the supervisors are trying to “Good Girl” their way along with their higher-ups by striving endlessly and unhappily for perfection, while expecting their “underlings” to kow-tow as they themselves are doing. And I see those same supervisors getting pissed off when one of the underlings shows spontaneity, intelligence, and a lack of rule-following.
I see the supervisors appearing calming and comfortable with addressing the complaints of childish workers, rather than calling them to a higher, adult standard. In that, I see the adherence to the Mommy-and-Daddy Approval Rating of living. Just as the supervisor tries to anticipate Daddy Boss’s expectations in order to be approved of and – and this is super important – rewarded (!), that same supervisor is eager to take on the mantle of Daddy Boss or Mommy Boss with their underlings. The ones who don’t frighten or challenge them are those who are more childish than they themselves are. The ones who frighten and challenge them are those with a brain, who could do their jobs better than they do. Those people they skewer.
I see it in relationships.
I see it in women’s relationships to their relationships, in which they settle for less empowerment than they deserve, subjugating themselves and their core needs to another person.
I see men settling for disempowerment by remaining childlike in their expectation of parentally fashioned care by their partners.
I see it in politics.
Yes, I see it in politics where sexist politicians make pronouncements based on bullshit, expecting that everyone will go along with their control mongering; and we do.
I see it in Hollywood.
Oh Hollywood, where women and men, young and old, willingly jettison long-term quality of life in order to “measure up” to Mommy or Daddy Hollywood Casting Director, or –possibly worse – Mommy/Daddy Luck.
I see it in my own thoughts.
My own as-yet unhealed issues of unworthiness, unattractiveness, too-muchness.
The big difference now is that I see it, and I don’t 100% believe it. Not anymore.
And that is because I see the whole of this paradigm. I see it as a ball of energy around our entire social world, and yet I see it as a beautiful bubble, poppable with the touch of an exploratory finger.
For a long time, I fought it. I felt helpless anger about it. I wanted to change the world, change myself, change everyone and everything. I wanted to push.
I wanted to go up against that energy. But there is – I discovered – a far greater and more powerful way to walk away from this paradigm, and that is simply not to buy it. With my behavior, my deeply considered choices, my sense of self, my commitment to healing those aforementioned issues – every time I choose not to play that game, I gain ground and I am deepened in self-respect, integrity, authenticity, self-image, self-love.
It ain’t easy, but if you are going for delicious, what the hell do you care if it’s easy???
It’s not easy, because it is a worldview that we grew up in. And we connected our emotional bodies to it, and our self-worth and our definition of Who We Are, at our very core.
It’s okay, it’s not our fault, it was what we were taught.
And even when you see it, even when you see the behaviors and the expectations and all the rest of it, you have another step to take, and you will take it for the rest of your life, but you will take it NOT to win some sort of prize, nor to be a spiritually fabulous person. You will take it because it makes you feel That Thing that some people call spiritual and other people call self-confidence. You will take it because you become aware of your magnificence when you do it. It makes you feel that core strength that comes from being who you truly are, and from that place, you are strength. The kind of strength that is tree-like, simply standing there in the forest, roots so deep that it takes a fucking hurricane to pull you off track.
It’s a seriously better-than-good feeling that can’t be described, but that once felt can’t be unfelt and it drives you and drives you to keep walking into that stiff wind, with ever greater wisdom. And as you walk, and walk through, that wind is not as stiff as it once was.
This journey requires a constant process of learning. Learning about your thoughts. About your choices. About your bullshit. About your beauty. About your entrenched modes of belief. About your ability to challenge yourself. About your ability to make new choices. About your ability to be seriously proud of yourself in these new steps you’re taking, even if no one even understands what the fuck you’re talking about when you share your pride.
Don’t be so good. Question what kind of good you want.
Do you want to settle for approval, or do you want to take steps of greater strength and self-determination – in a choice or two – and see how your SELF-approval grows?
Do you want to be loved, no matter the cost to your self-worth or respect, or do you want to stand in the kind of self-respect that says, “YOU must – at long last – be worthy of ME!”?
I am distressed. Many of my friends are distressed. Many of the people who voted for Dump are distressed (I can't write his name - he is such a malignancy to my emotional system, I just can't.).
People being deported, their lives being completely uprooted and destroyed; industries and schools and friendships being impacted; government monies being withheld; net neutrality attacked; people of color and women being attacked, killed; rights being quashed; power-hungry desperados putting the planet in last place for the sake of that rush of control and power they can't seem to live without; racism and sexism and nazism (and I will not capitalize that noxious word) running rampant; etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The governmental "children" have been let loose to ruin not just our country but to ruin our world. It's unthinkable, and yet here we are, living in it.
I watch Bernie and Elizabeth fight the good fight in their corner of the arena, the governmental arena, and I think to myself, "My God, why are they fighting honestly in a rigged contest - they just can't win; don't they realize that????," and I then feel angry with them. Why can't they just stage a coup????, I find myself thinking, "They're on the inside, they could do it!" I often find myself feeling as though they are our white knights and they should be pulling their metaphorical guns and blazing into town to rid us of these cancers we call Republicans who bear no resemblance whatsoever of the Republicans of my childhood.
But then something else occurs to me: I must remember that they too are not our parents.
Politicians are supposed to be our sail-setters, and we are supposed to be the wind. They are supposed to be our wayfinders, and we are supposed to assist the wayfinders with our energy, our intention, our communication, our expressed desires, our care for one another as parts of one great whole. And they are supposed to move and bend with us, paying more attention to the greater good for all than to their personal betterment as leaders. That is, if this were an adult relationship between adult, fully-formed leaders, and a response-ability bearing, socially responsible community of people.
For more and more of us, the boots-on-the-ground meaning of this is becoming clear; we must come together - not just yearly but as a changed and structural reality of how we live our lives together on this planet and in this struggling country, week after week. We must collectively stand up and demand the kind of righteousness that is not constrained to religion but is instead common sense for people who wish to maintain their living space (that would be earth), and live in respect for one another, making inclusive, adult, informed, compassionate, measured - and creative - decisions.
For many of us, this idea that we can actually have a voice, exercise power, make a change just seems like a pipe dream. This sense of powerlessness stands immovably in front of any options, solutions, alternative possibilities. We simply give up, soothing ourselves with, "Well, there's nothing I can do...". For those of us who are exercised by the outrage of watching cruelty and injustice on so grand and breathtaking a scale, but feeling still that powerlessness and outrage, the emotional stopping place tends to be, "Damn them! They're not doing what I want them to do! They don't care! And they have the power, and I/we don't." Frustration, anger, fear - these are the emotions that we live each day. While these are appropriate emotions, we must not get off at that stop. We must make room for something else to share that space if we are to make real, lasting transformation.
What is that something else? What does transformation look like for a country, and what stops us from going beyond these rigidifying emotions?
This child-parent viewpoint of what it means to be Americans is one we must abandon if we are to take back our country, re-form it, and move forward into a more fulfilled and mature way of viewing, experiencing and living our lives. And the good news is that we don't have to be major political animals to make a difference. What I believe comes along with the social response-ability most of us have been shirking for most of our lives are is a shifted worldview.
As adults, we have the power of creativity and the power to effect change. We must stop thinking of ourselves as just "getting through" life and instead insist from ourselves some kind(s) of meaning to our lives that will fulfill and strengthen and delight us, because when we are delighted, we have filled ourselves with energy and we open to the new. We must also stop thinking of "them" as "having all the power". They don't. And that is due to one simple fact:
There are more of us than there are of them.
It is ludicrous, when you stop and think about it, that we cower in fear and anger as our primary social response to a handful of people with a great deal of position and money. We need a much better response. Remember, Gandhi changed a far larger country than ours with nothing more than an ideology and a willingness to stand up and say no. In fact, as you think of Gandhi you may well say that you are afraid to take a stand or try to think of how to even do such a thing, because many in India were hurt and died to effect that change. To which I will say to you that hundreds of thousands in the U.S. are already being hurt and dying in the U.S., right now.
While we fear and fret and suffer, the current so-called 'governors" of our lives go on wreaking havoc, and we go on doing what little we can within the system - or we don't - waiting for something to happen that will change things.
This truth-in-numbers keeps speaking to me not of violence but of a shifted awareness that brings possibilities - creative solutions and vision-based transformation; it speaks to me of an understanding that we are abused adults reacting and responding as though we are abused children - and make no doubt, we are being abused by soulless policies that affect our ability to live at all, much less well.
There are more of us than there are of them, and when I look at it from a 1% v. 99% perspective, it actually makes me laugh. I mean, it's ridiculous when you think about it, isn't it, that a small handful of baby human beings can have that amount of power over so many millions of people, largely unopposed? Imagine the entire country taking to the streets to say "No. We're done with this state of affairs - you will represent us because that is your job, and because you have to have a soul", to this handful of horrific almost-humans. Who do you think is gonna win that "fight"? It won't be the 1% (shades of the upcoming November elections when the equivalent to "taking to the streets" will be "taking to the polls").
Imagine if we chose to take our rightful place as response-able adults in this resistance to and re-formation of how our country works.
Harsh - and complicated - truth: We are allowing politicians that power just as much as they are taking it and using it against us. We are naturally dispirited. Our practice of largely standing back and hoping they'll either get it right, or stop doing it wrong - whichever side of this so-called aisle you stand on - has netted us little more than depression. Our mantra of "Well, what can I do? I'm just one person" is uttered every time we forget that we are part of a greater whole that is also in motion. Just like every single, solitary penny in a dollar, we stand separate but joined. As separate individuals, we have tough decisions to make. If I may invoke the world of Harry Potter and the dedoubtable Dumbledore, "Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right." Preach, Dumbledore!
I will add that on the other side of this deep darkness is incredible light, and that the very definition of resistance must be expanded to include creative problem-solving, visioning, and transformation of how we live together on this planet, and with this planet. Let me be clear about this: we are not resisting in order to "go back to" other times. We are forging new pathways, and that requires being open to new ideas, out-of-the-box thinking, and a realization that - yes, again - there are more of us than there are of them. Out of the deep realization of the unknown options that opens up come new ideas, new actions, and changed realities.
It has already begun: The Women's March began a huge and too-long-awaited change in the Women's Movement, and #MeToo seems a tipping point in the now-less-obstructed awareness and punishment of some extremely visible men, most particularly in Hollywood, if sadly not in the White House.
Indivisible came into existence to change the game from the bottom up, where systemic change actually happens. Increasing numbers of us, the so-called common man and woman are doing what we can to RESIST, while trying to live our lives as best we can. It's not easy, and we feel frustrated or even resentful that we are being pulled in two enormous directions at once: our individual lives and those challenges, and our support (or lack of) in doing that.
I feel the resentment, but while that is a reaction shared by many of us, we need a response that uplevels the game. We need a response that is more effective and forward moving than either impotent anger or comfortable resistance.
We must create something new. Just as Bernie and Elizabeth are not stopping with resistance but are creating and working for alternatives (#MedicareForAll) - we cannot stop at resistance. Resistance is not the full spectrum of change. We need to build something new, together. We need to find our new perspective, our opened consciousness. There are answers to be had, but we have to find them, together.
How do we take back or create or demand and instill a new partnership with the government so that we are *represented* by instead of *ruled* by it, even during those times that our government seems healthier and kinder in comparison. Even when "our" party is in power. Even when "our" lives are going well. Because other peoples' lives are not. And it is time, apparently, for us to wake up, and stand up, and be adults in this matter of creating a great society.
We have drifted along for 200 years or more on the shoulders of those who came before us. We took for granted the at-least-lip-service idea of goodwill toward others in creating governance. And now that we are faced with the truths we have hidden from, we are understandably frightened.
Fear is another place we can not afford to stop. Fear is stultifying. It keeps us in a childlike state of calling, restlessly, "Rescue me!" to a system that does not rescue, that does not care about other Americans the way it cares about the power to punish, to control, to manipulate, for the sheer joy of filling that empty hole inside.
How does this get fixed? What do I do? What do we do?
I read a book once that contained this sentence: "The answer is in the question." That sentence drove me crazy; what the hell was that supposed to mean, the answer is in the question??? That made no sense. In the case of "What do I do?", it doesn't apply. In the case of "What do we do", however, the answer in the question is one word: we.
Our entire worldview must shift if we are to make the changes that must happen now if we are to stand up to the fascism that is happening in this country. If we do not, we will sink lower and lower, more people will suffer horribly, and more people will die from lack of health care. This is not who "we" are. it is, at least, not who we want to be.
The very basis of our current emotional worldview is that of the Puritan work ethic: work hard and you will be rewarded. Our high and unrealistic expectations of ourselves are based on "pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps", on accumulating symbols of security and wealth that reflect our success in all of that bootstrap pulling. In large part due to that worldview we are isolated, and isolation causes warped views of reality as we revolve, dried out and too-sanitized, in our solitary systems of thought, feeling, and justification. We have long ago lost our ability to truly connect with one another except in high-energy causes like the Women's Marches. Important as those are, more important is the ability to keep that energy and that connection going. This is where we fail spectacularly.
And that is because we are at the very beginning of this "sharp left turn at Albuquerque"...Not to mention that given this Puritan, individually-minded, self-judging lens through which we see, we cannot help but see ourselves as "worthy" only if we do it "all by ourselves" - a historic fallacy upheld by perpetuated myths of from-poverty-to-wealth infomercials, workshop leaders and charismatic power speakers - and unworthy if we stumble, or (God forbid!) fall.
Harmfully, we move within this narrow stairway of secular "thou shalts", carefully climbing so as not to touch the wall of fallibility and humanness on one side, and the wall of risk and growth on the other. This sanitary approach to our lives leaves us almost completely devoid of the character-building, personal growth development of error/lesson/change. We cannot learn real lessons of self, other, society, community. We cannot learn real joy. The pain of avoidance, self-judgment, perfectionistic failure, and the endless climbing of stairs that often are not even our own but are stairs taken because "I should" or because "my family thinks I should", requires that we focus on dulling that pain "all alone". It requires that we not ask for help. It requires that we keep our "failures" to ourselves, or be judged and shamed, alarmingly not just by others but by ourselves. It requires that we remain in the same loop over and over again, because like any dictatorial framework, this mindset dictates that This Is The Way It Is, and that it is we - and not the system - that is the problem.
Well, I'm here to tell you: you are not the problem. The system, of which we are an integral and largely non-proactive part, is the problem. AND...the way we are living with one another is a big, honking problem that we can fix, if we think it is worth creating a country - and individual lives - that reflect higher goals, life-preserving missions, and care for one another.
We share an emotional body: the emotional human body! We are living solitary lives in a world chock-full of people. This is harming us and harming the planet. We have to break the mold of isolation and separation. We have to come together. We are NINETY-NINE PERCENT of this country. Do you have any idea how many people that is? It is 99% more than 1%, that's how much! So, if 99% of the people in this country have 99% more power, impetus and voice than 1%, what keeps us so impotent?
The importance of our connecting with one another and building social relationships are nothing more than the very fabric of our lives. Our connectivity gives us meaning, support, purpose; things we can't get from Facebook.
The other night I took someone to a major theatre show. He doesn't leave his house for anything other than a Walgreen's run or a trip to the supermarket. His body is in chronic pain, and he suffers from depression, sleeping a great deal of his time away, and struggling to make portions of his life fulfilling between emotional bouts of suffering.
This lovely man was absolutely gob-smacked by what met his usually-solitary eyes: the variety of colors of the clothing of the sea of people filling the large theatre, as well as the swirling life; the conversations around us that we joined, and the buzz of excitement. He remarked on the colors twice, and thanked me sincerely and with wonder for bringing him out. As we walked to my car, he said that he realized now just how isolated a life he has been living, and just how important it is for him to change that pattern.
And then he called me today and told me that he awoke, for once, without a smidgeon of anxiety. "It's a hangover from the effect of yesterday," he told me, convincing me that what I know to be true can be recognized by even the most isolated of people.
Our need for one another is critical. It is not touchy-feely, but critical to the quality of our lives, the lives of one another, our country, our mode of government, and our planet.
Not small stuff there, for sure.
Or do you want another why for why you should come out of your shell once in a while, but regularly - whether monthly or bi-monthly or (ohmygod) daily - think about that 1% that is literally killing us, torturing and punishing us simply because they can, and it gives them that frisson of power-over pleasure.
To change this game we need each other.
We need each other as support, as connection that feeds us the strength we need to share ideas and to try new approaches.
We need each other in order to survive, as the number of haves gets smaller, and the have-nots get bigger.
We need each other because that is the way we were built, and this isolation situation is bullshit, as is the head-buried-in-cell-phone mode of living, which is a half-life at best, and a Matrix-like dulling down of our brilliance at worst. And it is the worst.
We need each other.
And we need ourselves.
We need to give to ourselves in ways that are meaningful and expansive with possibilities; not in the old ways that are built only on winning/losing, survival/getting through,
We need to redefine our abilities to serve, by plumping ourselves up with kindness toward our own selves, which gives us fulfillment, and happiness , creativity and room to recognize the depth and breadth of who and what we are.
From that place we come together in little steps, and we stay together. And we talk, and we share, and we debate - with compassion and respect and passion and boundaries and peace and a desire for something bigger than "winning" - and we begin to learn what it is to allow the mysteries in, to not be so sure that we know...everything. There is a world that Google knows not of, and it lives within each of us, magnified when we come together and go deep.
And then we walk together, discovering things separately and together; and together we effect these changes to the degree that each of us can, each of us bound together like pieces of a magnificent quilt.
And in our learning and our growth and our willingness to discover something new that none of us know right now, we reach out to others with deeper understanding, and a broader range of responses, choices - with care and respect and compassion for the other who is just like us - so that together we don't "go down fighting", in that traditionally masculine way that is the other side of the "winning" coin which has no remaining sides, no saving grace of possibilities. So that no, we do not go down either fighting or winning but instead balancing the masculine #Resistance with the feminine #Connection. And we literally birth something new: ourselves. And when we - the 99% - are new, the old simply cannot remain.
If you have been on the spiritual path for more than a minute (translation: oh, let's say, a year), you are going to really "get" this.
D'you see this picture here?
.Yeah. That one. The one that makes you feel either really inspired to stretch your wings and shed your doubts and fears, or makes you want to throw things at the computer screen because you're sick of seeing images like this because you haven't yet managed to shed your doubts and fears, and it feels like a punishing pipe dream!
For me, I've shed some doubts and fears, and I'm walking through some more. It's called being - oh God, no, don't say it!!!!!! - HUMAN! Aaaaaargh!!!!!
God forbid you should be human. At least, if you're on a spiritual path, you're not supposed to be human. You're supposed to be "perfect", or at least trying damn hard to be. Laughing at the foibles of the human condition! Being in the "witness" state, which means you are no longer touched by anything! Seeing everything so clearly! The Perfect Human!
So, my story: When the spiritual path jumped up and grabbed me by the throat, I had already been very spiritually inclined, but I hadn't known much about the spiritual "isms" that littered the ground around me until I moved to Boston, where it all began to reveal itself to me: New Age theories, Hinduism and the Guru path, channeling, Edgar Cayce, Louise Hay, healing, boundaries, inner child work, Buddhism and chanting, and - later on in my path - New Thought, Abraham Hicks. I've probably forgotten as many as I've mentioned!
So, fresh-born from the requisite human start of a wounding childhood (because no one escapes something that gives you the baggage necessary to fund your therapists' children's education), I found myself dazzled by the spiritual wealth of healing promise aaaaaaaaall around me! I went through each of them like a sugar addict goes through candy corn at Halloween.
I applied each one of them to my life as one would apply a small band-aid to a large wound; inadequately.
Too stubborn, smart, and determined not to do so, I started to question. Everything.
...and so forth.
It took me years and years and years to realize something very basic about spirituality as it is shared in my American culture: the way that we practice our off-beat, non-ordinary spirituality - even when it is "New Age" or reflects any kind of out-of-the-box perspective - is that we overlay it with our parental perfectionism. We "should" on ourselves. Like any "good" student - any "good girl" or "good boy" - we apply the very same lessons from the rest of our lives: to model what we are being shown...in all the wrong ways.
Perfectionism run amok.
I'm not that spiritually high that I can claim some exotic and enviable mode of realization; but I can tell you that what happened is that some time after I fell down and went "boom", I came to my senses. Boom = My money, gone. My partner, dead. My sense of grounding, kaput. And it was then that I said to myself, "I'm finished. I'm done with workshops. I'm done with listening to teachers. I'm done with thinking that there's some kind of answer out there that will save me from this life of mine that is all screwed up! All I can do...is stop. Just stop. Not know. Wait. Be what I am: down and out."
I was down, and I was out. It was anything but pretty; that kind of thing only looks romantic in the movies because in the movies you know your heroine is going to be able to get back up and succeed in a very Rocky-like-fist-pumping way, because Hollywood has to sell those movies, so they won't give you a sad ending!
But you can count on down-and-out to give you some seriously real shit: you start realizing that no amount of "positive thinking", "affirmations", no Abraham YouTube videos, no amount of praying is going to help you if all you feel is terror. So, there you are: you and your terror, facing each other in dark hallways.
And in that moment, you are on the path.
"But wait!" we say. That path isn't supposed to look so scary! It's supposed to be light- and love-filled!
It is. That's something you have to learn to embrace. But you will never get there in any real and grounded and integrated way as long as you - like I did - hang onto spiritual perfectionism, kicking yourself for being human, imperfect, and sometimes a fuckup, just like the rest of us.
You're beautiful. You're a pain in the ass. Just like the rest of us.
And that's where the healing begins.
So I fell down, I couldn't continue to live in the Bay Area - that place is not a place to live, but to visit; it's ridiculously expensive, and emotionally not the Midwest - so I turned to Facebook, asked for help, and people gave it. They got my butt home to Ohio, where I fell down for about a year, imperfect as hell, and broken down like a rusted engine laid for 50 years in a barn.
Right hip bone-on-bone and needing a hip replacement.
Scared and shocked to find myself in the state I was in.
Out of answers.
Determined to stop beating myself up and find answers in new ways.
Determined to find the *@#^ PATH!!!!! In other words: that way of living that would be reasonable, right, grounded, true, and full of the kind of light that doesn't take me off-planet, but keeps me. right. here.
I didn't have a choice but to take. one. step. at. a. time.
I did choose to allow both my emotions and one spiritual truth to be present simultaneously. What was the one spiritual truth? That that which is spirit is not only here and now - not only not something I have to "earn" or "be worthy of" - but that it is me. So, somewhere amidst the anguish, or the rage, or the grief, or the shame, there is also That Thing.
I took one step at a time with that knowledge in mind, heart, and practice.
The story is a long one, but I'll spare you. I'll give you the bottom line. Taking one step at a time is GOLD. It's not historically been my go-to thing to do in my life. I'm REALLY good at vision. I can see so far down the road to what is possible from my gifts. But taking one. step. at. a. time...I sucked at it.
I don't suck at it now! And guess what? Without all of the spiritual isms - that spiritualitis-perfectionism nonsense - I can actually see and appreciate the unfolding miracles of my daily life:
Just. taking. each. step.
It's my choice. It's not an easy one all of the time, for sure, but it is the one that feeds me. The choice between spiritualitis, or one imperfect, intuitive, practical-as-hell step at a time.
The story never ends...
Are you a good girl? Then you are supposed to be successful.
Are you a good girl? Then you are supposed to be financially set.
Are you a good girl? Then the rules that are "supposed" to work for everyone are supposed to have worked for you too.
Are you a good girl? Then if the rules that are supposed to work for everyone didn't work for you, you have done something terribly, terribly wrong, lazy, screwed up, and you should be set straight.
Are you not a good girl? Are you in a tough situation?
Are you not a good girl? Does the fact of your situation(s) make other people uncomfortable?
Are you not a good girl? Does the fact of your situation(s) bring out the preachy and judgmental in others?
Let me tell you something:
Life has a way of kicking the shit out of you.
Whether you go through illness, personal loss, poverty or a bad turn in the road, it is no one's place to judge you or try to teach you how to do it better. You are not heir to the shame they want to place on you. Reject it. Reject it.
The only type of person you want to listen to is the person who sits down with you and in all compassion and openness wants to hear exactly what happened, how it happened, and how in the world - and if - they can help.
All other people can be invited - by your non-good-girl self - to bugger off.
The question is whether or not you would like to expand that strength.
The question is not: Can I be a strong person. Because you already are.
Where does your expandable strength lie? It lies in places like communication, attitude, spiritual practices, personal qualities, personal interests, beloved hobbies, and beloveds…and probably many, many more.
And still we fall into “But I can’t!”
How do we get to “I can!” in the middle of “I can’t!”?
(1) Don’t deny that you feel so down. Remember, the more you push against something, the bigger it grows. So you don’t want to push against “I can’t!” It has done its job: it has said to you, “Here’s what you’re feeling, and you need to do something different.” So don’t shoot it. It’s just the messenger.
(2) Invite something into your experience that feels good, the way it feels good to feel alive. I am not talking about drugs, or drink, or excessive food, or whatever else it is that we use to numb ourselves out from the pain of relentlessly listening to the messenger (see #1 above!). I am talking about inviting something into your experience that makes you feel a kind of alive relief. For the spiritual: a song, an affirmation, a book that reminds you of Who You Are. For the practical: an activity – gardening, problem-solving, taking a walk – that reminds you of Who You Are. These are just suggestions. The point is that you want to invite something in that eases the feelings just by virtue of being there. You are not doing anything other than inviting in the healing.
(3) Sit back. Let yourself take your face out of the problem and sit back. The messenger and the healer will do what they do. The messenger will get its message: “Yep, we hear ya!” and you can focus on finding answers in ways that are kinder, more expansive, more unexpected (that’s the fun one!).
What does it mean to be strong? It means to be willing to find your strengthening moments in unexpected ways, from exploration, from curiosity – finding out what makes you feel better, feel stronger, and in a gentler way.
Her Masculine Wing was the Wing of Doing, Striving, Persevering and Accomplishing, and she knew how to use that Wing extremely well. The bird was a very good student. She had lived a very long time in the company of birds that were gifted at Masculine Wing use, and she had learned that Doing, Striving, Persevering and Accomplishing were applauded, and were very good survival skills in the company of these birds.
But the day came when she she noticed that she had been tending to fly in circles, far, far more than she flew straight ahead. She looked at her Masculine Wing and saw that all of the Doing, Striving, Adapting and Persevering seemed to be working against her. Instead of feeling like she was surviving, she started to feel more, and more, and more trapped. Less alive. Less vibrant.
One of her bird friends said to her, "Why don't you use both your wings? Maybe you'll fly straight ahead that way!" and the bird thought to herself, "What a grand idea! How do I do that? I know! I'll use my Masculine Wing to activate my Feminine Wing!" and she began to Do, Strive and Persevere her way toward Accomplishing the use of her Feminine Wing.
She became very upset when that didn't work!
So she redoubled her efforts! She tried harder still. But for all of her striving, she could not seem to activate Allowing, Self-Care, Self-Kindness and Letting Go. Defeated, she sat down and said, "Oh, I give up. I'm a loser. I can't do anythingright! I've tried and tried, and nothing works! I must be stupid."
Suddenly she realized that she was being really mean to herself, and that it felt really bad. She thought, "Well, I don't deserve to feel this bad! It's not my fault that I don't know what I don't know! Poor me, beating up on myself - that's not something I'm going to do right now. That's not helping! I know I'm doing the best I can. I know I'm a good bird." And she started to cry out of compassion for herself.
At which point her Feminine Wing started to flutter at her side.
She gasped and wiped away her tears so that she could look at the site of this new sensation. "What is happening?" she asked her Feminine Wing, and it seemed to respond, "You are allowing!"
"But I don't know how to do that!" the bird objected.
"It is not something you do. It is something you feel and intend. And it requires patience, and gentleness, and curiosity, and not-doing!"
Well, now the little bird was very confused. But she did very much like the way she felt when she was not-doing. So she spent some time each day, not-doing - letting herself do the unproductive things she loved to do, like sit among the leaves in a tree, just to be surrounded by green, or roll in the grass, which smelled so beautiful and cushioned her tiny body. And as time went on she became utterly fascinated by the way that her Feminine Wing was growing stronger without her doing anything!
It made no sense to her at all!
Until the day she felt the impulse to fly again. To try again. She first thought, "Oh no. If I rely on my Masculine Wing and I Persevere again, I'll just go in circles!" But the impulse to rise again into the blue sky was too much to resist. So, with a sigh of resignation, the bird got to her feet and prepared to fly.
To her amazement, both wings lifted together, simultaneously, in graceful arcs of movement, lifting her upward with a feeling of grace and ease she had never before felt in her life.
She pushed forward into the current of air, and then let go and allowed it to carry her, and pushed forward into again the next current of air where she again let go and floated along in the air, moving ever toward where she wanted to go!
It felt miraculous! She felt free! She felt both in control, and surrendered to these marvelous sensations and this air-borne journey, the likes of which she had never before experienced!
And then she understood: She needed both wings to make her journey. She needed both to push and to allow. She needed to love herself, and the striving was to remember and to practice that. She needed to accomplish, and she needed to be gentle with her own efforts.
With this new awareness in her mind, the bird smiled, and sailed forward into the open sky.
To learn to balance your wings, come to www.GoodbyeGoodGirl.com and sign up on the Home page to download "The Five Strengths of Feminine Power". Contact Lori at email@example.com with any questions about private coaching, public talks, and workshops.
“It’s not what you call me, but what I answer to.” ~African proverb
If you need to be strong, and think that you are not, you will struggle with yourself.
If you need to yield, and think that you will be at risk if you do, you will rigidify.
If you need to speak up, and think that you are not the one who does that, you will wither.
The only thing that ever keeps you locked into thinking you are a Good Girl is your taking that as your Identity. It is not your Identity. You are the strong, yielding, vocal one that sings your unique song openly and expressively. I know this because I know where all of these qualities come from, and it is somewhere beyond the limits of your mind, and yet well within your ability to sense.
Who are you?
Whoever you know yourself to be...dare to expand that definition!
“I wanted love so badly.”
“I thought he was the one.”
|“I don’t know why I stayed with him so long.”
“I don’t understand how he could have hurt me so, when I loved him so much!”
“I didn’t know how to live without him.”
I spent many heart-wrenching decades aching and yearning very romantically for The Love of My Life. And I spent those decades also feeling absolutely self-hating, because clearly I was undesirable in some deep and uncontrollable way! How many nights I cried, feeling simultaneously sorry for and disgusted by my own self. That is not so romantic.
I know that this kind of suffering continues for women of all ages. I know I was not alone. Not being alone, however, didn’t stop the ache.
It was other things that did that. It was taking that reluctant step into my own care and love for myself, in active ways. It was being disappointed over and over again by the quality of my relationships, and realizing that perhaps I needed to reconsider where I stood in what I was attracting - and accepting - into my life!
“What we must each strive to know is that we are not beggars.”
What we must strive to know is that the more we give honor and respect and love to ourselves, the more we will recognize - and eschew - its opposite when it is offered to us.
What we must strive to experience - in every way we can - is the love, acceptance, support, compassion we think we most want from a partner…
from each other, and from ourselves.
You are not a beggar. You are a Goddess. You are a Gift. You are the DNA of Spirit itself. You have been disrespected and hurt and taught to think that you are less-than. But it’s a lie. Find the pathways that work for you to experience mercy and respect for yourself. And then watch it spread to how you approach your love life.
You deserve no less.
Want to experience yourself as strong? Join the Goodbye Good Girl Community by signing up at www.GoodbyeGoodGirl.com, and get notified about online gatherings and events.
and our hurt, mostly - I believe - because we think we will stay safer from any repeat performances.
I have heard the forgiveness stories, and they are powerful. They attract me. I like what they say they deliver: freedom from attachment to the hurt, freedom to grow and live freer. That sounds really good to me.
When my partner died in 2013, it was a mess. His family hated me - always had, and now was their opportunity to let it all out - and during the last month of his life, he sided with his daughters' mean-spirited and incorrect assessments of me. They negated my 13-year relationship with this man, and he - out of his fear more of their anger than alignment with my love - allowed that to happen. That was intensely painful.
Needless to say, when he passed, there were post-death blame-fests to endure. Or were there?
They were his daughters (in their 60's), and they too were in pain about his ill health and his oncoming transition). And I found myself once again under attack, accused of financially manipulating my partner. Would that I had been that type! Would that he had had enough money for me to even have that thought in my head! Woe is me - he was not much more financially well-endowed than I!
In any case, I was finally at the end of my understanding rope. Pushed to the verge, in grief about my loss, I screamed at one of these women that if she couldn't be respectful of me, she could FUCK OFF. And I yelled it. Loudly. So loudly, I sometimes wonder if she could even hear it - it was probably so distorted through the cell phone's lousy sound system. Still, I know she got the message.
I worried about that anger. I called spiritual friends. And to a person - to a woman - they all said it was about time I had said something. Forbearance had gone too far.
There is something that a lot of us women do - and when we are spiritual women we do it to a degree of unnecessary madness - and that is to try to be so understanding, so nice, that we don't permit ourselves our anger, our right to speak up, our right to say NO! By doing so, we are not permitting ourselves our humanness! Our very right to be human!
Isn't that amazing?
A friend of mine told me just last night that she had rather recently in her life learned that she has the right to say "ouch" when something hurts, emotionally. When she is mistreated, disrespected, blamed, shamed.
So, in our collective psyche, somewhere, anger is not allowed.
Which is why, as fierce girls, we have to reclaim it. We have to be allowed to say "ouch".
As for me, after my partner died, and after I got rid of his abusive family, I spent no fewer than 6 months yelling at him, and at them, using words you don't - as they say - use in church. I knew that I needed to say my truths! I knew I would never ever be able to tell these people what I really thought, and I would never ever convince them that they had been cruel.
But there was one person who could hear it, and that was me.
None of my words, none of my emotion, was thrown into a void. I felt and heard my partner's responses of apology from the other side. And I told him exactly what I thought of him.
Is this forgiveness?
It is. In an odd way, it is. It is at least the precursor. If I can't allow myself to be human, to say "ouch", to say "No you may NOT abuse me!", then I can't be complete and whole. I can't have forgiven myself for denying myself the opportunity to be a 360-degree woman, a 360-degree human being.
Now that I have had my say, now that I have gotten some distance from the heat of the experience, now that I understand that forgiveness is not about saying "hey, it's okay you hurt me", but is instead about allowing myself not to cling to that energy, now I can work on forgiveness.
The minister, Rev. Linda, at CSLGC, gave us this forgiveness prayer to say, 21 times, for 21 days, and whenever we really need to just feel even a little bit better:
_________, I love you, I bless you, I forgive you, and I release you to your highest good.
When you use it, don't forget that you can even use it on yourself.
And by the way, where violence is not preferred nor recommended nor applauded, anger is most certainly allowed.
You can contact Lori at support@GoodbyeGoodGirl.com for talks, coaching and workshops.
Lori Ellen Kirstein is a woman whose mission is to empower other women to know their Strengths, to express themselves, to define themselves in empoweringly truthful ways, and to have a nourishing, powerful impact on the world, individually and together.