The healing of an open heart

It feels like a weird old time at the moment. I feel like my life’s exploded – in a good way but I also feel exhausted and overwhelmed and worried…and incredibly excited. I keep getting these bursts of natural highs as I’m being published on a site – a very cool and very popular online journal/magazine – that I recently got an apprenticeship for, as an editor.

That feels bonkersly cool. Like so cool. It’s the first time I’ve felt this excited in freakin’ ages. And happy – actually warm and happy when I’m working and editing.

The other thing I’m feeling loads of at the moment, is grief. So much grief. Like a loss, a hole, that’s in my chest. Like a well of sorrow open wide and sitting deep. I feel able to hold it, though. My heart feels so open at the moment. Like, so open. It feels beautiful. Within the pain, I have so much warmth and tenderness for myself and others. And an openness too. But an openness with protection, with boundaries. That’s not like before.

My openness I think used to feel wide open without limits, or protection. I used to shower love and really believe I meant it – which I did – but now I see that I was also hurting like a motherfucker, and the openness was raw and too painful. It was excruciating, and the love I gave, and could give, from this place, was without boundaries or protection of myself. It never went inwards first.

But now it does. I feel like I’m continuing to master the art of loving number one, and then loving someone else.

And this last year or so, I feel like my hearts been somewhat out of protection for myself. I’ve needed to go inwards, because I was afraid of over giving, of over loving, and getting depleted. So I tried to limit my giving and my openness, my love and my warmth, because I was afraid. And, I needed all I could get.

I totes think this is fair enough, and incredibly healthy. And, even within that, I know I still gave. And loved. A lot.

But something’s changing. My heart feels open and it feels safe. It feels safe to love again, and love from a place of depth and protection, of boundaries and compassion.

It feels safe to tell someone I love them, from a place I really really mean it. It feels safe to hold protection and fierce care for those I hold close to my heart.

It feels safe to hold my power by the hand, and walk with it by my side. It feels safe to step into it and allow it to help me shine.

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Provided I have what I need, darkness is safe to feel.

Provided I have what I need, darkness is safe to feel.

When I don’t,
I feel lost and unsafe.
Without a home
And without a case,
To shut myself up in
And let myself roar.

When I don’t,
I feel abandoned.
I feel distraught,
I feel forgotten,
And I feel totally undeserving.

To not be alive,
Feels like a dream.
A desire.
A want.
A longing I seemingly don’t want to deny
But one I fear
And try to hide.

When I find, hear, discover, work out,
And listen to my needs
– no matter how ‘small’ –
I feel safe.
I feel heard and held
And able to heal.

I connect to the earth
And the feeling of support.
I take comfort in the contact
With the wild living force.
I rub my legs
And offer myself
The comfort I deserve.
I text a friend
And tell myself:
I deserve to be heard.

This wash of terrifying darkness
– this wash of immutable
Aching, blinding, and seemingly neverending
Sorrow –
Seems ancient and forgiven.
It feels like an old friend
That is back here visiting.

But a friend that doesn’t suit me –
That doesn’t serve,
That doesn’t heal.
That doesn’t nourish.
It’s a friend that has grown
Away from me
Not beside me.

When I ask for my needs to be met
– by others, the world, myself –
I know I am deserving.
I know I can – and it is safe – to feel.

When I get my needs met,
By asking and reaching
And seeking support,
In all the many ways I can
– no matter how seemingly small:
A breath, a connection, an asking, a sharing, a reassurance, a hug, a tea, a favour from the shop –
I am able to create a haven,
A safe space,
In myself and in the world.
I am able to know I am supported,
I know I deserve to be.
In all my glory
And all my pain.
In all my darkness
And in all my fear:
I am whole.

No matter how seemingly small,
No matter how seemingly kick ass firey and large,
Darkness is safe to feel…
But only when my needs don’t go forgotten.
Only when my breath and connection doesn’t go forgotten.
Only when my need for resources don’t go forgotten.
Only when I don’t go forgotten.

Because when I do,
It swamps and cradles.
Why I withdraw into a refuge
I seemingly know is safe,
The darkness
Blinds and masquerades,
Drowns and disables,
Any sense of capability
Towards this task of living,
For which
My heart knows,
I am strong and able.

The darkness tells me I am not able,
It tells me I don’t deserve.
It tells me I am not capable,
It tells me I don’t serve.
I don’t serve the world –
And I don’t serve myself.

But when I am feeling safe and held
– when I am deeply listening –
I know this darkness is here
To tell me something.
It is here to take me home.

It is not here to lose me
Or send me swimming.
It is here to remind me of my fucking beauty
– of my core. fucking. strength.
And of my presence
And essence
In the world
And in myself.

And it reminds me,
Of my need to feel safe.
My need for gentleness and calm,
Not my desire to bombard and disarm
This darkness.
Instead it reminds me to be here
– just with whatever is –
and to look after me.

Because I am the most important
And I am the most connected
And I am the most present,
When I am living in my body.
Breathing in my body.
Not breathing in
– or living in –
The voices,
The criticisms,
The fears…
In my body lies the undiluted,
Purely free,
And trusting,
Me

And I am here
And I will always deserve to be.

That will never fade,
My deservability.

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Opening it

Today and tonight, I’ve felt paralysed. Paralysed with pain – physical and emotional. Pain like I want to say I’ve never felt before, but that’s not true. It’s a pain I’ve become so familiar with this last year, increasing in intensity as I see the months through. It’s a pain that ends pain, but it’s a fucking horrible one. It’s like my body contorts, and the demons strike out, trying to stop me breaking free. It’s like all the misty regrets, beaten into me by my mum, get the chance to nestle out and break free from what once was their home inside of me. In these paralysed moments, right before I break down, I

In these paralysed moments all I can do is either sit and think, or sit and sob. My body cannot move, my brain can’t do rational. If I’m sitting and thinking, what happens is a jarring, a pre-crash. Thoughts flood, fears take control. My body begins to fester with the emotions circling inside. I’m left searching for some control, but it’s nowhere to be found. I avoid the tears and instead am paralysed by fears. But despite the pain that comes from the former, it’s WAY nicer than the latter. Finally, it happens. I fall. When i let myself do this, when I let this happen – as i have done tonight – through the sobs and the pain, there’s a clarity again. There’s a reminder that I’m in a process. There’s a reminder that I’m still me.

The paralysis feels permanent when I’m in the middle of these feelings. The paralysis feels like I’ve been baked in concrete, leaving movement impossible. All I can do is hope, and feel, and hope, and feel. It’s fucking scary and it’s fucking horrible. Sometimes the clarity comes quick, other times my brains too flooded to find it so. But it’s still there, even if just in little bits. Love, a sense of connection, and a knowing I belong, is what gets me through these moments. I hold a stone and feel sheltered by the earth. I hear the desperate cry for love and text a friend. I hold tight to my phone and feel the connection to those I love. I let myself feel not alone. I wrap myself up in a duvet and stroke my arms, cuddle my body, and rub my feet. Other times I can only cry, but always when I feel safe. All I want is love in these moments. All I want is to know I’m safe. All I want is someone there to hold me, and so I’m continuing to learn how to be creative with my space when paralysis and grief hits, to make me know I am – I am loved, connected and safe. And I most certainly belong.

The paralysis feels never ending, and sometimes I’m pretty sure it is. Yet somehow, from somewhere, from some place deep within, comes an ability to get up again. To find my feet and get a drink or go downstairs for food. It feels like I need to or will do or have to do this forever, but I’m pretty sure I don’t, and I won’t. It just feels like it.

And in these moments of paralysis, I’m doing the opposite to my heart – I’m opening it.

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Physical pain – let’s all get involved

Physical pain is one isolating motherfucker. I have a prolapsed freakin’ disc at the moment – as of wednesday – and it’s the kinda pain that leaves you desperately wanting someone to just come and wash it away. Or steam it away. Or beat the shit out of it so it storms off home, to its cosy comfort corner (which is not my fucking BACK).

It feels like a pain that I can’t sit with all by myself, but any attempt to articulate or describe it leaves me wired from the pain even more, or stressed or desperate and in need of rest even more. Rather than talk about it I just want someone to know. Like, I just want someone to crawl into my back, my legs, my spine, and just feel for a moment what it feels like to have this pain. Yeah I’d love for them to just take the fucker away – every last niggle and bite – and hold it for ever a while, but mostly I just wanna share it. I just want who I’m talking to or who I was talking to, to really know what I mean when I say I’m in so much pain, or it feels like I’ve been kicked in the nuts, or my legs are on fire. I want to share the screaming isolation that runs through my bones. I want to share the firey breath that burns from my nerves. I want to find the knife that’s stabbing me in the back each time I move, and just show them what it looks like. Show them what brand it is and for them to wrap it up in cotton wool so it just is a little bit protected. So my spine is a bit protected when it jars back in. Or just throw it in the trash and bury it forever, and leave my back to go on its merry way.

It’s acute, it’s excruciating and it’s agony. And it’s completely ridiculous. If forgotten true physical PAIN until this week. Like proper true, bone breaking, pain. It’s something I’ve known so well due to my 26 years of adrenaline loving, but it’s been a while since I truly have felt this kinda crippling knee jerking pain. And it goes on for fucking ever.

I know I’ll never get a friend to set up camp within my back (thankfully for them, and probably for me too). I know in these moments of agony, all I have is myself to really breathe with it and witness. So that’s who I share it with. Little old me. And whilst I do so, I realise that despite friends not knowing exactly how it feels – down to every last little detail and sensation, like I so desperately daydream for – people do know and do understand, because in some way most of the people I know have broken something or cracked something or had something fall on their handsome heads. It’s pain, it’s just different for each of us and each of our situation or story. But it sure as hell is healing when I talk to someone else who’s had a prolapsed disc and they know exactly what I mean when my legs feel on fire or my back feels like its being stabbed. I know that they really know what I’m talking about. So just like everything else, there’s a mighty fine tonne of solace that can be found in finding others who have experienced the same thing. It’ll never be exactly the same because that is how we roll – unique and different – but it’ll be pretty fucking close. And those that haven’t experienced this kinda pain, will have experienced something else. And that something else will have brought compassion and wisdom and understanding too. And if they haven’t? Well, they are either might careful cotton-wool wrapped beings, or they’re just accident-free lucky fuckers.

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Acknowledge the pain

When will this pain end? I don’t understand. I don’t understand how pain can be so intense and not completely break you. When will all the wounds be healed, all the scars undone? I don’t know how this could ever be.  When the pain eats me, chews my bones and spits me out, exhausted and confused, my whole body aches with a worry, a fear, a wondering, whether this will ever soften…ever cease to be?

The truth is I don’t know. And the other truth is, I know it doesn’t ever stop. I’ve heard it gets easier, and that is something I believe. But it never stops. And that is something I believe too.

But when the world feels such a painful place, the weight of daily responsibilities feel overwhelming, like I’m nailed at the stake of responsibility that is crumbling beneath me, I wonder how long I can cope. My feet feel like the ground beneath them is fake. All an image of capability, when yet what actually lies beneath them is a vast pit of a discombobulated mess. I feel like I’m living a lie of managing, when all I need to do is fall apart and crumble, and never get up.

I feel torn between a desire to keep going and keep trying to live part of this normal life, and a desire to completely fall apart. Because the latter has never happened. Yet when I look back on the days this past year has brought, there is nothing about them that doesn’t define Breakdown or Mess. It has been one long year of that. I just have always had this edge of me that has been okay.  And perhaps I always will have this edge. I just need to trust this…And one day I will.

There is that fragile edge, that part of me that feels overwhelmed and still in shock though. Still in pain from the responsibilities weighed on as a child, that daily life becomes a challenge when this part is in prominent play. This is the part that needs nurturance, reassurance, comfort, and love. Perhaps I will always have this edge too…I have a feeling it will. And therefore, maybe I’ll begin to trust this can be heard and lived through, not all encompassed by, too.

This last part I talk of, is one that we all have – the Inner Child, our Little Girl…the part of us that needs the acknowledgement and listening. What makes this part of us sing, sob and soften? Mine, I know, needs to just CRY. Be held. Be reassured, honoured and allowed to express through its tears.

Life might feel overwhelming. It might feel as though my entire life of sorrow and grief, letdown and trauma, is up in my face, blinding me, but still beneath that is strength and joy that comes with feeling this pain too. It might feel as though all I need to do, all I can do, is lie in a heap for a year or two, but actually what happens when I do? When I lie in a heap and sob or shake, twenty minutes later, I get up. Tender, but refreshed, rejuvenated and alive. More alive than twenty minutes before.

I am learning that overwhelming pain is only overwhelming because it truly needs to be felt. It needs to be heard, it needs to be nurtured, released, listened to, let out. It overwhelms when it’s not acknowledged. And the pain of this repression is SO much more than the pain of the acknowledgement.

Love.

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A Lack Gap

Today as I went for a jog walk in the cloudy British morning sun, I sat on a hill overlooking the city. It’s the perfect spot to feel away from all the city madness. Saying that though, the city I live in is more like a big town, and the neighbourhood I have moved to is more like a nice little English village. Still though, I need those spaces that just make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. They are hard to find amongst the city streets, so instead I went for feeling like you’re sitting above the city. That works just as well, if not better sometimes.

Last night I spoke a lot with friends about my cartoons. For those of you who have been following this blog for a while, will have seen them evolve over the past few months. I’ve been loving it. And I have also been loving the bits of feedback to do something more with them. This has been going in, and not that I believe it, I have been trying to see that maybe people could benefit from them, or at least connect with seeing a comical doodle of something (negative thoughts or other stuff) that they battle with too.

As I sat on this hill, I just cried. I realised I so long for a mother or father, or any kind of family member, to share these Life Ideas with. Friends are amazing, but you want those people that know you inside out and you can bounce off any random little quirky idea or thought with. Someone, or some people, that have seen you evolve and develop and grow throughout your life, or the life of your idea. Take my cartoons, for example. I dream of having someone here alongside me as I step and trip and step some more, along whatever journey lies ahead with them. Friends do do that – they are amazing for this but in smidgen ways. You see each other once a week, or randomly speak on the phone, but it is different to having someone to voice all the little developments with. Does anyone else feel this too? That gap of having someone to share it all with?

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Maybe I just need a boyfriend.

That’d be nice. But that’s a whole other conversation. Watch this space. Although I’ve been watching it for a WHILE now…bloody ages in fact. And for the record, there’s not actually anything in this space to watch – just space!

Back to the longing. I feel like this kind of longing runs deeper than just that I’m OVER being single. It comes back to that lack of parental support. And it got me thinking…all my lack of sticking something out for long periods of time…all my doing a million things in my life when friends around me have stuck to a handful of specific things…all the travelling, exploring and adventuring…all the need to be doing something amazing, somewhere amazing…all the stuff that rises up emotionally, once I stay somewhere longer than a few months…it has just kept me moving, and has kept me from ‘settling down’ anywhere. For the record, I am still only 25 so I feel like that is what life is when you’re this age! Moving around and exploring: your twenties could not be a more perfect time to do this. I would not change it for the world because it has been what I’ve needed to do and hell, I have had the most incredible experiences, met the most brilliant people and done the most amazing things. But there has been a strong element of fear about stopping anywhere for long periods of time. I’ve still lived places for a year or so, but never with a long term view of being there. That’s totally fine: that is what being young is about. But there has been an underlying thread that I noticed in the recent year or so, that I felt like maybe I actually have been ‘running’ from something. I totally believe it’s okay to run away sometimes – screw all those theories that you shouldn’t run away. Sometimes you need a break, and so sometimes to run away is your only option. But there does come a time when things catch up and the running needs to come to a halt, or a steady gentle stroll, for a while.

This is what has happened to me. And in many many ways, it feels so exciting. To want to stay somewhere, to want to settle down for a bit, fills me with a buzz that I’ve not felt before. It makes me feel alive, just like other people get that buzz at the thought of heading off on their next adventure. It’s like the ‘buzz’ has swapped places: it used to be there in the latter scenario, and the thought of settling down made me nauseas and with dread the weight of a small car in my stomach. That nausea and dread float by from time to time, and maybe will always be gently nestled there because I know that exploring is such a deep part of my veins. I will type about this another day, but I really believe you can fuel this adventuring desire without moving about and travelling everywhere. You can find your adventures in your everyday life.

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Back to the running. Today it has just occurred to me that this running may have been because of this a gap in my heart. A Lack Gap. It’s a gap that’s been holding the pain, loss and grief of the lack of parenting or parental support in my life. I have been trying to fill this Lack Gap full with fun, adventure, socialising, love of others, passions…etc, until I hit a point where I couldn’t keep on going. This point I mention above, where you have to stop running. This point for me was overdosing. (Not recommended). For others it can be a more gentler breakdown, or for some, simply a big realisation that change needs to occur is enough. Whatever and however this point comes, what it brings with it is the need to address this Lack Gap in your life. Not in an ‘add-another-thing-to-your-to-do-list’ kind of way. But more in a, this is what happens kind of way. Without you knowing, just as life moves on its way, this Lack Gap seems to become gently filled. It just happens – don’t worry and stress about it. Just notice it.

Today, for the first time, I saw that maybe this pain of not belonging to anyone or anywhere, of not having having parents to say well done or to reassure or support me, of desperately trying to find someone who feels that way towards me (parent style), has been because of this Gap. This gap for me, feels fundamentally parent based. For others it might be different. I’d love to know.

Now, I see, this gap is slowly beginning to fill. Not fill with what I have always dreamt of and feel am lacking – parents, love and family support – but something even better and something even more important:

Self love.

That’s the biscuit. Anything else can take a hike when it comes to the ultimate most healing thing you can do for yourself. Love yourself. That’s it. Because the rest then follows. Obviously, sometimes it’s ‘easier said than done’ but I do really believe that this lies as the foundation for any healing or growth to take place. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, the self-love can be coming so subtly that changes start to occur, and then you begin to see that it is actually self love that you have to thank. And by self love, I mean yourself.

So maybe with this time of being able to, nervously, embrace settling down for a bit and letting whatever arise, arise, this little Lack Gap will slowly begin to fill with a love for myself that no parent or family member could ever give. Only something I can give myself.

Any of you notice how you try, or have tried, to fill a Lack Gap in your life?

Love.

The power of love

Recently I can’t help but notice that in times of darkness or turmoil or loss, love really is the answer. I keep having the dialogue of realisations, going a little something like this: “love really is all you need”. These … Continue reading

beauty in a breakdown

There must be beauty in this mix of mayhem,
There must be beauty, there always is.

Life works like that,
It always does.
I just can’t see it now,
It just doesn’t feel it exists.

But it must,
It has to.
Otherwise where would life leave us?
Feeling shit forever is where.

At times it’s hard to remember this beauty, this gift of life.
When what’s happening to you is because of stuff that happened when you were a kid.
When what’s happening to is because of some fucked up shit someone else did to you.
When what’s happening to you is because a tonne of atrocities that have run riot in your bones for all these years, and only just now are being given a voice to sing.
When what’s happening to you leaves you breathless and crying for that love that never came. That love that isn’t there.

Just like a flower needs to blossom and be watered and nurtured,
So do you.

And just like a seed needs warmth, comfort, nurturing and nutrition to grow into the plant it’s destined to become,
You need a constant, consistent and genuine dose of this too.

If there’s noone there to give it to you. It the parent you do desperately long for is not there and never has been, this in a sense is a gift. This brings the discovery of the beauty of nurturing yourself. Becoming the parent to yourself you so deeply deserve. This gift, this beauty, this need to parent yourself can feel shit. It can leave you feeling less empowered, more hopeless, more sorrow, more loneliness at the fact it’s just up to you, but beneath these feelings is a feeling of everlasting gratitude, love and relief from your inner child to you. YOU. Because you’re the one that can do this. You’re the one that can give you what you need. You’re the one that really knows what makes your heart sing, what lets that inner child’s beauty shine and shine through to all bits of you.

In those moments of fragility, those moments of vulnerability, wrap yourself up and hold yourself close. Know that you are there for you, and that is what matters most.

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It still doesn’t stop you wanting a big old cwtch* from those you love though.

*cwtch – cuddle in Welsh. One of my favourite words of all time.