Friday, September 3, 2010

You Became Who You Are

Once upon a time I was a free spirit. I loved and I hurt with passion. My world was saturated with color. It was both dramatic and serene, and when I felt it was with all of me, or as much of me as I knew how to give. Then things changed; age, depression, heartbreak. Choices had consequences that led to a desire for a more sustainable and traditional stability, which for me meant sacrificing art and beauty. It didn't have to mean that, but part of feeling with all of you can mean living in a polarized world.

It was the start of 2000 and after I stopped self-medicating with dancing and drinking; I had to figure out what it meant to not be fragmented and what that might have to do with growing up. I put some of that colorfulness away because it didn’t feel safe for me, it bled into the fringes – which was a place I knew and lived but where I couldn't survive. Learning to do that, without really learning how to do the work, was complicated, painful and incomplete.

In 2001 I started taking medication. Unfortunately I let what you hear happens with medication happen to me. I stopped writing and painting. My polarized world became more polarized. And life went on and I lived and loved and traveled. I saw and felt beautiful things. But I developed inhibitions and walls. And the walls grew and grew like a castle fortress.

Some 9 years have passed. Three careers, 1 divorce, a different state, and a new marriage later, I am taking stock. Towards the end of my first marriage my husband had often told me that I was not the woman he married. He had married an artist and I was not an artist. I know now what he meant, but I don’t think he did really. I had new art, new passions, but less me. At the time I was still writing, not often though and without his notice, but it didn't really matter because I wasn’t really living. It wasn’t that I had just stopped creating but something inside me seemed to stop, it was missing – the me that he had loved because of the passion and free spirit seemed to be gone. And when we separated I told myself that wasn't going to be the case anymore, because I would do what I had always longed to do. I would travel. Live with abundance. Move to the Dominican and be - just BE.

But I didn't. Instead I did the work. The work that I should have started in 2000 I started in December of 2006. I have worked hard but remain a work in progress.

Today I saw Eat, Pray, Love with some girlfriends and thought that a version of that life, with the self discovery and travel, is the life I always wanted and in some ways still do. I want to live with less fear. I want to LIVE. But I saw something different. I used to think that I could only live that life while single, that if I wanted to travel or move somewhere across the world that it had to be just me. But it doesn't. Dreams can be shared and loved and lived together. Dreams can adapt, they don’t have to end.

Do I think we are going to move away? Maybe not. Am I open again to the idea of looking outside of my comfort zone - my white suburban SW Portland life? Yes. This girl who came to be, she is who I am meant to be - but not all of her. Life is not for this timidity. Life is for abundance and surrender. It is not for fortress walls and brokenness and TV shows and 15 facebook posts in a day; it is for sharing, loving, laughing and being. All things can cross over and in between, but it is bigger than what I have accepted.

I received a written prescription from the doctor yesterday that read: Make your own schedule a priority. "Own" was underlined three times. And that is what I need to do. The other informal prescription was to meditate. I meditated last year and I started to feel a peace. Before then there were a handful of times that this had happened and all were in artificial settings. Wonderful, but artificial in that they were not where I lived. It was Yosemite, or on a frozen lake, a rolling river, nature - places where God is easier to breathe in. But peace right in the context of my own life? I didn't know how that could really be.

All true peace must come from within; it is just easier to find when you are not in your day to day or it is simply hard to feel while in the city, because there, I guess I mean here, you have to work harder for it. You, me, we are in chaos, so it involves carving a space in your real life to make it happen.

For a class last year we had to create mandalas. A mandala is many things; it can be an artistic representation of the cosmos, like a focus for meditation. Ours was sort of that, but also about defining our self and our spirits. I chose a music box and painted it, glued poems and quotes by L’Engle and Wordsworth, passages from the Book of Counted Sorrows and on the top this poem that I wrote:

My soul speaks loudly.
Then silently.
The ancient words of God;
They are worn into the grooves.
Worked by the hands of my ancestors.

I think that is true. And it is speaking now. I hear the ancient words because they are worn into the grooves of my soul, woven into my very existence and reality. They say that as long as I am breathing, it is never too late to live.


Chris said...

Ah, a lovely post. I hope that you post more frequently, and yet I know you aren't home all day writing...with your kid in daycare.

These are great things you've realized. You CAN do the things you've dreamed of with a partner. Things don't have to shut down because you choose to be with someone.

And yes, your doctor is SO right. I need to meditate, and keep saying I'm going to, and then don't. We should support each other in making these commitments. :)

Jenny said...

I loved reading this.

GiGi said...

This was so lovely, and I LOVE your poem. I'd recommend that you also read Eat,Pray,Love too.

When we cease to grow (and learn) we are in danger of withering. Kudos for your self exploration and realization of the wonderful strides and growth you've achieved.

love, mom

About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, counselor and colleague. I am a work in progress. There may be some pieces out of place and things might be messy, but it's okay. I would rather accept that I am still unfinished than think that this is it. You can find my comments on faith and spirituality on my blog: And my comments and anecdotes on life at:

Books That Matter. Well, some of the many that matter.

  • Magical Shrinking: Stumbling Through Bipolar Disorder, Chris Wells
  • Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • An Abudance of Katherines, John Green
  • Dave Pelzer
  • Franny & Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
  • The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris
  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, Daniel J. Siegel