I’m really starting to understand the point of reading.
Like, I’ve always liked reading, but didn’t allow myself that enjoyment because I thought…it was stupid? A waste of time? Or I didn’t think I deserved enjoyment. Probably that last one. But I just read one of the most honest books I’ve ever read in my entire life. It’s called “Pancakes Taste Like Poverty” by Jessica Vivian, a girl I agreed with on some points on a post in the Intuitive Awakening group. Her vulnerability was inspirational to me. I’m just not exactly sure how I can achieve this while being an introvert, particularly one that’s wired to fear vulnerability most! I kinda think I gotta keep going with this by reading some Brené Brown because my goal, my dream right now, is to create a community of introspection, a willingness to learn, and a place of intuitive depth. Like, Intuitive Awakening is pretty much the perfect community imho, BUT it’s not mine. I don’t make the rules in it. And it’s not my people.
I just listened to a podcast about motivations. I’ve deemed myself as teetering on the line between away & toward with Affiliation at the moment. I was surprised to note that I identified with Affiliation-away in a nostalgic sense. I could tell that I was growing out of that phase and that I’m just about to start dipping my toe in the next pool. Or ‘grab the carrot’ as Antonia said. Can I handle being a leader of a tribe? I obviously want to create one. It’s impossible without my vulnerability, though. Gah! But it’s not like holding onto my feelings and having my shield has actually served me. It has just left me quite alone.
The thing that trips me up the most, I think, is that I don’t even know I put up a shield in the first place! It’s just always there and I have no idea what it feels like to be without it!
I realized yesterday, as I was confiding to my friend Amanda about my fear and despair about my future of being black in the States, that I did not actually purge my emotions at all when I spoke to her. When I spoke to her, I didn’t actually FEEL the fear. I didn’t actually FEEL the despair. I only felt them when I was alone, but I didn’t want to share my pain with her. Or rather, I didn’t even realize that I hadn’t bothered to consider sharing it. So I just explained to her my thoughts and my fears like I would the contents of my grocery list. I think to her, we had bonded more because of it. In a sense we still did because I expressed to her that it was a rare occurrence since she is literally the only white person on the planet I know that I’m able to relay this stuff and she just listens.
Now I remember why I said I “didn’t want to share my pain with her” first. I didn’t want to get burned in case she rejected me. I didn’t want to get caught off-guard by backlash.
I guess I really do suck at being vulnerable. But honestly, opening myself up completely to every white person about my black issues would just be suicide, no?
So maybe that particular incident is irrelevant. But is it? I mean, if I find an excuse for that, then I can find an excuse for any other situation for being off-guard. I mean, out of all the times I have decided to open up and be vulnerable, most of the time I get severe, angry backlash and dismissal. And by most, I mean every single time except two. Two solitary moments where I was able to express myself fully without negative backlash. And technically that’s only one time where I was both open and emotionally vulnerable (since I had closed myself off emotionally with Amanda, anyway).
Man, my track record isn’t looking so good. Even as I type this, I’m not actually emotionally responsive to what I’m just saying! I’m just thinking, analyzing, and relaying the words to text. For fuck’s sake.
There have been two moments where I have actually let myself just FEEL. One moment is whenever I do hypnosis tracks specifically for the goal of purging an emotion. The other time was when I gave myself permission to cry after being scolded by my employer for talking too loud on the phone, instead of her just politely asking me to stfu and leave the room. Like, no basic human respect. Ugh! And I can’t believe that tipped me over the edge but it did. I cried and my body shook and the feels pillaged my body. (There’s obviously more to the story than that but I’ll just leave it there.)
I think one thing that Feeler type people just get is that emotions are physical. They’re FEELINGS because you physically FEEL them. Guess when I learned this lesson? About three months ago. Yes. I’m 25 and just realized that feelings are actually physical three months ago. Well maybe four. But still.
Imagine how much shit must be locked up inside, simply by not having this realization!
And it’s no wonder. When I was younger, I was incredibly volatile. I reacted to everything instead of thought through things. I totally flipped out on people. But it wasn’t because I was feeling angry, or feeling despair, or feeling sadness. I was just tense. Tense isn’t really an emotion. It’s a protection against them. Let me give you an example.
You know when you stub your toe really hard, the pain is so strong that it’s just unbearable? You immediately fall to the ground and grasp the hit toe. Why do you grasp it? That’s protecting your toe from the pain. See when you just keep tense fingers over the fragility, the throbbing stops. And you keep applying that tension because you know that if you let go, it’ll physically hurt again. Once in a while you’ll get the kind of throb where the finger tension can’t hold it all back. So some of that pain will leak out, but only minuscule amounts, so it’s still safer than raw pain. Now imagine your life being an undulation of toe stubs and finger clasp shields to protect those sensitive digits. Wouldn’t you want to avoid as many sharp walls as possible? Wouldn’t you have a hard time running full speed, even when you’re alone and safe?
When I didn’t have the ability to give my emotions permission to physically reveal themselves, they defied me by using my mouth instead. My reactions were lightning sharp. I dripped with hostility. If my present day self met my past self, we would totally see completely different people. I’ve changed so fucking much. No one would ever believe me, nor would they ever know, but I’ve changed so fucking much.
I’ve changed so much but have been alone for most of the process. I have had a ‘friend’ here and there, but relationships were always cut short, usually by me. That or I was too vitriolic to be around which I completely understand. I’ve been both alone and lonely for so long that both are just so comfortable.
You know those hypothetical questions everyone always asks? One I hate is “What would you say to your 15 year old self?” Ugh. Well, it’s not the question I hate per say, but my unexpected reaction to it. When I first was asked that kind of question, I think I squeezed out some kind of answer that sounded right and submitted it since it was a survey I think, but I didn’t let myself think too deeply about it. The second time I remember it being asked, I froze. I just froze, and sat there. But there was no pressure this time. No real “right answer”. So then I visualized. I thought about my old room and ‘depressed me’ unable to hold back tears that decided to leak out. I walked in through the portal of time, stepping through the mirror and into my old bedroom of fantasy books, anime, and lots of pretty things like the crystal wind chimes that would paint rainbows all over my room when the sun shined. The things that helped me mentally escape.
I walked into the room and sat on my old bed. And younger me wasn’t surprised to see me at all. She was unconcerned with the weirdness of the situation simply because she didn’t have the mental capacity to care. But you know the funny thing? Even though this was future me, coming in to see her, she had mad defenses up. What else did she know to do? She sat up on the bed and sat next to me but her face was stern, suspicious, unsure if I would tell her some kind of truth that she wasn’t ready for yet. I had no idea what to say to her. I sat and I sat and I sat. She sat, too. Tense. And when I examined myself, I realized I, too, were tense. It was all awkwardness. It totally seemed like we were the same, but I know just as well what I had been through to get where I wanted to be, to be as confident as I am and to still have the drive to improve despite meeting that goal I had at 15. See, when I was 15, I already knew what kind of person I wanted to be. I wanted to be mostly positively-thinking, having a good balance between optimism and realism, and I wanted to be smart and confident and free from my abusive grandmother. That’s all! I just wanted to have a good head on my shoulders and freedom from emotional torment. And I got that! I completely achieved my goal. And it did take exactly ten incredibly hard years – 5 of conscious self development – but I fucking did it! Would I tell her that?
My first thoughts that came to mind were the typical bullshit like “You’ll achieve your dreams,” or “Be strong.” But when you’re going through trauma, ain’t nobody got the energy to be hearing that shit. Like, I get depressed quite often so I know how it is when someone gives a depressed person some cheery bullshit. It just goes through your ears without any deep thought or consideration. What is there to think about?! Nothing. It’s a “Just feel happy” when I feel like the four year old smashed gum on a dinky crumbling desk in a school meant for the kids with no hope and no future. The kids who are only living to survive and go to school simply to escape their abusive parents. Because THAT is the young me sitting on that bed right now. And if I can listen closely, my bitchy abusive Grandmother is sitting in her bedroom laughing at the Simpsons while we’re sitting here awkwardly not knowing what to say to one another.
And I’m not going to tell her the future. If I just tell her…I mean I only JUST became the person I wanted to be. I’ve only JUST NOW met my goal. Am I going to tell her it’s gonna take ten fucking years, with fucktons of anguish in the middle? That she’ll decide one day to start planning to kill Grandma and only THEN will the DCF, the police and god step in to save her? That she will not have had a fulfilling, well balanced platonic or romantic relationship? That she would end up living abroad for three solid years only to hate each country she lived in?
That would be enabling suicide, I think.
So I continued to sit, almost defeated with how long I’d been just sitting there with nothing to say. No hope to give my old, battered self.
But then I hear my emotions express themselves from her mouth.
“Um…” Uncertainty. I turned to her. She asked, “Can I tell you something?” Fear.
I just nodded. She said, “I don’t need you to tell me that I’ll end up leaving this house. I know that already. I’m just counting down the time until I’m 18. I only have to hold on until then…” she trails off and gives me a questioning look. Sadness. I don’t dare tell her that she won’t make it until 18 because she’ll end up at her breaking point next year. Instead I say, “I’m listening.” And I realize that that is the most cleansing thing I could say for the both of us.
I’ve never had a close, long-lasting friendship. Ever. There have been some shallow ones where I received help of some kind for a bit. I did have a best friend once, and she had befriended me at my very worst but stuck with me anyway, until she door slammed on me and to this very day I have no idea why. I think she got exhausted of me, which I would totally understand. But I can never be 100% sure.
Other than her, most people are just so fleeting. Which is my own fault. Like I said, I didn’t even know what vulnerability was, nor how to do it. I was just surviving the war zone in the house. That’s all. And my shield was the only protection I had and it needed to be kept on because who knew when the next outburst would come?
So I’ve drifted through life, with some friendships and some small forms of help mere grace notes on my solo symphony. So honestly, it’s only fitting that I be the one to provide solace for myself. I’ve been the only true constant in my life, after all. I am the one to wipe my tears and pick myself up again. I have to force myself to snap out of the depression and clean the house because no one else is giving a shit about me. And if I want someone to give a shit, I need to reach out. How do you reach out when you’ve never known how? What do people even want in return? Compassion or something? How do you even do that?
But listening I’m quite good at. I’ve always been a great listener. People will come up to me, and just lay out their problems without asking if I wanted to hear them. And most of the time I’ll just be patient and I’ll just listen. I won’t reject them even though I’m tired and I’m clearly letting my boundaries get run over. But I continue to listen because how awful would it be if I started to say something but someone shut me down? Man, that would be terrible. But despite listening to so many people over the years, it turns out that I get backlash whenever trying to do the same. It. Sucks.
Maybe that’s why I said it. Perhaps I just subconsciously realized how little I was actually going to be listened to, free of judgment, interruptions and assumptions in my first 25 years of life. Have I ever said anything considerably awesome or thoughtful to anyone in the world? I doubt it. Maybe I’ll start to try, but I so easily just end up becoming fearfully submissive and anxious and I just pretend I’m doing someone a favor by not burdening them with my stuff.
And so at 25, never really being listened to very much at all, I kinda was greedy for it. But broken down 15 year old me didn’t know how to listen nearly as good and didn’t need to hear my bullshit. She needed me. So I listened. I heard about every incident and tried to remember the feeling. I acknowledged the pain she felt and how she thought she was going to tear apart. How she was barely clinging on. Yet she always kept referring to the future. “You’re so calm and composed,” she said. And I raised my eyebrow since I was crying tears with her. How was this calm and composed?! “You have the confidence to hear all of this pain again, but just listen to it. You know you’ll hurt with the knowledge, but you accept it and reflect on it. I already know we’re the same and that I’ll end up just like you. That’s enough. Just having my visions of the future is enough. Thanks for listening.”
It’s weird to have your 15 year old self say more intelligent things than the older version of you. and it sounds so silly to have your older self actually break down in front of her younger self at this. Because I didn’t really find confidence in my hurt. I didn’t learn how to really, fully let go. This is all a visualization, but I think it’s an important one. By entertaining this daydream, I’m realizing that despite my inability to be vulnerable, I’m incredibly thankful for the type I was born with. Being naturally inclined to project a decade into the future and beyond literally kept me from death. I never contemplated suicide, nor did I cut myself, nor did I fall into alcoholism or drugs to get away from it all. And I can’t believe I’m standing here a whole human.
There are pros and cons to everything, and although I have my problems with making friends because of the lessons I need to learn in vulnerability, I’m happy that I at least have the chance. I’m here because of my will to keep looking forward to the next thing and I’m so fucking grateful for that.
And maybe there’s one more thing I need to say to my 15 year old self after all this.