“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~Rumi
Cutters. People who use their skin as ashtrays. Self-mutilators. I see you, now. I get it.
My worst fear came true a few days ago. That thing.
The fear that pops up quietly but suddenly grips your core. The thought that makes your heart pound in your ears. Your stomach churn. The one you try and shush but comes back swinging. Hard.
That feeling of total and utter panic. Anxiety at it’s finest. Robbing your heart, of peace. Your brain, of sense. Sweeping away all that is good, and leaving utter devastation, and total confusion in it’s wake.
Everything went dark, like thick, opaque curtains blocking the rising sun. Then, the light disappeared completely.
We all have one such fear, I think, or 100 (depending…I had two). Some are just better at silencing theirs - starving Adora, the lizard that lives in the brain. So much for evolution. You’d think by now human beings would have shed that little bitch - we’re not being chased by lions in the brush any longer. It’s been a few years.
Two days later, my other fear manifested. Back-to-back (clearly, I’m a very powerful manifester, you’d think I’d learn to control my thoughts, and focus on better things, by now). This second blow was different. Worse. Deeper. One of those pattern fears that rears it’s ugly head every few years. A lesson I’m clearly missing that desperately wants to be learned.
And then, just like that, I understood the idea of self-mutilation. It breaks you down to your most vulnerable, fragile state. It’s an anecdote to the ego. The ultimate silencer. Everything goes calm. Kinda like being under water.
For the past few days I’ve been somewhere between here and someplace else. A feeling of floating in space trying so hard to grasp at something to ground me. The harder I reach, the farther I float away. It’s fucking scary.
In this space, you make stupid mistakes, constantly. Lose keys. Turn the house upside down looking for your iPhone when you’re holding it in your hand. Forget concert tickets. And people you were supposed to meet. And you accidentally burn the shit out of yourself taking something out of the toaster oven.
3rd degree burn. Searing pain. Definitely an ugly scar. Mind numbing.
For the next hour or so, I felt grounded. Present. Writhing in physical pain that was so intense, I was unable to access the past or the future - remaining in that place every spiritual book, meditation, speaker, whatever - talks about. The power of being in the now. Because the now was so loud. There was no room for emotional pain. In a lot of ways, that burn, was total relief.
I’m not condoning self-mutilation, FYI. There are plenty of socially acceptable and less harmful ways to bring physical pain upon oneself, if you’re so inclined to do so. Most people do it in some way - tattoos, running long distances (just try a half-marathon for starters), back-to-back SoulCycle classes, the Master Cleanse, piercings, CrossFit, extreme sports…pick your poison. Don’t cut.
Lucky, or maybe unlucky, for me (the jury is still out)…I could never burn or cut myself on purpose. I’m too shallow (scars) and too afraid of being crazy, to go there. But I get it now. No more judgement. Just total empathy. It is a relief.
All that aside…I think the edges of another truth started forming in the aftermath of the burn. It was a total surrender to my fragility. There was no other choice, the pain made me completely helpless and vulnerable.
Maybe that is where the comfort lies. Giving into who I am instead of fighting myself so hard.
I’ve always been super sensitive. Thin-skinned. I was just born that way, literally (I was such a premi, I spent weeks in the hospital in an incubator with translucent skin).
When I was a kid, my parents mission was to toughen me up - don’t be such a baby, it’s only blood, that’s nothing to be upset about, if someone picks on you, ignore them, there’s no point in talking about your feelings, life is hard, so you’re not going to get through it being so sensitive, calm down, deal with it, life isn’t fair, toughen up, blahblahblah…
There was little empathy for my emotional fragility - it was so overwhelming for my parents to deal with, it felt like I was just an annoyance somehow. They detached when they felt my pain. I was something that had to be dealt with. Sensitivity was like profanity in our house (I’ve only seen my parents cry over death) and instead of comforting me when I was hurting, which is all I wanted, they withdrew their attention. I was accused of being irrational and ridiculous, instead.
They were trying to help, I realize this, but they made me worse. The more they withdrew, the sterner they became, the less they empathized with me, the more intense my discomfort became. The more sensitive I became.
Whatever. They were just doing their best. I know they adore me. No finger pointing. That’s not the point. Everyone, is just doing their best in life. It’s not personal.
It’s ironic that as I’m writing this now I can so clearly see my relationship patterns. What happened the other day. The nightmare I can’t seem to wake up from. The same drama playing itself out in my most intimate relationship. It’s tied to my deepest fears.
I’m still looking for someone to make me better. Someone to comfort me. Someone who is willing to handle my emotions. I’m still just waiting for someone to accept me the way I am and just love me instead of rejecting my fragility. And I’m still drawing in those who can’t/won’t/refuse to support me in that way.
And in my desperation, I hurt those I love the most. I overwhelm, confound, corner, smother, and trap. Without intention. With no ill will. With zero malice. I shut down. I reach blindly for comfort in the most damaging way possible. I make my presence deafening and intrusive. I push. And I push.
I’m wired to feel this is the necessary behavior to be loved. To be seen. To be comforted. Without even the slightest recognition of what I’m doing, until I’ve pushed too far. And only after I’ve finished doing the exact opposite of what my intent was, I realize what I’ve done, and how much pain I’ve caused. Then the guilt sets in…
I’m tired. It’s exhausting.
I would like to get to the point of vulnerability and surrender that that burn inflicted, without the physical pain. I would love to accept my fragility. I think the road to this is figuring out how to stop fighting myself. I am who I am and this is who I have always been. Hating that fragile part of me, going against my nature, and judging myself for it, perpetuates a pattern that needs to be resolved. I have no idea where to begin.
Maybe just being hurt instead of trying to be tough is a start. Maybe instead of trying to control and rationalize emotional pain, I need to just succumb to its discomfort. Maybe instead of lashing out like a destructive ball of fire, trying to self-soothe, which has NEVER worked, I need to withdraw, surrender, feel what I’m feeling - without feeling like I’m failing somehow.
Maybe I need to learn to ask for comfort from a place of vulnerability instead of attack. Actually open my mouth and say the words: I’m hurting, please make it better, without feeling I’m wrong and weak. And then, actually trusting that the comfort will show up.
Maybe not that exact second. Maybe not in the exact way I’d hoped (because everyone has their own patterns they’re dealing with). But just having faith in someone will make the difference - not always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Not always expecting to be let down. Maybe then, the pattern will be broken.
It’s time to bury the hatchet, with myself. I’m going to take some time and mourn the death of the person I thought I needed to be. The Neelou with a high tolerance for pain needs to be buried. I am not tough. And I have no desire to be. That’s done now.
Death breeds rebirth and in time, I need to embrace the me I’ve always rejected. How can anyone love me for who I really am, if I won’t love myself for it? As long as I continue to judge and reject myself, someone else will too.
So, it’s time to transform into someone new, shapeshift - integrate all of my parts into a whole, more balanced, true self. Someone who can just accept what is with grace and integrity. One who can accept love without a need to control because faith and trust flow freely in her heart.
Wish me luck.