(This post is by Mary of Terralectualism, you will find my "introduction" to it at the end of this powerful piece of writing. If you read nothing else this week, read this post- Milla)
The colors of today are pale blue grey, white, off white, grey brown, bright green. it is cold and nippy and just perfect for solstice. i am inana. i am inana and i have passed through the seventh gate. to the rest of the world i am still dead, i am mourned. but to myself i am alive. pure, raw, corely alive. i walk my path, isceral and unknown except to the silent trees, the small brown birds, the witnessing evergreens. the grasses are full dried, beginning to mulch, the stones are grey. i too am quiet, bowing my life to death. inside me is snowfall, deer tracks, the only imprint on my soul landscape. a bare tree stands off to itself, silver, silhoutted. crow, dead crow, clasped on a high branch, does not caw, does not break the intense cacauphony of snowflakes pushing down. she just simply stares, one eye on me, ne eye in the other world, witnessing. she will wait until i too, split my focus and crosseyed, allow part to crossover. only then will her wings stir the stillness. Journal entry, Winter Solstice 1996. Age 24.One of the recurring experiences I've been having, as I feel my age (and the limitations of personal freedom inherent in motherhood) is regret.
25 yr. old me. Back then it was the quarter life crisis.
I know. I can hear you now, how pointless regret is. I would have told you that just a year ago. It's embarrassing to look at your current life's process and to feel like a cliche. Yet, at 40, I find myself saying those things that many do in mid life. Things like, "I'm just trying to reconcile the plans I had and how I thought it would all be. How did it all go so fast?". These simple sentences sound so trite, but the living reality of them is a three dimensional experience, textured, penetrating, and completely pesky. It can be an oh shit experience to REALLY get that your youth is over and to consider that maybe it was squandered with emotional instability. How much of life did I duck from, hiding under my bed, feeling too fragile to engage with the world?
Sometimes stepping out the door felt like I had no skin and the air was made of lemon juice. I was so tied up inside myself, choosing bad relationships with the wrong guys, ones who constantly mirrored my biggest fears...that I was too much, too intense, too crazy. Similarly with friends, I tucked in my eccentric bits like loose shirt tails, desperately trying to appear...well...however they wanted me to. Vulnerability, self doubt, need for validation and that kicker, anger, were off limits within relationships. I so desperately wanted to be known and loved, and yet if anyone saw my toxic shame and lack of self worth, I felt like I was being annihilated.
my world now is too human. i am too human. i have been compromising my wild nature. i want a pond in the middle of my house. i want grass in my hair, a garden sanctuary, feathered breast, my eyes smeared with clay. my life has lost too many raw elements...linear lines, roads, commitments, squares, boxes, schedules, please pay this amount, sign here. every essential wild childlike part of myself is about to die. i have compromised too far. i am hardening into cement, becoming one of the million minds which sleep and move. i should be doing art, running barefoot wild through woods, birds coming out of my ears, vines between my legs, a million eyes like a fly, i give up my arms for wings. i have stopped believing in dreams...if i am going to survive in this city i need to stay awake. Oct. 13, 1997. Second month of life in San FranciscoSo I kept journals. Enough journals to fill up a giant plastic bin. It lives at the top of my closet, next to boxes of photographs. My pen was my best friend, my most honest relationship on the page, and it was the only way I could really see myself and believe that I existed. Terrified of the grief and sorrow that lived in my body, instead I lived in my head. And I wrote about it. The act of journaling helped me to feel unified, my heart at ease for saying its truth, my mind satisfied by foraging for words.
One of the effects of having gone to graduate school for counseling psychology is that I now have a very highly educated inner critic. This fucker, in his grey suit and red tie, sits behind a desk and in front of him is the DSM...The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The bible used for pathologizing the difficulties of having a human heart. Floating above me, he rains his pronouncements down as we comb through my life. It's a good thing, he says, that I wasn't seen by a psychiatrist in my twenties, for I surely would have been labeled with Borderline Personality Disorder. Although, he continues, it is another one of my failings that I didn't get the proper help I needed. I should have been on medication. All that time I spent on a spiritual path, on self awareness, on figuring things out...what a waste, he says. It was all an illusion, self deception, denial. Sure, he nods, you're a bit better now, but that's the progression of Borderlines...they even out by the time they are 40 or 50. He shuts the book and gives me a stare. You're still not really healthy though...you should get your hormones checked. You feel entirely too much. It's not normal.
i crack my window open at night, despite the cold and mo (pet rat) scrambling into bed to keep warm. i want to, have to, hear the frogs at the creek, singing down the rain, as full as impatience as i, singing and croaking and calling the spring, now, come now. they sing and in each other they awaken the creative impulse, the impulse to create, procreate, produce, pulsing, rhythm, waiting. in their burrows the ground squirrels stir, their dreams lighten, they are dreaming of plums and walnuts. once recently i heard the geese, making an early return. but still it is cold, the blackbirds' caucaphony are the only flowers in the tender green, grey, brown landscape. winter is still here, can still smile in its strength. it's not too late to snow. Journal entry from February 3rd, 1997. Age 24.I work under The Board of Behavioral Sciences, also known as Big Daddy. Which means that I have to know (and at least pretend to kowtow to) the diagnoses in the manual. There is so much in the western model of psychology that pathologizes the feminine experience. From Premenstrual Dysphoria to Borderline PD (%75 of BPD cases are women), it is made abundantly clear...you can deviate from the white male norm, but only within a certain range. Above all, you may not be wild, you may not be dark and you may not feel deeply. This means that I spend a good deal of time in slight fear of being witch hunted.
I heal others because I know the wounds personally. I guide because I've been down this road before. I counsel because I had to do it for myself, and the realizations that came to me, that surfaced from somewhere deep within were echoed in my schooling. It's not an intellectual knowing, how to heal. It's in my bones and guts. Working from this place in a linear, western model, feels messy and revolutionary and dangerous. What if they find out?
As I read through my old words and looked at photos of past selves, I was surprised not to find the blameable mess I had expected. Instead I found wild beauty. Changeable, maleable, sparky, lovely, soft, hard, gentle and fierce and bitchy. She was wrong. She was right. And always, always she was trying. A seedling in the dark, twisting her way towards the sunlight however she could. She was funny and inventive, adventurous and homey, never taking herself too seriously and always taking herself too seriously. She had blond hair, she had crayon red hair, she had purple and pink hair, she had no hair. There are people in the pictures with her, and however it may have gone down in the end, there was love there, there was laughter. Far enough away from her particular suffering now, I was able to even feel a little wistful. Like Wow, I wish I was her. I don't know when I stopped advocating for myself. when I bowed my tail between my legs and gave myself up. As I dug through these old journals, my young self flooded around me, asking how it was I could forget? How could I forget to fight for the rightness of the inner wild, and not just the pretty wilderness, but embodied nature in all her terrible, rageful beauty... especially for the way it raged through me?
That core part of me, so unrecognizable to me at the time, shown through far brighter than I ever realized. Instead of seeing something buried and half hidden with distortion, the brightness of my spirit was obvious and familiar. All these years I have polished and honed it and I laugh now to think how invisible I felt, how unknown and misunderstood. What I couldn't see at the time is overtly apparent to me now. Me, here all along.
i stand where i have before, surveying the landscape. everything is grey, there are thin strands of mist blowing through. off in the distance i see a figure walking towards me. it is myself, returned from a long dissapearance. she has long strides, no hair, attitude, and purpose. she holds her hand out in greeting. her eyes glow. i grasp her fingers and we melt together. now i stand in the center and survey again. little has changed but we know how we want to landscape, we have plans. nothing stands in our way. January 1997The regret is gone now. When I toss out the shame, like the clothes I put out on the front stoop to recycle, I marvel at all the spaciousness it creates. It had acted like a dam to my own private, wild river, and the waters come pouring over the rocks and dry stream beds. I can call this inner environmental restoration. I have weeded out the noxious invasives and am inviting back native species. Underneath my skin, mycorrhizal webs of authenticity knit me back together. Flora and fauna return...memories, joy, will power and well being.
I offer this to you, wild one. To all women in your twenties. You are perfect in your tangled, frightening, untamed beauty. May you know this someday. May you know it now.
I don't know if I can ever thank you enough for your wise-woman words dear Mary. I've been holding on to this post for what I thought were time and space constraints, because I wanted to write a really good, honest introduction to it, because I didn't want to minimize it's impact with lighter posts about Icelandic beer and Finnish Fashion. But in trying to write this now I realize that I've been holding onto it also, because until I release it out into the world, it is still a secret, our secret and (deep breath) my secret.
When she first sent these words to me, the air went out of my lungs completely, with every line my heart bounded like I was suddenly running very very fast away from or towards something, and I cried, of course I did, the way I used to, every day in my twenties, uncontrollably and loudly like someone hit by real sorrow, not just having to wake up to the world. By the time I got to the part about not having skin, I simply had to stop for a moment, because she was, it seemed, not writing about her old self anymore, she was writing about my old self. Something I had thought about writing about a thousand times and pushed away another thousand. The journals, with their colorful covers, the thickly joined words, the world rushing at you faster and harder than you could handle.
Ever since I "met" Mary, I have felt this strange, strenuous connection, not much like words, but like something fragile hanging in the air, unspoken. Here it is now, out in the world, our little secret. Maybe it's your secret too, maybe something else is and I don't know if you feel like talking about it, but if you do, we're here.