Depression, Side of Belovedness

I pushed snooze twice today. I never push snooze.

Meditation did not go so well once I did drag myself out of the bed that seemed to have placed a magic suction spell over me and was actively pulling me deeper into it. As I began my days work I felt myself moving with uneasiness, operating from a mentally and physically tense being; all the moments seemed the same.

What is going on? I wondered, doing the internal scan I do to figure out where I am on the scale of health. What could be triggering me ? Did I eat something? Am I blocking out my emotions? Am I present to my own activity in the moment or am I distracted thinking about other people and other moments?

It was not until the early afternoon when I realized what it was assailing me: a wave of depression. It had been several days since a wave; I was feeling in the clear again. I was a young pilot garbed in a brown scarf with goggles on my forehead posing for ritzy photos before I took an amateur flight. Yes, I had flown before, but last night when I laid my head down there seemed to be no sign of enemy aircraft. I was grateful, I was cocky. Then I woke up.

Every moment the same. Surrounded by artillery at every corner of the mind. There was no clear anymore–the conflict had broken out inside of me. There was physical pain in my head and my limbs, there were emotional knee jerk reactions in my spirit and dull nothingness in my heart, there were birds falling from the sky around me.

There I was: the yoke of the plane to my right, ready for any manipulation of my altitude that I may find appropriate, and the wheel in my hands. I wondered why I had so young been given control of myself, my sacred aircraft. Those wonderings were useless so I set to work re-vamping the body scan, eliminating anything weighing me down (the wonderings had to go). I threw overboard my self-victimization. I threw out my denial of the situation. I threw out woe is me and all the ways I was tempted to waste the day in hopes that it would improve itself (when truly I–not the day–bled for improvement).  Over the blue sky I clutched the deep, unnatural urge to throw up my hands and throw myself down on the couch glued to a screen until the day passed (hopefully the pain with it); abandonment for a short time, to pretend the problems–enemy fighters, thunderous clouds, utter meaninglessness–were not there.

And Wendell Berry spoke to me:

…Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.*

The bulky urge to surrender slipped from my grip as I hesitantly loosened my hold.

In letting it go, crashing down through the atmosphere in order to empower my upward mobility, I began the climb back up. The wave of darkness did not overcome me.

This morning I may have been smiling too brightly. Oh well, I am wiser now, as I lay my head down on the cool pillow, than I was last night when I did the same.

Still alive, still beloved.

Always, life.

Life, always.

 

*https://onbeing.org/blog/how-to-be-a-poet-to-remind-myself-wendell-berry/

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I Was Big, Because I was Scared

When they finally call. When after various nerve-wracking interviews that left me twisted up inside with things I said, did not say, and wish I had said, I did get a call back. I am wanted here, to work. My services are invited here.

That is when I wish I had not been so glum. Why did I worry? Why did I let those ancient demons reside (even temporarily) in the temple of my mind and soul?

Each of the interviews and every page of applications has taught me, they have been professors who do their job thoroughly but refuse to allude to grade averages or end results before the time of their posting.

Hindsight is 20 20. The moments in-between are made for rest, rejuvenation, for reading lots of books. But without trust, they can be existential torture.

I was always wanted. I was always provided for. It never depended on me. I just got scared in the waiting.

Now, as doors open, as poems are received for publishing, and tax documents are filed, and I pack my things up to go to a world where I feel secure, I must take my wild heart in my hands. In the moments of waiting my heart turned itself into an inflated puffer-fish. Out of shape. Too big. Too sharp. I did it for survival; the moment scared me into defending my true little self with a bigger, more intimidating one.

It is okay to go back to what you know. It is okay to humbly start over. It is okay to want to do easy things.

It is not okay to be big when you are no longer scared. Bigness is for scary times, but when things settle down, and the sailing is smoother, it is time to take that bigness into careful hands and smooth it down. It is the moment for immediately turning around and helping those who are big, get to a place they can be small again.

It is a time to remember my privilege, that helps open doors for me, especially in the place where things are familiar.  It is a time to give thanks for friends who cushion the changes, financially and emotionally. It is a time to put hands up and praise and cover my self with the ashy truth–I am dust, I am given a moment here, I better put all that I receive to damn good use.

When it finally happens, I bow, and shift my desires from this world, to the next.

Amen.

 

L. Nomad

The Grey Room

I used to fear writing “publicly” about my mystical practices and experiences. I shrouded them in vaguery when I did make any reference. I guess I just do not give a shit anymore. The power I grew up thinking people had over me is waning and waning. I will dance in all the space that is afforded me as those bonds shrink smaller than the slightest sliver of silver moonlight.

Truly, though, the space is not afforded me. I must breath into it. I must practice it like a tap dance practices the sharp smacks of her metal tap shoe against the studio floor. I must develop it the way a potter squeezes shapes into being. Instead of being squeezed, I must be the potter of my life and make it a jolly good vessel–shaped from within rather than from without.

Por eso (that is why), there is the Grey Room. It is smaller than I would like it to be, but the walls are nicely painted in a flawless soft grey. Bright white scaffolding threatened to appear but I banished it in the name of simplicity (escape from distraction). There is a closet, I know not why but cannot seem to do away with it. Perhaps it does or shall serve some purpose.

That is my grey room and from there I press out all the voices. Voices of my few dearest friends, of bills and oil changes, of religion or politics, of old friends and new acquaintances. From within that room I press back fervently against the pressures of ego. The raging what next and the persistent who gave you permission to do that. In that cool, dry place I channel my energy outward, for a short time, and do my best to create something a bit more spacious inside myself.

Really, instead of a potter with large hands pressing down from outside of the clay, I am a miniature person who woke up there inside of a red lump. Rather dry. Rather unassuming. But there I am, stuck, by some understandings. Full of potential, by others.

I am that little form going to work from within myself, with little hands squeezing, squishing, and caressing that clay into some sort of mug or vase or plate, even. From within my grey room, I create space for myself. The space I made today is nothing impressive in size or quality, but it is slightly more than yesterday.  I am breathing, and the work continues.

Stretch Your Muchness

I have about 15 minutes before I need to leave my house. I have sat down here because I am going to write. I am going to piggy back on Elizabeth Gilbert’s voice and authority (and probably content) because I have devoured more than half of her book, Big Magic, just TODAY. I am aching to write and terrified of it. I have been in no woman’s land where there is no grace and I almost wish punishment would come already because I have just been waiting here in torment and anything is better.

My inner critic is so strong that I can hardly choose what to eat for dinner, much less where to live or WHAT THE HELL TO WRITE. I feel that my voice has no relevancy, no value, no authority.

So I am writing to prove that untrue. Of course, it already is untrue, but that which is within me (my muchness, no doubt) is crying out to me: walk it out. It is not true until it is lived.

It is not true until it is lived.

How can I believe in grace if I have not worn it as a cloak, felt its bellowing embrace folding around me?

How can I speak of Love (I have not even had the courage to do that for months) if I do not wake up in the morning and speak the revelatory Divine Words of Love over me?

How can I find authority if I do not give myself permission to speak as one with authority?

Why can I not write like I do everything else: because it makes me better. I play basketball and soccer weekly because they make me better. I play alone usually and that is not a common sight where I live (23 year old white female playing basketball or soccer–that is definitely a team sport, arguably the most team sport….). Before my ankle injury I rode my bike through the forest because it made me better. I meditate to be better. I read to be better. I pray to be better.

Yet when I write, I get caught up on why I am doing it. I do not like any of the reasons my brain comes up with (Truth is also something I have to try on and sometimes, often, actually, it inexplicably does.not.fit) so I do not write. What a fucking absurd barrier between me and doing something that all the muchness within me is yearning for.

When I do not let my mind write it crawls over the input that comes at me from external sources. Instead of creating my mind becomes a parasite seeking to draw sustenance out of objects, conversations, foreign ideas, as if it is sucking marrow out of a bone. This mind was made for gymnastics. On the bench, it does not know what to do. I was made to cultivate my OWN ideas. I was made to produce the marrow of my life organically, to coax myself into fullness by coaxing the fullness out of the Magic all around me.

There it was. 15 glorious minutes that were not boring. What else might there be within me?

I Can Laugh Again

There is a moment of my life that I will never stop writing about.

It is you, Jamal. You fiery young one, left alone in so many ways.

I find myself burning with the desire to write about those moments which cannot be written or comprehended: they cannot be anything more than marveled at, danced with.

Yet here I am, writing just like people write about one another, about pets and history and anatomy. We do not know. We are alive. We explore, either because we want to know, or because we are alive, or both. Only the people know why.

There is me, there was me, there was that moment. Then there is the power that moment has to touch today–two years later–and to shape the moments I have survived between those two: today, that day.

It was Love, that moment. I thought I knew something of God (or gods) then; now I know I do not. I attributed it to God then, that love, but today I know less of that day than I did then though I have gained much from it.

When I saw the vein in his neck protruding and his head hung and his arms slung around like he was trying to convince us to be against him though, really, he was begging someone to be for him when he could not be for himself.

As something or someone in me rose up to be that one, graciously, unconditionally, for him in a crowd of embarrassed scoffers, I experienced the inexplicable Love. I pushed in as he pushed against himself because I know what it is to be trapped and alone and have no idea which way would be a better way because this is all I know.

That love changed everything because I felt such a wave of grace, such bizarre empowerment, that from then on (skipping like a school girl with a jump rope from that day to this day to all the rest of my days) I knew that if Love is true you will not need it anymore when it goes.

True Love gives you something so that when it leaves, you will not ultimately doubt its goodness but will trust its infilling power and know that when it is just you with yourself again, you will have a bit more of you to face you with.

There will be moments that skip across your life like smooth stones on a river, they will touch you, change you, and you will find yourself in that unpredictable phenomenon.

Someone or something will move toward you and you will move toward someone else. That is called dancing, and it is born from and carried out by Love.

You are loved

and

you will come to Love you.

The Cry of the (White) Kids

Yesterday there was a 4th of July party at my parents house. I walked in the door, hugged my mom, and willingly exiled myself to the kids room. The kids table, outside with the kids after dinner, the whole deal.

I am 23 and I have been working with kids for 7 years.

When I was in Chile, who did I miss? Right: kids.

I do not have my own kids and I do not want my own kids.

However, it is clear that I like kids. I want to be around them. I do not like them because they are small and say random things and I can boss them around and sound smart while telling them historic or scientific facts that everyone who has any sort of middle school education knows. No, actually, I like them because I respect them. I feel that by being the only ones here brave enough to be vulnerable and ignorant and small, they earn my respect. When I am in a room with adults my interior screams: WHY DONT WE ALL STOP FAKING IT. When I am with kids, well, it gets quieter.

The most shocking cultural behavior that has impacted me this year during my re-entry has undeniably been the way people in the U.S.A. treat their children. White kids, in particular, get my attention because I have only ever been one, and I know exactly how it feels to be a sensitive creature at the other end of that repremand, that painted smile, that flippant laugh.

Interactions in restaurants, at the gym, in the neighborhood–anywhere!–have exposed me anew to the egoistical disrespect with which children are treated. We have got to stop! If we do not acknowledge our children as humans, and being a human as intrinsically good, how will we love this world back to life?

The lie of badness is daily hammered into children, in all spheres of our culture. Home. School. Play. Good Lord, no wonder we are killing each other! I almost do not blame us. Except for all of the goodness I have seen, and have learned to see. There is so much goodness & we are truly all intrinsically good, accepted, loved, and valued. This darkness cannot last long. Our souls were made to be free, if not as children, then as adults.

I wrote the following piece after witnessing a particularly harrowing parenting episode in a restaurant. Parenting truly must be difficult, but I know it is not impossible to hear the cry of our children. I know it is possible for each adult in the U.S.A. to welcome their the truth of their goodness home into their deepest selves that they may pass it on. That the cry for love may be heard, and may heal the generations to come.

The Cry of the White Kid is a cry for respect & love. May we, as adults, receive the love and respect that is freely poured out on us from the Divine, and may our children absorb it and thrive.

The Cry of the White Kid

Mom, Dad,

Please dont look me in the face and tell me that I am bad.

Please dont teach me to see the patterns of my shadows–I need you to teach me to see the light that will lead me into and through that darkness.

Please dont smile at your friends and tell them how bad I am while I have tears streaming down my face.

Please dont laugh at the way I swim or only point out my weaknesses.

Please assume that I am right where I should be, instead of stressing constantly that I am behind the others.

Please dont use me to puff up your ego or make your decisions or shield you from your emotions.

Please dont always point out my imperfections–I already see them in full color. I need you to show me my perfection. No one else ever will.

Love unconditionally and with all my respect,

Future You in the World

 

Amen,

Lydia Nomad, a white kid 🙂

 

P.S. Here is a Great Parenting Blog Post.

 

Tend-and-befriender

It is odd to tell a story as if it was a thing that happened and it has an end and tra la la. This story is a chapter, it is a leaf only recently flipped over, and I am not sure which parts of its’ green vines to write, and which to leave for later.

Yet today, here, now, all I have is cute little me and my inhospitable life story and path. Here, friends, is a part.

August 2015 I am in a restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama with my best friend Emily. She is chewing red and yellow tortilla chips in the magical way only she can, and I gaze at the shiny bottles of alcohol propped on and around the bar caddy-corner to us.

“I’m just afraid that I will marry him and go to be with him and then hate it and not want to be there,” I say. Emily and I do not talk about everything but we talk about most things and all the deep things, yet somehow there is a unique heaviness to the fear I share in this moment. Emily nods like the sane, level-headed being she is, and validates my concern with restraint.

Sadly, utter heaviness was no stranger to my experience of life then, and still maintains a fairly reliable presence (always forward, always healing, always hopeful). At that point I was back from an emotionally stressful overseas trip, and had returned with a new tend-and-befriender. What is that, you ask? Using language from Teresa B. Pasquale’s book Sacred Wounds, tend-and-befriend is a defense mechanism used by someone in survival mode or trauma response. It is associated with the bonding hormone, oxytocin, that serves humans by helping us feel connected to others. It becomes nefarious, however, when a person is stuck in a trauma response and feels dependent emotionally on (often potentially hurtful) people or communities.

At the age of 21, I had spent the majority of my life (read: every second) moving from a stress response. The emotional and religious trauma of my developmental years left me stuck in frozen distress (things can get reeeeeally hairy there is distress-arctica, let me tell ya), and there I was, about two months after the difficult trip, feeling a deep obligation to return to be with someone in a foreign country who had helped me through a VERY rough 13 days. I felt that I owed him something, and that to return and live the life I assumed he wanted from or with me was the undeniable right thing to do.

I felt it not on a spiritual level, nor on a level of dutifulness, nor on an intellectual level. It was deeper than those parts of me, and now I know that when I feel that deep, guttural obligation it is coming from my very evolution. Those stress responses are a part of me because I am a part of an evolving body of humanity; sounds beautiful, sure, but in that moment, I was very stuck. Living in this kind of stress response is like trying to breath with air that is only 0.09% oxygen. It is having your insides in the fetal position when you need them to open and flourish and say things and be responsive to people. It is a jack-hammer in your mind that leaves you vulnerable to re-experiencing the abuse combined with a sense of badness that stings and prods like horse flies on the beach. It is no sleep and avoidance of every love-light ray that comes near your personal darkness.

The religious trauma compounded with this process has continually led me to my knees, trying to bargain with push-and-pull gods off in the cosmos who made me, so must want me, but also must not want me since here I am in this turmoil again.

Thankfully, the kind man who helped me when I was overseas, lived, yes, overseas. After 5+ months in contact with him, I suddenly cut all conversation–text, calls, video. He offered advice and was kind and looking back I think he must have sensed the turmoil I was in though he did not understand it either, and I said goodbye.

January 2016 I am at my part-time cleaning job the day after cutting off the relationship and the air is back to 20% oxygen. Sweet, sweet clear oxygen filling my shriveled lungs. I lift my Pledge-covered rag over my head and dance; I feel elated, happy, for the first time in months. I am happy because I see that I am mine. As the jack-hammer lifts off my mind, I am thinking over and over: this is my life. I clean this house. This is my heart. I feel these things. The fetus my insides had become is suddenly a seed of new life, rather than a posture of protection. I am mine again, independent, and my muchness is slipping back into the ghost of myself that has been living misguided and drained for the past months.

I still wonder if people without an over-active stress response system feel that elated all the time. I wonder how many times I will have to survive a response like that again until my Holy Trinity (body, mind, soul) can look a stressful situation in the face and know that I am enough, and that it is going to be okay and I am going to make it regardless of what goes down.

I never should have accessed this place of stress and trauma. I certainly never should have gotten stuck in it for so long. But this is my life. MY super unique and immense life, people. I am grateful that I get to live it, know it, figure it out. This life is path and path is where my insides and outsides come together and I experience joy and love and laughter. Here, on path, I take the hands of my loved-ones with my own, even when I feel that my hands are not worthy to be inside of someone else’s.

Last week someone I love very much was angry and I could see the anger that she was trying to protect me from as I stroked her black hair.

I could see. I have lived. It has hurt. I can see.

Live free, live inside of the Big Love.

Namaste, nomads.

 

LN

 

 

 

 

Home That Never Was

How hard it has been to come back home and find that “home” never was, that here it has been horrible as ever,

that there the wounds were someone elses,

and that is why I could breath.

It was not that I changed so much (though I did), it was that the climate I found myself in shifted weight and I, broken daughter that I am, was able to let some off my heart.

My heavy, heavy heart.

I got back & I forgot. I forgot that I write because it gives me a glimpse of myself, not because it gives someone else a glimpse of me. I forgot that I am the only audience that matters, along with the ragged few who clap & dance outside the city, scarred scapegoats of the society that tore them apart. I forgot that you cannot trust your (heavy) heart to someone who does not know their own. I forgot that if you do not break the rules, they will break you. I forgot that to be at the bottom is to face your demons: that a culture that forces you there is Heaven disguised as Hell. I forgot that the elders of this “home” are not elders at all, but rather dragons disguised as guides who want to lure you into the lair where they have lain with their fat bellies resting on piles of gold pieces. Safe. Unhappy. Secure in their rabid insecurity. I forgot that what I got for me, it must absolutely be for me. I forgot that I am my own, that I was not bought with any price, but I have been given a life. I have been counted worthy of living, and the power and agency to create that life is in my hands. I forgot that nobody can give me permission to be who I am; others will lead me in circles, it is mine to cut my own labyrinth.

I forgot that nobody here is happy & that if I do not beware,

I too will fall into the cycle of unending unworthiness, searching frantically for what is already mine, scoffing at the happiness of others, if it seems they have found it.

It is not that I believe the beaches of Chile to be any more radiant than those of Florida, California, Alabama, or Maine. It is that I have found that to find my voice I must exist alongside others of my own kind, and I have seen that the wounds there are someone else’s. I have felt weight shift inside & it has renewed the hope that I have cultivated since I hid alone in the wilderness of my beginning.

This homecoming has brought me to the back lining of my belly, where my body protests the religious practices that leave my knees red & raw, my heart banished to the dungeon where, perhaps, it may learn to behave. There in the deepness of my sacred self I see that wisdom is crafted when culture declares you unfit, shifts awkwardly on its heels because you are breaking the rules.

Well.

Only those who the rules have failed, are free to make their own. The rules have failed me. Could it be that their failure is my freedom?

I learned that in brutal weakness, I am terrifically strong.

I learned that there are no allies, unless someone truly loves you, but even then, you must stand on your own or there will be no room for them to stand next to you.

I learned that intimacy is not something only to be lived through stories of an ancient Jewish teacher,

something that I write myself into & thus calm my heart. It is not something that the courage-less watch me long for from the dank towers of their minds, lofty, isolated from the dungeon of their hearts.

In other worlds, not this “home”,  I am not the only one with a heart, My yearning is not unique, it is universal, and there are other hearts that are interested in meeting me in the garden to play.

I know well how to garden my heart, nurturing my cactus-soul amidst the tumble weeds of “home” for 23 years has been the grueling training. This training brought me here, to myself, with the capacity to live unwatered, with a soft & delicious inside.

Perhaps now it is time to be a flower in the sun. A lizard sun-bathing in this flip-side of “home”, a place where the burden may lift off my heart as I see others with the courage to meet themselves in the garden, the place between their banished mind & their dungeoned heart.

In the powerful rhythm of Hope,

Lydia Nomad

What Spring Has Sprung

Truth is, I have spent some painful moments reflecting on the feeling of unbelonging that has plagued me since I arrived here on this Planet Mother, 23 (and some) years ago, as if it were a bad thing.

Now I see, the nomadic shape of my soul is what gives me my place here, and that the unbelonging is the Guide of my becoming. Yes!

 

Unbelonging Onward

 

Adults didn’t want me

I found children

 

Whites didn’t want me

I found blacks

 

Guys didn’t want me

I found girls

 

Insiders didn’t want me

I found internationals

 

America didn’t want me

I found Jamaica, México, Uganda, Puerto Rico, and Chile

 

Religion didn’t want me

so I found God.

 

 

Arise

Friends!

I find myself back in the United States, far north of Chile, and feeling closer to the North Star, my Jesus, my Guide to freedom. Home but not really home (I am a nomad, you see, a life time wanderer).

Below are three poems and 4 passages of Holy Scripture. Please embrace the figurative language of my pieces. I do not make attacks or write with intention of polarizing, I tell my story.

May you find your story in mine.

Lydia Nomad

 

Jesus: Does no one condemn you?

No, Master.

Jesus: Neither do I. Go on your way. From now on, dont sin.

 

My Experience of Being White

 

To be white is to be told you are bad

to believe you are bad

to know you are bad

to protect your badness

to project your badness.

 

To be white is to bleed the same color as the sunset

to die like leaves in autumn

to be crushed and ground into the earth

to provide nourishment for new life.

 

To be white is to live again though you have died.

 

Lord, if you will, make me clean.

Jesus: I will; be clean.

 

Life

My life is short

but I am very good

so its okay.

 

Jesus: Your sins are forgiven you. Rise and walk.

 

Gospel?

Your sins are forgiven” is enough to be Gospel

when its the closest youve come to You are good.

 

Then God looked over all (S)he had made, and (S)he saw that it was very good!