Confessions of a Shadow

I didn’t used to be a shadow, you know. I was me. I was all of me. I ran the show because I was all there was…I thought. I learned everything I knew at the time from what I thought was an entire world full of people willing to bury me beneath the weight of their own wants and needs. My luck was poorer than, my circumstances harder than, my sadness greater than, and my anger and defensiveness so huge it could only be matched by my ego. My ego was an awesome trainer when it was just me (before I became a shadow). It helped me fight to be right, no matter what. I think I actually became a black belt in the hair-raising “Oh. No. You. Didn’t.” but I never really tested out to say for certain.

I think I must have become a shadow when I grew too tired to care who was right. When I realized, that if you have to ask someone to make room for you, then you really don’t need to be there~that spot is not for you. I noticed that I built walls to prevent myself from the hurt that comes from trying to build a bridge when the other person couldn’t care less if you succeed. Again, forcing something that shouldn’t be. Why is living and loving and caring for each other so difficult? Because we make it so. Okay, I won’t speak for you, because I make it so.

I was so exhausted, and began to long for peace. Not the fake stuff where I could walk around like “lalala” and the whole world was rainbows and butterflies and little birds helped me dress in the morning. (although that would be killer) No. I wanted the kind that no matter what happened all around me, there was a safe place I could hold myself steady through it all.

The more my heart cracked under the weight of the ridiculous perceptions I carried, the more light seeped in.  The more misguided notions I tossed aside, the more light poured in~and BAM~here I am, shadow extraordinaire.

It took me awhile to understand that all parts of us have something to teach us. Shadows are the powerful part of you that have much to teach you about what you need more of, or less of, in your life.  Shadows rise up to warn you, not to take over, so don’t let it happen. If I get into a repetitive  situation of negativity, and shadow rises up quickly to burn the perpetrator with the flame-thrower of self-righteousness, I pause. No kidding.  I’ve had to learn to hug it quickly to my heart, welcome its warning, pat it on the back and with a big smile say “step aside hon, overkill not needed, I have a spine now”. I may not create what people do to me, but I allow that to continue to exist or not.

There is no shadow without light, so I’m glad to know I exist now. I know my purpose is to speak the clear voice of truth as a warning, and a gauge of what is at this moment, so that who I am as a whole can maneuver the potholes and obstacles and correct the wrong turns on the path to peace.

Be smart. Don’t ignore your shadow as signs of being a bad or mean person. If you listen to her, she’ll calm down, and you’ll hear clearly what you need to attend to for your own well-being.

Because the shadow knows. (sorry couldn’t help it)

You Can’t Handle The Truth aka Kiss My Ass

Drop the masks for just a minute.  Quit pretending to be socially acceptable, to blend in, to accept the inevitable, to not be mad as hell that this is all there is. Because it’s not.

I’ve spent a lot of time today, between working and losing my marbles, thinking of how ridiculously difficult we make our lives. Complicated, yes, life is wonderfully complicated. We, however, make it RIDICULOUSLY difficult. Because we think we’re supposed to?? I’m not sure exactly where that plan comes from, but it is seriously bullshit.

It is an honor to be alive, a gift, a treasure. The way some of us tolerate misery in our lives is what I imagine being gut-shot in an old western movie, and being left to die slow-must feel like. Or maybe cutting off our own arm with the dull edge of a butter knife. Good grief and we perpetuate this way of living like it’s a religion.

Give me a break. Guess what? It’s not okay for somebody to treat you like the uni-bomber, or some lower form of life, or in any way at all less than themselves.  It’s not okay for anyone to demand an explanation for who you are when they haven’t invested any time in getting to know you. You do not have to defend the truths you believe, or explain your desire for knowledge to anyone else’s satisfaction but your own. You do not have to allow anyone to label you according to their own limited judgement, let those hideous things fall right off and move on.

Unless you are caring for a beloved child (which is an entirely different blog for later),  stop the madness. You don’t have to run yourself to death taking care of anyone else.  Like the stewardess (excuse me flight attendant) says~please put the mask on yourself first, so you can have the ability to then assist others.  For God’s sake.

Ladies and Gents,  you cannot possibly give anyone the best you have when you think you are not worthy of respect. When you don’t have self-respect. When your standards are not high enough to pick yourself up out of the shit others lay on you, you cannot elevate others to a new level of life.  To be able to reach your hand down and help someone else up~you’ve got to be standing up by your own power to begin with!

I am appalled at my own acceptance of less.  I am offended by my own lack of spine when it comes to treatment I obviously deem acceptable. I am so ready to kick someone’s ass when they treat a friend poorly, yet I swallow insulting and mean-spirited words and behavior…what? because I think I must?? Oh. Hell No.

I have seen emotional manipulation at its worst. I have experienced truth being turned into a farce of perception that is worthy of a reality show. I have felt intimidation at it’s highest levels.  I’m done.

The people who refuse to “sugar coat” the truth are asking for license to act like ass-hats, and talk to you like a mongrel dog. It is more than possible to speak the truth to someone with a grace that leaves them with their human dignity intact. It is possible to share your needs and hurts and confusion without shredding the self-esteem of another.

Unless, of course, that is your intention. Then, as I stated clearly in the last paragraph~you are an ass-hat, and need to be schooled in the art of being human.

And for the moment…that’s all I have to say about that.

I Know What Love Is…

This morning, as I was doing the Open Heart Meditation, I had my hands open receptively and was breathing in…out…in…out…and I felt a furry nose land in one hand and a crazy licking dog in the other…and I thought with a smile~ahhh, there’s love right there…my two goldens giving love to momma.

The amazing back story to this is that a few months ago, when I first started meditating, it SO pissed me off to hear a bothersome sound or be “interrupted” by my dogs. I mean, I’m trying to MEDITATE right? HOW ANNOYING!!  lol.

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Like many “going to church” Sundays when parents are yelling for kids to move along, or get ready, or get in the car, or whatever. Who we really are at the moment gets in the way of who we are trying to be. The interesting part of that is~we don’t have to try so hard. All we have to do is relax and let go.

I’ve had a VERY trying couple of days. There were a few times I was looking the old me right in the eyeballs, telling myself mentally to STAND DOWN. There is value, reason, facts and righteousness in that part of me, but no peace. No true north. No lay my head down and feel good about my behavior at night.

When I first started this journey, I PRETENDED to not be angry. Ha!! Ever tried that? It is stroke inducing, I can vouch for that. I looked very successful at what I was trying to do, but on the inside…I was a volcano waiting to erupt at any moment, or maybe an old building ready to implode on itself.

Now is better. Even on my bad days. Even when I see it coming on the horizon, I know it’s not worth it. It doesn’t keep me from feeling the strain, but my decision is made ahead of time, and my reactions~those I can live with as I go along the road I’m travelling now. No pretending. Just me and the real deal.

I know what love is. It’s not pretending and saying I love you while actions say get the hell out of my way. It’s feeling a furry nose in one hand, and a licking dog in the other, and smiling to yourself because “Ahhhh, here’s what love is, right here”. It’s actually BEING the spouse, partner, companion, friend. Actually pulling your weight, and giving support, and being the love someone needs instead of letting them carry your ass too many times. Let’s be who we say we are~no more pretending for the public.

I know what love is. It’s not the words, it’s the living of them.

Lessons In Discrimination

I consider myself a regular, middle-class, average white woman in America (although this is the first time I’ve actually stopped and tried to “classify” myself). I’m nice to people, they’re nice to me~I live in the mid-west where I think sometimes that everything is “overly” normal to boring. I have all kinds of friends, of different everything: old/young, rich/poor, church-going/not, and it is hard for me to think “different skin colors” because I just don’t think that way. I have friends from different countries and different religions and it really has never mattered to me.

I’ve seen horrible movies about racism and discrimination, and some of them I will never watch~because it makes me sick to my stomach and my heart. I always feel so sad and angry for the people who are punished or ostracized by the “regular” folks of the moment~BUT I really never had a stinking clue what even the smallest slice of that would feel like directed at me.

That is my intro~this is my life-lesson.

I was raised Lutheran, went to a parochial school until 8th grade, and quit going to church as soon as I got away from home on my own (as most of us do for a while). As time progressed, I became a student/seeker of all spiritual paths that I happened to come across because it interested me how similar the heart’s of these religions or churches were underneath the different rituals or practices.  Our Creator is at the center of it all. God is God no matter what name you call him.

I noticed that the people here and there who truly lived their lives as they believed God wanted them to operated from the same tuned in heart to others, kindness, compassion, lack of judgement etc…what they wore, or how they did their hair, or their rituals, or their days of worship were all vastly different at times, but if I shut my eyes and listened, their hearts were all tuned to the same frequency.

My story up to now has led to my interest in Buddhism. As I have with every other branch of worship or whatever you want to call it, I began studying on the internet, bought a few books, read a few magazines and asked questions of those more educated on the subject than I.

I went to check out a beautiful temple and it’s grounds several months back,  and decided to visit during one of their classes or teachings to see what it was like. The first time was interesting and made me a little nervous, but it was a professor instead of the regular teacher so we went back again Sunday to get the real experience so to speak.

It was so peaceful. The teaching was on a couple of verses from The Wheel of Sharp Weapons. I heard about compassion for others. Compassion so great and true that you are willing to go to the gates of hell to save just one. Even, only one. I heard about growing myself into the kind of person that has so much love and compassion that the very charisma of being such a person can disarm the cruelty and negativity in another simply with the true intention of attitude, expression, word, and heart. I heard about how hate is instilled artificially by the words or belief of another who also holds artificially installed hatred in their hearts. How can we hate people we don’t even know? A whole people? I don’t know the answer to that. I heard about programming myself with prayer and meditation to remove the power from the seeds in me I didn’t want to grow, and pour my attention on the seeds that needed to grow bigger, stronger, and more vibrant. I heard about stepping away from these prayers and meditations daily with a heart and mind of higher quality.

Seriously. Do you hear what I’m saying? I just re-read that last paragraph and I have to ask~who in God’s name would not want to be that person? At least strive to become more of that within themselves? Who would not want to learn how to love and accept themselves with all their bad seeds of anger, jealousy, judgement, flat-out meanness~and learn how to transform them into the compost of creating and growing the most beautiful person they could possibly be inside?

Thich Nhat Hanh says that if every single religion had one person who truly lived the heart of their religion, they would be practicing Buddhism. It is a practice of living in such a way that every religion of every name would be proud to claim and many do~under a different label. To me, Buddhism in practice is actually living the way you say you do when you go to church on Sunday. There’s not a person out there who doesn’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t have to choose or label myself a Buddhist. I don’t need a label at all. But it is nice to learn and practice a better way of living and loving where the rubber meets the road. In such a short time it has revived my faith and belief in God and what it means to have this awesome gift of living that we have for such a short time. It speaks to me and has helped me shed my disillusionment with “religion” and the trappings thereof, and the players of such.

After attending my second teaching (the Wheel teaching), someone close to me saw a book I had bought ~”Buddhism for Beginners”. I was asked if I was becoming a f*****g Buddhist or what? I was told I was obviously a seeker and severely confused. There was serious anger, aggression, a condescending and demeaning tone and attitude. My answers were “no”, “what’s the big deal here”, and “do you even know what Buddhism is?”.  The explanation of living as a more loving, kind, and compassionate person was ridiculed as me basically being a poser trying something new. (is that what learning is?). Then I was told to never f*****g talk about it again. (did I mention that I didn’t bring this topic up? I was asked.) So I was astounded and astonished by this whole scenario. I was so much struggling with this EPISODE that I had experienced that it wasn’t until I was driving to work this morning that I realized the entire event had been a tiny slice of full-blown discrimination and persecution. It was freaking awful. And I was so…overwhelmed by the meanness, judgement, and belittling that I did not know how to respond.

This kind of behavior has never been my reality. How can I actually know someone who would treat me like that? Even knowing me well? I have no idea what it must be like for ANYONE to put up with more than 60 seconds of this from anyone. I will not soon forget that feeling, or that knowledge.

Six months ago, my response to that kind of behavior towards me would have been so catastrophic that there would have been no healing from it. It would have been ugly, cold, and permanent. It would have been fire with fire. But I have learned a lot lately about dealing with anger in myself from the f*****g Buddhist studies I’ve been doing which brought back a verse I memorized in school from the Bible

Luke 6:45

A good man produces good out of the storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of his heart.

That enables me to feel compassion for both of us. It’s all a lesson.

Numbing The Soul

How do I numb thee? Let me count the ways…it could be smoking cigarettes to “mellow out” instead of addressing an issue, or person, who irritates me. Maybe it’s eating to much, and too wrong, to fill an emptiness of heart instead of healing it. Maybe it’s drinking one too many so I can pretend that what’s wrong doesn’t really bother me~just for one night. It can be spending too much, being addicted to excitement and unable to commit to reality, or becoming a workaholic because that’s where you really matter, and know your shit, right?

Everything we do, that is not experiencing the moment we’re in, is hiding from it, or running from it, or ignoring it completely. It’s a waste of time, of life.

So if I live my life too loud, too “in your face”, too aggressive~I’m not living my life, I’m at war with it, and everyone in it. I’m confrontational, arrogant, intimidating, and riding rough-shod over the emotions of others who don’t have my mad skills of manipulation. Half the people I meet may think I’m a big slice of awesome to look up to and the others can’t stand me and think me a witch (or a derivative of ). What I’m being is unreal and unkind~I’m defending my safe space.

On the other hand, if I live my life untouchable, invincible, and unable to be harmed or hurt by others~I’m not living my life~I’m suffocating it. I’m cold, unemotional, uncaring, and uninterested. I just want to be left alone because I’ve taught myself to really not give two shits about what’s happening around me. What I’m being is a ghost, a shadow.

Now being a trained professional in both these methods of living, I can tell you that at first there appears to be excellent selling points to both. Option A means I don’t take any shit from anyone ever. And very rarely will anyone push past my first line of defense~I make sure it’s not worth it.

Option B means that no matter what is happening around me~I am unshakable, I cannot be reached or harmed, the opinions or feelings of others matter not at all. I have rendered myself invincible~I’ve created my safe space. This of the two is the worst option, once you are here it is hard to WANT to get out of it.

The downside to creating a Fortress of Solitude is that when I turn the volume down on the bad things in my life that I don’t want to (or can’t seem to) fix, I also turn the volume down on my ability for joy, and love, and hope, and happiness. There’s only one volume button, and it controls it all. So it’s feel it all~ or not at all.

So, stepping away from this numbing is a very intricate and difficult thing. If I open myself up, and bad things happen, and someone is critical, or demeaning, or condescending, or cruel~there is a moment where I freeze. I have to breathe for a minute and the first step is to throw water on my inner witch. I cannot act or speak in anger. Then there’s the fine line to tread without going over into “screw that, I don’t care about you anyway”, so that it’s not hurting me anymore. Breathe.

Breathe, and realize we are all struggling, and that if someone doesn’t have the courage to jump off the merry-go-round of bullshit attitude and treatment, then who will stop the madness? How will we ever be whole and real and worn out from loving and being loved like the Velveteen Rabbit?

“When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” ~The Skin Horse