Are you doing the work?
In therapy, in Alcoholics Anonymous, in couples counseling, in tv shows (e.g., Project Runway), in yoga or other energy fields--all puns intended-- there is an idea of work. Personal work, deep work, intuitive work that keeps you alive and healthy, but more than that, work that makes you succeed and thrive and excel. It's work that asks tough to answer questions and the more honestly you answer the closer you get to the real work.
Who are you?
Why are you here?
What do you want?
I've always been a deep well. Clawing my way to the light (it gets dark down there). I started the work wherever I was. And it came in fits and starts, mini breakthrough, major meltdown, in waves until I committed to the work. I decided to be all in. Really, at this point in my life, what did I have to lose? I lost my marriage and family and had to rebuild another model of family. I lost my old self, that one that I could count on to be a total fun-ruining depressed shit, full of angst and woeisme bullshit, the self who felt entitled to something better because, after all, I am so exceptional, so special that this mundane pain is not something that I thought I needed to feel. I lost my ideas about parenting, my birth plan was flushed, placenta and all. I lost interest. And in all the losing, I found the greatest thing.
Here I am. Freshly burnt, emerging from the fire, expanding into the person that I've always been. It's so fucking strange when you realize that you've been here all along. I've been here inside waiting for me to drop all the shit. To embrace the mundane pain, to embrace and revel in it. To let it go. To let me out.
Are you doing the work?
I see patterns emerge. The more I see us, all of us, as being alike, the more I see our similarities, the more grateful I am. I used to think of myself as an outcast, an alien, someone so unlike anyone else, that I was truly, uniquely alone. What a sad idea for a young woman. When I looked up and saw that there were others like me, other uncertain mothers revolting against the mommy-cult, other women who struggle in everyday life with jobs and husbands and kids and wine, that gave me comfort. Maybe I am not alone.
Then once I started doing the work, I found more than similarities. We are the same. We are cut from the same cloth. We share the same air. We are one. What separates us? How are any of us truly different?
I'm trying to teach this to my daughter. Of course she is in a place where she wants to be different, special, and unique, and she is, of course, in my eyes the most special and wonderful child who has ever lived. I want her to know that she feels what all people feel. She thinks her own thoughts but others can think them too. That she is deeply a part of all of the wonder and stardust and living, breathing earth and air. That she is part of the fire and light from the sun. That she is as much a part of me as I am of her. That she will always have connection to all of this if she wants that, it's here, in her all along--that deeply grounding sense that you are not alone, but living in the midst of yourself at your most magnificent in each moment you feel alive, supported, connected. I am alive. You are alive.
Doing the work means that my center of gravity changed, again and again. That I spent years building up a sense of uniqueness because it gave me a wall of protection from emotional pain. If I was alone, no one could hurt me. If I was special, I was exempt from the pitfalls of life, I was different than everybody else. Now, I'm vulnerable, raw, open, exposed. I feel it all. I crave the feeling. I can't not feel.
I hurt and it is beautiful. I love and it is beautiful. I make mistakes and yell and fart and laugh and snort and it is so honest and so beautiful. I'm all in.
Now that I'm here, I feel so connected to you, to everyone. I feel us all as one heaving mass of life. Your pain is mine. Your splinter, is mine. Your laugh rings in my ears. I don't have to sympathize or empathize, because we are the same. You know what I know. I feel you. You feel me too. You do.