What happens when we resist our Truth?
The past several weeks I’ve been in a deep soul process. Well, to be more exact, I’ve been resisting a call to a deep soul process. Resisting, for me in this case, looks and feels a lot like depression. Very little felt good except the things I know always feel good to me: movement/dance and connection/community.
I stopped painting.
This was a mistake. By stopping painting I denied an essential part of myself, like cutting off an arm. Or my heart. I can get along without an arm but I need my heart.
So in these past many weeks as I actively resisted Painting, and the pain of not-painting grew to magnificence in proportion to my fear of the truths that dwell within Painting, I knew that Painting was but a metaphor.
Rather, the same fear or block within me that kept me from painting was the same fear or block that stood between me and what I’ve been calling my Bold New Life.
Bold New Life! Where everything is awesome…
All this past spring, my anticipation of Bold New Life grew. Every pair of donated tango shoes I sold on eBay that added to our moving-to-San-Diego fund, every box I packed, every mile we drove in a horrendously huge moving truck, was going to bring us closer to our Bold New Life.
I knew this in my bones.
I thought Bold New Life meant sunlight, and yummy community, and ocean, and contributing to the world in a meaningful way. Once we moved, I thought, I’d have these things.
We moved. And within weeks we were folded into yummy community. We live a mile from the ocean. Sunlight is everywhere.
Bold New Life was here, I thought, yet I was not happy.
I stopped painting. Painting scared the shit out of me. She demanded more of me, something deep and true that I was afraid I didn’t have or couldn’t give. The louder Painting clamored for my Deep and True, the farther I pushed her away.
What I REALLY want
For a long time now I’ve admired people with certain qualities. Vibrant. Authentic. Vulnerable.
You think I’m vulnerable and authentic? You should see the people I admire. I’m a hack compared to them. A fraud. Sure, I share. Publicly, and often. Fearlessly. But deep down I know I hold back. I hide things, ugly things, that I don’t want people to see about me. I share, but carefully. Calculatingly.
The holding back has been a heavy weight to carry.
In my imagination, the people I admire carry no such weight. They sing with life, their bodies humming with vibrancy. They are REAL. They let themselves stumble and even fall. They cry, they beat their fists upon the floor. They laugh at themselves and at life. Their aliveness and love for themselves and life ripples outward from them, touching lives and hearts.
Goddamn it. I want that. I want to be that. I am determined to be that.
That same REAL is what dwells within Painting. An artist paints her heart. Who cares what it looks like? All hearts are beautiful. Especially when open.
After weeks of depression and emotional pain, it was time to rip the bandaid off. I had to admit how I’ve kept some of my truth hidden — even from myself! — so I could start to open the cage I’d built around my heart.
Caged hearts are safe from hurt, but without light and wind and breath they wither and die.
You have to go to the places that scare you to get the gold
So I started to go to the places inside me that scare me. I leaned closer to them to hear their secrets. And then I did the really scary thing: I spoke them aloud to the person who most loves me and most wants to know all that is inside me and with whom I have the most to lose.
I spoke things I’d been convinced would make this man turn and run from me. I spoke my fears, my joys, my sadness, my anger.
He wants it all. All of me. This is intimacy, he says. See into me, into me see.
I jumped in, feet first. Into the intimacy sea.
Scary as fuck.
How do you feel, he says.
Lighter, I say. Lighter. More free. I think this is freedom.
Once the gate was unlocked, Painting stood at the fence. Waiting. Wanting. I felt her desire. All she wants is a voice. All I have to do is stand at my easel with a paintbrush. Painting does the rest. She sings.
Art is a greedy mistress. She wants all of me. Demands all of me, even the dark corners and ugly thoughts. Remember? All hearts are beautiful.
I have tasted freedom. The burden of hiding, of holding on to secrets, is lifted. So easy to go back though, to slip again into darkness, so I must stay vigilant.
Bold New Life isn’t a place or a thing. It can’t be bought or sold. It’s a way of being: raw, authentic, vulnerable, true, and complete. No holds barred. Bold New Life is all in.
My last big secret
Here’s a secret that’s no longer a secret:
I know that I will not completely heal from cancer unless and until I fully claim my Bold New Life.
This is the last big piece between me and all I’ve ever wanted.
Which means that this new-found freedom, from no longer hiding from myself or others, is mandatory for me. My life is on the line. I get to live a vibrant, love-filled life, but to claim it I have to fully show up. All of me. Even the parts I think are ugly and want to hide.
It’s scary. I will have to work for this, unlearning years of habitual pushing-away of deep truths. I will have to remind myself over and over what’s at stake. Some days it might not feel worth it — we are wired to avoid pain, and acknowledging truths can feel excruciatingly painful — and that’s when I will have to dig in and do the hard thing anyway.
I feel lucky. Many people don’t have the instant feedback system of a ticking time bomb of so-called terminal cancer inside them to help them stay on track to learn how to fully live in freedom. I do.
This freedom tastes good. Very good.