March 27, 2012
This weekend I went in search of understanding. I had been seeking context, transparency, connection. I needed to end the wall of silence. I hadn’t anticipated how profound silence can be, how it creates a safety net for everyone outside the fray. Because what you don’t know won’t hurt you, and when you find out the truth, you have no point of reference. “It’s unbelievable,” I was told, because why should it be believable when the people it happened to appear to be mentally incompetent.
To be believed, one must be credible. And it appears, I am not that person. For reasons that are finally starting to unfold. First and foremost and inescapably, there is the fact that I am female and I never allowed myself to understand what this means. I didn’t want to see what everyone else saw, that women were not credible because they are emotional.
But, we are not more emotional than men. It’s that many of us are not taught to hold back the expression of our feelings. Men are taught to “man up” and not allow their feelings to dictate their lives. And now I understand why. Allowing—even encouraging a woman—to be emotional, not teaching her this same kind of self control, allows her to go down the rabbit hole, which is to say, allows her to act out emotionally and discredit herself so that her truth is no longer believable.
It is not that women are crazy, it is that intense emotions destabilize. Not knowing how to control one’s feelings leads to extremes in thinking. Because in the heat of this toxic emotionality, we are forced to determine, How could it be like this? Without emotional restraint, logic becomes toxic, and it is used in the service of distorted perceptions.
I’d also like to add that in the face of female emotion, male emotionlessness is dangerous. Because for me, the lack of mirroring makes me more pained. I’m seeking some sort of understanding, some feeling that I am not alone in what I feel, but seeing the blank and controlled face only make it worse. Without compassion or empathy, my emotions go haywire. And so it is that now I am labeled “dramatic” when I don’t feel that I am the source of drama.
Energy is a virus, and it travels from one person to the next. Even repressed energy travels, because it gets subverted into something else. Energy can only be expressed or not expressed. And now I see that I have only one setting: at the highest volume because no one was listening, so I screamed louder. And it’s not that I want to be this person, it’s that this has been going on for so damn long, me crying out, This is wrong. But I couldn’t find a way out of the situation, mostly because what seven year old can live on their own.
And in staying, or rather, in not having a choice but to stay in a dangerous place, I found myself forced to adopt, to co-opt, to copy and recreate the patterns I was being shown, and damn if they didn’t destroy my brain. For years I had it that my father was a monster, because he acted out his rage exclusively on two little girls. It was impossible for me to see how my mother was facilitating this, that she was sacrificing her children to appease his rage. But it’s actually worse than this. She has been allowing him to act out her rage, thus forcing him into a corner and making him sick. In my family, it has always been this: two sick children, one sick man, and one innocent woman holding everything together. She, oh, she is such a martyr.
I didn’t understand how she was orchestrating everything. How she kept this system going, watching it break down until no one in the family had a relationship to anyone but her. She was the only one who was loved, and that’s the family she needed to have—because she needs co-dependency like a junkie needs a fix. But in her mind, she’s the savior. Without her, it would all fall apart. She’s like that guy who sets the fire, so that he can put it out and be a hero. And if you asked her, she would give you all kinds of false clinical terms to explain how everyone around her was sick, while she was totally put upon, sacrificing so much in her life to save everyone else. Because she is a victim. This is her only identity. And a victim victimizes with their need to be needed.
But where did this begin? What happened in her house growing up? I will never know. She never speaks about her family. Though a few small things have slipped out and when I put it together, I see she is just like her mother. Because she had to learn this from somewhere. And though I have my suspicions, they never will be confirmed. But that’s okay, I don’t need to know why she does what she does. I only need to determine how much damage it has caused.
And how to fix it.
Though, you cannot treat the symptom, you have to diagnose the problem. And that’s the treacherous thing, I am not only channeling my father’s rage, in horribly unexpressed ways. I am also channeling this mind fuck. This mind fuck that I cannot get a grip on, because it slips through my grasp.
I am discovering how hard it is for me to be honest. No matter how much I acknowledge, there are layers of half-truths and lies of omission clouding my understanding, all grouped around this desperate need to be accepted. This need for acceptance is too damn deep. It starts with the understanding that family is the most dangerous thing, and that your home is the most unsafe place on earth. And you can’t understand why it is that all of this is happening. So you make the leap. It must be me. I am what is wrong. And then you make the next leap to, It would be easier for me if I have never been born. And it is true, it would have been easier, but it takes a long time to come to terms with the fact that no life is easy.
But all of these thoughts create the foundation of your identity at the age of seven, and all you want is a place where you will be safe. But you don’t get that. You are isolated. Everyone in the house has turned against you. And they have no connections. There are no moral teachings because religion has been rejected. There is no community, because there is no family. You are not only isolated in your home, you are isolated from your relatives. You are told horrible and hateful things about each and every one of them. By her, your mother, the master of divide and conquer.
Damn, I am writing in the second person again because I can’t stand to acknowledge that this is where I come from. So yea, here I am, growing up unsafe everywhere I go. Because the abuse that was happening at home is now occurring in school. I hadn’t understood that I was acting aggressively to every boy I met, because I was in such deep terror that I couldn’t trust anyone who was male. But I was, and so it played out. By the time I was seven, I was the ugly girl.
I got into fights, I was always fighting. This only made me uglier, but I couldn’t see that. I was just defending myself. Even though chances are good, I had started the problem, because I was the one recreating the dynamic in my house on a public stage. Of course to all of these problems, my mother paid no mind. Her task was to make me uglier and she gave it her all.
Thing is, and I feel like I could go on and on, all I have ever been doing is acting out her mind fuck. She has single-handedly ensured the end of her lineage, and this goes against Nature, but that’s what in keeping with the person she is. I’m starting to understand that she has projected such a profound level of self hatred upon me that I am mired in lies and deceptions and manipulations that I cannot see until it is too late. Until I have hurt someone I care about, righteously thinking I am entitled to act as I do, just like she does.
But the difference is, when I see someone else’s pain, I check myself. I have to ask, How did it come to this? Once again, this situation has occurred and what I realized was, my anger is treacherous. Because it has now become so underground that I don’t feel it anymore. I deny my anger in such a powerful way that it comes out just as hers came out, in other people’s pain. I’m so fucked up by my anger that I can’t even feel it anymore. I can only know it is taking place because I see the person I hurt and think, What the fuck did I do?
March 26, 2012
March 26, 2012
March 26, 2012
Eddie Brannan introduced me to Ellen Jong back in 2005. He told me she had a book she wanted to publish and would I be interested? Ohmagosh. Yeaa! With that introduction a beautiful friendship began, and I must say, rare is the person with whom I have collaborated that I can say holds such a shining place in my heart.
I have long been a champion of Miss Jong, and she of me. As we drew closer, I could see so many parallels between our lives. We have taken different paths, but we are going in the same direction. And once again our paths align, as she brings The Invisible Line to life this June at Allegra La Viola Gallery in New York.
As we talked, The Invisible Line began to make itself felt. It is the same line I have been crossing, though I call it the fire I walk through. The premise is elegant and essential to life. It is that we must cross the line cast by fear in order to grow, to live, to thrive. Life need not be mere survival. Life can be more than you ever dreamed, because every moment we are here, we create possibility.
I know this to be true, having lived so many lives by this time it is hard to imagine that still, I am young. I know this to be true because things I never imagined possible have become. The people I have known, have connected with, the unexpected being the constant, the dream becoming reality. This could only happen by facing fear with a big golden smile upon my face. And I now know facing fear is to take it on wherever the invisible line appears.
A common fear among artists is the fear of creation. I have been thinking of this lately, about how so many people never allow themselves to express the divine energy that is their birthright. The reasons (excuses) for this are numerous, but they hold no weight. They are chimeras, illusions, shadows of the fake.
One common fear is money. Who has it? Where will it come from? How to finance? How how ask? How to manifest our purpose with or without it?
Amazing that a piece of paper could hold such sway, but we will empower it to disempower us, unless we learn a better way. Kickstarter is one such way. It shows how technology can be used for the greater good. It provides the platform upon which we can introduce our dreams to the world. And here we can ask, without the residue of shame. Because why should there be shame in creating community among those who love and support creative energy?
I believe one must always put their money where their mouth is. I have poured money into people into whom I believe, never asking in return for anything, because that would be cheap. I am hypersensitized to cheapness and greed. I have seen it in my own character and it was the first vice I sought to erase. And so I began, supporting artists. Because this is America, a capitalist society. I believe we vote with our money, and where we put it can help other people thrive. And there is nothing greater than to be among the flourishing, to feel the energy that comes from being a part of something bigger than yourself, of supporting the provocative, the beautiful, the compelling, all that which is original thought.
Those who say nothing is original are those who have quit their own lives. Everything is original. Every moment we are on this earth is unlike any other, and in these moments, we create ourselves anew. And in order to do this, we must cross The Invisible Line.
March 26, 2012
Revulsion is a red flag. It’s Nature’s alarm system. It’s the way of letting us know we must avoid in the interest of self-preservation. But what if your system was overloaded, fuses tripped and never fixed. What if your system was rewired, and that which was repulsive became compulsive, because you thought, if only it could be fixed…
Pure pathology, this attraction to disgust. This constant back and forth, fix it, leave it, fix it, destroy it, ad nauseum. This is the essence of pain, the inability to let go. The desire to run away, to return, to push, to pull, to fight, to scratch, to kiss, to love, to never know. Not until it is finally over and then it is understood. All that was ever needed was, none of the above.
From the beginning, it was No. And No meant Yes. So Yes became sickening. And then it became a matter of time before it all fell apart. But there was always a greater purpose, and the purpose was to destroy the entire system without destroying myself.
I couldn’t see the system, though I could feel its effect. I couldn’t understand the pattern, though I could reap its punishment. It was so damn deep, I had to go all the way in. To the darkest recesses of my mind, to the things I had buried and tried to forget. All that was repressed was controlling my life. All that terrified was that which guided my ship. Into rocks, over waterfalls. Always, always I remember Mr. Brown saying “Go with the flow,” and I would bristle at the thought of letting go because all I could see ahead of me were rocks.
Were the rocks ever there, or did I put them there because that’s all I knew? Did I set myself up for failure because that’s what I had been taught how to do? I am learning that the essence of trust is faith in myself. No matter what. Aint no such thing as failure. Or success. Only faith and doubt. I feel which one is happiness. And that is enough.
Everything had been doubt, because everything had been undercut. There are people who believe in No. I had been one of them. No was all I had to protect myself from what was happening. No. Make it stop. No. I don’t deserve this. No. This is wrong. No. I didn’t do anything.
But somehow No came to mean Yes. And everything that was negative held my fascination. Misery and shame and violation. The darkest hearts shone bright. The most painful lives magnetized. These were my people, or so I believed. They want to heal. No, they don’t.
The principle of No is absolute. It denies all possibility. It denies life itself. Which does not mean, unfortunately, that it does not reproduce. It introduces innocent life to the principle of No, creating a new recruit. An army of anger that finds itself in need of a purpose. How to destroy—from within, or from without, or both at the same time.
The greatest practitioners of No are the criminal class. They take what is not their own, and they do it with a sense of entitlement. This is said without judgment. They were set up as much as I had been. And by criminals, I do not mean the incarcerated. Plenty of people live with spotless records, their crimes known only to themselves and their victims. Plenty of crimes are not criminal; they are not on the books. But the lines were crossed, in fear and anger and entitlement, and the damage is real.
Perhaps the greatest sin of No is the silence it requires of its army. The silence that is so profound that most people cannot speak it to themselves. It has taken me two years to go through this, from the first time I opened that door to the darkness that lay deep. Two years of stripping everything away, and of realizing that in doing so, relationships were at stake.
For it was only in my silence that certain people would accept me. And after all that rejection and abuse and neglect, it finally dawned upon me. The nature of the mammal is community. To be isolated from the group goes against our biology. And if the group is bound by the power of No, then there is no divergent speech allowed, because to speak against No would destroy the system from within.
Many people will live and die in No, and that is their right. Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord (that is, karma), I remind myself every single time. But for the innocent whose lives they destroy, to this I do bare witness. With my voice, I finally speak. In speaking my truth, I have lost so much, but I never lost anyone who loved me, and that is what is magnificent. To know that all who have fallen away never loved me no longer hurts. It feels like freedom, true freedom, from the need I had to do anything to prove I was worthy of what could and would never be given.
Freedom was an assumption, until it was an Ideal. And until it became as such, I couldn’t see that I was a slave. I bristled at that word because I went willingly. That’s the thing about indoctrination, it leads you to confuse free will with freedom, It makes you think that because you have been put upon a path that the choices you make are yours. But the real choice is the path: did you choose it or was it chosen for you?
Of this, be absolutely sure.
March 26, 2012
Work without doing.
Taste the tasteless.
Magnify the small, increase the few.
Reward bitterness with care.
See simplicity in the complicated.
Achieve greatness in little things.
In the universe the difficult things are done as if they are easy.
In the universe great acts are made up of small deeds.
The sage does not attempt anything very big,
And thus achieved greatness.
Easy promises make for little trust.
Taking things lightly results in great difficulty.
Because the sage always confronts difficulties,
He never experiences them.
—Tao Te Ching
March 25, 2012
you are here and so am i
and maybe millions of people go by
March 25, 2012
He is half dead. Numb. Cold as the body drained of warming blood. Anesthesia is amnesia, blotting out what remains. All a convenient form of forgetting what “possibility” means.
He has motions to go through, wheels to spin, feelings to avoid, conscience to ignore. History to revise. Victim to become. Life squandered. Love spurned. If only it didn’t hurt. But it does.
It is all pain. Intolerable. Walls so high, they block out the sun. Cold as stone. Just as numb. Immovable. Stuck. Given up. It’s too late, he says, hoping to make it so.
Detached. Abandoned. Disillusioned. Lies become truth. Truth is shunned. Excuses. Always excuses. Flimsy as tissue paper and full of… Cannot tell that smell is him. Rotting away, from the inside out. All that remains is a shell, an echo, resounding pounding, deaf to all, the hollow sound of an empty life.
Soul frozen, trapped, til death do they part. Voice silenced. Lies roll off his tongue. One after another. He believes. That makes it so. God have mercy. He does not know. No love. Just control. This is his comfort. His safety net. Fuck the Word. I mean.. Fuck the World.
Heard that one?
He shuts his eyes. He does not listen. Everything is always NO. He will not speak. He won’t release. Explode. Implode. Never change. It’s all the same. He is already dead. Like everyone else. Let it end here, this ancestral curse.
March 25, 2012
“So this is like a midlife crisis,” Mr. Brown said last week, as we sat in the park, me clouded with tears, in search of understanding of so many things. I had been in doubt. Without faith. Our connection had be tight, broken, deep, shaken, severed, stirred. What was it, is it, could it be? He did not tell me, but he would be here for me when I needed him to be.
And really, is there anything more than that? To my heart, there is nothing greater than face to face. Even, or especially, if it is awkward fumbling, voice shaking vulnerability, chaos seeking peace, the search for what is real.
So he asked me.
when a caterpillar creates a cocoon
and emerges as a butterfly.
you’re a middle-aged butterfly?
I wrote this phrase, midlife chrysalis, six months ago this week. No idea where it would take me. None at all. Aspirational, yes. I knew I had to end the curse. But how to do that? Fall in love. Fall on my face. Find my voice. Set it free. Let go. Of everything. Come full circle, pass Go, begin again.
It has been a week, maybe two. Cocoon is opening. And I emerge. Tiger stripes on my wings. Nothing is as it was, but it echoes, a song I know but have never heard.
March 23, 2012
The Seven of Swords sometimes represents the “lone-wolf” style—
the desire to run lone and free. He discovers, investigates and solves
every problem using only his own wits and resources.
He believes he’s successful because he ignores
the fumbling efforts of ordinary people.
The Seven of Swords can be a sign that you or someone else
wants to be a lone wolf. You feel that you will be more effective
and comfortable on your own. This approach is useful when you need
to bypass an ineffectual group or assert your independence,
but it can also be troubling. We cannot be happy and productive for long
without some commitment to others. If you feel inclined to act alone,
be sure this isolation is really working for you.
Sometimes the Seven of Swords means that you are running from something
—commitment, responsibility, hard work, love. You may be procrastinating,
letting problems slip because you don’t want to deal with them.
Sometimes we just have to face what has to be faced.
The Seven of Swords lets you know when you might be making things
worse for yourself and others by running away.
The Seven of Swords can also indicate a hidden dishonor—
a choice you or another has made that does not do justice to the highest.
We all make wrong choices that we want to hide.
Some of these are minor, some serious.
Your inner voice will tell you when this is happening.
When you see the Seven of Swords, take a good look at what you’re doing
because hidden dishonors will eat away at your happiness and self-respect.