Can I Get a Witness?
The Power of Being Seen
Aspects of the work I do are profoundly intimate. It’s close enough that men have said, “I feel like we just made love” when clothes are never removed and women have said, “How could you know?” when I merely touch them and am flooded with every.thing because their body and psyche speak to me of the most profound pain.
I have my own. It’s rarely seen by others because I don’t trust others with mine own for any number of reasons, most bound in the effects of 18 years of consistent and profound physical and emotional abuse. Beyond ‘being seen but not heard’, I was taught that asking for help was bad-bad, that getting attention equated violence or, even worse, the opposite. But I’ve watched so many of those who come to me and are afraid to engage for similar reasons and another that I think must be addressed.
For those whose lives have developed around significant trauma, especially those have embarked on a speerachul or healing path, there is a lot of embedded angst when it comes to ego. “If I ask for help, it’s just my ego'”. “People will think it’s all about my ego if I tell my story.” God bless Siggy-baby, but sometimes I want to pull him back from the grave and say, “Fix this thing you created.” Somehow, somewhen, in this effort to ‘be better’, the conflation of a psychological and spiritual concepts meant to broaden the understanding of the human experience, have instead, created a way of deadening the human experience.
‘Ego’ is used as a negative descriptor, an addition to the ‘what’s not enough’ or it’s cousin, ‘what’s too much’ about us. Have you ever noticed that in all the spiritual talk that ego is associated with ugly, undesired, and to be transcended, destroyed rather than a thing beautiful to be nurtured when it hasn’t been or honored because it got you this far?
Common spiritual discussions of ego have created a legacy where aspects of identification, individuation, needs and ownership of gifts are seen as narcissistic assholishness. Those that have grown up into the idea that they are not worthy enough to be seen or valued or loved buy into that hook, line and sinker. The cycle it perpetuates in the healing process resembles a gerbil wheel of self-flagellation.
Earlier this week, I posted this on the Place of Face:
I’ve been mostly silent the past few weeks dealing with what has been described as Operation Shitstorm which began coming to a head Christmas Eve. Funny the things that trigger pain and the release from it, no? I landed here in Helena the second time this year in the middle of October and for the second time this year finally came to an all-stop; the kind of slamming of physical, mental, emotional and vehicular brakes that created a way for me to do for myself what I’ve done for others. It gave me the space to divorce myself from my family, breathe a little and hope that I’d maybe landed at home. In all, this has been the most shitty ten in my adult life. Worse than leaving a husband, worse than any bout of depression I’ve walked through. Eighteen years of consistent, repeated, profound physical and emotional abuse is coming to the fore with ferocity and profound purpose. All that I am witness for others, I am in the process of myself. I let the body remember and release the choking, hitting, kicking, burning, bruising, belittling,head-slamming, shaming, grief, rage, despair, fear, desire for death, emptiness, loneliness, invisibility, ignoring and the shame associated with all those things that were needed to survive them. I writhe on the floor, sink into the bed, freeze in the drivers seat; I sob, I scream even though I can’t open my mouth wide enough to scream loud enough, I mourn, I grieve, I know, I see, I feel–she and me–then and now, I choke on snot and rage and each cut away from hope, love, connection, longing, desire for life and love from the ones that brought me into the world. I stumble through the deep desire to be fucked six ways to Sunday so I can feel seen, so I can be flayed open and touched by love and desire and grace in those places where violence and its remnants have clung; so that in the spaces left behind in release can be filled with goodness and beauty and light and mercy and witnessed by all things holy. I roil in the shame of not being able to take care of myself now and liken it to how I felt then; not being able to ask for help but needing someone, anyone to ask the right question, see the bruise, the pain and offer succor and safety. I crave pretty and beauty–color, sound, breath, food, body, birds, bright, textures, tastes. I need freedom from the poverty that’s incongruous with the richness of gifts my Being brings. And I want it real. *ALL* real, none of this fake-ass, mannequin-like parading of meme-ified, GIF shit. I want it you to know that I’m reusing toilet paper, rationing thyroid meds, see through your bullshit in the same way I see through mine, don’t even know who the fuck I’m shouting “I LOVE YOU” to when it comes burbling out of my hearted voice. Don’t fucking ask me who I am *exactly* or tell me that I don’t know who I am because you want me to be something you think you know. Don’t feed me horseshit and get pissed when I don’t think it’s savory. And I lay it all out here as if revelation and witnessing of the pain and shame and fear and hope and betrayal and grief and desire for death and freedom relived again and again, you will see my real strength; the source of the courage; that inexplicable, incomparable *thing* that brings Beloveds across time back home into this body and sends me screaming “I LOVE YOU” into the places others fear to tread.
I didn’t especially post it because I wanted attention, though the attention I got soothed some aching-heart bits. I posted it because holding it all in any more is no longer an option for me. Living as a profoundly gifted healer whose gifts to are meant for larger audience also, in my opinion, means being open about the shitty bits, how I got here and what it means to others. Each time I share, someone else can relate and, perhaps, give themselves permission to share the scary, dirty, shame-laden bits that hold them hostage, too. It requires me to trust my own instincts and the loving-kind nature of others.
The former is easy-peasy. I live in a fashion that allows me to pivot directions within a breath as a I move through this world and the ether. The latter? Let’s just say I don’t do gracefully. Not only have I been taught to not ask for help because that is bad-bad: I’m expecting others to be responsible for me or I’m a whore. When I’ve received help in the past it’s been couched in a ‘why can’t you just be a productive citizen’ or a quid pro quo down the road that is soul-sucking at best or unethical at worst.
So, for me and many others, learning how to trust others is a struggle and requires the power of witnessing allows us to do so. When I say, “I see you” I mean I see all of you. The good, the fugly, the fandamtabulous, from whence they come and the future they are taking you to. I’m learning how to see those in myownfineself. I hope we can ride some of this together.