Haunting the halls of my own heart
I wrote this on 11/24/14, then promptly lost it somewhere in my computer.
Stumbled upon it today, a lifetime later (9/24/15), and I thought perhaps it was worth sharing.
Thank you for reading.
For the last several months I’ve been haunting the halls of my own mind in emotional torment. I became a stranger to myself, familiar (to myself) only in my sadness. I did not take the unraveling of a beautiful love story (aka: break up) very well. I closed myself off from the world - less the world outside,more from the lush interior world which I had spent so many years designing and decorating.
The halls of my heart were filled with trinkets and plans, artwork I’d begin one day, dreams I began but haven’t finished. All of these lovely treasures of my own heart, mind and soul lay neglected within me, as if shrouded in white sheets signifying to anyone who entered, “Nobody lives here anymore.”
I remember one of my Shaman teachers told me after a particularly deep healing session, “Do not abandon yourself.” She was emphatic in this. She delivered the words directly, sternly. I heard her, and I heard her clearly. I actually retained those words, and nothing else she said from that whole session. And that was maybe, 5 years ago?
While I heard her, I admit now that I didn’t really know what she had meant. I thought it sounded absurd. I mean, how could I abandon myself? WHY would I abandon myself? Of course I won’t abandon myself. Silly.
I still don’t know the why, but I’ve come to learn the how. Because, I did abandon myself.
Sure, I devoted myself to my art, plunged into an unmanageable work schedule that stretched somewhere between 70-100 hours in the studio and shoppe, every. single. week. For months.
I thought that meant I was still present. I mean, I was showing up! I was showing up every single day, no matter how dark, no matter how hopeless, no matter how I trembled in fear, in pain, in loneliness. I was still working, I was still making art. And it was meaningful art, coming from deep within. And I was enjoying it all - the best I could anyway. In fact, I completed 6 new pieces in that time, pieces that I’m proud of. Pieces that not only speak to me, but they speak to other people. So the time was not wasted.
I just wish I would’ve been more...present.
I now see that just because I showed up and committed myself to my art and my process, that did not mean I was present. In truth, I was doing it because I didn’t know what else to do. This breakup had caused a full war within me. It had caused every single unfinished love story I had ever experienced in my life, from the 4th grade crush on a boy named Jason, to the devastating divorce, and everything in between, to rise up and remind me, “Remember us? We’re still here. It’s always the same, Liz. There’s always someone prettier, smarter, more worthy of our affections and attentions. There’s always someone - else.”
Because that has been the thread of my love story. It seems there's always someone else. Never on my end, but on theirs. It’s been the hardest thing to understand and accept. That kind of repetitive pattern does a number on one’s psyche.
I had the disturbing revelation, just last week, that maybe the pattern was repeating itself because I was guilty of the very same crime. Me? Yes. Me. But it’s not what you think.
It occurred to me that maybe I had in fact chosen someone else as well, but my crime was much graver than theirs.
I chose them over me.
Every damn time.
I abandoned my own dreams and hopes, left them to rot under old white sheets, and filled the halls of my heart with ‘our dreams’. Mind you, they never asked this of me. Really, I think that ‘our dreams’ were still ‘my dreams’, just under the guise of sharing.
I don’t think I’ve ever been very good at sharing. While we’re at it, I’m not very good at asking or communicating, either. In fact, I remember one man who told me that he’d rather look at my art than listen to me talk. At the time, I took that as a horrible insult.
Years later, I was able to ask him about that comment, and his answer startled me. He said, “I wasn’t trying to be mean. What I meant was that it’s so much easier to know what you’re really thinking and feeling when I look at your work.” I was shocked. So it wasn’t an insult. It was an attempt at getting closer.
Now I know what he meant. Now, I can look back at those last pieces of art I’ve finished recently and suddenly I am closer to myself. I become present. I can imagine showing up physically, all of those days, countless hours. What is revealed to me is the longing, and the healing, and the transformations that were quietly taking place behind the scenes as she, I mean, I, made the work. Quite probably, had I been more present at the time, I would have gotten in the way of it all.
So this is how I feel, today. I’ve come to a place of acceptance and peace, and started to peek under those white sheets at all I loved and held dear.
I am remembering myself, remembering what I dreamed of.
I am pulling the dusty books off the shelf (literally and figuratively) and reclaiming those bits of me I left out, neglected to rot and decay. They might be a little worn, but they’re still there. The core of their truth is still intact. The ideas of art I have not yet made, ideas that the very thought of made my heart race in wild abandon, are all still there, unmade, just waiting. I have sketched out dozens of new pieces and several bodies of work, which have always been there, just waiting, until I was present once again.
I am present now.