Thursday, July 26, 2012

Embracing Your Voice

Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong. ~ Peter T. Mcintyre

Lately, whether it's my good friends going through some tough things or it's myself, the common denominator has been "trusting that inner voice."

Dipping into the personal realm for a second, as people know from following past blogs, there have been quite a few times in my history I have not trusted my inner voice or used my actual one. I've allowed things to happen that I wasn't OK with, that were violating or abusive. I freeze.

I freeze a lot.

Whether it was that time at 13 with that kid on my bus, whether it was that time, when I was 18, at that party ... or whether it was the things I allowed in the recent years. I keep asking myself why? Why do I ignore my intuition, why do I smother my voice and hand over all my power? Am I really a masochist? And why does this happen most often with men?

I'm working on the answers. I've been working on them, with help. And I'll get to the bottom of it eventually. I know enough by now to know it has a lot to do with self doubt, self worth, a victim complex perhaps.

I've made bad judgment calls in the past (like most people do at one time or another). But I punish myself for them. I convince myself that if I messed up before, how will I "know" not to mess up again? I let those prior mistakes or bad judgements and other people's opinions rule my judgments and my decisions. Well, I used to anyway. I'm trying to stop that more and more these days.

But lately, some of my friends have also struggled with holding their own, expressing their emotions, not letting others make them doubt themselves or withhold their inner voice. Like I've been trying to do for myself, I tell them to trust what they feel inside. Because a lot of times, it really IS all there. So often we don't self monitor our own responses to things, atmospheres, situations, people. Or we try to rationalize them.

For me, it's often the latter. But either way, I've been trying more and more to pay attention to what my intuition tells me. Doesn't mean I always choose to listen or I always quite understand it. But eventually, I'm almost always forced to.

However, I was told recently, progress is not a linear endeavor. You move forward a bit, you move to the side sometimes, you may take a step back here and there and then move forward again, but it's always in motion. And it comes back to whether or not you WANT to change and make progress and get to the root of things.

Growth is a passion of mine. It may be the hardest thing to do sometimes, to face things and grow from them, to peel back the layers of yourself, to be exposed and vulnerable, but along with making meaningful connections, it's what both fuels and terrifies me — the desire to learn and grow and expand, experience, make mistakes, fall down, get back up. 

I'm very proud of my friends. They are growing and facing things, too. I feel like we're swaying to the movement of each other. We are learning to trust ourselves and not always look to others for the answers or affirmation. Everyone has motives, some of them are as benign as wanting to help, while others may be selfishly driven ... or somewhere in between. As my friend once said, always consider the source and take advice with a grain of salt.

There's a Walt Whitman quote I'm reminded of: Re-examine all you have been told ... Dismiss what insults your soul.

Yet, despite the progress I am making, it does sometimes feel like it's at the pace of molasses. But as I try to keep in mind, I can't change behaviors or self defenses I've been using for 16, 17 years of my life overnight. And I'm not gonna lie, I still freeze sometimes. I still lose myself for a moment and feel like a little girl again, with stifled vocal chords, uncertain motives and perceptions.

However, it ties back into trust. And as I continue to trust myself, to look within myself for the answers and guidance as well as in the connections and signs around me, I will continue to grow and learn and take another step forward.

And so will my friends <3


Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Idea of Settling

“Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe and not what others believe.”~ Barbara De Angelis

I've been thinking about the idea of "settling" lately. What does it mean? I suppose it could mean different things to different people. I've written a couple short stories here in the past that touch on it (The DoorWoman In Red).

To me, it's not a simple notion at all. In fact, I think it has many layers depending on the context. I can't speak for all of you, but I would venture to say everyone, at one point in their lives, in one area or another, has settled. By this, I mean, chosen to remain in something (i.e. job, current living situation, group of friends) or with someone either for convenience, comfort, complacency ... perhaps because it "works" and therefore why mess with it?

I think we all have our reasons for why we do this. And quite frankly, I think sometimes, settling really does have its place, at least for a time. But I'm realizing more and more as I get older, especially during these years of self growth and discovery, that I'm just not built to settle in much of anything that is less than what I believe in, what I'm striving for, yearning for, breathing for. I refuse to do it. That ship has already sailed to be honest. Will I regret that one day? Perhaps. After all, I'm on this ambiguous trip just like everyone else. But my truest of true instincts and intuition tells me I won't.

However, there are people who do settle (whether in their jobs, relationships, lifestyles) and are miserable in so many ways -- some which have yet to present or manifest themselves. But there are also people who settle and own it. Or they settle in one area to flourish in another, sacrifice one part of themselves for the sake of another. I've done that myself. I can't disrespect that. In fact, in all honesty, I have my moments where I envy them that. Because while it has its shortcomings, it does carry with it that comfort and security that I have not felt in a long time.

However, I believe I can find those things within myself. And the more I'm growing and expanding my horizons, the more I'm letting people in or putting myself out there, trying new things, meeting new people or reengaging in or discovering new aspects of myself, the more I'm finding comfort and security in myself and who I see when I look in the mirror.

That said, I do have days where I struggle with the notion I may be just too damn picky ... or perhaps my scars run so deep, they inhibit me from being happy with what's in front of me. I don't know. All I do know is, when I push my mind aside and just allow myself to feel, that feeling has always told me to keep searching. Before, I would "wait" for this something or someone in idle. Thinking if I'm just patient enough, it will come to me.

But I now know that's not how it works. I have to keep searching for my place in this world and living and trying and healing. I have to keep slowly opening myself back up to the world after having put everything on lockdown for so long in order to "protect" myself from feeling the pain and anguish that -- at one time not too long ago -- was all I curled up with at night.

But the search itself is still petrifying. It's akin to feeling my way through darkened tunnels, cloaked in shadows and mist, utterly unaware of what or who I'll encounter. However, through a different looking glass, it's also an adventure, a challenge to trust my other senses and instincts. And as I've been opening back up and letting people in again, I've been learning so much more about myself, what I want in life, what I like, what I don't, what I will never tolerate again, what I can live with, what I can't live without ... all of it. And while I'm still terrified of getting hurt, making mistakes, getting taken advantage of, losing myself, etc. I realize I'm a lot stronger now than I ever was before with a lot more muscle at my disposal.

So, I guess my point is, despite having moments where I wish I could just suspend that voice inside of me that -- throughout my life -- has constantly whispered, "Keep looking and you'll find it," I am more grateful for it now than I have been in a long time. It's what guides me on the rough days and it's what inspires me on the good ones.

Only now, I'm determined to actually get out there and find it.

I believe -- and fear -- I may be as ready as I'll ever be.