Integration & Afterthoughts 3: Emotional Expression

Hi cuties! Wow, it’s late right now, but it’s been a rough few days and I finally just felt a surge of relief and lightness after a lot of crying, and I think I want to seize the inspiration to write while it’s here.

LIFE CONTINUING after Ayahuasca… Where did I leave off last time? How has so much time passed already? Time is FLYING. My life is so many things right now, and it overwhelms me sometimes. I feel I am witnessing both an expansion and a collapse within myself. I feel awareness of the oppositions that exist inside of me, the tension between my controlling, logical mind, and my spontaneous, free, hedonistic self. So much of life is the art of finding the right balance, isn’t it? You really can’t control it all, because the uncontrollable self wells up within you and that energy builds and builds, needing an outlet… and at least in my case, it finds expression in unhealthy and self-destructive ways when it has no other option. I think that’s what my binge-eating is, is a spontaneous, unstoppable upwelling of the repressed self.

Maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself into abstract-land. I’ve just accidentally ended up deep in some of the darker caves of my reality the past few weeks. I want to communicate some of the process there in a way that is honest and maybe in a way that makes sense to others. But these are things that we have to talk about in a sideways way, through metaphor and poetry and emotional language, because it’s all so subjective, isn’t it?

I have to admit I stopped myself before diving into the meat of this post, and just have to address something my mind is nagging me about. My blog posts have often heavily featured my emotional process, and one of my readers checked in with me to ask if I was okay after they read my last post. It made me feel a little self-conscious – do people read these things and pity me? Do I seem crazy? Am I more emotional than other people? But then, I’ve also received feedback from people who appreciate my honesty, people going through their own process of self-discovery who resonate with my process. All to say… it is what it is, I’m just putting it out here, why not be open and share? What do I have to lose? I’m trying to be spiritually tuned-in and express myself honestly in this lifetime. I’m trying to be better every day. I’m trying to create peace, love, harmony, authenticity, self-expression, self-acceptance, forgiveness, and joy in this world. I believe that journey starts with your relationship with yourself. So, that’s what I work on! And that’s why I’m here, in part, to share what happens along the way and maybe connect with others. And shoot, if I’m more emotional than other people, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think it makes my life richer and sharper. I think we all have feelings and they are meant to be felt, scary as that is.

Okay, disclaimer over. Probably unnecessary. Whatever.

Life has been very challenging for me the past week. Last weekend I had my first jiu jitsu competition (woohoo!), and I actually totally killed it and won all my matches. So that was amazing, really a spectacular day and experience… I felt so much camaraderie with the people from my gym, gratitude towards the people coaching and helping me… and so much fatigue! What a long day! But seriously, wow, it was awesome and I feel so blessed. Ah, how wonderful.

Then… (dun dun dun…) three days later, I was rolling with someone after a jiu jitsu class and out of nowhere hurt my left shoulder, potentially kind of badly. I’ve been nursing a recurring injury/aggravation on my right shoulder for some time and that by itself has been making me feel concerned and cautious about jiu jitsu and fighting… but now my left one too! It really shocked me, and I felt totally helpless and defeated by it. I just cried for a long time after it happened. The way it was hurt felt exactly like the initial injury to my right shoulder, which has bothered me on and off for SIX YEARS now.

After some crying and freaking out a little bit, I found that part of me was surprisingly at peace with it, and in a certain kind of good humor… like, I really have no choice but to accept this. And maybe I can be in denial about one shoulder injury, but two? That really grabs my attention. That’s something I have to be honest about and take care of. So nice move, body. I don’t know what the message is exactly, but you’ve got my attention. I’ve been taking it easy over the past week. I don’t know what my next move is. Physical therapy? Deep tissue massage? Rolfing? Acupuncture? More crying? (There’s already been a lot of crying.) Ideas?

Another totally different thing going on in my life: I’m applying to some summer software engineering internships in Durham. Not very aggressively… but I’m interested/invested enough to be nervous and stressed about it. Last week I scheduled an interview for this coming Wednesday, and as it approaches I think my mental energy about it has just become more intense. Like, I’ve never done this before, so I’m scared and nervous. I’m trying not to think too much about it because I don’t want to let the fear monster feed too much, but I also want to put time in to prepare, in a level-headed way. That’s also something the fear monster can feed on though, as well as the self-judgment monster, which gets really stressed about me “not doing enough” and doesn’t know how to chill out.

I’m also a bartender now, which is definitely exciting and awesome, but also new and a little stressful while I’m learning and figuring things out. So while I’m trying to move forward in some parts of my life, like potentially towards an internship in the tech world, some days I work double shifts in a restaurant. If you’ve never done that before, it’s just a different kind of crazy. It’s awesome, but it can be stressful, intense, and generally demanding of your physical and emotional energy. When I get off from a day like that, it’s a rare occurrence that I feel motivated and fresh to come home and do some coding practice or job applications. But the self-judgment monster will be saying that’s what I should do, and that I’m bad for not doing it. And my controlling self will be trying to impose its will on my free-flowing self but lacking its full energy and willpower, leaving me in a confused mental state where I’m one-foot-in on both sides of my being, and susceptible to uncontrolled outbursts from the subdued and repressed parts of myself. I have to say I spend a lot of time in that kind of mental conflict, and I really want to work my way into a more peaceful way of being with myself, because it sucks a lot. Didn’t I write last time about perfectionism? No, I just checked, I didn’t. We’ll save that for a future post. But this is perfectionism in action, folks. Not pretty or peaceful, or effective! Boo perfectionism!

It’s been so intense lately in general… yeesh. But I think what I wanted to say with this post is that when that happens, when there’s a buildup of energy… the best thing for me has been expressing it honestly to people I love and trust. It’s scary and vulnerable to do that, but it actually makes me feel seen and accepted, and it makes me feel a million times lighter! I just spent like 20 minutes of a phone call with Mathew crying about my shoulders and how hard life can be. Just crying and crying and crying. Yesterday was one of the worst days ever, for no good reason. I just couldn’t get myself in a good place mentally. It was so much conflict inside myself, so much energy and stuckness simultaneously, so much self-judgment and frustration, and I felt that energy inside myself that I fear, the energy that sometimes manifests as self-destruction in the form of binge-eating or binge-internet-surfing or other mindless distracting things… bleh! The only good that I was able to make of that situation inside myself was talking about it to a friend and then getting tired and going to bed early.

Friday night I had a really good process, following one of those uncomfortable energetic states. I just took a risk with a friend and tried to put words to some discomfort I felt inside myself… and they were so, so sweet and understanding, and a big heavy weight was lifted from my shoulders, and I felt closer to them and to myself afterwards.

What I think I’m learning is… lean into the discomfort. Lean into the voice that’s nagging you that you’re used to pushing away. When I push that part of me away it’s because I am afraid of it – but stuck energy just builds pressure, and what I push down eventually comes up, magnified, in a scary way. If I face it head-on, and especially if I open myself up and am honest with the people I’m with, that scary thing actually turns out to be beautiful. It allows me to be vulnerable with people, and to discover that the people in my life are really amazing humans who love me for who I am, and who can handle me being my true self, even when I think I’m being crazy. And leaning into the heavy feeling and talking about it to someone is a healthy expression of it. The heaviness seeps out of me in that process and turns into love and lightness. Darkness becomes light. Ah, the transformative power of love… love yourself enough to express yourself honestly. Don’t push any parts of yourself away. Anything that comes up in your body and heart is truly safe and okay. It’s really beautiful to experience! As deeply as I feel a fear and sadness about how hard this learning process is at times, I feel an even deeper awe towards the perfection of it. Our greatest gifts come from our biggest wounds. Our fears point us to our path of greatest potential. Exposing the parts of ourselves we are most afraid of brings us closer together, evaporating our fear bit by bit and transforming it to love and lightness.

So, friends… last comment. It’s been a month now that I’ve been home since doing Ayahuasca. I see all the processes of my life right now as being connected to that experience, and I believe it is all good for me, even and especially the challenging parts. So thank you again to Mother Ayahuasca for moving and shaking things in my life and energy system; I hope to emerge from this transition period all the better for it.

That feels complete for now. It’s good to write, as always. Sending love and gratitude out to each of you, as always. Let’s be more gentle with ourselves this week. Let’s take risks with the people we are close to and let just a little more of ourselves into this world… a little more love, a little more authenticity, a little more bravery.

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