Sitting in the darkness eager for the light my heart beating a syncopated rhythm desire to fly overcomes my soul the shackles of fear keep me tied down struggling against the status quo my mind, my heart, my soul cry out LET ME GO and I wonder sitting in the darkness is there even light or just a mirage heaviness envelopes me flying seems like it’s a lie a fantasy sold to me by charlatans and yet my inner voice screams LET ME GO thoughts rattle in the darkness fears scrape in the shadows hope, faith, trust cower in the corners reaching out they try to shine pain, mistakes, recrimination lurk my dreams and desires and designs call out LET ME GO Trapped inside my head anxiety begets depression begets anxiety begets depression …. the cycle never ending the only form of flow I know inside I’m crying out, trying to break free LET ME GO
Woke up feeling trapped, and just majorly stuck in a cycle of physical and mental health dilemmas and I just want a major change, a way to break free. It feels good to express that feeling with poetry, oddly that feels like at least some progress.
For those that don’t know #oneshotpoetry I write free flow and do not edit what you see is what comes out raw. I do that so that I don’t overthink it or destroy it’s original intent. It’s one way to silence the inner critic and get to the heart of any true feeling.
From a FB post last year – I almost didn’t share. I am trying to write “a thing” every day. A story, poem, non superficial thoughts, and I heard myself think it’s not very good, felt nearly fear and shame at the thought of people seeing it and realized it’s one of my monsters I need to slay. A story I need to untell…. So I had shared it in my private #thewayofyourinnervoicegroup originally, so now it’s time to be a little less scared and share here. Also I have not written a post in 10 days TEN days…it has been some rough times. Partly because I’ve started to come back to the world and do my work and it’s harder than I imagined. So this is still all I have for now. A rehash but still so relevant
From a Facebook post from – Feb 2 2021 in our “The Way of Your Inner Voice” group, this was written during the very first go of “The Artist’s Way”. I think I’ve been here before, but I always panic and re-lock the door. This time I am not running away. I’m still trying to break free, still pushing on that door, battling all the blocks. Here’s what I wrote on the post – I’m remembering now that writing them is easy the work is the sharing. Because at the end of the day that’s what this is all about, being actually seen and heard. What are you holding in that needs to get expressed? Perhaps your Inner Voice is calling to you as well?
Come out and Play – one shot poem written Feb 2021
There is a knocking
Inside my head
At first just a rapping
A gentle tapping
grows more insistent
Each passing day
a sense of wonder
trapped inside a box
Buried under fears
wrapped in layers of shame
it grows louder though
more insistent, consistent
let me out to play
becoming a banging
begging for attention
a chance to spread
I try to keep it closed
It’s very wild and
It always wants to play
It isn’t very grown-up
And others say it’s wrong
But if this racket keeps up
My wall, my resolve
may not stay as strong
I wonder what will happen
If I let it out to play
Alexander Milov’s sculpture, Love, appeared in the 2015 Burning Man festival and is so much an image that makes me think of our Inner Voice work and this ongoing struggle to know and let the real and best me out to live, love, work, and most importantly….PLAY!
I had a series of unfortunate events (hey mr. Lemony Snicket it happens to all of us) Nothing earth shattering in and of themselves but combined with my current mental health work it sent me skittering off the rails and barely able to handle day to day living let alone making actual progress.
While you make plans.
I knew it had been awhile since I had written but I had no idea it had been over 10 days :O Talk about life happening. I had a series of unfortunate events (hey mr. Lemony Snicket it happens to all of us) Nothing earth shattering in and of themselves but combined with my current mental health work it sent me skittering off the rails and barely able to handle day to day living let alone making actual progress. While I’m focusing mainly on controlling, understanding, and working WITH my bipolar nature I have other health issues I am trying to resolve as well. One of them has been my ongoing allergy/sinus kerfuffle issues. This led to a CT scan that showed my nasal passages are a wreck and that I’ve been living with a chronic sinus infection for probably years – yippee kay yay MFs – so I went on a massive antibiotic course along with a week of prednisone. Can I just say that adding steroids to your body while you are trying to get to an even place emotionally is not something I recommend to anyone. I am also notoriously extra f-ing sensitive to everything (my personality is tough my body is weak sauce LOL ) and antibiotics throw my whole digestive system into cement mixer mode which seriously impacts my ability to think straight. Just as I was coming off the prednisone I had my scheduled 2nd Covid booster AND my Shingrix(TM) Shingles vaccine…it was on the books and I didn’t think much of it. HOLY AUTOIMMUNE REACTIONS BATMAN. Now I don’t think the covid booster did much to me, I’ve already had covid and all the boosters so I feel like my immune system is pretty on board with that whole thing and never did any other of the shots HURT. But this shingles vax? OH BOY. (I got the new shingrix vax…see pic for info)
Y’all this shit KNOCKED ME ON MY BUTT for close to a week. And it hit FAST. Within 1/2 hour I was fatigued, feverish, dizzy…it hit so hard so fast I didn’t even realize it was the shot at first. I mean I couldn’t imagine that my immune system would react that quickly and severely. Boy was I in for a ride. My arm was on fire, swollen, red – it looked and felt like a softball pitch had hit me at full speed. My tattoos all got raised (a clear indication that my immune system is on high alert and a reminder that they probably aren’t all that healthy but that’s a whole other oprah) and I was tired, I mean, as someone with CFS I thought I knew tired but my idea of tired LAUGHED at the body fatigue that overtook me. I was still faithfully taking my antibiotics so I was still dealing with cement mixer digestion as well, it is an understatement to say I was not running on full cylinders. So writing was at the bottom of the list. I had ideas a few days but couldn’t hold a thought for longer than like a minute.
So this may be the world’s most boring blog post but it’s a reminder that sometimes our best intentions are sidetracked and that is not a reason to give up or surrender. (#nevergiveupneversurrender) All things are temporary, #thistooshallpass is such a great thing to remember. So past me probably would have given up and said some dumb things like “well I ruined that”, “I can never catch-up” (to the arbitrary goal I set), “here’s proof that I’m a loser”, and other fun downer thoughts. But new me post #theartistsway me knows that you have to get back up and just keep #fillingintheform and one thing that kept me going was no matter what I wrote my #morningpages and that kept me from losing the thread entirely. It matters.
So that’s it my totally boring, non-sequitur blog post that serves mostly to remind myself that I can keep getting back up. And when life happens plans are just delayed or mutated not destroyed. What have you let lapse that you could pick back up? It’s never too late to start again.
Not necessarily a Disney princess singing to birds type….
Sometimes when I’m doing my Inner Voice Exploration Practice AKA #morningpages Poetry spills out. I’ve spent my whole life being “not a morning person” to the point of almost pride – because owning it was the only way to not let it further damage my self-worth. But the truth is, I’ve always wanted to be one, a morning person. Not necessarily a Disney princess singing to birds type, but at least able to get out of bed not feeling like a zombie and have the drive to do things, any of the things, that I want to do to improve the way I show up in the world. Anywho as I was writing about this struggle the following came out…(I don’t feel it’s my best work, it’s a bit forced but my process means I am committed to acknowledging and sharing my work no matter how I feel about it…it is definitely a PROCESS) I am still working on knowing what experiences are ME and what are byproducts of bipolar mood swings but I’m really hoping that my new found love of my mornings is due to my work and not just some hypomania drive. We will find out over time I guess 😀
Morning breaks creeping slowly across the sky you toss and turn your back there is no joy in the sunrise experience tells us there is pain and so we being each day the same broken, beaten, heavy carrying the weight of yesterdays and all the yesterdays yet to come the ghosts of hurt, loss, injustice cling to your mind and spirit moving slowly we try to brush them off some we are afraid to release the sadness proof of our journey our scars have begun to define us this is no way to learn to fly but we have begun to change little by painstakingly little each new dawn another chance to become something new, ourselves breathing deep, reaching further down shake, cry, stretch, release making mornings sacred healing we shrug and unburden ourselves the dark shadows start to fand we are beginning to look forward not to yesterdays, but to tomorrows to now the power of possibility begins to rise with the sun and we are transformed It’s finally today and today and today we arise new, open, ready, hopeful Welcome Morning what shall we discover today?
Slowly but surely I could feel things inside me starting to shift. Long lost (suppressed) dreams and feelings came bubbling up.
OK here’s the background lest those that know me see a prayer in here and wonder if I’ve been body-snatched: All of this (my therapy, writing, sharing, pursuing my dreams) is finally happening thanks to “The Artist’s Way” by the good witch Julia Cameron. A small group of friends and I, in January 2021, took a leap and started it together. I built a small group on Facebook and Telegram so that we could share our journey. And every week we would get together and discuss our experiences and progress on Zoom. It was a game-changer.
Slowly but surely I could feel things inside me starting to shift. Long lost (suppressed) dreams and feelings came bubbling up. It wasn’t always easy but something about it worked for me. And the personal progress I have made in the last 18months because of it has been nothing short of amazing. And it worked for others in the group too. It’s their story to tell but it was so gratifying seeing others’ dreams blossom as well.
But the whole time I was personally working against a tiny issue. (spoiler alert it’s not tiny at all for me) “GOD”. You see Julia is a believer and I am most decidedly not. I’ve tried to go the route of “it wasn’t god that hurt me it was just humans in the church” but it didn’t take and I just can’t quite get behind the god idea. Make no mistake though the church messed me up good and that was the beginning of my questioning of the sky father but it was not the end of it.
So part of my process to work through TAW (the artist’s way) Was de-deifying the god talk to something palatable for me. Over time I’ve come to even feel that I don’t really work from a place of “source” either. It’s just another word for god, but I did appreciate my effort and figured I’d save it here for posterity’s sake. Maybe I’ll take it one step further and demystify it completely.
You see, I’m seeking a small mantra of affirmation similar to this that is about my state of mind, not something outside of myself. That’s what brought me back to this project. It’s not quite what I want but it’s a nice starting point. I guess this all makes me an atheist but I prefer the term agnostic because I’m not comfortable with the idea of saying “I KNOW” anything for sure. I feel it’s hubris of the highest order to say we know diddly squat for certain. But that’s a whole other Maury.
This is generally where I get all apologetic to believers…but ya know what? If you believe you are totally allowed to, it’s 100% your business and choice but I’m done apologizing for my beliefs. If you are allowed to believe, I’m allowed not to. I choose to live my life as a decent human regardless of possible rewards and punishments and I choose how to treat others based on compassion that is inherent to my being, that is all. What I realized through this work is I wasn’t extending my compassion to myself and I wasn’t allowing myself to BE ME unapologetically, and that was the missing ingredient. (man I can’t stop my tangents) So this is me shedding my shame about being agnostic. No more dancing around it, it’s not a condemnation of believers it’s just who I am.
ANYWHO I give you the non-denominational prayer to source version of the lord’s prayer (pssst I grew up catholic I’ve read the bible, I’m baptized, 8 years of catholic school and a metric tonne of church time so don’t at me with religion I promise not to try to change your mind if you can extend the same courtesy to me)
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Promise to the Universal Source
We honour source, that which surrounds us and connects us
Source is the sound of Aum that resonates in our hearts
May that sound lead us to loving harmony that we may experience and spread peace and understanding in every moment
As above so below As within so without
We are grateful for the bounty of the earthy and joyously accept its nourishment
We promise to forgive our own weaknesses and imperfections as we forgive them in others
We promise to seek loving-kindness and reject deceitfulness and harm
Just some rambling thoughts as I navigate the ups and downs of treating my bipolar moods.
I have found myself feeling dried up again. Once again engaged in the never-ending battle of swell and recede. I’m like the tide. Endlessly waxing and waning – I guess that makes sense the tide and the moon being inexorably connected and they mirror my moods. Mercurial. Capricious. Inconstant. Why does nature get to ebb and flow and be called beautiful, powerful, mysterious…and I am fickle, a flibbertigibbet, a flake. Chasing my tail wanting nothing more than to find some consistency, some peace…yet my mind swings so intensely from one state of being to the next. It’s exhausting sleeping alone and still not knowing who you are going to wake up with. I have dredged up so many things and the emotions weigh me down. I feel stuck again. Chocked on the memories. I can feel the walls in my spirit slamming into place. And the same old fears start to rise up – there is no hope. You can’t be stable. You aren’t bipolar you just need to focus more, you just need to be more motivated…The voices of childhood haunt me, chasing me down not letting me feel hope, not letting me believe… I ride the waves that are my moods and never know where I will land. I’m trying to find the truth, the real me w/in the shifting tides. In the liminal spaces, I know the true me waits, hoping to be freed at last. I keep pressing forward. This note a testament to how my brain shifts and changes, how my whole way of being transforms. It’s like living with a stranger. Distracted. Dissociative. Divided.
And I was so enjoying the ability to write for a bit – it feels lost. But Julia Cameron tells me to “fill in the form” So I’m writing, not so it will be good, but so I can practice. I’m writing to create, not to impress, or to gain anything other than the practice. I’m writing because I need to write. My thoughts spilling out onto the page for no other purpose than to exist.
I fight the fears, the shame, the pesky perfectionist voice that says I’m embarrassing myself. Because shame is a prison. Fear a coping mechanism. I fight the urge to give up because I know the tide will come in again. The mood will change. I will wish I hadn’t given up when the brain shifte. Never give up, never surrender.
I’ll live to write more of the story another day. My bipolar warriors we can ride the waves, we can survive the full moons, we can keep going during the darkness. Life is an ebb and flow our work then is to learn to surf it better. We learn by practicing. Today I beat back the demons. No day but today.
I chose pond because we are going to discuss Thoreau a bit today, as I discuss why I’m writing now. Why I have huge imposter syndrome in everything I do. Why imposter syndrome is so deadly and unnecessary, how it’s a form of perfectionism and comparison, and how both are the death of joy and progress. I might dally around the idea of creative writing, run-on sentences, eschewing grammar perfection, and my love of the humble ellipsis……and not caring how many periods I use in them. (OH MY JIBBERS CRABST NO THAT IS WAY TOO MUCH — so me LOL)
Anywho skipping stones… this actually came up with my Psychiatrist visit the other day. I told her how my life seems interesting and full from the outside and people often marvel at how many things I’ve done…but I realized not too long ago that it’s because I’ve been skimming the surface of life. Hopping, skipping, jumping from one thing to the next w/out ever really going very deep. OH sure at FIRST I’m going deep dive. Like that first stone that you try to skip hits the water and sinks…but after that initial dive? I’m off, it’s too much. Boredom sets in. Imposter syndrome sets (Yes it sets in before I even start it’s a whole thing, hey it’s why I’m in therapy LOL) She was already saying it before me – apparently, this is a whole bipolar AND ADHD thing. My whole life I’ve been called flaky, and a flibbertigibbet (OK admittedly I do talk A LOT) as I flit from one big thing to the next. I have a lack of sustainability. Little did I know that it was sort of baked into my brain chemistry. Generally, the pattern is GO ALL IN – realize MEH I don’t love it as much as I thought – Or more precisely -OH god this sucks or I’m not really that good at it or UGH you gotta be like 100% IN for this to be your thing… so I’m OUT. There’s more than bipolarness at work though. I also have a fear of intimacy and some serious issues about joining things. (My childhood in the catholic church made me feel like joining and believing things too deeply was SUSS as hell so I get itchy at any sign of over-identification with things) Heck, even things I love like SciFi I avoid going too deep lest it becomes an obsession. (what is that some sort of OCD reversal? def. something to ask the therapist about LOL)
So that is why I’m here writing. 1. because I’m trying to feel the feelings that my therapist says I’m avoiding. (it’s a skill to be this emotional and still not acknowledge about 80% of what’s really going on) 2. so I can actually go deeper. Having done “The Artist’s Way” a year ago and being on over 400 days of #morningpages I finally beleive I can go all in and not only not lose myself but find myself. 3. By giving up on perfectionism and comparison I am finally free to write and not care who reads it or what they think. I hope it reaches people and maybe even helps a few but it’s not why I write and that changes everything. 4. I used to not only correct but OBSESS about grammar and spelling…then I realized that is just ableism, classism, and honestly just judgy nonsense that keeps us from communicating freely. I know my writing is “terrible”, I don’t freaking care anymore my point is to share not be a great writer. And maybe by finally admitting that I might get better because now I’ll actually DO IT.
Not going deep has made me feel perennially like an imposter, but I think it was really just my fear of not being good enough at anything and as always comparing myself to others. So here is where Thoreau comes in. I had recently joined the ranks of those who maligned him, sneering at his “roughing” it while his mom did his laundry and brought him sandwiches. But then I realized I was “throwing out the messages with the man” (it’s just as bad as the baby and the bathwater) I was angry because I had let his work make me feel bad… I had compared myself to him and found myself wanting. So when I found out it was partially a sham I was self-righteously angry. But as that cooled, I realized how freeing this is….everyone is a work in progress. And just as I’ve learned not to judge a message by its spelling or grammar I am learning not to judge a work on unrelated things. Thoreau never asked us to worship him, he simply made excellent observations and STRIVED to live as he wanted. He fell short but that still doesn’t negate some of his words and his wonderful writing. One can be inspired even if the author is imperfect. (OH lord there’s a whole thing there huh) Bottom line it wasn’t his fault I was using his work to belittle myself that was all on me…and I could instead learn from it.
Here is the FB post I wrote when I first learned about the problem with Thoreau :
In case you have imposter syndrome feelings. In case you worry that you aren’t “marching to your own drum” enough. Or that you need to sacrifice something.
Remember that the man we credit with some of these thoughts was basically an imposter, taking help from multiple people, including free labour from his mom….
No journey is done alone, and that’s FINE just remember that… and don’t be afraid to ask for support and help.
I guarantee you that ANYONE you admire or worship or aspire to be like was not fully the person you imagine, they were/are imperfect, and even if they had greatness they too had struggles.
Don’t just skip along afraid to go any deeper. Tell your story. I bet it’s at least as real and inspirational as this classic work. I won’t tear Thoreau down too much, because I think he was more like us than not. The key point is that even with all the not-so-great “truth” the book is still a wonderful and insightful read and much can be garnered from it. The same is true for the rest of us. How can we ever dare to greatness if we don’t start somewhere and stick with it?
Robert Gregory LaFavor-Courtwright went on life support just before my birthday 16 years ago. For a few days it was up in the air, then on my birthday, Oct 7th, 2005 we were told there was hope. So my sister-in-law, my birthday twin, and the rest of the family went out that night to celebrate our birthdays. I was turning 37. I got a tattoo. My mom got a tattoo. We were hopeful. I had faith. I believed he was too good and too loving and had too much to offer to be gone. He loved me. He loved me in a way that I didn’t think was possible. Then two days later, October 9th, 2005. I lay next to him on the bed as they turned off the machines and I felt his last breath leave his body. I cried the kind of keening cry the man-in-black cried in the “Princess Bride”, the sound of ultimate suffering. And in that very moment, the process of grief began and would be quickly stunted and would forever change how I showed up in the world. I would enter an extremely tumultuous decade where the rapid cycling of emotions would make me careen back into ways I thought I had “overcome” and left in my 2o’s. I would learn that grief makes others uncomfortable and that people are super judgy about how much hurt we are allowed to feel and express and for how long and where…the rules are endless and honestly cruel.
I already knew this actually but until this time I hadn’t realized just how much we squash emotions in others and how much that can truly harm someone.
There is so much to unpack – within the first moments of his passing I was IMMEDIATELY told I had to be quiet. Stop crying. That won’t bring him back. I physically collapsed (I was also exhausted) and was told to “stop being so dramatic”. I began the process of stuffing my feelings.
See it was always hard to explain to people that have friends and close relationships that work how devastating a loss can be when you have struggled with connection your whole life. I’ve always felt off, a little wrong, too emotional, too needy, and yet too independent. I never felt people got the whole of me. The dichotomy that I’m so completely two things at all times. A manly girly girl. A rainbow goth. A sensitive biker b*tich. A punk rock ballerina. But Rob? OH he got it and relished in it… he could treat me like I was a lady and then ride on the back of my motorcycle celebrating my independence and power. Around him, I never had to choose which persona got to come out and play. He was there for all my sides. When you have been starved of that your whole life and finally FINALLY feel like a whole human just because someone says “Hey all of you is great” and then have it ripped from you? Well, it was devastating.
But I heard these things all in the first week -“you weren’t even together that long.” – “I mean he was sick right” -“it’s not like your life was so great” -“you weren’t even really married” (we were common law and we both recognized. I had proposed a year earlier and we were putting off a ceremony because of his health) Within a month I was hearing -“try to think about the good memories” -“you need to be on anti-depressants this is taking too long”
And the ultimate shut down came that New Year’s Eve so less than 3 months later- which would have been Rob’s 37th birthday- I wanted to plan a smaller meal with some friends at a special place but it would have made someone else’s plans be delayed and while trying to say I didn’t want their plans to be overridden I just needed this – I was told “well it doesn’t matter you’ll just play the dead husband card and get your way” (I didn’t get my “way” I gave up and got about the business of acting ok) I think that was the single worst moment for me… it was when I felt even more keenly the loss of someone who cared enough about me to see my pain and not put qualifiers on it. It was all my fears about not having “real” friends laid bare. And in that moment I splintered.
I have been leading a duel life every since. One where I pretend I’m OK and make terrible decisions out of pain but act like it’s all normal. And one where there’s a ball of sadness locked away that bleeds out as anger and impatience. It leaks out as apathy. It oozes over things and makes even happy times duller. And all because I didn’t want to play the dead husband card. I didn’t want to make people feel inconvenienced or uncomfortable so I set about creating the biggest mask of all….one of the healed person. A mask I wore with limited success but a lot of fakery for nearly 10 years until my body and mind just couldn’t anymore.
I just can’t anymore. But that’s a good thing. Pretending to be ok is malarkey. That’s why I am here to embrace the full reality of me. And that includes being bipolar. Maybe if I can get all these other layers out I can face down that struggle and fully understand it.
I got some big emotions. My feelings are BIG. Learning to feel them and not let them bang up everyone around me is a journey. So whatever you are going through don’t let anyone else tell you when you are “done” or “ready” or whatever unhelpful advice they might give – I guarantee you it’s more about them than you. Only you can know if you are still processing. Only you get to decide how much it hurts. No one is inside your heart but you. Feel your feels. Trust me on this – either you feel them on purpose or you and everyone will feel them anyway in a less helpful way.