because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

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Superlatively Rude
The point of it, she said, was to feel the pain.

“We do the exact opposite,” she said, “In our lives. We shy away from pain, hold our breath when it happens – and that shortness of breath, it causes even more anguish for us. Physical, yes, but also mental. Everything is connected.”

“When we shy away from our pain, the distractions we give ourselves only hurt us more, eventually.”

I was lay on my left side with a tennis ball propped under my thigh. It dug into the flesh of my leg and pushed against the muscle. My whole weight was on it. Sweat dripped in thick beads down my spine, and prickled at my temples. A cockerel crowed outside of the hut. My partly-shaven legs bristled against one another. I closed my eyes and breathed as measured and evenly as I could. She was right – it hurt. Like a motherfucker.

“Permit yourself to feel it,” she said. “And breathe into where it hurts. Accept the pain. Surrender to it. Ultimately, this is what will heal you. You wouldn’t know it was there to fix if you didn’t look for it first.”

“But if you didn’t look for it, the pain would find you sooner or later anyway.”

*

I read, recently, one sentence that has been playing over and over in my mind since: it’s your secrets that define you.

It’s your secrets that define you.

I can paint on my face every morning, select my thoughts as I select my clothes. Fix a smile on my face and tell the world - myself - a story about who I am, and believe it. Most of it is truth. I've worked hard to hold on to my contentedness.

But if I don’t pay attention to the whispers, if I don’t confront the things that shame me most deeply, if I don’t continue to reach down into the darkest parts of myself to see what is there… I’ll never be the person I am trying to be.

I will be my secrets.

*

The theory is this: yin, and yang. Muscles are yang, and respond to activity that gets them warm – running and flow yoga and cycling and sex. The stuff around the muscles in yin: the sort of body sock between the skin and everything else. In order to exercise this, we have to be gentle, and focused, and find where it hurts to massage it out.

Basically, I was pushing varying numbers of tennis balls in and under and around my body, feeling where it hurt and where it didn’t… and then where it did, leaving the pressure there to purposefully be uncomfortable because if it hurt, it needed my attention.

*


It was "Black Magic Day" in Bali yesterday. Did I want to go to the temple and celebrate? he asked.

"But!" I said. "But, black magic is bad!"

He laughed. "Yes, but without black there isn't white. Without good there isn't bad. Up and down. Light and dark. Nothing ever wins. In a Hollywood movie, we want the good guys to win and the bad guys to lose. That isn't life. Life isn't win or lose. Just is."

*

When I focused on the ball of my foot, I thought about how he reached out on New Year’s Day, and how unfair that was to me – to have me start my year with his name on my phone screen.

When I lay on a wooden block, massaging out my stomach in a way that felt crampy and sad, I thought about Russia, and how in my unrelenting optimism two months there passed quickly, with stories to my name accrued and experience under my belt. But if I am really, truly honest – it wasn’t until the plane touched down at Heathrow and I was home that I exhaled in such a way that I knew it had taken every ounce of energy within me to perpetuate that positivity. It hadn’t been a lie to say I was enjoying it, because I believed it. But I can say it now: Russia was tough. It took my all to commit to enjoy it.

Circling the ball under my shoulders, head turned to side, I watched the tan, kind looking man at the other end of the room work his tension out too. I wish I didn’t sleep alone, I let myself admit. I do so very much alone.

*

I took a very long walk after that class.

Cracked open the smallest of dark boxes at the back of my mind.

Let a little light in.

Got scared at what I found.

Sat with my truth anyway. 

Knew that the pain was good for me.

Ate some M&M's. Knew they were, in a different kind of way, good for me, too.


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