“Tonight I can write the saddest lines…”
Neruda’s sentiments echo through me this evening as I recall my 10 year old daughter’s words:
“I don’t think it’s smart to keep being myself. It makes things worse. People say I’m weird, crazy, psycho, strange. I think I have to change and just be the same. The same — like how they are all the same.”
She went stiff when I tried to pull her towards me. Her upper body tight, arms down like a straight jacket. Eyes diverted, jaw clenched. I knew then not to touch her.
“…my heart looks for her, and she is not with me.” – Neruda
I breathed deeply, tried to center myself, and not immediately react, even though I could feel my throat close in, my heart beat fast.
“Sweetheart, those kids are jealous. They see that you are free … that you’re free to be who you truly are.”
She didn’t buy it.
Her response was probably accurate: The kids don’t even know they conform, fit the mold, follow the crowd, do the ‘typical, acceptable’ things so they don’t stand out (or stand out for the ‘right’ and ‘popular’ reasons). Most of them probably don’t realize they aren’t raised to have their unique, quirky personalities celebrated, encouraged, and never dimmed.
After all, quiet, smiling, unassuming, and accommodating are better than opinionated, expressive, and self-assured, right?
Most of us were raised to fit in.
Taught that different was bad.
…if not at home, then at least through societal constructs.
“I don’t belong…” She began to cry.
I, too, want to cry.
“We, of that time, are no longer the same.” – Neruda
I want to cry for her.
For all of us — collectively — who carry this wound of feeling we don’t belong, that we are not part of something (our family, our community, our school, our church, our sisterhood, ourselves!).
I want to cry for the primordial hurt most of us have felt — at least once — that we are utterly disconnected from one another, from Source, from our hearts, from our inner-knowing.
This slicing separation is what causes us to believe we are not worthy, that we are alone, and that we simply don’t belong.
This is THE collective wound that from the core of our bellies rings out in red ache.
Is there anything more crushing?
It is the part of us that clings to whatever feels solid/stable, tells us we’re OK, lets us slip in and out — cloaked — without causing too much attention (at least in any perceived ‘negative’ way).
It’s where we compromise our truth and constantly ask others their opinions, beliefs, thoughts, ideas on what we should do instead of getting quiet and listening to our heart.
It’s where we give ourselves away.
The spiral of forgetting our truth, our Essence begins.
We begin to feel untethered.
As I listened to my daughter, I was aware of how intimately I know this wound.
It’s this very scar that I consciously … mindfully, trace my fingers over and over and over … with love.
It’s this very scar that kept me feeling separate, not-so-worthy, hidden, fairly unsafe, and much more guarded than I wanted to admit — for most of my life.
I’m 43 and only figuring it out now.
I don’t want her to feel this one.
So, I tell her how magnificent she is. How our greatest gift to the world is our uniqueness. That there is nothing, nothing, nothing she needs to change.
And it’s a tough one because my daughter is NOT a typical kid.
She’s on the Autism spectrum and she’s a girl on the spectrum. That makes a difference.
She’s intelligent, quirky, rigid, imaginative, adventurous, deeply — intensely — empathetic towards nature and animals … so much so that she cries when trees have been destroyed in a forest fire, when I cut chicken breasts, or at the thought of an animal being hunted and killed. And that’s REAL for her. Not dramatics.
(For the record, I love her wide-open heart.)
So, her pull to dull her energetic self-expression — to numb down and become chameleon-like — would create enormous distress and pressure on her (as it would anyone) … and even more so in her case since it would take incredible measures on her part to even attempt doing so.
I feel tired just thinking about it!
And that’s exactly what we have done to ourselves, by the way: Exhausted ourselves by dimming our light.
It takes a lot of work to appear the same as everyone else…
I’m going to “out” us ALL, right now.
None of us are the same.
Neither are your kids.
We’ve been playing the biggest game of make-believe — ever.
How does this affect us?
- Choose and stay in careers that don’t bring us joy
- Marry the wrong person
- Desperately hold onto unhealthy relationships
- Say yes when we mean no
- Blame outside circumstances (and others) for our not-so-happy lives
- Disconnect from our purpose, our passions, our Essence
- Feel afraid, overwhelmed, or numbed-out — regularly
- Sell ourselves out over, and over, and over…
…so that we feel we “belong.”
Even if it hurts.
This is what I have to say:
Fuck that shit.
Enough is enough.
It’s time to come out of the shadows.
It’s time to parent our children in a way that allows their audacious, wild, primal, gypsy, freedom-seeking, truth-speaking, flagrant, unapologetic selves LIVE.
It’s time to for us to love those same parts of ourselves back into liberation, too … because I know I’m not the only one who was raised to be a Nice Girl … the girl who keeps a polite smile on her face and swallows her words: That girl isn’t around here much anymore.
It’s time for our men to feel allowed to experience and express rapture under their skin, streaming hot tears, and expansive, explosive, heart-warming tenderness and Love.
It’s time to lick the salt off our tongues, arrive with full-bodied, overflowing heart-presence, and be whoever the hell we were created to be.
Stop rolling eyes.
Stop with the: tone it down; no crying; pull-it-together nonsense.
Stop telling your child to be quiet when they’re laughing so hard, they pee their pants.
Laugh WITH them.
Pee your own goddamned pants.
And let’s remember, remember, remember that we have this particular life only once.
Shall we fill it with a sense of belonging?
Shall we embrace it with Love?
Shall we adore the hell out of every quirk we see in one another — and ourselves?
Especially in these precious children?
(Even if your son wants a Barbie and your daughter wants to wrestle.)
Shall we try?
…I do NOT want to feel this line from Neruda:
“Because through nights like this I one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.”
I’m not willing to lose my daughter to the so-called dulled-out ‘normalcy’ of life.
…It takes too long to get the spirit back.
And that’s not OK.
We all belong.
(And in case you didn’t catch it: You, too, are magnificent — just the way you TRULY are.)