For My Daughter: “Tonight I can write the saddest lines”

For My Daughter: “Tonight I can write the saddest lines”

“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.
Or typical.
Or normal.

Neither are your kids.

We’ve been playing the biggest game of make-believe — ever.

 

How does this affect us?

We:

  • 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.”

To what?
To anything.

Even if it hurts.

 

This is what I have to say:
Fuck that shit.

Really.

 

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 hushing.
Stop shushing.
Stop rolling eyes.
Stop snickering.
Stop teasing.
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.

Be alive.
Be HERE.

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.

Because:

She belongs.

You belong.

We all belong.

(And in case you didn’t catch it: You, too, are magnificent — just the way you TRULY are.)

On Healing Ourselves + the World

On Healing Ourselves + the World

Chances are – the sensitive soul you are – you’re feeling the heaviness of what’s going on in the world.

We are in the midst of turbulent times.
Countries are aching.
Families are aching.
Communities are crying out to be seen, to be recognized as equal, to feel free.

As an empath, one of the things that’s been a challenge for me is learning how to discern whether what I’m feeling is mine, or someone else’s…

I imagine you can relate.

While our collective is in pain, many individuals are finding a mirror between the anguish and disconnect seen in the world and the disconnect felt within themselves.They are excavating the depths of their hearts and recognizing old patterns that no longer serve them.

This isn’t easy work. It takes courage, tenacity, and resilience.

During times of chaos, we can feel more tender, more vulnerable than usual. We can feel the world and our inner heart swinging on a pendulum. It takes practice to come still, find our center, and listen into what is true.

…And the truth is:
We all want to belong.
We all want to feel we matter.
We all want to sense the connection of Oneness.

It takes finding our connection to self, first. This means feeling the depths of our emotions: the not-so-pretty, the drop-you-to-your-knees feelings … and the elation and ecstasy that comes with being human.

All.Of. It. Without hiding.

Recently, I came to remember an old, personal trauma. Feeling the cracks and crevices of it – really facing it and feeling it – has been one of the most raw and loving things I’ve ever done for myself.

Being committed to experiencing memory that I’ve held onto in my body (it does get encoded in our bodies), and unraveling it from the intention of understanding patterns and choices in my life and loving myself from that place, has made for a more graceful healing.

This is the crux of being present.

Imagine how our world and our communities could shift if we started becoming present with ourselves.

Instead of reacting, we stop and feel into our bodies, connecting into what is actually true.

…Imagine if leaders of nations did this.
…Imagine if we each had the courage to feel our humanness – with compassionate love.

We start there.
We start with self-honor.
We start with not abandoning ourselves.
We start with not rejecting, judging, and ridiculing our perceived “weakness” and vulnerabilities.
We start with giving a voice to the unspoken parts of ourselves, silently screaming in plain view.

From there, we can begin to do the same with others. Honor them. Honor the parts we judge in them. The differences. The parts that make us uncomfortable. Maybe we can heal the world this way.

The other day, this poem came through me as I was sitting with all that has transpired in my life and with what’s going on globally. It is my hope that it offers you some love and peace.

 

 Find the center of mourning.
Gently press your palm upon it.
Hear its sharp rhythm,
its slicing moan,
its cry of release –…even when you feel the scrape of humanity
etching hurt across division lines;
…even when your body reveals
fallow aches,
secrets buried in plain view:

Stay Here.
There’s no hiding.

Wrap your gasp of
nauseous recognition,
the cold flood of truth
(chiseled on your bones)
in self-honor.

Then…
Find the center of mourning.
Gently press your palm upon it.
Feel the tenderness of raw presence
bring you home.
©becky cavender, 2016

So much love to you.
On My Birthday

On My Birthday

In less than an hour it will be my birthday. My 42nd time around the sun.

Before the day gently folds into the next, I’m finding a tender moment of reflection.

…I’m listening to what my heart wants from me this year: A bit more grace. A little more kindness. Space to breathe between the lightning bolts of intensity. Burning all the ways I hide in plain view. Allowing for the ecstasy of life to surge through me while honoring the times I need the sanctity of a quiet hush.

This year, as a dear friend said: it’s time to become comfortable being uncomfortable, to accept the parts of me that are paradoxical … and trust me: there are quite a few of them.

I have judged myself – often harshly – for being traditional and untethered; wild, yet rooted; distant and then present; lovingly open and withdrawn; generous yet self-absorbed; unattached to outcome, fully surrendered to the moment (or a relationship) and occasionally completely attached, full of expectations.

But … Life wants us to love ourselves regardless. Even the messy, complex, unsavory, shadowy, human parts.

So this year, I will attempt to gracefully accept who I am right now. Imperfections and all.

Maybe it’s not our “Divine” and “Light” parts of ourselves that make us luminous and radiant … perhaps its the raw edge of our humanness, embraced with love.

Here’s to your imperfect beauty, your perfectly imperfect human-ness.

This is Not Your Average Break-Up Letter

This is Not Your Average Break-Up Letter


Dearest You,It’s been awhile since we’ve talked. Really talked.

I wish we could sit in that café where we shared a loveseat; I rested my head upon your wide shoulders and you slowly inhaled the scent of my hair, kissing the top of my head.

Or we could meet in my car where I’d feel your strong hands wrapped in mine, your lips pressed against them.

If we were in your bed, I’d savor one last time the weight of your thick legs curled around mine, nose buried in my neck, chills cascading down my back.

Mostly, I wish we were on my sofa – where you said you loved me – so we could breathe in this moment of truth.

I’d look into your unsteady eyes, hoping you’d see my heart.

But you are in another state.
Across town.
On a business trip.
Picking out furniture with your new girlfriend.
Planting seeds to harvest with other women.
Fishing.
Holding her.
In a bar at 2 a.m., asking to come over.

****

You know I write to process, to navigate the unknown and become clear.

It’s how I face myself.
It’s how I face the truth.
It’s how I’m facing you.

My words are all I have to give you.

***

It seems only fair to let you know that the stories I’ve written in my life are changing.
The plot.
The patterns.
The characters.

You.

Stepping back, I see the similarities.

In each of you, I see the intricate ways you intersect in my heart with common themes of inconsistency, unavailability, and dishonesty all woven together with patches of vibrant beauty and moments of tender sincerity. None of it black and white.

It’s an artful, literary display of lessons spread across faces, across years.

Each of you etched upon my skin a powerful, repetitive myth.

One I am done with.

***

My whole being aches for a new story.

It is time to feel the steady pulse of my worth.

I am ready to consciously dream new patterns into creation.

I will weave words of golden flowers along my spine.

I will spin all your patchwork lessons into a delicate crown and place it upon my head.

In this story, I choose nothing less than love.

In this story, I choose me.

***

If you’re brave, come sit with me.

Feel my warm palms against your cheeks.

Hear me say that I love your wild, red flamed spirit; your blue throated wisdom; your radiant sun of a soul. This is how I saw you: the real you, your true essence.

Now, too, I see the tempered version of this you choose to be … and the dulled version I chose to be with you.

Feel my hands slowly leave your face.

Be well. Be happy. I wish for you all that you need.

…It’s time for me to go.

I have a new story to write.

LOVE IS LOVE

LOVE IS LOVE

I have something to tell you.
Are you listening?
I hope you’re listening.
Because this is important.

This is about life.
This is about love.
This is about how you cut yourself short.
This is about how you think you’re undeserving.
Unworthy.

See, most of us go around acting like there’s a limited supply of love.

You think that if you capture the essence of love, if you love someone – and especially if you think they love you back – you must CLAIM them. OWN them. Wrap them – this love – around you so tightly that there’s no chance of it ever being freed.

Why?

Because you might not get the chance again.
Because it might be the only loving meal that with sustain you.

THIS love … once it’s gone, it’s gone.
No second chances.

It’s the law of supply and demand.
Low love supply + high demand = an outrageous, treacherous, risky, high price.

Love becomes dangerous.

The belief goes like this: Since there’s not enough love around and since we have to be perfect to be lovable, chances are, we aren’t going to “get” it … as though Love is a commodity.

So we hold out. Hang back. Withhold our hearts.

Not out of wisdom, not when we know we should let go, but out of fear of being undeserving.

We think we have to be perfect to be loved.
Lose weight.
Have a good job.
Follow the rules.
Be NICE.
Prettier.
More. Less.

We feel isolated from others. Cut off. Separate. Alone … and don’t admit it.

Yet we refuse to see our part in this. How we refuse to lay our vulnerabilities down and instead create distance and build walls. We’re unwilling to expose ourselves – our humanity and our bright light – to become emotionally intimate.

I’m here to tell you there is no love shortage. 
Love never runs out. It’s not a fossil fuel.
(We’re all acting like it is … but it isn’t.)

Instead, we scavenge around on the rotten beliefs that have been thrown at us. Beliefs of what Love is supposed to look like. Ideas that love means complete attachment. That you must cling, hold on tightly, beg, and grasp onto one another.

Love doesn’t bind to anything. It’s the light weight of an ethereal feather kissing your soft cheek.

It’s a lover looking deeply into your eyes, seeing past your detachment, the ways you shut down and hide away, but loving you still.

It’s a mother recognizing her child’s worth and loving them – without condition – even when they make mistakes. Especially when they make mistakes.

It’s the ability to know that in our humanity, we’re sometimes cracked, wounded AND also divinely luminescent, shining, and capable to be the conduit of all love.

We’re afraid to rip off every mask. We’re afraid to cut open our vulnerable heart and let the very rawness of our humanity be seen in its total mess.

Because let’s face it: We all have stories. We all carry deep hurts. And there’s NOTHING WRONG with this. There’s nothing wrong with your imperfections. There’s nothing wrong with YOU.

Can you accept this? Can you take this into your heart and truly feel it?

Oh, it’s hard for me to do.
It’s hard for most of us to do.

Look at our planet.

Look at the children screaming for attention.
Look at our relationships barely surviving the push and the pull game.
Look at the ways we think we’re different from eachother … so different that we need bombs, guns, rape, knives that cut off heads … because we pray to a different god. Because we have different colors of skin. Because we live in different neighborhoods.

Can you not see how our world is screaming out, aching for love?

Our world trills and tremors with this idea that there is not enough love to go around.

THIS is the tragedy … only because the love we seek is here always. It is within us. It surrounds us. We are it.

Love is not complicated.

Love is not a painful scream.
Love is not dangerous.
Love is not a risk.

Love just IS. It’s around us, always, ready for us to access. Ready for us to pull it inside of our hearts and simply see one another, our world, and ourselves through it.

Love doesn’t demand attention (even when we do). It doesn’t have to.

Love lives on the tip of your tongue. Love is in the curl of your ear. Love is in the way you throw your head back when you laugh. Love is in the way you look at your beloved pet.

It accepts.
It sees.
It recognizes.
It embraces – but does not bind.
It just kisses you and loves you and lets all be.

It’s not about the outcome.

It’s not afraid. It doesn’t shut down.

And it doesn’t take giant steps away.

It just is.

Saying No

Saying No

I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to say no … even during times it would serve me well.

But no constricts my throat, squeezes tight, and doesn’t let go. So, instead of feeling uncomfortable and listening to my intuition, I’ve said yes when no was the best – most honest – answer. I said:

Yes to the easy university, the safer choice.
Yes to men who didn’t have genuine interest in me.
Yes to moving continents when I knew the change would risk my marriage.
Yes to letting men return in hopes that promises would be kept this time.

These are ways I’ve compromised myself. Sold out.

Each yes whittled at my integrity and discipline to set clear, firm boundaries. I’d bend – if not break – my truth to fit nicely into the palm of someone else’s life, their needs, their desires. I gave away my sovereignty and power to reign over my life with surety and clarity.

Why did I say yes when I knew deep inside I should say no? Why was it difficult to trust myself?

It’s not that I was unsure about what I wanted and needed; the problem was I didn’t believe I was worthy of my desires. Deep inside, I worried that what I most wanted was a wistful dream, something unattainable. (I still struggle with this belief at times.)

See, if I said yes, maybe I’d get a sliver, a semblance of what I wanted. That was enough. I accepted, heartily and gratefully, the crumbs tossed in my direction instead of insisting on the whole damn loaf that I was craving and denying myself.

I was starving and didn’t even know it.

I feared that “no” meant never, a lost chance, or maybe goodbye. A missed opportunity. So say yes. Say yes to everything with arms open wide to whatever may come. Say yes to the smiles, the empty apologies, the coffees, the lies. Say yes to keeping expectations low to avoid disappointment. Say yes to leaking my power and believing I’m unworthy.

There’s been a shift, though. I’ve realized – finally – something important.

No is actually another way of saying yes.

Let me say that again.

No means yes.

When I say no to dead-ends cloaked as opportunities, I say yes to real, substantial possibilities.

When I give a firm, strong, badass, gutsy NO! to the flimsy, fake version of what I truly want … when I draw the line in the sand that says “you can’t cross this!” I’m saying a big, fat YES to me. I’m making a declaration that I absolutely deserve my desires. 

No becomes yes to honoring my truth, trusting myself, and creating my story.

…It’s not the no squeezing my throat that hurts.

Swallowing back my truth is what hurts.

This is a new time. A new age of reclaiming what’s mine and harnessing the faith that what I deeply want is possible.

Anything less is no longer permitted.

So, beautiful you … what will you say no to? What will you say yes to? I’d love to hear in the comments below.