I’ve always known I’m different.
As a young girl, I sought refuge in the forest, talking to trees, creeks, fairies.
I lived within a rich world, teeming with imagination so tangible, I could touch it. Taste it. Feel it.
Like magic, stories flowed out my fingers into notebooks.
I drank words as though they’d offer an elixir, protecting me from the sharp awareness of how I didn’t quite fit…
…with my family, at school, and in the way I gently—yet intensely—lived in the world.
Looking out the window of the car, I’d track the moon, the stars, and feel lifted out, magnetized toward somewhere—anywhere—other than where I was.
I especially loved my grandfather on days the air felt thin and harshly sucked dry; he’d tell me stories and I’d comb his snow white hair.
Grandma said he “always had a soft spot for the underdog.”
I believed in magic, revived dying bees, made friends with the neighboring cows, and ached to feel crisp, blistering wind on my face while standing in the middle of the naked field, oaks bearing witness.
That’s when I was free. Liberated. Allowed every cell in my body to feel electric. Wild stirred me out of the hushed quiet … and always would…
That slightly-set-apart feeling stayed in my bones, set in deep, affecting the way I walked, moved in the world: My head, never held straight—slightly tilted—from all the vacillating between slicing shame of being different and yearning to be noticed, seen, accepted.
I’ve become a master cloaker, easily hidden, able to disappear and ghost whenever I don’t believe I belong.
That’s an old story. It’s run its full course: Not belonging. Not to my family, not to a circle of friends, not to any one culture, not to any one thing.
…Certainly not to myself.
Because: I didn’t belong, I was too much. Too much to handle. Too sensitive. Too weird. Too much. Then: Not enough. So, I’d hide, go deep.
…Oh, how many times I’ve gone under, gone to the dark for cover. For safety.
So done. So complete.
And, frankly: b o r i n g.
With few exceptions, I’ve kept my diagnosis quiet.
I’m sharing it now because it has kissed me with the greatest gift: Seeing myself.
Understanding who I am. Realizing I don’t need to change. Embracing me.
I’ve found the wild within—that slithering wind, that call of an intense storm, the bright sky blackened with pink and gold, bruised with purple—the lightning-fire that resides in my spine and moves up my heart.
It’s always here.
I’ve come to welcome it.
Love it whole.
If you read this post, you know my daughter has Asperger’s—or high-functioning Autism.
Girls are rarely diagnosed. It shows up differently in us. The m/f diagnosis ratio is an astounding 4:1.
I, too, have Asperger’s.
Fiercely independent and sometimes rigid/stubborn.
Hyper-sensitive to sensory input.
Requires extensive time alone.
…amongst other things…
I’m aware of the challenges. I live them.
I’m aware of the gifts. I live those.
And I’m finally, finally, finally free.
Just like the little-girl me who revived and saved dying bees, so, too, I’ve revived and saved myself.
The Real me.
The All of Me, me.
The Whole, Complete me.
The one who refuses to hide in a dark cave. Ashamed. Tired. Different.
See, I am different.
I am made of wild, ecstatically fierce and loving neurons. They light up, fast, sparking new pathways and webs of connection.
Revealed, I’m clay-faced, raw, present.
You feel it in my poetry, you’ll see it in my gaze.
I revel in freedom, unveiling myself, dancing, trilling, welcoming you to my world: lush, thick and voluminous, knowing the drumbeat of my soul and the wings that touch the cosmos.
When I feel all of me, I feel all of you. See all of you … and ask you to meet my gaze and let the electric wind pull laughter from our throats … eyes bright, alive.
And if you don’t get me, if you can’t meet me here, if you are afraid and shake: I don’t care.
I’m liberated in my wilderness.
I’ve merged and married my succulently sweet, round and gently, erotically crystalline, catalyzingly soft, wholy-holy Self.
I’m home—embraced—in the edgy grace. I’ll hold you, there, too.
Here I am: Muddied.
Soil under my fingers.
Stars in my hair.
Eyes of lightning.
Fingers of love.
Soles of diamonds.
Heart of fire.
“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.)
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.
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.
On a business trip.
Picking out furniture with your new girlfriend.
Planting seeds to harvest with other women.
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.
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.