i knew exactly what i would say.
one time in high school my psychology teacher made us all create a circle around one open chair. he then had us each spend time in the chair answering a question about ourselves. naturally the idea of having to talk about ourselves in front of all these kids we had weird relationships with was terrifying. but the worst part of it was the actual question. a question that seemed simple enough to answer within a few seconds and go back to your seat before you die of embarrassment.
who are you?
when it was my turn to stand up and position myself in front of everyone at the center of the room, nothing went as i had planned. i knew myself, i’d thought. i knew exactly what i would say when mr. idontrememberanyofmyhighschoolteachersnames repeated the question he’d been asking everyone else. who are you? and i would run off a list of things that i was to the world. the things deemed to give me value and purpose for taking up space and the teacher would push back at me telling me i wasn’t answering the question correctly until i was a mess of tears in front of the whole class.
i wasn’t supposed to fall apart like that. i was supposed to know who the fuck i was. i was supposed to keep giving off this air of confidence and clarity that i really didn’t have. i didn’t understand how i could be getting the question wrong no matter how i tried to answer it because what i was saying is what everyone had taught me: that who i am is only worth how much i can offer people. who am i if i am not doing? what am i worth if i am not constantly producing something? will people still fuck with me? will i still deserve to eat (problematic af)?
the problem im dealing with right now is the fact that that way of identifying myself leaves no room for compassion when im burnt out or in crisis. it doesn’t care about a wall. it makes absolutely no space for me to be able to hear my body and respond with love. it can not hear when my body is calling for boundaries and silence or moments to just live my life outside the confines of always being in creation. what im saying is, that it’s hard to honor the signs your body is giving you when your worth seems to be tied so deeply to your ability to find more ways to make money. money you wouldn’t need to have to make if so many systems weren’t failing you.
i write this letter on the first day of my birthday month from a strange space. a space that is both trying and giving up. a space in which i am being forced to be still no matter what the deadline is. but capitalism. but rent. but health insurance. but transportation. but groceries. but access to joy…joy….JOY.
last week, after the second day of waking up and immediately entering a panic attack, i sent a text to a group of close friends letting them know what is going on with me right now. my version of a cry for help. i didn’t like being as vulnerable as this called for but i described my mental state and the circumstances that lead to it. i expressed some urgent needs. i shared a few kinds of support that i felt would help. i did my best to be honest about how fragile i feel. and as much as i hated sending that text im glad i did it. i was quickly reminded that i am loved and hitting low capacity doesn’t change that.
i turn 35 in 10 days and it just occurred to me the other day that it’s a milestone that has me thinking more about how i want my life to flow and how i want to feel. and when i think about what i want, at the top of the list is a clear mind that is at peace, a heart that is open to love, and a spirit that is prepared for a more present version of me. one that can still identify who i am when brain can’t find the sentences and my body just wants to lay down.
and of course, money. because apparently im still paying dues.
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