This being human is a guest house and mine is a mess (and it’s fine).
Things have fallen into place, compared to the way they have been for the last couple of years. Not the perfect place, but a place that is at least on the ground and not on fire. It’s a place I like. Some major wounds have closed up, and I don’t think too many germs were trapped inside, at least not enough to cause an infection. I’ve found this place that I didn’t know about. It’s a place I’ve landed that is on the other side of quitting drinking. It’s on the other side of thinking my body sucks. It’s on the other side of giving my time to the wrong people. So here I am, having removed some trash, to make space for good things. And there are so many good things. Letting go of crap really does make room for non-crap and it’s amazing and magical. In this new uncharted territory, where things feel new and fresh, imagine my disdain at running into a very unwelcome guest: My Own Shit. As it turns out My Own Shit is the stuff that quitting drinking and quitting calorie counting and trusting myself did not get rid of. In fact, in a terribly unfair manner, getting rid of that shit only uncovered My Own Shit. What kind of shit am I talking about? Super cute stuff, like insecurities and fear and jealousy. The stuff we hide, especially when everything else seems so damn nice.
When this stuff pops up, I feel very Fuck this shit! How dare you? How dare you come at me when I’m almost perfect? I’m finally good. I’m finally “good enough”. It’s crazy to me that I can forget, so easily that perfection isn’t a thing and that I’m enough. Even with the cute plaques on my desk, and the writing on the front of my journal and the mantras that I repeat on my yoga mat, that stuff is so damn hard to know, like really know, when you need it.
The interesting and dumb thing about clearing away crap is that the new things that take that space can be mirrors you don’t want to look into. For example, I’m in yoga teacher training. I thought it was so cool that I was finally healthy and responsible enough to do something like that. Now that I’m in class, I’m learning that yoga is not about being skinny and wearing expensive pants, but instead about looking at all of your light and all of your dark. So, I get to look at the dark. That is not what I signed up for, and I hate it sometimes, but it’s mine and it’s real.
Other example: I have a really wonderful partner who loves me and treats me like I want to be treated. Guess what? That does not erase My Own Shit. I still feel blind rage behind my eyes when they mention a past relationship and do you know why? Because that is what I feel sometimes. That is a reaction I have. That is a trigger if you want to call it that, when I think about a life that didn’t include me, about attention I’ll never get to have, and all sorts of other things that make me feel dumb. These triggers feel like a box of those snapper things you throw on the sidewalk have been dropped at my feet. AGH! Where the hell? What just happened? Why do I feel threatened? Because this person might realize I’m nuts? And leave? Because I’m not good enough? Or something? Everything? Insecurity. Fear. IT’S. STILL. THERE. Which begs the question: What is the point of all of this self-inquiry and care if I’m just going to come back to this familiar pile of crap that I carry around? Can’t I let that go yet?
I think this is true: How you react to yourself and your shit is where you find your power and your peace. I reacted in frantic ways to clear space for myself and that’s ok. I made changes, and moves and decisions. I’m used to reacting in a kind of panicky way. I’m trying something different now, as I try to stay on this safe ground, where there is no fire and no reason to run.
The other night I felt insecure and lonely and the feelings just swooped in like a hawk out of nowhere. I don’t hide from it anymore, by drinking or doing other destructive things so all that was left was being present. Sitting there with this crap and being like “Oh hey, it’s you. You’re so annoying, but what do you really want? Why are you here right now?”– I’m trying that. It’s not fun, just to forewarn you. Drinking is way more fun. But last night, I had to have that conversation with My Own Shit, and look at it and roll my eyes, and find some truth behind it, and then go to bed. Today, when I woke up, I was not hungover. I didn’t feel guilty, or lost. The nice thing about My Own Shit is that I’m getting to know it, and so, when it pops up, I don’t feel like I need to hide from it. I would prefer that it disappear, but it’s possible to think of it without all the judgement. Maybe it’s just a teacher. Like, a really annoying teacher. Here’s what makes you jealous, Alexis. Here’s what makes you feel insecure. OH MY GOD GO AWAY was not a response that worked, so now I’m trying “Ugh, fine, come in. I’ll make coffee” because that is how you treat a guest. Welcoming someone in doesn’t always mean you love it, right? Or that you want them to stay for hours. I’m an inexperienced host here for sure, and don’t always react the way I want to when this shit creeps in. But I try to let it in, because I have space now, and it’s not as scary as it was, and it’s coming in anyway. Like Rumi writes, “this being human is a guest house, every day a new beginning…”. It’s exciting and hard all at once. All of this space, all of these rooms, safely planted on the ground, to fill with my own imperfection.