Being real and realistic about who I am and what I want is some of the hardest work I do every day.
I like to take it another layer. It’s fun to think I found the real truth, then find a deeper truth.
how I get more realistic
It’s mostly about getting more and more honest about feelings. “I’ll feel that later,” is not a good strategy. Stuff gets buried, then bubbles up later as anxiety, panic, deep sads, anger, rage. Usually at the worst possible time.
Some life thing happens, and I have a pain-response. A small thing, usually–since I was tiny, I’ve been told I’m too sensitive and “stop making a big deal out of everything.” So my impulse is to shame myself for feeling upset, and ignore or deny the feeling.
My family taught me that’s a valid way of dealing with reality. Oops–they were missing an important piece. If I ignore or deny reality, it doesn’t go away. Feelings can’t be shamed away, or swept under the rug.
I exist to feel
Sometimes I wish it worked that way. But feelings exist to be felt. I exist to feel–that’s what my body is for. To experience pleasure, to have all the sensations, to feel emotions, and to hold other bodies.
Hello, I’m Laura-Marie. My body exists to feel. Thank you for respecting my body and my project. If given the chance, I will love. That’s not a problem–it’s a basic animal reality, a sweet survival strategy, and one of my favorite things to do.
I try to love an ok amount, with consent, but love is my default setting. Touch is something I ask for, and I can control my behavior pretty well, but not my feelings. My feelings run wild.
Oh yeah, that’s what I was talking about–being realistic. Something difficult happens: I feel hurt, upset, confused, angry, or whatever uncomfortable emotion.
My first impulse is, “Ouch, that hurts. Don’t feel that way, Laura-Marie.” Often that’s combined with, “You shouldn’t feel that way,” or “It doesn’t make sense for you to feel that way.” Sometimes I get, “You have no right to feel that way.” Sometimes I go quickly to, “You are way too emotional about this. I hate you for feeling like this.”
When I was young, I believed all these mean things I told myself. Now as an adult, I know I’m telling myself lies. I can stop and make a better choice to feel my feelings.
I pause, breathe, and honor myself. Gently I acknowledge–that feeling might be embarrassing or something I was trained is wrong for me to feel. But I’m feeling it! Right here and now!
Often in this pause, I realize that there’s actually a good reason I feel that way. It’s connected to my trauma, or a core value I hold. Sometimes it’s connected not to my trauma, but to culture’s trauma. Some deep dysfunction of culture like hate about the worth of disabled people, misogyny, or errors about power.
“Oh, of course that’s disturbing to me,” I tell myself. I validate my feelings, which is a step toward them, which helps me feel the feelings and keep it all in motion.
If I’m still churning about being upset about being upset, I talk to Ming about it. Usually he will listen to me and explain very succinctly how I am not seeing the situation clearly. He’ll point out to me some realistic aspect I’m missing, like that I was working hard to be fair, and the other person was working hard to advocate for themselves with selfish motives.
Or Ming will point out how something has happened many times before, so it makes sense there’s a cumulative effect, and of course I’m feeling pissed off. He will point out another person’s harshness that I missed, or provide a context I forgot. Ming sees the situation with his vast intelligence and love in his heart. He can uncover so much with that brilliant kindness.
what I want
Admitting what I want can be hard, when it doesn’t make sense to other people. They are seeing only the tip of the iceberg of my rich emotional life. My feelings are very connected to what I want.
When I decide to make a weekly radio show for a year as spiritual practice, some people could think that was a weird thing to want. They might consider it too much work and not realistic. But if you know me over a long period of time, you know I am always looking for ways to share my truth and use the gifts my ancestors handed me. The radio show is just the latest manifestation.
I like honoring the Mystery inside me. That’s partly what this art is about. I finished it yesterday morning–sharpie and kid’s watercolor paints on reclaimed product packaging cardstock.
“I’m a shapeshifting bitch–you don’t know who you loving,” is my favorite sentence from my favorite Princess Nokia song Brujas. It speaks to the mystery inside all of us. Anyone who thinks they have me figured out is simplifying me, dangerously.
Do any of us ever know who we’re loving? I know Ming well, but the mystery inside him is sacred and humbles me. And he sees me the same. He will never own me, or even fully know me. That is how it should be.