Inner Royalty and Self-Respect (In the Cards)

One of the themes I’ve been encountering this year has been related to the outflow of my energy. In the Northern Hemisphere, we are moving into the warmer seasons, where, at least for me, my mood and daily productivity tends to be stronger than in the cooler times of the year. I feel that I’m exerting effort more than I’m replenishing my reserves. In particular, I been paying more attention than I normally would to my desire to be helpful.

A core strength of who I am as a person is that I am highly skilled at problem-solving. It is natural for me to analyze situations based on the available resources and to select among various outcomes the one I think will work the best to address the issue at hand. This gift is one for which I’m grateful, but I’ve found it is not often well-received by others. If offered unsolicited, it slips from being an act of kindness into a “know-it-all” place. What frustrates me to no end is when people turn to me for help and then become offended when I am frank with them rather than support their continued denial of reality. Those who can’t face hard truths rarely respond well to those who are comfortable in observing the world as it actually is.

The phrase “pearls before swine” has gone through my head more times than I can count since the pandemic began. I tried to warn others about what was coming, only to be dismissed with hostility and to have the basic facts I was presenting be ignored or discounted. Everything I predicted would happen has, as well as far more serious outcomes than even I had anticipated. I want to pour my energy into people who respect me enough to know that I speak truth and who will be honest with me in turn, but I also need to find a way to reclaim my efforts that are futile and lost on those who won’t face reality.

It feels like a psychic exchange occurs in which I am robbed when someone asks for my advice and then stomps on it, or treats me as ignorant in areas where I am nothing of the sort. It is a loss of dignity, so perfectly captures in the “pearls before swine” image. I know there is a deep traumatic wound that is being exposed when these situations happen, because I suspect an outside observer might not feel that I’ve endured a grave moment of dishonor.

I am working through imagery and ritual that will help me realign my sense of self-respect and dignity when I am dishonored. Icons of crowns and robes and regal adornment are flashing through my head along with moods of luxury and abundance. Where I want to not trip over myself is to fall into the dehumanization trap of believing that those who are rude to me and who don’t value my gifts are worthless or beneath me. It is not really about them but about my need to remain intact when the best of me is viewed with scorn and contempt. Their denial of my truth speaks to their inability to be honest with themselves as to their weak or impoverished or emotional parts of self more than it says anything about my relationship with mine, but, when I continue to focus hatred towards them rather than to celebrate myself, I buy into their lies. My lived reality is that I acknowledge all the parts of myself, even the ones that are difficult to accept and that I have a rich inner world.

There is plenty for each aspect of myself and each part’s role is vital to who I am as a being. A practice dedicated to inner dignity, inner royalty, inner respect and inner truth and ownership are life-giving ways of honoring who I am that may help to restore each jewel of my energy back to myself. I’ve never conceptualized this process in this way and am curious as to how this viewpoint will change how I see myself. If you’ve had experience in this area, please share in the comments!

Even in My Dreams, She Haunts Me

I dreamt of my mother last night. The specifics of the dream, upon awakening, were immediately lost to me, but the impression of herself she’s carved on my psyche feels as though it is pulsating with remembrance of the scarring she caused. So many years have past since I’ve seen her in person that the line between who she was to me and what she represents to me has blurred.

I wrote yesterday that my capacity as a person isn’t related to the approval of cishet white men. I think I need to acknowledge part of what that means to me is that my parents’ views of me are irrelevant to my worth as a person, but also admit, in the same breath, that they still contour the shape of my inner world so much more than I wish they did. My reactivity to being dismissed and disrespected, the impulsiveness with which I direct my energy to defend myself, is a straight line from being constantly verbally abused and gaslit as a child and teenager.

My mother, real and internalized, was the queen of denial. She could cry and say she was never unhappy. She could have a conversation with me and, hours later, tell me she’d not seen me all day. She could witness my father sexually abusing me and pretend nothing happened. Reality was a malleable, unsequenced energy that she bent to her will. I didn’t have access to voice recorders or cell phone video growing up, but I have no doubt she would have found a way to deny the digital as well as the physical world.

She’s entered my mind as of late because of the pandemic. I fully expect, if she becomes ill, to hear from my siblings for the first time in years as to how desperate she is for my presence. This happened a few years ago when she got cancer, and, when I tried to form a limited amount of communication with her, she denied that she in any way initiated their contact with me. She thinks she owns me and can manipulate me to suit her needs after all this distance, time and hard truths.

I feel contempt more than any other emotion for her and it leaks through when I am disrespected by people who might, even in an oblique way, stand in for her in my mind. My dream had only the emotion of terror and the sensation of being trapped, that she found a way to make the story of my life collapse into itself and become only the abuse, the denial, the betrayal and the fear that underlies my relationship templates. A part of me wants to light up all the circuit boards the next time I’m rebuked for sharing a verifiable truth, to call out the privilege that is no doubt driving the “well, actually…” I’m receiving. I know this will lead to a response of useless and defensive posturing. The truth of my triggering will be apparent if I start emailing sources and data to prove my point.

My mission statement for this year includes “powerful vulnerability.” I wonder what the response would be if I responded with “you telling me I’m wrong about something I’ve extensively researched and for which I could easily locate 10+ scientific sources is reminiscent of how my parents responded to me when I spoke a truth they didn’t want to receive as a child. I’ve learned how futile it is to argue with someone who doesn’t give my voice the weight it deserves, so I’m not going to waste any more energy on this discussion.” There are people who show me through their responses that they value what I have to say and take it in without defensive skepticism. There is a new story of my life I can tell, but I have to stop stalling out in the shallows of my past in order to do so.

Watching a Shadow (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

It is raining buckets outside, so today did not provide many outdoor viewing options for my observation. Instead, I used the light in my living room to notice the shadows. As I sat, I realized shadows imply form. They are created in the presence of both a source of light and an object. They focus our attention in a mystery or horror film because they give rise to the notion that something is there, something whose true nature cannot be fully discerned. They imply presence, but, in the absence of a direct view or a mirror, the presence remains without understanding.

I live with so many shadows of trauma in my life–they are cast long and in sharp relief, but the specifics of the events which laid them out are obscured in my memory. Snippets and feelings and pain are all that remain. Even if I am full of shadow, I live in light because I name the monsters. I let be known what I do know to be true.

What I cannot abide well are those who deny shadows, who pretend there are no monsters casting them and who seek to blot out any brightness that would illuminate their dark truths. When one of my abusers communicated their denial to me, they literally stated that there wasn’t even a “pinprick” of light that would show them what I was claiming happened had indeed happened. That metaphor kept at me for a long time, and, through today’s observation, I know why. Killing the light to deny the object to ignore the shadow, or vice versa is the modus operendi of evil and is anathema to what this world needs right now. Shine, stand and outline your truth.