I would sit there in the therapists’ office, day after day, telling her I just wanted to be normal. I simply knew I didn’t feel or think or even talk, like most people. I was kind of odd. I would easily cry in random conversations. The slightest things could trigger a flood of emotions, and suddenly I would be reliving some chapter of my past, in front of some poor victim I cornered into listening.
I was an over-sharer, and rather awkward because I would simply bleed out every emotion, without warning. Often leaving my listener and myself depleted. I was draining on others because I just couldn’t hold back. Socially awkward, to say the least.
And when others felt pain, or sadness, or I saw trauma on the news or an animal killed on the road, I felt like I could feel every emotion and pain of everyone and everything.
Sometimes I would dream something, and then it would happen, sometimes bad things. Like the Alaska Airlines plane that went down in the Pacific, I had that dream a few days before.
I began to be afraid of my dreams, my emotions, my feelings. It all felt so heavy and I couldn’t breathe. I felt things so deeply, and so intensely that I began to feel responsible for everyone and everything and so much of our life was chaotic, I couldn’t stand it.
Somehow I was able to shut off my intuition. I was done with anything that remotely felt like a premonition.
But I was still emotional. And it bugged me to no end.
I desperately wanted that calm, collected, confidence that others had. I wanted to feel NORMAL, damnit!
I learned to stuff my feelings, bury them deep inside, and hide the ugly parts of my past, my upbringing, my family story. I learned how to act normal, kinda. I learned how to get along with the cool kids.
But the feelings were still there and in deeply vulnerable relationships, where trust was critical, I’d still find inner turmoil bubbling up to the surface.
I’d get so frustrated with myself. I’d tell my therapist, “I’ll take a frontal lobotomy, please” and I’d laugh, trying to make light of it all. But the truth was, I wanted to carve out these parts of myself that hurt so deeply, these wounds that kept coming to the surface.
I hated being that girl who, “wears her heart on her sleeve,” the girl who is, “so sensitive.”
I wanted to think differently. I wanted a new brain that didn’t react irrationally, or inconveniently. I wanted a new brain that was brilliant and confident and competent and made a difference in the world.
I wanted a brain that made the good life happen.
I wanted that happy life that smart and happy people seemed to know how to have so easily. Why the fuck was everything so damn hard for me??? What was wrong with me?!!
I hated feeling like broken, damaged goods!!
What could I do that wasn’t a pharmaceutical, that would help me? How could I get in control of everything that haunted me? How could I get in control of my emotions?
Then someone handed me a morsel of knowledge. I wasn’t particularly open to anything religious in nature, but this came to me in a way that was not dogmatic, not from a church or anyone trying to push their beliefs on me, so I was able to receive it with an open and curious mind.
It simply said, “The Four Noble Truths; that life brings suffering, that suffering is part of living, that suffering can be ended and that there is a path that leads to the end of suffering.”
My mind lit up like a Christmas tree.
I had two realizations.
One, I’m not the only one who suffers. Now, I know this may seem obvious, even selfish, but when you are suffering you often feel very alone, and I thought I was alone and weird and awkward and a burden and a lost cause. This simple statement that life brings suffering and suffering is part of living suddenly leveled the playing field. I wasn’t alone? There are others who hurt as I do? Where are they?
And two, suffering can be ended, there is a path…
Where the fuck is that path?! And get me on it!!
At that moment I felt something I hadn’t felt before. I felt a sense of empowerment. It was vague, but it was there. A pathway out of my suffering, a new way of thinking, of seeing things, of BEing.
A lot was coming to me at that time in my life. A shift had taken place, and knowledge was pouring in all around me.
I dropped every bit of fictional reading I had and directed all of my attention to psychology, philosophy, and self-development. I wanted to become the mastermind of my life. I was determined to give myself my own frontal lobotomy, of sorts.
Little did I understand the true nature of the journey I had embarked upon.
I thought I was on a path to rid myself of pain and suffering, by carving out the bad stuff and somehow filling it with fresh new brain matter. I thought that would be it. But no, it wasn’t that simple.
All that intellectual knowledge led to the very simple, yet mind-blowing realization that the key ingredient to changing one’s mind – and life – is love.
It sounds so fucking trite, even as I write the words, but it’s true. The pathway out of suffering is love.
I had to learn to first love myself and to stop with the negative self-talk. I had to learn that my past did not define me, nor did it determine my future. I had to learn that the traumas of my past held silver-linings; gifts I came away with that outshined, even healed, the wounds. I had to learn that it was okay to tell my story, but that I didn’t need to relive it every time I told it; it was in the past and was not my present. I had to learn that those who hurt me did so out of their own pain and suffering and ignorance, and it was no reflection on my value as a person. I had to learn that by being compassionate with myself, I was also more compassionate with everyone else, thus there was more joy – and love – in my life. I had to learn to not hide or shrink myself in order to make others comfortable because doing so only kept me in the shadows of my original prison. I had to learn that my unique story and circumstances culminated into a rich tapestry. I began to like my differences. I no longer wanted to be “normal” but rather liked being weird, different and creative. I no longer wanted to be around anyone who wanted to put me in a box or dim my light. I wanted to align with others who thought differently, who lived their own brand of crazy, who lived out loud, fully as themselves, unapologetically. I was a little sad that I had wasted so many years hiding in the shadows, but now I wanted to radiate at this high frequency all the time. I had no more fucks to give about who didn’t like my past, my quirks, Me.
The more I learned to live in that mindset, vibrate at that frequency, radiate unconditional love towards myself it became easier to BE myself and to see the unique beauty in my life; past, present, and future. The frontal lobotomy was no longer about ridding my brain of the “bad” parts, but rather in excavating the buried treasures of my life and creating a masterpiece.
Though I grappled with religion and spirituality at the time, these words resonated with me in a timely manner. They were instrumental in my ability to accept personal responsibility and embark upon a journey of self-mastery.
“The workings of the mind are examined with great precision in these teachings of the Buddha that originated in India over 2000 years back. However, the way to freedom lies not in a scholarly study of these teachings, but instead in practicing meditation and mindfulness. The reality of suffering draws many to Buddha’s teachings; the teachings are not about suffering though. Instead, they are about ultimate freedom and the exuberance that this freedom is accessible to all. Strive to be a Buddha, not a Buddhist!”
Four Noble Truths
- life brings suffering
- suffering is part of living
- suffering can be ended
- there is a path that leads to the end of suffering.
About the Art
I’ve l always been fascinated with the concepts of programming one’s mind. I am a sci-fi girl and love movies and books that play with these themes. I literally wanted to remove all the negativity from my brain. I felt dead. I wanted a new life, a new identity, a new reality. I think back in the days of electronic shock therapies they actually believed they could change someone’s brain chemistry to think differently… In some ways they may have succeeded with this twisted kind of “medicine” and that was how I kind of understood how to change my reality… let’s just say I read too many sci-fi books, lol… But what it really came down to was changing my mind, changing my habits about how I thought about things, and changing my habits about how acted on my thinking. I think many of us get stuck because we don’t think we can change our way of thinking. We think it must take some giant leap to see results when reality its lots of little changes in consciousness; tiny little self-love habits that can be sprinkled into one’s life. They are simple really… Imagine you are observing yourself from above, and you can hear the thoughts you think about yourself, you can hear the thoughts you think about your day, others and the things that happen along the way. Now imagine that every single time you catch yourself thinking, saying or reacting from a negative mindset, you can put your finger on the pause button, and change in that very moment the negative mindset to a positive, from a reactionary to a thoughtful response, from a defensive to an open curiosity, and so forth. From that observing perspective, you can begin to see your patterns and before reacting as you always have, you can see the whole situation from a place of love and compassion and no longer take personally anything anyone does or says. You’re no longer a reactionary being, but a response-able person who can pause and see the situation as a curious observer, rather than a victim or a judger.
Below is a 528 Hz meditation on the “Frequency of Love” put your finger on the pause button of your day, and enjoy.
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A series of pastels commissioned for a Beauty Spa