slipping into shadow, dipping into darkness
I don’t know what boundaries are. I was not taught anything about boundaries, or about communicating them.
I learned that even with no boundaries, even being as open and you-can-have-anything-you-want-of-me as I could possibly be, that still wasn’t enough. There was never time to love the inside of me. Only time to nod at perfect achievements and accolades the outside world could see.
My achievements were lovable, but not me.
The real me was quite unlovable indeed. The seed my parents planted that night as they knelt at my bedside and told me no one would ever love me because I was too mean. No one would ever want to marry me. Did I want to end up like my aunt? No one wanting to marry me? If I kept being so mean, that was who I would become, someone alone and unmarried and unlovable.
The very essence of me, this meanness --- this strength to put up barriers that disallowed me being run over by my father --- this very me-ness was unlovable. So I must not be this. I must not be me. I must not be strong and fortified because being strong and fortified is mean. I must let people run over me, control me, have all of me, run right in the open gates to conquer the unguarded fortress that is me, if I was ever to be loved at all.
Yet the people whose love I wanted most still didn’t come in, even with all walls and guards ever-down.
I learned real love means not having time nor interest to actually come in, even and especially when invited. Really being loved equals utterly being ignored.
So, the more someone ignores me, the more I love them. The more someone has better things to do than me, better places to be than with me, the more I want to do them and be with them.
The more someone doesn’t read my work, the more desperate I am for them to read it.
The more someone reads and pays attention to my work, the more I can’t stand it.
If I have any hope at all of being loved, I learned, it must lie in allowing everyone to have complete access to me. Eventually, the ones I want to love me most will come around and come in, right? In the meantime, the deluge of all the others --- anyone at all! Even those who wish to and do hurt me --- may come and go as they please, as the gates are always open.
This is how I prove I am not mean and unlovable. I am ever open and ever-willing to allow absolutely anyone to take refuge in me and see me as their refuge, to make it my responsibility to be their refuge. I show I am willing to take total responsibility for the well-being of others, to be responsible for them feeling loved and happy, to completely abandon myself in the process.
After all, abandonment equals love. Ignoring myself is the highest form of loving myself.
When all this love and attention comes in, some of it genuine and much of it false and laden with sick expectation, I cannot stand it. I cannot bear those friends who actually want to talk to me, want to spend time with me, want to make room for me in their lives, want to just know how I’m doing. And I feel I deserve all the toxic people I let in who feel they now own and deserve all my time and attention. And I do deserve them, as I have made it clear that it is in fact they who rule this castle that is me, since I am not worthy of fortifying it to keep people like them out. I can't afford to do that; I might accidentally bar the people who don't want to come in.
The two extremes press in on me: give everyone total access to you to prove you care about them (and that you are not mean), and then be unable to withstand the pressure to continue receiving their genuine love or ever-heavier toxic expectations, and giving yours back. Meanwhile, continue to always (unconsciously) seek to give your deepest love to people who, no matter how unfortified you are, no matter how lowered your moat and open your gates, are too busy with more important things (usually themselves) to bother entering. They do not have time for the inner you, nor genuine interest in the real you. They're happy to take a distant glance at the outside, the worldly reputation of you, and call it good (as long as it's impressive). That must mean they really love you.
The people who actually and healthily desire your time, your opinion, your love, your care, your real inner me-ness, these people do not love you. They couldn't possibly. That is not what love looks like.
And perhaps they don’t love, can't love, you, all of you, honestly, since you’ve never allowed them to. Perhaps even they love only the one-dimensional version of you that you feel like you had to project so that no one can call you mean. Perhaps they love only the shiny self you have put forth so that everyone can feel loved --- everyone except you.
Eventually, you end up ignoring them, too. You have to, because that is what real love looks like. And you can’t separate those who actually love you from those who are trying to control and manipulate you because you’re too scared to sort anything out; what if that sorting scares away or bars out the disinterested ones you’re so desperately hoping will come in?
Also you cannot handle the upkeep of these ever-increasing door's-always-open relationships because no one can be there for that many people. But if you admit that you are not capable of being there in this capacity for this many people, if you admit that the happiness of others is not actually contingent on you, then you are mean, and no one will love you, and you will be all alone.
It’s either let everyone in all the time, or nobody will come in, ever.
I want all the people reaching out to me to know how much I care about them. And yet I am unable to actually authentically care about them because I have not actually learned how to actually and authentically care about myself. I am unable to accept the genuine love offered to me while I still crave the attention most of those people who are completely unwilling or unable to give it to me, just like my father.
I want to get to forgiveness and to all of this being worked out. I want to give you the shiny revelation I’ve neatly tied together at the end of this. But I'm still undone. I’m not resurrected yet. I am buried and suffocating in the dark, and that is okay. Still I am alive even as I am dead. Still I am here writing this. It does not yet have to be perfect, and done, and fixed, and all better. I can speak from this dark place. I can be dead and still somehow communicating with the living.
If you taste the blame and darkness I still cast upon my father and those who have not the time nor interest to come in even when I beg them to, if you sense the tense hatred I have for all those controlling manipulative users I have let in who I cannot now get the fuck out, if you can smack on the sick sticky guilt I have for all those who try to love me that I feel I cannot adequately be there for nor love fully in return, and you think, she needs to forgive these people, and in that, forgive herself, too ... welcome to what I too can see and to where I am not yet ready to go. I am not ready to forgive. I am not ready to fully see and accept my father and myself and all these people as the hurt child he is and I am and they are. I am not ready to forgive any of us, myself included, for continuing to inflict our hurt on others because we are still too self-righteous to admit that we need healing.
And I am no longer willing to only share the parts of me that are all-ready perfect.
I am no longer willing to hide the meanness that is also part of my me-ness.
I don’t want to be self-righteous anymore. I don’t want you to think my life is perfect, and I only live in the sunshine. My life, and me, are all kinds of fucked up and mean and rough and still in progress. If this means you don’t want to be in relationship with me or listen to what I say because I’m not perfect, then please, don’t listen, and go away. Because the version you thought you listened to and loved of me was not really all of me.
I no longer want people to come to me because it seems I have it all figured out, and I have the perfect thing to say, and I don't have an ounce of meanness in me.
Clearly I don’t yet know how to heal myself, who am I to think I can help heal others? Let me be honest about this.
To be honest, all I can do is share the process of hurting and of healing, of dark and of light, of unconscious and of conscious in full.
All I can do is actually be fucking honest and real. This is the beginning of that.
I am so tired and exhausted of the guilt and pressure I feel to respond to everyone and to make them feel better when I do not know how to respond to my own needs and help myself feel better. My spleen pains me deeply as I write this, and I am reminded of the deep ingraining and training that my mother’s happiness and depression were my fault, contingent on me; it was my meanness that made her lock herself away in her room or run away so no one knew where she was; it was my strength and happiness and real me-ness that made her stay and be sunshine and be okay and love us.
Your happiness, whoever you are, is not contingent on me. I will no longer accept the blame and shame from others that I am a bad person for not being exactly who they need me to be. I will no longer accept the blame and shame from myself that I am a bad person for not knowing how to be what I need me to be.
If this refusal to be blamed for others’ struggles and shamed for the reality of my own struggles makes me mean, at least I am me. If this means I end up alone, then I will be alone with one who has learned to love herself, darkness and imperfection and meanness and all. All that makes my me-ness.
This isn’t good writing, and I don’t care. It’s jumbled and dark and doesn’t make sense and that is how it feels inside my own mind and heart and solar plexus during this process of death and darkness that is part and parcel of life and light.
I don’t want to be good and perfect and pretend anymore. If you were reading this because you were hoping to be inspired, then the only inspiration I have to offer you is that all the light and love and joy you have ever received from me also comes from one full of darkness and fear and pain. They are the same place. They live in the same person. Some of it is mean. All of it is me.
If I have ever hurt you, or ever made you feel less than because I needed to make the me I presented look and seem so perfect, I am sorry. I am sorry to myself for continuing to run on the belief that I have to be perfect to be loved, that I can only show that side of myself, and that I must always make that perfect self available to save everyone except me.
This is the ugly side, the unedited side, the dark side, the hurting side, the mean side, the alone side. Let it be known, let it be seen, let it be loved.
Because if I can actually learn to show and love the mean side of me too, then maybe I can learn to respect all of me.
And when I respect all of me, I will know where to put the boundaries to protect this little child who thought that putting up any boundary would keep the love she was so starved for from being able to get in … and who then choked on all the love (and hate) that did enter because she had no idea how to swallow it, nor how to pick out the nutrients from the poison.
I don’t know what boundaries are. But I’m going to fucking find out.
I'm going to find out so I can take down the boundary between mean and me. So that those two can integrate to become one, whole sense of me-ness.
And around me I can then put up --- resurrect --- the ancient stone walls of magical protection that are the sacred, loving boundaries I have always, in fact, known, and just forgot about for a time.
And if you feel my sacred, strong, stalwart boundaries mean you can reduce me to just being mean, or that I owe you something, then you don’t know me, you don’t love me, you don't get to get in to get at me, and I don't owe you shit.