Embodied Heart

Piece by Piece

I’m a they in two ways! I have dissociative identity disorder and am a sexual abuse trauma survivor. I’m also now much more fully aware of my gender identity, which is nonbinary. I’m not sure exactly where in the nonbinary category to place myself yet, so I’m working with the general label for now. I’m planning to spend time this summer adapting my online presence to better reflect who I am; part of this journey will most likely be launching a new blog*.

Before I process what’s coming up for me in living as a nonbinary person, I want to make sure to state that dissociative identity disorder and being nonbinary are in no way inherently related; lots of individuals fit one but not both descriptors. I have had awareness of being DID for much longer than I’ve had awareness of being nonbinary; I remember telling people repeatedly after learning that I was DID that I couldn’t even conceptualize my sexual orientation or gender identity because the entire core of who I am as a person was fragmented. I came into awareness of being a collective and it has taken me a quite a long time of internal work and processing to feel comfortable assigning labels to who I (as a whole being) am. I’ve settled (for now) on describing myself as a asexual panromantic nonbinary person.

I am having feelings of sadness and grief come up with coming out as nonbinary that I can’t completely articulate; I feel really hyper-exposed and like people are seeing into me and are seeing more fully who I am. I am working with a young girl part of me that is highly feminine and trying to share with her that what we are doing is to create a representation of us as a whole entity rather than just having an identity that highlights only certain parts. Asexual panromantic enby doesn’t fit every part of me equally, but it fits the collective me. I feel like I’m losing something as well as gaining something; I’m losing the “showing only” and gaining the “showing all.” It feels scary and like I want to cry because I’m being reborn/re-molded and there is a nakedness to it. Someone with whom I shared that I am nonbinary told me I don’t seem like someone who cares what people think of me, but, in reality, I’m acutely aware of the consequences of showing up only to be told that certain parts of who I am are not real, don’t exist or are un-loveable. For instance, I’ve consciously been this collective for over a decade and only now is it becoming outwardly visible; I don’t look “normal” anymore.

Choosing my own name feels so powerful, so declarative, and yet little me just wants to smile, look pretty and be a “good girl” so that maybe someone will care about her. Empowerment, bursting out, feels like a shattering too. But what’s breaking needs to break. The allure of stay quiet, be hidden and head-down no one will notice me denies me the very community, connection and hope that I so desperately need. I want people who interact with me who perceive my oddity to embrace, in some small way, their own. I am a shame-eater, someone whose purpose in life is to collect the buried, pockmarked and discarded shells of self and mosaic them into a vibrant creation. I keep thinking I’ve arrived at my destination, that the final piece has been laid and I get to enjoy my creation, only to discover more frames to be filled. I know only the why of my existence. Who I am to become and where it will take me are open spaces.

*My relative lack of technical skills led me to unintentionally purchase an entirely new website and domain. I own this blog as well for some time to come so I have plenty of time to see if I want to move posts or merge the two sites.

Embodied Heart

Reimagining Our Flaws

I have been sitting with deep feelings of inadequacy for days now. The genesis of my current state was caused by negative feedback I’ve received in a few areas of my life, which then cracked open the feelings of shame and self-loathing with which I’ve always struggled. I have little interest in believing myself competent, superior or gifted in all areas of life; protecting my self-esteem comes at too high of a price if it costs me my honesty and authenticity. For today’s #EmbodiedHeart post, we’ll be taking a deeper look at how to shift the paradigm away from projections of perfection into a viewpoint that captures our ugliness and envisions grace in its bumps and asymmetry.

Feeling judged, rejected or abandoned is an invitation into a deeper relationship with our inner world. We cannot truly know its state without keys to unlock the doors of what we hide from ourselves. I believe we spend much time shoving away anything that could cause us discomfort or make us question our abilities. If we sit with these difficult emotions, we may gain entry into internal places which we’ve never tread. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I have been amazed at the specific connections I am able to make (within the safe context of therapy) between my current feelings and my past experiences. It can be disheartening to realize we’ve been playing at the same script for decades, hoping this time the ending will vary, but it may be that only through this awareness that we can fully know ourselves and can then help to heal those little selves of past pain. The less we shy away from difficult realizations, the more the awareness they reveal can improve our self-care.

Goddess as Universe grants us an open window into how to respond to our foibles. I view Her as the ultimate creative force. Any time life dies back, She has in a sense “failed.” However, She is just getting warmed up. Into the void She tosses seeds, sprinkles showers and directs sunlight. There is no lasting failure, only the possibility of new growth.

We do not operate on the same time scale, so our failures feel more acute and permanent. Our corporal beings may not outlast our bare earth or charred stumps. This is where the interconnectedness of all beings comes into focus as a healing conduit to change. Perhaps we ourselves cannot not regrow or replenish completely, but our actions of turning over the decay and watering it through our tears could lead to future fertility. Grieving our losses and our neverhads is part of the heartbeat that flows between generations and through time. We may never say of a loved one “she mourned well” but our lives will undoubtedly be fuller and blossom for her having done it.

Grieving and gratitude symbiotically imbue with life essence the undergrowth of our life in places where traditional markers of success may go unmet. To whom would you entrust your soul, a person for whom roses take hold instantaneously or someone who has cut back the ivy, found only ruin beneath, and still stands in appreciation of the warmth of the sun through the clearing? Suffering and failure may not be grace, but pain—held with sorrow and appreciation for what remains—is the core of authentic life.

I think there are two way-stops on the pathway to grateful mourning. Many times we may barely take two steps forward, so strong is the pull to deny where we lack and to smile our perfect-toothed grin of false pride. Believing ourselves infinitely gifted and impervious to what others think may appear strong but belies the thin soil on which we stand. Those brave enough to journey onward may get sidetracked by esteeming incompetence—shallow mourning or masochistic desires for our defects to define our identity. In these instances, we take depressive emotions and pity as substitutes for vanity. Being given attention for where we fall short, we swallow the prickly gift and wear our suffering as an emblem commanding respect.

These are very difficult statements as I think they reveal a hard truth—suffering by itself is movement but I think we can go further. We can metabolize our pain, digest our lack, and recycle it to the world through our weeping and our uplifted hands in praise of that which we do have. Those are the people I most want to know, those who know where they are weak, who care for their weaknesses, and who move through them to integrate them into their strengths. Those who have spill many drops of grief for what life has cost them, and who are not afraid to have it take from them even more because they know the value they may pay will return a thousand-fold in future generations.

What is your relationship with your weaknesses and flaws? Where in your life have you, through mourning and/or gratitude, transformed your suffering? Are there other way-stops in which people may get stalled before access grief and gratitude?