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I Love You

This weekend I attended an event by Matt Kahn in London. It wasn’t a great experience for me. I had a hard time during the event, with a lot of heavy stuff coming up and not much space and lightness coming through. Matt talked about the happiness of just being alive, having a close, tantric relationship with your breath, and each breath reminding you of how good it is to be alive. For me, each breath felt more like torture and a reminder how much it can hurt to just breathe. How the breath can barely reach into the body, how every inhale feels like being out of breath, and how little aliveness and energy is able to come in through breathing.

It was a reminder of how traumatized my system actually is. How unsafe even just breathing feels. Matt asked us to do a repeat-after-me, saying ‘I love you’ and ‘It’s okay’ to ourselves. I wasn’t able to say it, because nothing in me would believe it. Words can be so deceiving, also the ones you say to yourself. To be authentic, I just couldn’t say the words. Even without breathing deeply, I could feel all the pain, disorientation, sadness and anger within me. All boiling in one big pot of confusion and overwhelm. Stomach pains, restlessness, wanting to leave, so many thoughts of resistance. A feeling of being superior, and then immediately after, shame, and a feeling of being inferior. I left that day feeling heavy and shaken up.

Now I am back home and processing all that happened in London. Some old memories came up from when I was 18, being in one of the darkest periods of my life. I suddenly saw the depths to which I have gone, and also how I am desperately trying to keep myself out of that place now. When going back into these memories, there was no connection with past me, as if a glass wall was between us. I could see myself being in an incredibly vulnerable, deeply painful place, but at the same time being so open and feeling everything. It made me realise how closed off I am now most of the time. How I’m trying not to fall back into that dark pit, where there is no ground to stand on, no light, no hope, no help. I saw that this part of me is still there, isolated, waiting for my help and my ability to go back into that depth and be there for myself.

At the same time I can see that I am not yet able to do this. I need more tools, experience and help in the present to be able to go back and bring light into the darkness of that time. For now, all I can do is be gentle with the patterns I use to not fall back into this darkness. It is difficult to see myself judging, going into thought loops, withdrawing from contact, not speaking my truth, being cold and distant and unable to feel things in my body. And realising that there isn’t much I can do about it now, except for letting the ice slowly melt.

This brings me to the experience I had tonight. I was holding my own arm, and suddenly started talking to my body. I told my body that I know how sensitive it is, how much it has to endure and how little I actually listen to what it needs. I told my body ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘Thank you’. I said I’m sorry for being so far away, for not being able to fulfill all the needs you have. I’m sorry for not letting you be as sensitive as you can be. And thank you for protecting me, for being willing to go through so much to keep us safe. I said ‘I love you’, and that some day we will return to the incredible sensitivity and intuition that we have, where I am able to listen to every little thing you need and want and feel. Some day, I will not just love parts of you, but all of you. I feel the potential of being completely in love with myself, having that deep relationship with not just my breath, but every part of my body, inside and out. Knowing exactly what we need, where to go, when to rest, and being able to enjoy living and moving in this body. Until then, we experience how it is to be away from each other, to come closer and leave again, how to listen, to ignore, to use and abuse. And as the ice slowly melts, we come closer and closer until we are one being, light and deep at the same time.

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The Red or the Blue Car

Today I feel confused. It is as if two ropes have been attached to my arms, the ropes are connected to a car, and each car is driving in the opposite direction. Do you get the image? Both cars want me to move into a certain direction, but in the end I’m stuck in the place I was standing. It’s something like this:

Pulled apart by two cars

So what is the blue car and what is the red car? I’m still struggling to give words to it, but I will try (and for the sake of the analogy, I may exaggerate a little).

The red car is all about Illusion. The driver of the Illusion car knows the world is an illusion. Thoughts, feelings, sensations in the body, it’s all just a dream. We are not the body, not the mind, we are that which observes all of it. When dealing with a problem, the red-car-driver will say: “Take a step back. See that all of it is a belief, a thought. You are not that, observe it.” If you have pain in the body, observe it. If you feel lonely, observe it. If you have intrusive or anxious thoughts, observe them without attaching any meaning to it. The red-car-driver likes to look at whatever happens from a distance. His/her favorite mantra is: “Drop it.”

The blue-car-driver loves Healing. This driver tends to focus on the personal story. Who is your family, what happened in your youth, what heaviness do you carry on your shoulders? When dealing with a problem, the blue-car-driver will ask: “What are you feeling in your body? Feel it, be with it. Are there any memories coming up? When was the first time you felt this emotion?” This driver loves emotions and would like to dive into the depths of them every second of every day. His/her mantra is: “Feel it deeply.”

Now here comes my confusion and uncomfortableness: I would love to follow the red car, but I’m not feeling it. All the cool people are following the red car. All the awakened people that are being looked up to are following this car. The red car is like the fast one. The cool one. The blue car is… kind of lame. It’s being made fun of all the time, like: “Aww you are still stuck in your story, trying to heal your traumas and believing this illusion. Cute.” Yet here I am, more interested in the blue car than the red one at this point in my life. And I’m scared of admitting that, because it feels like a ‘lower’ perspective. But you know what? I want to do emotional healing. I want to know my traumas, my past lives, my subconscious thougths and beliefs, I want to analyse and categorize thoughts and sensations, I want to understand it all. It excites me to try to understand how it all works! How does shame work, and guilt, and sadness, and anxious thoughts? How do they come to exist, and what helps the body and mind relax? How do I get out of behavioral patterns? How does addiction work? Why can’t I stop eating sometimes? What happens if I talk about something shameful? What happens when I feel I’m stuck? What is depression? How does it all work? I love this shit. I LOVE IT.

The only reason I try to follow the red car is because I want people to look up to me and see me as this awakened, wise, ‘high vibe’ person. I want admiration and validation of the cool red-car-people. But you know what?

I’m Petra and at this point in my life, I am a blue-car-person.

And while I’m admitting stuff: I’m super identified with this person, I’m constantly running away from my feelings through food and distraction, I judge others harshly, I sometimes feel hate and disgust towards people, I’m always looking for validation from others, and I’m scared shitless almost always. I also have many beliefs that I want to hold onto, like that I can’t just drop a belief, that I can’t change, that I’m a victim. I love rolling around in the victim role and feeling sorry for myself. Oh and I hate meditating. It’s so boring. I’m just pretending and most of the time I’m stuck in thoughts that go everywhere.

Which car do you follow? Or are you in a completely different car? Let me know 🙂

I Love Hate You

Roughly four years ago I made this painting. I still know every word that is on it. This painting has been with me to every house that I moved to.

I Love Hate You

Beginning in Leeuwarden in 2013, the canvas was still empty. I may have done some experimental painting on it, but I made the first real painting after a strange experience. That year I was struggling with myself more than ever. So many dark thoughts and feelings came up, that I often had to go outside to walk and breathe. One winter night I decided to walk into the dark meadows, to a small path away from the city and near some farms. It was pitch-black when all of a sudden I saw a white figure running towards me. It jumped up at me and I realised it was a beautiful, huge white dog. I kept walking and the dog walked next to me. I walked until I reached two girls walking their small dog. I told them I didn’t know who’s dog this was. They took him with them to find his owner. They had never seen this dog before in this area, and knew he was not from the farm nearby. This was such a special experience, it was mystical, peaceful and strange at the same time. Back then I was very much into Christianity, so it felt like Jesus was walking with me that night in the form of a white dog. Inspired by this experience I made my first painting. It was a black painting with stars in the sky and a white figure.

After that, I may have painted several times over it. But the second big painting, and also the last, was the I Love Hate You – painting. Being back home with my parents in 2014 sturred a lot of feelings inside of me. Wanting to express my feelings in a creative way, I decided to put my hand in red paint and slam it on the canvas. Then, I wrote ‘I love you’ in red painting. But I hated those words, I could not say them to myself. So I crossed it out and wrote ‘Hate’ instead. Over the next several days I kept adding things to the painting. A few drawings, but mostly words that had been said to me, words that I had said to myself and words that I believed about myself. Releasing these words onto canvas was scary and and the same time a huge relief.

After that, I didn’t want to paint over it anymore. I took this painting to every house I moved to for the next four years, always hiding it a little bit for most people, while some would see it and others I showed it to. And now it is here with me, while all my other stuff is gone. I have my backpack and will leave today. But the painting is still here, and I don’t know what to do with it. I love looking at it. I love the words, the pain, the journey, the place I come from. It no longer scares me to show it to others. I was afraid that people would feel sorry for me, look down on me and see me as less. Now I don’t care. The words do not define me, even though sometimes I feel like they are true.

I do not want to destroy it, because I want everything on it to be allowed to be there. But, I do not yet know where it will go.

The Uncomfortableness of Depression

Today is the day that I am leaving my house. I do not really have a fear of where I will sleep tonight. I have a different fear. I feel a really strong, uncomfortable feeling of lazyness and judgement towards myself.

“You are not doing anything. You are so fucking lazy.”

“You should be doing stuff. Work, study, bettering yourself. Anything.”

“You can’t live this way. Are you insane? Everyone has to work for a living, you have to do things you don’t like to survive in this world.”

I almost believe these thoughts. I feel uncomfortable asking someone for a place to sleep, because I feel I don’t deserve it. Shouldn’t I be working on myself? Shouldn’t I be creating something awesome for this planet? And what am I doing? Nothing. Feeling depressed and down and with little energy to do anything. These thoughts and feelings that arise are old ones. They come from the period of my life where I was so deeply depressed and anxious I couldn’t do anything but sleep, eat and hide in my bed. There was a lot of judgement from the outside (“Just go exercise, you will feel better”, “Why are you not doing this or that”). I felt like I should do something, and that I chose this state of depression by not doing anything. I felt like a horrible person.

And now I see: I did choose that state of depression. And it was perfect. It shouldn’t have been another way. I needed that depression, even though I can’t fully see yet what it has given me and will give me in the future. The judgement from outside (and inside) came from fear: fear of not being enough by just being. Fear of having to be worthy by working, by exercising, by being happy and doing things. If you are depressed, you are stripped of everything you are, being of no use to the outside world. The challenge is to feel worthy even in your depression. Especially in your depression, because it is you naked. It is you bare, having nothing to offer, just being. And why should this being in a state of depression be any less than being in a state of happiness? After all, it is just something that IS, something that happens that we observe, like any other state. And we hate it, because it’s so vulnerable. I think no state is more vulnerable than depression.

You are worthy in your depression. It is not something you should solve. It is another experience that you can be aware of. It doesn’t define you, but it is a state of vulnerability. Experiencing it is okay, it is not wrong. It might even be of worth to the world, showing that you don’t have to be happy, that you don’t have to be productive, that you don’t have to be kind, that you don’t have to do anything or be anyone else than you are right now.

You are worthy and loved, not despite your depression, but most of all IN your depression.