Cracked Chest Plate (or belly chest exhale 4)
Life is so weird. I find myself saying this all the time lately. I mean look at our government, you honestly can’t write this shit. And the same is true for my life, and yet I try to write it all the time. All the time I try to write what I want to happen next, what I think is going to happen next, what I think should happen next, or worse what I fear might happen next.
But the truth is I have no idea what’s going to happen next. Not a god damned clue. And I never do. The only thing I know is that I get to choose how to relate to whatever is going on around me. and I get to choose how to engage with whoever it is I may or may not be interacting with. and I get to choose how to engage with myself in the face of every major and tiny moment I come across.
I spoke to my ex-boyfriend on the phone yesterday. For the first time in three years. For forty minutes. A tiny major moment (pun fully intended for those in the know). Admittedly it was probably twenty minutes too long. At around twenty minutes I felt my defenses start to melt, I felt my heart start to beat in a very familiar, very comforting way. At around twenty minutes I felt myself start to miss him. Despite the fact that nothing seems to have changed, that he is still very much dancing with his demons of addiction, at twenty minutes I could feel myself becoming slightly intoxicated by my own addiction, to him. To everything about him.
I loved him. I love him. I will always love him. And there is so much more to this whole thing than love. And love is all there is. And this time I took my time. I observed. I noticed. I allowed. And though I thought I accepted, I heard myself say to my best friend in the post mortem: I just still wish it were different, I wish he were different, I wish he wanted to get better. I heard myself say it and I recognized it for what it was, a fight with what is. A battle I would lose, a battle that would always be lost.
I wanted to write it differently. I had wanted to write it differently since very early on. Don’t worry, I have used it for all it was worth. I have worked every angle of my alcoholic ex and my alcoholic family and my own addictive tendencies. My past (and ok maybe still a little current) tendencies, for example, to fall in love with unavailable men because I have been unavailable to myself. My past tendencies (and ok maybe still a little current) to fall in love with people who I decide need fixing, need me to fix it, need me to make it better because as a sweet, sweet child through no one's dictation, I decided that was my job for my parents, to fix it, to make it better. I could write that. I had seen enough happy ending movies. That was at the very least a way to try to understand it all.
But yesterday, I will admit it, I wanted to write it so that my ex would hear me say, I can not engage with you on the romantic or probably any level until I see a year of sobriety and I mean see you do the work sobriety, not just stop using false sobriety. I wanted to write it so that he would hear that and go straight to rehab because my love can heal even the most wounded of souls. Crazy right?
Hours later, thank god, I found myself on that loving humble wooden floor of the Santa Monica Dance Center finally reunited with my breathwork teacher. My body and mind were still buzzing and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I know I am safe in that room though, and I know the power of the breath. So when my teacher started speaking I listened. And when he said if you’re willing, open your chest plate and let all the goodness of your loving in, let all that healing loving light in to do its work, with every breath, open as much as you can and let it in. I may be paraphrasing, but what stood out the most for me last night was if you’re willing.
I am willing. I. Am. Willing.
Belly. Chest. Exhale. Sarah McLaughlin’s voice. Blackbird singing in the dead of night. Three chords in, the tears start. And they flow and they flow and they flow and as best I can and as often as I can I return to the breath. And I chant, it’s ok, i’m here, I got you, you are amazing. And I let the parts of me that want to run to him cry and I let them imagine what it would be like to run to him.
And those parts cried and wailed and writhed right there on the floor in a room full of people. And I held them hard and let them know it was ok and let them know I understood and let them know we would not be running to him and let them know that was ok too. And they heard me, and they cried, and they understood.
And we all recognized how painful it was to wish someone different and how painful it was to wish something was different and how painful it was to wish we were different. And how painful it was to go into loving someone needing to fix them. How painful it was to have loving enmeshed with fixing. How painful it was to think if we didn’t fix them, if we couldn’t fix them there was something wrong with us (all the parts of me) and we must of course naturally then be just the biggest failure and the most unlovable person ever.
Because if my love can’t get Mark to stop drinking, or my mother to stop drinking, or my mother to stop smoking, or my parent’s to stay together, or my aunt to not die then my love must not be enough.
Open your chest plate, crack it open, let your love in, let your love heal you.
My body lurched, my chest raised, my breath steadied. Belly. Chest. Exhale.
Let it the love in and let the rest of it go.
And all of a sudden it all faded away. Wait. I heard myself say. I don’t need that anymore. After the last 20 minutes of going back and forth inside between wanting to run to Mark and knowing that he was not the man I was looking for. Between wanting to wait for him and desperately wanting to be free from all of it, between never wanting to let any of it go and wanting to shed every single identification I had ever had….it all just lifted.
Let yourself free, let your love set you free. crack your chest plate open. Let it in. Get free.
I don’t need that anymore. I don’t need to fix people. I don’t need to relate to people from that place. My love is so much more than fixing people. My love can’t fix people. People don’t need to be fixed. People need to be loved. People need to know they are love. It’s up to the person themself. It’s up to Mark to realize that inside him and love himself, unconditionally, wholly and completely. And I hope he does. It’s up to my mother and my father and my cousin and my best friends to realize that inside of them and love themselves, unconditionally, wholly and completely. And they have to do it in their own time. I can’t do it for them, even if I want to, I can’t. I can only do it for me.
It’s up to me to realize that love is who I am and I am tasked to love myself, unconditionally, wholly and completely. And god damn it if there is one thing I can do it’s love. And I do love, and I will love, and I will see the best possible outcome for all people and I will let go of needing to have anything to do with someone getting there or not. It has gone. I don’t need it anymore. That’s not what my love is. That’s not what love is.
And my body lurched and my chest lifted and I felt it and if i could have literally taken a sledgehammer to crack it I would have. And the light flooded through me and the love flooded through me and I felt free. I felt free of all of it. I felt my entire programing system upgrade. And I cried and I laughed and I screamed and I yelped and I breathed. Belly. Chest. Exhale.
I. AM. WILLING.
And I know I will still want to write some things differently than the way they happened, I will wonder and imagine and create inside myself, I am after all a writer. And I can’t wait to see what life is like with this new understanding of things. And I intend to walk through it with as open a chest plate as I possibly can. And I know words and emotions and thoughts and trying to understand any of it is futile but I am human. We are human and life… Life is so very wonderfully weird.