That’s how I built my heart’s palaces

In the way that flowers bloom in the desert
That’s how I built my heart’s palaces.

The idea of “heart’s palaces” — entire, vast, palatial, seemingly endless palaces ensconsed in the boundaried space that is my heart, really spoke to me.

The idea of building these figurative palaces, akin to the audacious way in which flowers dare to bloom, fighting all odds and nay-sayers, in the drought of the desert — even more.

Lines from my one of only three (boohoo) favourites in this year’s season of Coke Studio.

One year ago: On emptiness
Four years ago: Two new pieces
Five years ago: Lessons in letting go

Happy happy

Happy happy VC! It’s been a challenging year for you, and us. So I’m wishing that the year ahead sees good health, a wholesome and balanced life with many more photography adventures, good food, new work milestones and most of all ease and peace.

One year ago: Here’s to getting old
Two years ago: Would you rewind it all the time
Four years ago: Redemption reading

Year-end feels (#2)

Fear and panic is contagious. But so is peace, rest and calm.

Of course it took a year of abject loneliness and severe lack of intimacy to realise this. I’ve known this in theory, as the Polyvagal Theory that suggests our nervous systems are primed for connection, and comes equipped with the capacity to reach calm states through “co-regulation” simply by sensing and responding to calm states in the other. Through non verbal cues, like breath, and social cues like smiling.

2020 has been the loneliest time of my entire life. And it took me months to accept how much it hurt. As someone who virtue signalled a lot (if you’ve read this blog long enough, you’ll know) about the privilege and joy of solitude, I really hated and struggled a lot through it. To a point where it got physically painful and manifested in really heartbreaking ways.

Yes, a lot of the time I need quiet and stillness from solitude. But this year, I realised that I feel dead without connection. It is what we are born for. Community, conversation, camaraderie, collectiveness. And as I sought it in virtual spaces like yoga, zoom workouts, many, many, many more video calls than I have ever made (both for work and socially), shared drinks and food and stimulants across a screen, in cooking, eating, housekeeping and cuddling with my homebodies, I also settled into the grief of it all. Accepting that this is also a part of this life that I cannot escape. A dance between retreat and rest, and connection and action that has its ups and downs.

And as always, the place of calm returned in the middle ground. In allowing silence and retreat, but also venturing out when I needed to. In not feeling ashamed to ask for the time and attention of people I love when I needed it, in not feeling like I am letting my tendency for solitude down by wanting connection, or vice versa. In dropping labels like needy and hyperactive.

I can do both. I can have both. I can be both. I can trust myself to know when I need what. And they can both contribute to my calm and peacefulness.

One year ago: Coke Studio love
Two years ago: Relax, take it easy

On love (and connection, and life)

I’ve been carrying this on-the-brink-of-happy-tears feeling around in the pit of my belly, trapped in my throat, jabbing right behind my eyes for over a week now. It felt like a storm of emotions brewing in my stomach. Like the slightest nudge would break me. The feels sloshed around in me, threatening to spill…and yet they somehow would just not flow? Just sat there bubbling, kissing the edge of spillover and nothing more.

That upside-down splish-splosh feeling sort of just became omni present. I thought it was about the (surprise) excessive happiness of the good chill time I have been having with my husband and my best friend, juxtoposed with the shit year I’ve had. But as the days wore on, the feeling grew in momentum, intensity and and two days ago, riding the ferry across to Chorao, in a yellowed hazy sunset, it hit me that it was more than that. It was coming from more than just being in Goa and having this welcome, unexpected break. There has been an over abundance of joy, lightness and laughter, but with a very different quality. I feel very overly emotional about the joy. Like how is that even possible, to feel like I could cry buckets from happiness. Like so full and expansive that if someone touched me I could burst. And so, that state of being on the brink of happy weeping constantly just lingered around.

***

S left last night, and VC has been away on assignment since Saturday. So I took myself to the beach all by myself this evening. It was a flat, unusually blemishfree sky when I got there. Over exposed cloudless, exploding with hot white light. But at about 5:40, something turned and just as I was planning to leave and head home, I witnessed yet another spectacular sunset. In those few moments, something was also set off inside of me. It slowly broke me, gently chipped away and eased me into a swivel of happy tears.

Somewhere in the hour that followed I realised what I am feeling is the contentment of being seen. Just as I am. Not too much, nor too little.  And the tears were a combination of having my heart pretty much splintered by this experience I’ve had over the last two weeks. Equal parts overwhelming joy from having the space to be entirely who I am, happy sad, in pain in joy, messy and fulfilled, awkward and alright, all of it. Without adjusting myself to make it better or palatable for the other. As well as equal parts grief from going over oh so many past friendships/relationships where I have gone looking for it, having a pre-defined shape and form in mind, expecting it to be something I will be offered, and never really having found it.

The simultaneous delicious surprise in having stumbled on it most unexpectedly, in a shape and form like absolutely nothing I had imagined, in a confusing medley of emotions, and heartbreaking realisation in how long I have waited for it, looking high and low, waiting for it to be somehoe given to me, when it was here within me, waiting to be had all along, has been a lot to process.

Today, I sit in the comfort of a warm lap of that grief for how much I’ve gone thru, and relief at looking back and knowing it has all added up to lead me here. This silent work I’ve done between one ruptured relationship where I wasn’t met and the next, has brought me here, to this place of being so willing to show up and be seen as I am, in the right moment. That when I was met with a willing, equally authentic recipient, something clicked.

And it feels like love. Pure and simple love. With no labels, no boxes, no pre-defined form or extension.

***

The last time I felt this swirl of inexplicable happy-crying, my-heart-can’t-take-it-anymore love was this day, two years ago. And I see now that the common thread has been the element of being seen. Being received. Having space to just be — authentically, in everything the moment has to offer.

These past two weeks have felt like my parched soul found an oasis. And I am still drinking of it’s soothing, hydrating, healing love.

Authentic, intimate relationships are pure love. Authentic connections are pure love. Authentic support is pure love. We were born for this connection. And I am here for it. All of it.

One year ago: The ground beneath my feet
Two years ago: Love in a thousand different flavours

Protected: On love (and connection, and life)

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Grow gardens, everywhere

Literal gardens.

Metaphorical gardens.

Imaginary gardens.

Virtual gardens.

Dreamland gardens.

Future gardens.

Symbolic gardens.

Turn over the earth with gentleness.
Make space for birth. For roots.
Palms open, to the sunshine, the soil, the air.
Sow seeds with love and patience.
Nourish.
Tend, till, trim.
Wait.
Build. Nurture. Support.

Watch them grow. Like pieces of you, that you gave to, from yourself.
And then like whole beings. That have nothing to do with you.
Gathering life all on their own.
Chord trimmed, trainer wheels clipped.
Blooming, furiously forth.
Filling spaces inward and out.
Creeping like slow life into vacuums, taking over overflowing vessels.

***

These past twelve days, I tilled away at the friendship garden in my life

Ravenously digging, sowing, watching, gobbling, growing it all. Making up for a year of emptiness and drought. Barren, cracked spaces (some, not all) of loneliness in my heart filling up with fresh rain and bright light, a winter breeze to top it off.

Expansive and open, I feel the tingling buds of beginnings again.

I wait, hopeful, of new gardens that will grow.

(This is the soundtrack of these last two weeks.)

One year ago: Better than yesterday, ready for tomorrow
Two years ago: Wait, can you turn around?
Three years ago: Clarity
Four years ago: Misty mountain hop

Above and beyond

An entirely unplanned break within a break has happened and I haven’t sat at my computer long enough to write today’s tarot message.

It wasn’t planned but it has been totally welcome. To have the general vibe of 2020 turn around slowly, just for a bit. To suddenly feel free, to roam, to enjoy the outdoors, feel together, bond with friends, share spaces, intimacy, laughter, sadnesses and fears as easily as food and drink, to feel flexible and allow indulgences, to re-discover home with my homies (VC and S) again.

It was entirely unplanned but totally serendipitous. And I have learnt to accept these instances with a bow and both hands outstretched. There was a lot of going with the flow, even more than I am used to, and it was freeing to be able to just chill out, and not be afraid of how far out we were venturing.

It was time to pause and hit refresh. And allow myself to relax my shoulders, shake my limbs out, swim in the sea, climb mossy seaside boulders, find hidden beaches, count the stars, eat greasy food, pet sandy dogs and breathe easy again. Even though I hadn’t planned for it.

I’ll be back with a tarot message in a few days.

I checked our odometer today and it seems we’ve clocked 1200 kms since leaving our doorstep in Bangalore over a week ago. In addition, I have enough sand in my feet (and sunset images in my mind) to have made up for nearly nine months of going nowhere limited movement. I wrote “going nowhere” earlier and on Instagram, but that is untrue I realise. I have been lucky to get out. Wayanad one, twice to Goa and a fair bit of freedom and luxury to move around in both places. But if I’m being honest, even that was with some reservation, self-imposed restrictions and a whole lot of retrospective fear. We have felt very weighed down by that.

This time aorund though, we have let loose, snapped, relaxed (while still taking care, of course) and that has been very freeing. I have just had so much fun these past 10 days. It’s been a bubble of friendship, warmth and a shared intimacy — all, of the kind that’s been very hard to come by this year.

In an older time I might have enumerated all the events and experiences, but I’m finding it hard to do that today.

One year ago: All I want for Christmas
Two years ago: I got this feeling inside my bones
Three years ago: I shake off all that no longer serves me
Four years ago: Indian Women Speak Out About Not Wanting To Have Children

On loneliness (again)

Safe to say this was the year of loneliness, yeah? It’s the year I may have kind of understood that loneliness is a curve, not a state. Not a condition I need to cure, but a set of emotions I can look to when they are in my face. This year, mostly due to circumstance, I unconsciously became intimately close to many kinds of loneliness. Having only caressed the edges so far, 2020 was a deep dive into what happens when I let loneliness bloom inside of me. When I let it take me, become me, grow roots inside of me.

Talking about this always brings responses ranging from, “Is everything okay?” and “Can I be there for you?” which while I appreciate always gets me thinking about our default association with loneliness as something to fight, quell, fix.

2020 has been like a whole canvas made of every pantone colour of loneliness in the shade card. I have felt hope, settlement, peace as much as I have felt restlessness, anger, grief and brokenness emerge from it.

I’m lonely because there’s nobody around me.
I’m lonely because they left when I thought they’d stay.
I’m alone, and this is nothing like I imagined it would be.
I’m alone because I chose this.
I’m alone, and I needed this.
I’m alone and I love it.
I’m alone, I don’t think I could ever have it any other way.
I’m alone because this is how I understand my need for love and tenderness.
I’m alone because I have forgotten how to be with others.
I’m alone because this is how I wait for someone to reach me.
I’m lonely in how heavy this feels and there is nobody to share it with.
I’m lonely from being on my own for so long now.
I’m alone even when I am surrounded by folks.
I’m lonely, but it fits.
I’m lonely, I’m drowning in it.
I’m alone and that’s alright sometimes.
I’m alone doesn’t mean I am lonely.
I’m alone, and it doesn’t need fixing.
I’m alone, it is true.

There is a balm in sometimes inviting in emotions that we are usually tempted to power through and overcome. There is strength in familiarity with them, strange and upside down as that might seem.

Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly. Let it cut you more deep. Let it ferment and season you as few humans and even divine ingredients can.

— Hafiz

One year ago: Christmas is coming

If I had to do 2020 over

Wordless appreciation post for these two humans, that have stayed by my side, even when I didn’t ask for or express that I needed it.With whom I have unknowingly, unintentionally journeyed (literally and metaphorically) and grown (literally and metaphorically) in so many ways this year.

It was a year that pulled me away from all humans. Physically, of course. But also mentally and emotionally. I have withdrawn more than I saw it coming. My only other support, my parents who are otherwise just next door, and who I unwittingly lean on, are now in another state. My inner circle has dwindled down to just these two.

Even with all the utter rubbish 2020 brought our way, I’m super grateful these two were my constants — punching bag and body pillow, alike.

(What, year end thoughts coming already?!)

Two years ago: Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend
Four years ago: October

Soft

Sometimes when we make the choice to venture into the unknown, we find difficult emotions and experiences waiting for us there. Old demons, skeletons in the closet, repressed trauma. Fear, grief, shame and rage. All waiting to twirl their tendrils tightly back around our hearts. Hearts that have just freshly been cracked open, still raw from the experience of letting the hurt down.

Much of my personal journey has been in again and again meeting the experience — past and present — that trigger the same old responses of clamming shut, building that wall and shortly swiftly back to that solid heart that will not breathe free. The work has been in learning how to go soft. How to be soft. In showing myself again and again that it’s possible, safe, that I am not weak for choosing it, that I can do it. that in fact, I need it.

And because I have been at it for literally years now, I can recognise and I have a full body experience of moments where I feel thawed completely. Where my heart blooms open and life bursts forth, coursing through my veins, uplifting me.

This was one such moment. Lying in the sun in the driveway at home, one sunny afternoon after days of grey, grim, rainy weather. “Eating sunshine” with my blood women. My mother pacing about digesting her lunch, my sister catching the warmth on her face. Someone said something utterly ridiculous and it was funny, but not that funny and it set me off. I went I to a tizzy and a loop of endless giggles that rushed out thru my lungs, pushing my ribs apart. Coming out in gusts that made me shake and lose my breath.

long after the moment had passed I was still laughing, breathless, with tears running down my face. It felt for a moment like I wasn’t laughing anymore but that it was the laughter that had taken over.

I felt alive. Soft.

I recently came across a French word that struck me as delicate and beautiful. Not just in what it means but in the way it sounds and the form it takes — letters standing up tall but with a softness that shows a give. Touch it and it’ll bend, almost.

S’épanouir

It means “to bloom”.

And this moment here is a moment of épanouissement that I will remember fondly for some time to come.

Because, je m’épanouis.

Four years ago: Link loving
Three years ago: When one door shuts, open it again

Monday Tarot Message: On self-love

How do you meet the other in any relationship? Are you more of a giver, are you also comfortable receiving? How is it for you to ask for what you need? And how do you feel as an individual within a relationship unit?

If you find yourself holding out for something to change in the other, so you can be seen or heard, have your needs met, feel safe or acknowledged, loved and validated in some way, chances are, you’ll be waiting for a long, long time.

The more whole and fulfilled we are in and of ourselves, the free-er it is to offer and receive love in our relationships.

This is not to be mistaken as a call for self-sufficiency that makes us shirk help or assistance. Independence for the sake of defying and denying the basic human need for connection and collaboration is futile. This is more the subtle but important difference between learning to satisfy your fundamental needs in a healthy way, versus waiting for them to be met by unwilling/incapable parties.

When we operate from a place of wholeness, we enter into relationships ready to give and take freely, rather than expectantly waiting for the other to fulfil or complete us in some way.

There is a lot to be said about learning to make choices and build a life that reflects and reaffirms that you can look after yourself, tend to your needs, nurture, love and keep yourself safe. Then everything else that you may ask for and receive from the world, will be a bonus. But, to be the master of one’s needs requires a level of judgement-free honesty about one’s own vulnerabilities, that most often requires learning and building.

Cultivating the means to meeting your own needs begins with a truthful understanding of your needs — whatever they may be. Union and connection for some, safety and boundaries for others. This too is an act of self-love. The term gets oversimplified when we don’t include the important parts of owning up to missteps that we may have made from seeking love or completion in places where it could not be found. From people who weren’t equipped to fill those gaps. Or in places that were inherently unsafe.

Completeness or “wholeness” as it is often called in therapeutic practice comes from understanding needs, which are the shaped by a range of experiences and the positive and negative effects they may have had on us. When we do ourselves the honour of healing that emotional back-log, we can connect with others without putting the burden to soothe us, on them.

Self-love and healing is about reinstating trust within yourself, that you can keep yourself safe, loved and cared for. That you are enough. The interesting thing is that learning this takes *making* choices that reflect the fact itself.

A catch-22 of sorts.

You can begin by checkin what it’s like for you to say, “I can trust that I can keep myself safe” ? See what comes up for you. Is it disbelief? Or maybe a deep trust already exists.

Two years ago: One breath leads to another
Three years ago: Go, Goa, Gone: End of my sunshine dream
Four years ago: This morning

Lockdown love

We had such a peak 2020 celebration for our anniversary last night. I cannot get over how accurately a couple of hours one evening, succinctly mirrored the general progression of this year.

It began well. With promise, even, despite being locked down. VC got me yellow roses, as he did last year. As he always does. As he always has since the start of us knowing each other (see here, here and here).

We went from having no plans to deciding to treat ourselves to a good evening right here at home. I drag VC’s ass to take a nice picture of us every anniversary. Over the years his enthusiasm has gone from somewhat willing to very, very reluctant to complete disinterest, to now slightly more willing because rather than take a hurried self-timer shot on the phone, he gets to set up his camera. Last night we even got “dressed”. And by that I mean got out of our standard evening attire of pajamas and into decent clothes, I put on kajal and earrings, and we took some lovely photographs.

That lasted all of half an hour, before we relapsed back into our PJs, waiting for dinner to arrive. We even splurged a little and ordered a fantastic meal of dimsum and stirfry and flat noodles and what not. We had a few drinks, and I actually indulged and had more than my standard single micro-mini whiskey.

At some point in the midst of all of this we got into a conversation that started as just that — a conversation — but very quickly escalated into a very heated conversation and finally into a full blown debate. Both of us very steadily slipping into a spiral of incoherence, leaving the original premise of the argument far behind, veering off kilter so terribly that neither of us knew what the other was saying. And eventually we didn’t even know what we were saying anymore.

I have to say, though, that my ability to remain calm even in impassioned discussions has greatly increased and anger/rage was nowhere to be seen. I was almost waiting for it to arrive and make a loud entrance, but nope. No luck. Until the very end, when emotions were SO high and emboldened, that VC said something to me that was mostly untrue, but rather hurtful. And it jabbed me in a way that I wasn’t anticipating, thanks to the surprisingly even-flow nature of the conversation thus far.

Filled with hurt, half in disbelief and half in shock, I snapped back at him;

Happy anniversary to you too, as he slipped away to bed. And I stayed up in the living room, watching Netflix till my emotions simmered down.

***

I find that the amount of emotional labour I am willing to expend on soothing VC’s trauma, at the cost of triggering my own, has greatly diminished. I am all for building a supportive relationship, but I see how my definitions of that are so different now. Some years ago, I might have taken it upon myself to not only get my point across but also ensure that VC was feeling better by the end of it. And yes, I would have virtuously taken this on singlehandedly, despite nobody (least of all VC) asking me to.

These actions, that I thought were coming from a place of empathy, compassion and love, were absolutely not. Now, being compassionate has come to mean letting emotions flow if they must. Even if they are burning the room up around us.

My capacity to remain in that godawful uncomfortable space of stewing in a mixed-bag of very volatile emotions — and watch VC do that too, in his own way — has improved a smidgen. It doesn’t mean the disagreements are less painful. If anything, they’re worse and horribly more painful because the truth now has the permission to pounce out with no filters slapped on. Nobody is mincing words anymore. But it does mean that when the hurt comes, I am able to stand by my own side first, soothing myself, before jumping to rescue anyone else.

It’s taken twelve years of being married to finally realise that rescuing my husband is not a KRA I need to keep. Many times he doesn’t need rescuing. Many times he can rescue himself.

***

This morning though, we were back to doing the dishes together, and him sharing with me that he didn’t remember too many specific details of where the conversation veered after a point. Possibly that point of no return, which should also be the point at which one should end such conversations, or know that nothing after that is to be taken seriously, or as the truth.

In the past, painful conversations like this would have a distasteful energy that lingered for hours, sometimes days, after. But something different happened yesterday.

Ah well. Lockdown anniversary marking twelve years of marriage. I guess we had to have something different to remember this one.

One year ago: Monday funday
Two years ago: Every inch of sky’s got a star
Four years ago: Disjointed, incomplete thoughts

Twelve

Happy 12th, to the boy who doesn’t hesitate one bit to tell me how much he loves making a life and sharing a home with me. Reminding me so often, that it’s the little things that make a life.

What would I do without your unabashed, childlike, honesty?

Past anniversaries: eleven, tennineeightsevensixfivefourthreetwoone.

Coming back to life, again

Taking a break from the Monday Tarot Message this week. Because, I’ve had a very challenging past week, and weekend too. Just dealing with a lot of emotions — like I said here — and trying to stay with it, rather than disconnect and float off into fantasy land where everything is changa si. Things weren’t good. But it is the way it is when you confront challenging emotions, make strides with accepting discomfort and internalising difficult realisations.

I was excessively sad. Grief is too small a word for what I was going through. And there was also anger, as I mentioned the other day. So much anger at being gaslit, and what that did to me, unconsciously baiting me in to a process I could have sidestepped.

I was on edge, irritable and lashed out on everybody and everything, very, very easily. And so to avoid doing that, I went under a bit. Incommunicado.

I’ve traversed a world of emotions in the last seven days, and with an intensity that I haven’t felt in a while. What’s more, it brought a feeling of being unmoored, which I haven’t felt since about 2016. The thing about unraveling and diving into the grief pool is that it makes everything watery and dilute. I lose sight of where I’m at and how far I’ve come. And when the present is clouded, the past takes over so easily.

The incident at class triggered something so deep this time. I confronted really old, old narratives that my logical brain knows I have moved past. And yet, there they were, dragging me down again. I had a surge of memories from wayyyyy back, like years 1-6 in school. Some that I had buried, some that I didn’t even know existed. Painful, not too pleasant ones. Worries around success and money, that I absolutely certainly have a much more flexible, soft and clear approach towards now, surfaced in their old avatar. I felt extreme lack in so many fronts. And almost all of this attacks my self-worth. Cumulatively, I went nose-first into the pit of self-pity, beating my own worth down with all I had. Between Monday to Friday, I had gradually pulled my life apart and was on the way to convincing myself it is all for naught.

Its also been excessively rainy, and while the sun comes out we haven’t had bright, sunshiney days in over ten days now. The weather has officially crossed that fine line between sexy and wonderful to downright gloomy.

When I don’t see the sun for a considerable time, I get the blues, I do. VC snapped this picture of me just hanging out in the balcony, watching the daily 4 pm rain, wishing for just a spot of sunshine. Basic, everyday comforts like chai that VC makes for me, and creature comforts like home-delivered sourdough croissants have really gotten me through.

The weekend was a good transit, a slow moving from what felt like a very unanchored and chaotic state in the days before to today which has me back on solid ground again. The coming up for a breath of air, letting my arms and legs relax after a week of flapping them around to stay afloat while a storm of emotions raged on within and around me.

The good news is my laptop got miraculously fixed, very, very easily. Leading me to believe it was but another text the universe sent my way, in what was a very..ahem..testy week. I leaned on got very clingy with VC in a way that I haven’t in a while, the poor thing. After trying to stay on top of things, and failing, all week, I took the weekend to just stay in. I did work some, but mostly we just rested, I cooked and got the house in order, which is all very grounding for me. Things I wasn’t very successful with doing during the week itself.

These days I feel the waves of emotions come and go, within my body. The more tuned into to my physical body I become, the more I see how my emotional body impacts it and vice versa. By Saturday night I felt the weight literally lift. My eyes felt bright, open and my face less pressured and compact. My breathing that was shallow, was open and easy again.

Cumulatively, it’s been upwards of two weeks since I have been wallowing in the dumps, in varying degrees of distress. It goes all the way back here and here and got progressively harder as the days when on, as you’ll recall seeing here and here.

But that was last week. And then the weekend brought fresh energy. VC and I had some spontaneous but important conversations that I didn’t know needed to be had. Some words I needed to hear, some pieces falling into place. Some reassurance, some support I needed, but didn’t realise it was right here for the taking. On Sunday, I just took the time to savour the return of energy and normalcy. We spent the day with VC’s family, which surprisingly was a good break for me.

It was only over the course of the weekend, when I relaxed and quit literally returned to my body, that I realised I’ve been feeling quite emotionally knackered the past few days. So I eased up, and went to bed with a belly full of good homely food, having spent a few hours setting up my old-new laptop again, and knowing somewhere in the pit of my being that the new week is going to be different.

Lo and behold, I was right. This morning I felt alive again. Like a butterfly that’s emerged out of a pupa. We focus so much on the flourish and beauty of the emergence, not realising that the process of coming out is preceded by so much physical distress, thrashing around, exercising new muscles that will enable flight.

I felt freedom in my body this morning, a new energy. New wings. New light. New day. It’s easy to think of growth as a peachy, honey soaked journey where you move from milestone to milestone all the better for it. Yes, we’re largely always better from our experiences of growth, but they are never without their share of stretch and deeply painful challenges.

It’s also very easy to deny myself the allowance of feeling and being challenged in this way, because of the assumption that doing self work somehow makes me immune to it. It’s a constant process of reminding myself how human I am. That in healing means opening up to feeling things more keenly, allowing for a lot more emotional onslaught, but learning to handle it with gentleness and care.

I am only human. I’m coming back to life. All over, yet again.

(Monday Tarot Messages will resume next week.)

One year ago: This way or that
Two years ago: I request another dream
Four years ago: I’m reading again, so books

Broken

I’ve spent the day feeling a bit heavy and sad about hitting the one year mark since 370 was abrogated. Thinking about how even one year down things are far from hreturned to normalcy, but slipped further into chaos, actually makes my eyes well up. That it is all just shrouded in silence, an entire state silenced, forgotten brings up so much grief for me. It hurts deeply, somehow.

I went for a long walk this evening. It wasn’t planned. But I needed the quiet and the time to be by myself and to just let my thoughts flow as the tears did.

I don’t know where we are going as a nation. This thought is not just troubling but very unsettling. I think of myself and how little time I feel I have, and wonder if I should be wasting it away in a country I no longer feel is my own.

The desire to leave and find elsewhere is real. Sure, every country on the planet has issues today, but I can think of at least a dozen where I feel safe, on the basis of my priorities in life at the moment.

I watched some videos of Shaheen Bagh today, feeling terrible that I didn’t make it there to witness it in person when I could. I cried watching the women, smiles on their faces, using their bodies to resist. How long will women continue to be the most vulnerable? How long will women have to stand in revolt, starting with our own bodies, within our own homes and further out into our streets and cities and lands beyond?

I know a fearless state is potentially nonexistent. I don’t know if I can ever be completely devoid of fear, but I like to dream of a land where these basic fears won’t chase me. A fear of speaking my mind, because I think differently. Fear of believing in things opposed to that of the status quo, the majority. The fear of looking, living and feeling differently from what “I’m supposed to feel”.

Fear of carrying my life around in a woman’s body. Fear of not conforming. Fear of letting too much show, having said too much, or feeling too much. A very real fear of never being able to live unguarded — physically, emotionally.

***

This is the reality we live in. The country is being ripped to shreds in every way possible. If you’re tuned into the news, you’ll know in how many, many, many ways. So many ways, it hurts. So many, many ways, it feels impossible to even think about how we’ll begin to make amends. It feels like an attack, and it feels very, very personal. Even I in my privileged bubble, feel afraid. And I feel rage. And I feel helplessness.

 ***

Most of us live in constant conflict with our shadow selves, whether consciously or unconsciously. It’s that deep dark place that holds all our vulnerabilities, our triggers, our fears and shame safe from being out in the open for all to see. And so we live in a way that denies its very existence. But that only amplifies and strengthens it. That which is kept under wraps, finds all kinds of ways to surface and be seen. And I think this is what is happening in this country. Generations of keeping our hypocrisies, our chasms and the fault lines of our sick, sick culture under wraps is what has brought us to this point in history where our shadow side as a nation is on full display.

As with any churn, a deep unsettlement ensues, bringing up both the sweet and sick, the benevolent and maleficent, the good and evil in (un)equal measure. In my personal journey, I have seen how working to excavate my sense of wholeness or personhood has required me to sit with my shadow. The dark spaces that hold these not so pleasant parts of me. And I wonder if as a nation this is our time of reckoning. To sit with the ugliness, call it what it is, not wish it away, not side step it, but sit right with it, name it and wait for the great churn to complete its tide.

If this pandemic has taught me anything, it is this. There is no getting to wellness without discomfort. Similarly, there is no getting to healing and wholeness, without first experiencing the many ways in which we are in fact broken.

On the eve of the day that marks a year since we snuffed out an entire state, erasing very specifically the experiences of millions of a certain community; on the eve of a day when this country will celebrate the inauguration of a temple whose very foundation is steeped in carnage; I feel broken today.

I feel broken.

Four years ago: So green