I've been in an abusive relationship before. It never became physical but the mental, emotional, and even spiritual warfare was real. The miscellaneous, unexplained bruises on my body left in the wake of the relationship were real. I remember that in one the last conversations I had with him I could feel a piercing pain in my throat. That pain was real. Sickness came over me just like it did when we first met. I remember in our final meeting after I cried in my house for hours determined to only cry once over the situation how I sat across from him. I think I put a curse on him in that moment. I had no words; I just rocked back and forth staring at him. In my head I said, "You are going to get it." I came home after it was all over, moving states, a shell of young woman.
All of that over a relationship that lasted no more than six months. I met him when I was lonely and had something to prove to myself. I wanted to have a successful relationship and I didn't want to go about that time in my life alone. Most of my peers had partners and from the outside looking in, it looked great, desirable. Then he showed up. There were warning signs from the beginning. He had a dark, gloomy energy despite his seemingly positive, helpful demeanor. His car was full of bags which meant he didn't really have a home and had too much baggage (emotional, mental, and physical). There were other signs that only I would get, my personal intuitive clues, like his writing style, his name, and his appearance amongst others. The biggest sign for me was that during my month and half long sickness, he cared little about my comfort or wellness. The same person who professed his love for me within three weeks of knowing me.
Of course, he had to have redeemable qualities. Why would I have been with him? He was helpful with technology...even though you can't convince me that he didn't break my external drive that had all of my artwork on it. He was a great dancer...even though he only seemed to dance with himself (awkward). He knew how to apologize...except not to me, but to men he was afraid of, I have never heard more beautiful apologies. He was affectionate...mostly in public. He was nice to me, in public. He was health conscious, obsessively so (annoyingly so). He was witty. He was creative. He had awesome friends. He took out the trash. He cleaned my house without my asking. He was incredibly helpful...but it didn't come without a price.
I feel I attracted him into my life because of the larger questions I was asking rooted in my limited understanding of relationships and the desire I had to be in a relationship. I wanted to understand my parents failed relationship. I wanted to understand a lot of the relationships I saw my close friends experiencing. Even though I knew they weren't great relationships, I didn't know the reasons exactly. This guy served as an amazing teacher. He helped me see the things I needed to heal. When he inadvertently helped to recreate an unpleasant scene of my parent's past (that I only knew in story form) I knew I had issues to work out. He showed me that difference between unconditional love and whatever he thought he was offering. My great desire not to fail in a relationship showed me some of the greatest ways they do fail: Lack of honest communication, running away from childhood issues, not healing from past traumas, lack of self-love, lack of self-awareness, inability to forgive, lack of integrity, ignoring your intuition, and lack of self-control to name several.
I felt so much shame when it was all over. I was ashamed that I chose someone who would call me names and disrespect me in private and public. I was ashamed that I even spent a day with him. I was ashamed I shared myself with him at all. I was ashamed I didn't beat him up. I was ashamed that I was afraid to end the relationship. I was ashamed that I didn't listen to my intuition. I was ashamed that the relationship proved my imperfection. I was ashamed that I was sad that the relationship ended. I was ashamed that in ways he pulled away from me before I did from him. I was ashamed that I would have this story to tell.
When I came home, my mother and an unlikely friend nursed me back to health. I was supposed to be celebrating a great accomplishment I made in my life, but I instead found myself weak, underweight, distraught, and dramatically laying on my mother's bed in a state of shock. They loved me and gave me room to forgive myself. I wrote angry unsent letters (no one would let me send them). If communication with him wasn't necessary, I didn't do it. After awhile and a few self-help books, I was able to see that in ways we were both hurt children. The big difference was that I was actively addressing my issues. It was my budding awareness of myself that created an exit for me. My ego and inner child took a beating, but my heart didn't, it was just starting to reveal itself to me. Following that relationship I made healing, forgiveness, self-awareness, and self-love my priority. I love the woman I have become. I'm thankful for that relationship. I can now identify those kinds of relationships with very little effort and even though no one likes to hear it, I'm accurate.
And for those of you who are wondering, he did "get it"...but when someone lives in that much pain, there isn't much that truly hurts them. Pain is their modus operandi. They feel lost without it as much as they claim to dislike it. So my little "Celie, Color Purple" moment was reflecting who he was and did very little to change his circumstance. It also did nothing for me. I didn't get up and leave empowered...and in the years that followed I felt no satisfaction. What if I, in that moment, decided to beam him love of the unconditional variety? No more words, wanting nothing in return, looking into his eyes, calling on the purest of love to flow through me, and beaming it straight at him. Release. Hmmm...
We don't need to know everything. In fact, I think it is in the mystery where we experience the most growth. There was a time in my life when I thought I had plateaued in my knowledge. It sounds completely ridiculous to say that now, but there was a time. Of course, that facade came crashing down around me and I learned a lot about myself and that I am not always the pillar of peace. I was livid when it all happened and had very violent fantasies involving nudity, a wolf, a stick, and destruction. When I told my friends about them, they laughed and made jokes about fairies dying when I got angry. Gotta love your friends! It was sobering, jokes included, but it helped me find my true voice. It dared me to be okay with being a perpetual student and I accepted the position.
I recently had a conversation with a nice fella and I asked him what joy looked like. He said plenty, but never answered my question. I even gave examples emphasizing sight. He mentioned how joy is different to each person, he described contentment, the nature of joy, he vaguely mentioned something about a desirable image, but he still didn't tell me what joy looked like to him. The key verb was look and the most important subject of the verb was "you", but he didn't seem to pick up on that. In many ways, I understood. I have been in that kind of hot seat before. I took a spiritual business class and the teacher asked each of us, "What is time?" No one could really answer the question. I remember hearing everyone's explanation of time and each time they got shot down. It was my turn and I tried to answer the question. Eventually I simply said that I didn't know...and I really didn't. I was lauded for my honest answer. My whole mind was twisted and no matter how I tried, I couldn't find the answer. I later learned that what she was saying was if you can't really define time, why worry about it. She wanted us to define our moments, for ourselves, without the pressure of time.
Without realizing it, my line of questioning was similar. I asked him this because in our conversation I realized the importance of knowing what joy looks like to us and embodying it. It has been said that we are spiritual beings having an human experience and I fully agree with that. I know that who I am is spiritual (or non-physical). I am that mystery. I also recognize that I came here to have a physical experience and because I do, it can't be negated when it comes to understanding things like love, joy, and pain. Pain has a look. Love has an appearance and so does joy. Joy has a taste, a smell; it is a feeling. So why did I ask this fella what joy looked like to him?
Truthfully, it was because in all of his pictures that I saw, I only saw one that exuded pure joy. His other pictures had glimpses, but this one was different. It was an older picture of him. He looked relaxed, comfortable, even a little bashful, but joyful. I also noticed that was the picture he seemed to criticize the most. I used to be embarrassed about the pictures of myself that showed all of my gums. When the joy pours out, my gums like to make a showy appearance. So when I asked him the question, I was asking if he could recognize the moments when he exuded his joy. I was wondering if he liked what it looked like when it showed up. Did he like how he was expressing himself? I remember being so joyful in middle school the day I wore my magenta pants inside out paired with yet another original hairstyle I made up the night before. I enjoyed expressing myself even if there wasn't a rhyme or reason to it. Of course, he may say he wasn't joyful at all during that time, but that isn't important to me. It is more important that we all take the time to decide what joy looks like to us and find the ways, circumstances, states of being where it resides and exude it.
Too often we walk around with a serious face. I know I have been guilty of that. During my first year in college, my scowl was a main topic of my concern professors. I was even pulled into an office about it. They wanted to know what was wrong with me. I was intimidated by the environment because I had never seen that many intelligent people in one place before even though you couldn't get me to admit it. My sour face was a protection mechanism. Later a different professor and random people on the street taught me the power of my smile and exuding my joy. Joy has changed my life. Sure pain is a part of life, but joy trumps it over and over if you let it. I say, let it pour out into everything you do.
Love, joy and pain are constantly unfolding their truth to us. There definition is never static so it doesn't make sense to claim dominion over them. Be the student of the present and watch the mystery reveal itself. Love guides it all. So I ask you, my readers, what does joy look like to you? Are you willing to commit to living in it and oozing it out from your heart? In the extremely modified NYC Homeland security slogan, If you see something called joy, show it to the world! <------ That is where your true power lies...
Special thanks goes to everyone who helped me write this post past, present, physical, and non-physical. You know who you are...
Really...What does joy look like to you?
Anyone that knows me now, knows that I love children. Love. Them. But if you knew me in my younger years, you would have thought I was allergic to them. Even as a child, I wouldn't have younger friends. I was too cool for them. I can honestly say, I spent most of my childhood running away from being a child. At nine, if someone said, "Let's play!" I would look at them as if they have committed a great offense to my very nature. Snobbishly, I would reply, "I don't play." Things started to change when all of my friends started to have children. I found that I really related to their children, in fact, more than I did to them. I liked what they had to say. I could see how smart and wise they were about life. They made sense. Now as an adult, I am happy to play. I love having fun and as one of my friends recently observed, I don't need a reason to have fun, I just do it. I love where I am at in my life, but I have to admit it was a journey to get here.
A lot of my sense of wonder and joy can definitely be attributed to Reiki being in my life. When I first became attuned to the energy, I laughed about everything for almost a month. I laughed about things that society says I shouldn't laugh about, but it felt so good, I couldn't stop. Talk about healing and releasing. But even before that, I had glimpses of this kind of joy over the years. Like when I would give full concerts to anyone who would listen or who got trapped in a car with me. One time on a road trip, I sang for almost 2 hours straight, no commercials, full songs, because we didn't have a radio. I sang every song I had memorized down to every adlib, ooh and ahh to my cousins who definitely didn't know what they were in for. I love to sing by the way. When I look back, I realize I have always been a big and admittedly eccentric kid, but it has taken me a long time to embrace that in me. I think I saw it as a weakness. Everyone around me always seemed to be growing up and I was getting younger. I thought there was something wrong with me.
Things changed when I finally took the plunge and decided to teach elementary students. Miss Kiki was born. I started out so serious because I wanted to be "grown up", mature, and a "good" teacher. It didn't work; I was absolutely miserable and the scary part was that my condition was socially accepted as "normal". Since I knew I didn't get into teaching to be miserable, I followed my mother's advice who is a teacher and fellow big kid. She told me to have fun. Then I listened to my heart and my heart told me to love the children. From there I had the greatest time. I would make up songs, do one-woman role play skits, dance, joke, make up games, all in the name of "teaching". We would end each lesson with I love yous and humungous smiles. I wouldn't even consider myself a teacher because I truly played all day and it worked. I knew I did something right when a student demanded for the lesson to start. He was like, "Let's get this party started!" and I was like, "You ain't said nothin' but a word."
Tapping into my youthfulness, inner joy, or Inner Child keeps me creative, excited about life, and happy. It is wild that I spent so many years trying to suppress it in order to fit and survive in a world that says miserable is normal. Well I can't say I was ever that successful, but I did try. I was actually ashamed and embarrassed about the greatness that I am. Now, with Reiki in my life, I couldn't go back if I tried. It helped me heal. It was like, " What you waitin' for? Girl go 'head and do you!" and I was like, "Really? Should I?" and then it was like, " Uh... yeah!" and then I was like, "Alright! Here I go. Watch me crank it. Watch me roll." and then there was a dance. When I work with a client, they often feel relaxed and have a great sense of well being after a session. I on the other hand, feel giddy and then I get excited and then I giggle and do a little dance (I like to dance). The love and excitement I feel about life and myself is why some women have children. They want that feeling . I am writing this today to say that if you want to feel unconditional love, joy, excitement, and creativity then find it within yourself. Let that Inner Child who loves to have fun come out. Do what you love. I used to tell my students that Miss Kiki came to have fun and that they weren't going to get in the way of that. My happiness, the love that I felt, the fun that I had, was never dependent on them and they knew it.
Observe children if you don't understand what I have shared. They don't wait for anyone to have fun. They don't need permission to love. Boredom never lasts long for them because that just means it is time to get creative. They are eager to learn. They take risks. Why would anyone try to grow out of those skills?