"No one ever tells you"

*** NOTE****

Deep breath...OKAY,

This is a piece that I wrote to contribute to a dear friend’s high school senior project. She was an aerial circus student of mine, when I still taught circus and she is taking submissions until the end of January (so let me know if you would like to contribute and I will share the details on that). Her project is to create a book. An anthology of stories (including her own) around mental illness and people’s various experiences with mental illness. Her goal is to raise awareness and support for people suffering from mental illness and I think it is so brave and beautiful of her to share her story with the world.

Considering I pride myself on being very vulnerable with all of you this was surprisingly hard for me to write. I still struggle with sharing these parts of myself, because part of me still feels the need to shelter and not burden others with my story. So, this is a great exercise is sharing my truth and my voice and hopefully empowering others to do the same. 

Before we get really into it I do have a disclaimer, more like a clarifying note. I understand that I am not responsible for how other people interpret my words, however for the sake of clarity…

 

I do not want my story to translate in any way as a judgement against medication or professional therapy or diagnosis of any kind. Medication was not a part of my journey, but I know the life-saving power of medical treatments (they have saved my mother over and over again and have kept many people that I love in my life). 

I wanted to be real about the hardship, the hope and the realizations that I have come to in the past few years.

 

When things were the hardest, everything but hardship felt like a lie and today, for me, everything that is not LOVE feels like a lie.

 

It is all about perspective and I hope that this piece translates as such. 

This was very cathartic and healing for me to write and I free organic writing allows we to release and be fully authentic without trying to conform to the strictures of grammar and formal formatting. Through the process of writing this I realized how much of my past I am still holding onto as part of my identity even today, even though I KNOW better, I haven't fully released the feelings associated with some of these memories and I also accept and acknowledge that that is where I am right now and that’s okay.

Journaling plays a huge part in my personal growth and healing journey and exercises like this one are a testament to that. I hope you journaling or some other healing form of expression finds its way into your practice, if it hasn’t already.

If you are reading this know that, no matter what you decide to do, you are loved, that you are love and that the resources you need to feel strong enough are available to you, even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes.

I hope this resonates with you and helps you FEEL that you are not alone, because sometimes knowing it is not enough.

Sending my love,

Ana

…and yes, the artwork is a self-portrait that I did during one of darker more difficult times in my life. And yes, I know that it doesn’t really look like me, but… I thought it fit =)

 

*******************************************************************

_No One Ever Tells You (1).png

“No One Ever Tells You”

 

I was never diagnosed. I was too scared.

Too scared to have someone who KNOWS,

tell me that I WAS,

who I did not want to BE.

To be defined, as my mother was defined,

as her mother was defined.

Generations and definitions.

CONFINED

 

I didn’t look inward. I was too scared.

Too scared to look my pain in the eye.

Afraid to be hypnotized, drawn inside,

drowned and never able to surface again.

DENIAL

 

No one ever tells you about the turning aside, about lowering your eyes,

about the strength it takes to decide,

to try again tomorrow.

 

ALWAYS TRY AGAIN TOMORROW!

 

I filled my days so that I wouldn’t have the time.

Taking care of everyone else.

Holding my mom’s hand in the parking lot of the grocery store because she was too anxious to go inside.

Hiding my brother in my closet under piles of old clothes and shoes, protecting him from the lash of words that I could see tearing at his soul. Crying, hurting, whispering, aging before my eyes.

Too busy, carefully crafting correspondence between parents.

A full-time job to dull and smooth the sharp edges of truth,

to keep the peace.

I kept each piece, of every fraction of a lie inside, sorted and organized,

so no one would get hurt but me.

Keeping small and quiet so no one would know.

Assuming the weight of responsibility as penance for my original sin.

PUNISHMENT

 

No one tells you, about the weight,

about the strength it takes to decide,

to try again tomorrow.

 

ALWAYS TRY AGAIN TOMORROW!

 

I left. As soon as I could.

Seventeen, driving 17 hrs south to start my path towards sanity. College bound but never free

because I left him there, behind

I left him there

With no closet to hide in and no one to bundle him up, safe.

Our little pod, with two peas inside, split open and left on the floor

 

The marks on his arms, white scars brought forward, just visible in contrast to newly sun-kissed skin, F.A.I.L.U.R.E.

FAILURE

 

This was MY doing.

My failure.

I placed the knowledge of it on a velvet lined pedestal in the center of my heart,

surrounded with all the lies, and all striving and trying and tears,

all the fear and all my quiet little girl voice yelling

 “I’ll do better this time, please don’t leave!”.

 

I locked it all away with solemn resignation.

Lifting up the weight again,

I placed my ever shifting, changing, morphing mask of strength on my face  

I lied

And I told him it was going to be okay.

RESIGNED

 

It wasn’t okay.

Abuse is never okay!

 

No one tells you about the loneliness that comes from all the lies,

about the strength it takes to decide,

to try again tomorrow.

 

ALLWAYS TRY AGAIN TOMORROW!

 

I searched. For a long, long time

I searched for someone who would believe my greatest lie.

Someone who would never see that center of my heart. That space of lies and truth.

Someone who would never look closely enough to guess that

I was not worth loving.

INFERIOR

 

I needed the search.

I had an ocean of love inside of me

I flowed a constant river of love to each person I found.

I had so much love to give. So much love to give. So much love to give

and it was never enough,

I was never enough.

LONELINESS

 

“I’ll do better next time! PLEASE don’t leave... please?”

They all left.

Love after love, time after time.

Searching for their own freedom from the soft chains of love I wrapped around them, unknowingly, binding them in service to my tenuous and flickering happiness.

 

I broke open. Love after love, time after time.

No words fit that feeling of shattering, of dropping to your knees, no breath,

your being scattering into nothing.

No words fit the feeling of nothing, of the infinite emptiness that doesn’t make sense.

NOTHING

 

No one tell you about the numbness,

about the strength it takes to decide,

to. try again tomorrow

 

ALWAYS TRY AGAIN TOMORROW!

 

I rebuilt. Love after love, time after time.

Making tiny changes. Learning tiny lessons.

Realizing that there something that I was building around

a core to my heart that never broke,

that was still soft and still sweet and still contained love’s ocean, that never dried up.

SEED

 

Surrounded, hidden, Protected, by a dry, brittle, arid desert.

Endless expanses of sand,

never allowed a drop of love,

never found deserving of an ounce of forgiveness or tenderness.

 

I tried. One time. With one small cup.

The soil was so dry that the water rolled right off.

It felt like lying.

DRY

 

No one tells you about what lying really feels like,

about the strength it takes to decide,

to try again tomorrow.

 

ALWAYS TRY AGAIN TOMORROW!

 

I lied. Again. I knew all about lying.

 

I lied and told myself that my eyes were beautiful.

It hurt, so I looked for beautiful moments that were not of me,

that didn’t feel dry,

I wrote them down, line by precious line.

Beautiful cherry blossom petals on that fell around me in blessed breezes became pages,

became journals full of words that no one would read.

Pain and beauty, truth and lies, mixed and melted into stories.

Stories led to questions.

OPEN

 

Who am I? Why am I here?

What do I need to do to fill the numb, lonely emptiness?

I waited, I tried for a moment,

and then I ran, terrified of the answer.

Looking instead for the things I was not.

Filling every moment with noise to drown out any possible truthful answer.

Some part of me Knowing that,

I

resided in the silent, unbreakable core.

WHOLE

 

I got tired. I stopped running.

 

No one ever tells you about the weariness,

about the strength it takes to decide,

to try again tomorrow.

 

ALWAYS TRY AGAIN TOMORROW!

 

All alone. I asked for help.

I was so tired, nothing left.

I sat in silence, decided to listen for answer.

Listening felt like lying,

and at the same time not like lying.

But more like a surface kind of lying,

like someone else was lying.

QUIET

 

All alone, I listened and hoped and allowed myself the lie.

Just one more lie, and

the universe opened before me.

For one brief moment, I glimpsed truth.

TRUTH

 

No one ever tells you that you can never really be alone.

That there is a quiet space where you don’t have to be strong.

Where you are allowed

to feel lonely, to lie, to hope.

That there can be a moment of rest before you decide,

to try again tomorrow.

 

ALWAYS TRY AGAIN TOMORROW!

 

I decided to lie to myself again.

And again.

TRY

 

I lied in the mirror

I lied out loud

I decided to BE someone who, I THOUGHT, was a lie

But that, FELT, real.

FEEL

 

I decided to be someone with beautiful eyes

I decided to be someone who believed

that there was someone who listened

When I spoke into the silence.

 BELIEVE

 

I decided to be someone who watered the vast dessert, one cup of love at a time.

Because I knew about my infinite ocean

I learned from all the loves that left,

I knew that I would never leave.

DECIDE

 

I learned and read and listened and consumed every scrap of knowledge I could find on love.

Exploring how deep the ocean was,

I have never found the bottom.

 

No one ever tells you, that even once you decide….

You still feel lonely a lot of the time.

But there can also be a joy in a way,

in the WAY,

In the process of unwrapping and dusting off the beautiful parts.

If you have the strength to decide,

To try again tomorrow.

 

ALWAYS TRY AGAIN TOMORROW

 

No one ever tells you, that love

Can be MORE than the love you feel for others.

That love can deepen.

That what you feel for your brothers, your mothers, your sisters, your friends,

Starts off as just a seed.

That with every cup of water you give to yourself,

that seed begins to sprout and mature and grow.

 

It sends down roots into the earth and branches into the sky in pure celebration of BE-ing

and the universe opens to you, little by little and you begin to get more glimpses of truth.

If you have the strength to decide,

to try again tomorrow.

 

ALWAYS TRY AGAIN TOMORROW

 

No one can ever tell you what Grace feels like

because no one else can give it to you.

Grace comes from surrendering, not to GOD, but to yourself.

Allowing yourself to BE,

felt and acknowledge and expressed and heard and voiced and written and watered with love,

with forgiveness

NURTURED

 

BE in the SAME way that you have allowed so many others to be

nurtured so many others, loved so many others.

BE

 

No one ever tells you that it is the same.

That you are the same.

That Loving yourself is the same as loving everyone else

That there is more than enough in your ocean for YOU and everyone else

ENOUGH

 

No one can ever tell you

that you are not WRONG,

that there was never anything wrong about you

or broken about you.

 

No one can ever tell you because when you are in that space where you still need to lie,

because your beauty is still covered in lies,

in the dust of thoughts and the heavy, dark, shrouds of beliefs passed down through generations,

All truth looks like Lies.

 

ALWAYS TRY AGAIN TOMORROW!

 

Underneath there is a knowing.

It starts off by lying, then listening.

Hoping, then Learning.

Growing, then FEELING.

Opening, then Allowing.

Surrendering, Loving

And doing it all again.

CYCLE

 

There is a cycle of hurting and healing, of hiding and allowing

both are necessary

and hidden in the pain of now is a gift.

 

You are strong. That you know. That you have proven to yourself beyond a reasonable doubt.

You know what it is like to decide,

to try again tomorrow.

 

But there is a deeper strength that is not about shouldering the weight or building the walls,

in securely locking up that space deep inside your heart.

There is a deeper strength that comes with practicing the courage to listen

to a small voice that question, that guides you to face the task of uncovering yourself

 inside of the silence that answers.

 

We spend so much time, so much energy, so much strength,

fighting the pain, fearing the pain,

fighting ourselves, hiding ourselves from ourselves,

sacrificing ourselves

FOR WHAT?

 

For veils and shrouds of thoughts passed down to us,

laid gently upon us, wrapped tightly around us by others.

By those who loved, with but a seed of love.

By those that didn’t know,

that it is NOT wrong or selfish to direct the flow of love inward,

to allow that seed to grow.

GROWTH

 

No one ever tells you,

That our mature, fully grown and nurtured TREE of love

is a gift

to the entire universe.

Allow yourself to be a

GIFT

 

Allow yourself

to have what you need

To do what you need to do,

to have the strength to listen and the courage to

FEEL FULLY

 

 

Only you can tell you that,

WHO YOU ARE

IS

LOVE