When There's Nothing Left to Burn
When there is nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.
This is a quote that has stuck close to me since I was a preteen. I heard it in a song once, and ever since, then I had this strange resonation with its sentiment. Broken down, the quote essentially means that when everything else around you has crumbled down and revealed itself, the only thing left is to do that to yourself. To burn yourself down and reveal yourself.
It has been over a week since I wrote last, and I realize it is because I have been setting myself on fire over and over again. And I am finally letting the flames simmer as I try to come back up for air.
The past few weeks have been draining ones. I have a dear friend who once wrote in her blog that I was a person who 'was always in demand'. I remember reading this and thinking it was somewhat flattering, but looking back on it now, I realize it really isn't. I have always been the type of person to extend myself to as many people or things that I could. Quantity trumped quality, as I was constantly seeking and finding new stimulations to occupy myself with. By always being 'in demand', I was constantly hurting someone. Either by letting them down for not being available, having to flake to accommodate commitments that had slipped my mind, or simply never letting it stop. As I grow older, I have done the work to realize this is no way to live. Being constantly busy doesn't mean you are getting anything done. Always being on the move doesn't mean you're getting anywhere. This is something that I have finally come to face these past few days.
I was on a tailspin of a manic schedule; one that had me fleeting from place to place with little or no time in between. This type of busy structure seemed to work for me as it distracted me from whatever existential angst I was feeling from my personal life. Not only that, but the momentum of one project would ignite another, and so forth until I had so many plates spinning I couldn't breath. There is truth in the matter that when one area of your life starts to go well, something else will probably falter. I have noticed a significant strike in my personal life as my career gains momentum. This isn't to say it is a bad thing, but it is noticeable. Isolating. Scary.
To shed some light on this, I am actually going to expose somethings I have been dealing with in an effort to lighten the load. As of the past two weeks, for some god awful reason, pretty much every broken or damaged relationship that was left from my shit list of last year decided this was the time to emerge and face me. No joke, at least a handful of people decided it was time to discuss with me whatever feelings they had surrounding our relationship and my influence on their lives. Again, this isn't to say I am some big bad monster that goes around stomping on the emotions of my loved ones, but I am used to the experience that follows me which is that it is easy to point out my flaws because I am so open with them, but it is not easy to constantly defend the open book I present to the world. Long story short, there were a few conversations in my personal life that were demanding my attention. Some loose ends in my story that were holding me back from focusing and enjoying the present. Skewed opinions and half sided stories was what I was facing. Knowing deep down that with each person, all I had was my perspective and my intention to make things right. Each conversation was embedded with its own singular flavor of chaos, but I faced each one. In fact, I even ignited some of them to happen. To simply clear the air of toxicity, as I now realize it is this toxicity that has held me back from reaching a potential I am now starting to scale.
Then something started to happen. I started to see the spiral. I felt it. I could feel the weight of something deeply lodged within me starting to surface. My pain was exposing itself. After one lengthy conversation with a dear friend the other night, I walked away feeling like a shell. I sat in my car after drinks and sobbed as hard as I did when an acid trip told me I had the meaning of life back in the day. I sobbed to my best friend and explained to her how fed up I am. She asked to me explain what I meant, which meant I had to admit something that I didn't even realize I felt so deeply.
1. That no matter what I seem to do or try to change, there is a chaos and a drama that follows me. Even when I think I have curtailed my wild ways, even when I keep to myself, or even when I focus on my work and my efforts, I somehow end up hurting someone. I am always going to be who I am, and I will be this way until I die.
2. That I am an extremely lonely human being.
Now the first one pertains to the fact that I am constantly in motion. I am always wanting to become rather than being. Being equals contentment and I suffer in contentment. Not always, but the seek and the hunt has fueled me since I can recall. Always achieving and transforming...convincing myself I was learning more by doing this. But it hit me. All this has ever done for me is cause pain. Seeking is a lonely venture. You are only looking out for yourself. I don't always stop to enjoy what is happening around me, because I feel the effects of change so deeply. When I start to feel this, I move. But I decided this year I wouldn't move so quickly. I would wait. I would go slowly. I would hold back from unleashing my spirit. And though I know I am growing up and accepting truths I have already learned, this one hit me like a ton of bricks. I am always going to be the person I am. Even if I learn more or get stronger, I am never going to wake up and be someone else. And for some reason, this realization broke me. Because with this, I accepted, there will always be some degree of drama that follows a spirit like mine simply because of how much I live. And I asked for this. I asked for the grief and the pain and the weight of the world. I asked to feel it all. But something about this night shook me. For the first time in my life I admitted that I don't want the drama anymore. I don't want the weight on my shoulders. I don't want to be the scape goat for other people's insecurities and pain anymore. It is easy to peg your feelings on me because I will usually embrace them. I will be so open and understanding that you will feel yourself able to either blame, resent, or puzzle me into some of your pain. Of course, I mean this in situations that regard me. No, I do not think so highly of myself that people are just throwing me into the mixes of their lives as a pain reliever. But in situations where I am involved, I usually accept that I am the one who probably fucked up. Deep within my complexities, I am usually the one who probably ignited a fire that burned someone else.
But I am done. I finally decided to start using my voice. To not give into pleasing the people around me simply as a means of being liked and accepted. I have never been good at knowing when someone doesn't like me, because I feel it so deeply. I can't escape it. Which is a concept I get strange looks for. When you are a highly sensitive person, you don't experience life the same way as most people describe it. I see so many layers of one moment, that I end up asking questions that most people can't even conceive most the time. It is isolating. It is a blessing and a curse to be so aware. I didn't ask to be this way. It's what most people don't understand. I didn't ask to be the way I am. And I didn't realize for a long time how much I wanted to punish myself for being the way I am. Again, when I say the way I am, I don't mean to evoke this image that I am some moving pile of chaos all the time, I just mean to say that I am aware of my flaws and I don't hide them from people because if I am not living openly, I don't feel right. But something about that has changed.
In me admitting how lonely it is to be this kind of person, I happened to be greeted by a friend in my home that surprised me. This is someone I have been seemingly close to for awhile and I kept having this odd feeling that we were connected in some way. I figured out why after he saw me breaking down the other night and heard my words and was able to reply to me with the same kind of deep internal language that I find myself using. He too was a highly sensitive person. Someone who was able to express the unexplainable. Someone who understood the complexitits of the emotions I was explaining. He understood the isolation and the pain that comes from having a gift. From having responsibility. He understood what I meant when I said I was done not sticking up for myself because not many others understand. I am done defending who I am. Now that I know who that is a little more clearly, I have to live with it. And defend the parts worth defending. Which meant I knew I had to do something I have been avoiding for a long time.
I had to face myself again. I had to face myself in a way that hurts. In a way that accepts the present reality. Things are not perfect. Maybe I am wrong, but by wanting more out of life and by pushing myself to get it, I continue to have an isolating experience. Sure my friends are near by and supportive, and yes my family is on constant call, but I am having to face my potential all on my own. And it terrifies me. It cripples me in fact. For the past few days, I have not been able to accomplish even small tasks because the daunting weight of the potential I am leaning into has appeared in full form. Many of the projects and creative work I am putting into the world right now is isolating me from my personal life in many ways. Much of what I want in my personal life, I don't have much space for because of the work. It is a vicious cycle.
Now I didn't reveal all of this as some sob story, in the efforts of making anyone believe I am going through a hard time. That isn't the case. It's merely a reminder to myself that I am changing. I am giving less to those who don't deserve it. I am holding back from my usual fast speed. I am learning to be patient and humble in being exactly where I am. Sure, I am still lonely. I think I always will be. And that is just the reality of having a mind like mine. There is no way to constantly share it with others. And I shouldn't have to. But knowing I will be alone with this independence for the rest of my life is daunting. I possess a strength that marginalizes me from ever just being. It isn't always a bad thing. The strength had gotten me to this place. People think of me a being this strong pillar of independence, that I don't need the TLC that maybe a more reserved person may subtly require.
But I am saying it now. I need it too. People don't know how I feel inside most of the time. They don't know that I crave the love and the nurturing I constantly try to give out. I am not saying that I don't have this. I am still blessed beyond relief to have a family and friends around the world who would walk through fire with me, but I am accepting something. Everyone is at some point unhappy. I believe there is stigma and an embarrassment to admitting when we are unhappy.
I am happy. Deep down. I am happy knowing how much is being put into the world.I am happy knowing the people I know. I am happy that this pain is coming back because it fuels my ability to live. It fuels my spirit. The pain informs me. But I don't always the pain to be the source. We are in the early thick of the year. We are in the cycle. It is now more than ever than my adult lessons are kicking in. My growing pains are real. I will always be keenly aware of the changes. I will always be the first to punish myself because deep down there are so many parts of myself I don't like.
I am admitting now, I am a strong and independent person. But I am also a hot mess.
I want to wrap this one up on a high note. I am sitting in bed with my friend who is living with me and she has reminded me of somethings I needed to hear. I am reminded that with greatness comes a responsibility. The pressure that comes from creating and maintaining ideas is heavy. But I am not alone in lifting the load. I am still new to this game. I am harder on myself. I put so much meaning on everything that my depth is just consuming. I have learned that life is just going to happen. NOW. NOW. NOW. you can only enjoy NOW. I want to turn off my depth for awhile. I want to see what life is like when the fire is tamed. When the faucet is turned off. To be the artist, I have to embrace the pain. To be a person, I want to turn it off. Where is the balance? Stay tuned.