“What do you want? If you don’t know what you want, be prepared to be depressed;
it goes with the territory. Wanting takes courage.”
I’ve been playing around with wanting this spring and early summer; giving myself permission to want. I had forgotten how empowering it is to want. To really listen to what is emerging from within and explore it in the light of day. It’s downright nourishing, like soil, sun and water are to a garden.
You see, throughout much of 2011, I struggled with a bout of what I’ll call anorexia. No, not the kind of anorexia where I refuse to eat (I’m pretty clear THAT will never happen!). The kind of anorexia where I deprive myself of things that nourish my soul, that bring in the light. Things like meditation, yoga, sensuality, sex, exercise, self-expression, and play. I guess we can call it spiritual anorexia.
Beginning in early 2011, I experienced a slow, steady descent into a place of spiritual deprivation; at the bottom, refusing to feed my soul in any way (other than with healthy food and even then, binging on sugar which is NOT nourishing for my body). Needless to say, nourishment, empowerment, and wanting are not a part of this experience.
For me, this place of deprivation shows itself most intensely in my intimate relationships. It’s about fear of intimacy. It’s about being so afraid of expressing myself, of being sexually and emotionally intimate (and therefore vulnerable to being, rejected, denied, hurt, etc.) that I’m willing to deny myself nourishment and withstand intense physical and emotional pain for the perception of safety. (Not physical abuse, physical pain in my own body.) Not surprisingly, the descent was triggered by an increase in commitment in my primary intimate relationship; I got married in December 2010.
This place of deprivation is a place of lack and shame. The unconscious tape goes like this: “My needs don’t matter and they won’t be met anyway, so why allow myself to want? Just put your head down and survive.” It’s a place where I convince myself that my universal human needs don’t matter, and even more devastating, that I don’t matter. It’s a soul sucking place. Unable to see the light anywhere, unable to receive the love and care that is right in front of me, I deprive myself of the very things I want and need to regain my vibrant Self.
Deprivation and anorexia are familiar habits. I first came across them when I entered therapy for codependency and sexual anorexia in 2001. Thankfully, when I recognized I was visiting them again, I reached out for help. With the support of a therapist, I began the slow climb back into the light of life. Then I reached for my husband, Jake, to begin the process of trusting that my needs matter to him; that I matter to him.
I also reached for Brené Brown’s work on shame resilience, vulnerability, and wholehearted living. She makes a link that I find helpful… in order to live wholeheartedly, we must be vulnerable. In time, I came to understand that being vulnerable means having the courage to want. Having the courage to speak our wants, take steps in the direction of our wants, and to celebrate when we receive them and mourn when we don’t.
Over the last several months, I’ve moved step by step into living wholeheartedly; living vulnerably. Beginning to trust that in my most intimate relationships, I matter. This brings me to exploring wanting; feeling into the desires that organically arise within me and giving them air time. Breathing light into them and choosing to give myself the nourishment that my soul needs to really shine.
So this solstice, as we come into the fullness and intensity of the day with the most light, I wish for you the courage to want. To be vulnerable in that wanting. To weed out the things that are no longer feeding you (like I weeded out the nasty belief that I didn’t matter in my most intimate relationships). To step into that which is blooming, offer it more nourishment, and enjoy the garden of your life. It’s all a part of keeping our gardens alive and vibrant.
Emilah, you are always right on for me. I have found myself withdrawing from the things that nourish me – Sunday morning service, time with friends, time with family, falling into my addiction to computer stuff and games.
Last night I joined you a some friends I didn’t know for a night at the Zoo. It was a real step out in Faith for me. In the past, I have always passed on group outings, and anything with strangers. It was fun! It wasn’t scary after I got you on the phone. I enjoyed myself and realized I could do that – both go and enjoy.
It’s a first step. Thank you.