Too Small and Separate a Drop in the Uinverse

I have been struggling with my weight.

Not just to lose it, but as if in physical altercation, locked and straining to wrestle it into what I want it to be. I have been struggling WITH my weight, as if it were another person I must contend with. A very contrary person who exists just to torment me and hold me back.

I have used spiritual means to exact the desired end. I have meditated, chanted, done spirit journeys and tarot readings. I have delved into my painful childhood and held the bereaved child me. I have acknowledged the weight as my assistant, my protector, my body’s way of speaking to me, as pain held in my body unhealed. I have done it all, in aid of losing this creature who makes me not as I feel myself to be but as a grotesque caricature of myself. I have done it all because I want that creature gone.

Yesterday I was on the train. The subway car window across from me was darkened by the tunnels we traveled through and alas the creature that is my weight was very visible. I was horrified. My arms were the worst of it. My hips the next glaring thing.

And I couldn’t help but feel the disorientation.

In my dreams, my mind, my astral wanderings I am not that girl. Am myself and I am … Normal. Not overly thin, or too thick for my aesthetic preference, but normal. I stared at her, this imposter of me, and just felt defeat. And then a man skinnier than me took up that spot and I felt even worse, seeing the reflection of me out shadowing even him.

Once, a while ago, a girl took me into the bathroom and told me to stare into the mirror. This was before my spiritual journey and she was intense and alarmingly so. It didn’t turn out well between us, I wasn’t ready I don’t think, but she and that incident still affects me today.

She said I was to stare in the mirror and tell myself I loved me.

Tell my reflection I love her.

Tell that … Thing in the mirror I love you.

Then, I couldn’t do it. I tried but there were too many distractions, too much going on. And I wasn’t near ready. I do recall the trembling. It made me tremble to imagine doing, before I even tried, this trembling feeling deep inside in the core of me. And when I tried it was with half hearted effort, and less understanding than I hold now. And when I looked into my reflection’s face, her eyes turned sad and she looked more child-like than ever. And I felt such .. Disgust. As if in her vulnerability she was akin to dirty and should be rejected.

That girl who forced me to do that, I ran as far away from her as I could get.

Ironically her name was Angel.

But that in incident in my head stands out so strongly. I feel as if sometimes a part of me lives in that bathroom, a public one with women rushing in and out and staring, and my ex/girlfriend huffing jealous over the girl in question. And the girl, Angel too close to my arm, insistent in word and will, that I see something. Something in the mirror. Something in me.

Since then I have tried in on my own, in private, by myself. It took a long time to work up the courage, its been 18 months since that day. I have stared at myself in the mirror and tried to see what she saw, 3 times. Every time I feel the same. As I look at her, the girl in the mirror who is my reflection, there is this pulling in her eyes. She wants so desperately to be loved, it is a literal drag on my energy to feed her. I feel drained looking into her eyes. She is so .. Bruised by life. And her pain begins to become mine. And I feel such anger at her for being so weak I just hate her. And invariably I give up and leave trying to forget why.

She is not me. She isn’t. Myself from this vantage point looking out is so beautiful. And I do love her. And I know myself so much better than I did then. And I feel so whole inside. The dichotomy is this shell I wear, this body, this weight, this reflection in the mirror. She feels so alien. So separate. So apart from me. Looking into the mirror feels as far away from understanding her as looking at a picture and trying to know that person from it. I feel disconnected when I look in the mirror.

But I must acknowledge a few things. The first being a truth I believe in. That what I believe is reflected in my reality. And the second being I feel the First Noble Truth of Buddhism applies here, somehow.

There is suffering. Suffering should be understood.

I really feel the second insight is key but I have tried to understand it. I have tried. I simply don’t. Understanding it, in this way as done by Buddhists, is to embrace it. Welcome it. Become it.

My pain is so great I feel it would overwhelm me were I to become it. I fear I would be lost.

It helps to imagine another as the source of attention. I would say another person, whose size is equal to mine, is starving. They are so hungry all they can do is eat. And the food piles up on their body but does not feed what is really hungry inside. I think it is their spirit which is the hungry one.

I remember being younger and always feeling hungry. This was long after I had rejected feeling hungry physically and made sure I wouldn’t feel my stomach sour and growling ever. Then the feeling of hunger moved, and became an internal thing. It became not a physical sensation this hunger but a felt thing like emotion. Indeed it feels like a pulling sensation. I have felt it often throughout my life I now see: For things. For people. For love. For sex. For change.

My mind expands with this insight. Feeding is not just about food, although I admit this idea is what sparked my turning vegetarian years ago as well as my spiritual path. We eat to become more than we are. Food fuels us, but so does poetry. Stories. Love. Laughter. Happiness. Joy. Fear even, just go see a scary movie and you’ll see yourself react in one way or the other. We are fueled by so many things. We hunger for so much.

Right now my main hunger is aesthetics. I am putting a lot of time in my physical appearance, mainly my hair. I hunger to make myself look beautiful. I am beautiful I acknowledge but these days I want to look a certain way. A way that feels more like myself. It is almost similar to this struggle with weight. I want my insides and outsides to match. I want them to match and be beautiful, beautiful to me that is. I hunger so much to look a certain way.

It makes me wonder if that is how a transgender person feels? So hungry for their shell to match their soul.

I buy things which feel like me. Make me feel even more like myself. I read things that do this as well. I am attracted to people who make me feel more like me. I feed myself all these things in aid of … What? Is it expansion? Connection. Do I feel too small and separate a drop in the universe that I must reach for reintegration? What exactly is it I am so god damn hungry for?

Is it god?

And if it is, well I believe I am god, we all are. That god and universe and people are one. If it is god I am hungry for, how can I really feed myself me?

If it is god I am hungry for, must I wait until this corporal existence ends to be free and whole again?

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I spoke unkindly to you, last we spoke. I feel that I was too harsh and my conscience has been giving me grief over it. I must apologize. Please understand, I am on the verge of being who I want to be and balanced on the fence of who I was. I understand and see, and often feel both sides. I know how I feel when lost in the hurt of the past. I know how I feel when it is all forgiven. I prefer that place but … To feel your hurt over the past come creeping into your life and health .. I felt it in like kind. I love you. I don’t say it so you can be reminded, Laura. I say it because it expresses the very depth of what you mean to me. And it expresses it not. Because I feel so much more. I feel hope and light and harmony. I feel softness and love and comfort. I feel tears, they move beneath the subject and I can’t tell if they make me sad or glad, if they are an upwelling of good or grief. I just know, my life feels blurred without you. Like I am at the bottom of the sea seeing through it. And happiness clears up that view. And still the weight of emotions, now crystal clear, sit upon me oceans deep.

 

I have given up the hurt, Laura. Forgiveness you might call it. Now I just crave peace. But I don’t know where to look for it, when you are in my thoughts, and only there. I feel at peace with my actions. I don’t feel at peace without you. I cannot move on. Or rather, I have not. And what I have done, perhaps to my detriment, is keep alive a small kernel of hope which says, ‘You are the love of my life. There must be a way.’ 

‘a bio’, and ‘why I write’

I was 8 years old when I decided to stop playing with toys and realized the need for a substitute. Until then, my play had reached soap opera status, the little plastic horses in the little plastic stable which were among my prize possessions had taken on a life of their own. There was drama and back story and each session of play would continue the melee.

And one day, I had this thought, that soon I would stop playing with toys. Suddenly I felt as if it were a boring activity. That there was too much limitation.

And so I thought about it for a few weeks, and I thought very hard, of options to replace toys. And I discovered books about the same time I discovered day daydreaming. And the books which captured me were a series of 7, followed by a series of 8 after it. They were thin books, soon I could read them all in a week. Today, I could read them all in a day. But they captured my imagination,  and woke a love of reading and of romance, which had been a single thread through the books that I was quite taken with. And soon I began to wonder if I could just be rid of the need for a medium. After all, why would I need toys which were limited to shape and form and caricature, if I could simply imagine them as anything.

Thus I made rather appropriate use of the designation imaginary friend. Which soon became plural. Soon, a little tiny wagoneer and his wagons full of wife and brood, were reoccurring visitors, as was the girl who could only walk on shadows, who I often played with while in the car. And the only friend who remained attached to physical form was Buster who was my best friend.

Buster, I’ve written about him before in various self dissecting variations, remains to this day my first heartbreak. He was made of a black cat form, beans in his round paws to weight them, and little orange embroidery in his years and orange colored eyes and an orange bow. He was a Halloween cat.

I loved him at first sight. He was in the rather expensive thrift store which sold baby clothes that was near our new house, sitting on a shelf behind the counter. I remember my mother wouldn’t buy him, but helped me save for him. I remember i wasn’t even high enough to reach the counter when I emptied by piggy bank for his purchase. And when I took him home, because my mother didn’t approve if Halloween, the first thing I did was change him. I recolored his eyes, I sowed over his ears, I rid him of the Halloween orange bow. And then he was safe to love, and love him unconditionally I did.

And toys were played with less and less, and the in not at all, but my imaginary friends and Buster remained. Buster, who was imaginary and not at the same time, physical toy, and voice in my head which I knew was under my control, but I imagined not. Buster who was still was a real person to me. He was my conscience, sometimes, in fact usually he was the devils advocate to any venture of mine. He often urge me to do things which were wrong too, in the interest of making mow happy. I was a very well behaved child, too behaved at times, and it was a nice release of that control to allow myself to follow his directives on the occasion.

It was when I lost Buster that toys and imaginary friends of the kind I imagined I could see disappeared. My mother and stepfather went through a divorce and for a while he had custody. Then, with the court ruling, I was returned to her, and my sister stayed with him. And Buster was left on a pile of clean clothes and was forgotten in a rush of event unpredictable and extreme. And after that I didn’t play with toys again. Nor did the imaginary ones show up. I think the wagoneer might have bid me good bye, and I k own the girl who could only walk on shadows still runs about Portland Oregon in the rain. But they never visit me.

However the need for play didn’t leave. And I did remember the books and the daydreaming, and after a little while I found daydreaming was rather limitless. I could imagine anything, be anyone, have any life I wished, all in the privacy of my little head. And eventually people thought I was a patient and quiet child. But really, I was just happiest in my head than out. If I weren’t daydreaming, I was reading, finding inspiration for my daydreams, and looking back I was learning how to write.

I didn’t stop the day dreaming. I continued it far into my teens them twenties saying I would stop soon, but never managing it. In my head I would play out an imagining staring me and I would imagine it being the reality and this world the dream. And nothing ever came true but I never stopped believing that owned way something would, and even if it didn’t, while I was there in the daydreams, in the books, I was happy. More happier than I’ve ever been here except when in the throes of love.

I realize now, I am selfish. That’s why I write. Its not because I want to share with the world or make loads of money or get in the history books. If I do get famous I want it to be under alias. Its because I’m older now and I don’t really remember the daydreams they way I used to. And words better capture them anyhow. And I’m actually good at it, after the years of being buried in between the pages.

Trees talk to the stars.

As a kid, the November months were the best for me.

I loved the fall in temperature, the cut of freshness in the air, the leaves abandonment of the trees which made the outdoors smell of a sort of earthen nature calling to the Native American in me. It’s a wet feeling in the air, or a dry feeling, or a cold feeling. You must know what I mean. It’s November and it was my favorite time of year.

My mother dated Clarence for a while. He was a cowboy of sorts. Not the actual kind, like from Texas, but he did have a few horses, and a farm kinda thing, oh and a pig. It was in Virginia so I don’t really count it. And he had acres of land. Most of it was forest. Not like, Little Red Riding Hood forest or The Forbidden Forest kind of forest, but I counted it as forest. Instead, it had a lightness to it, a feeling of being alone, yet so filled with life unearthly. It was a sweet forest, a small forest, a hollow of trees winding roots together beneath the earth and foliage and fenced in boundaries. I ran around in it, at the age of 13 and it was my freedom. Otherwise I’d be stuck reading inside a room dark with wood paneling and listening to Country music blasting all the time.

I was only there in November, my mother only dated him as long as it took for her to be adored. When he got fed up with her temper tantrums and histronics (he wasn’t the sort to coddle), she labeled him the bad guy and moved us back in with Nana, who then blamed it on him being black, which wasn’t said aloud for fear of being politically incorrect but was rather like the prejudice was implied. Then again my mother had horrible taste and every man she dated was labeled wrong for something, so that was just how it was, and I really didn’t appreciate the racist additional, so I just ignored it. Which was my default for most everything anyway.

But I was happy there. I remember that. And Clarence was my favorite of my mom’s boyfriends. And I loved he didn’t coddle her. At the age of 13 even I was tired of her childishness at times. That he just huffed a disgusted laugh when she was raging in a childish way about disrespect, when he didn’t even in my opinion, and when she feigned a faint, he stepped over her dramatic splay, made me applaud on the inside. If she had just seen how good he was for her, perhaps my life would have been a lot different. I really liked him for a dad. He would have made a good one.

It was October I remember, just the first blush of it, and I learned to ride a horse, a stallion, even almost falling off I learned. And I learned to make a treehouse by myself. Clarence, I think tickled to have a stand in daughter, allowed me complete freedom. And I remember getting just the base built before I gave up and would just take my homework to that platform and stare up the trees and imagine more freedom than that.

I remember it felt, when I did that, like the trees were falling into the stars.

The nights when I went out, the sky was so bright above the sporadic canopy. I did mention the forest wasn’t really a forest, and so the trees did not obscure the sky at all. Instead it sorta highlighted it, like the trees were reaching out arms to the night lights above, and they were almost in a warped stretch, one you couldn’t with your eyes, but feel with a sense that wasn’t taste or touch or smell but something of all of those. And I could feel the forest felt like .. it was about to take off, into the sky, to be among the stars, except it never did. And it never would. And that was even better because the stars were in quiet communion through the expanse of time to the trees in my little sweet forest and I was mere witness.

One day, after I canceled on a friend of mine who wanted to come over but was a boy and I concluded might be interested romantically and I wasn’t cause he was a boy so I made up an excuse, one day I was out there and instead of sitting on that platform I walked the whole expanse of the forest between the fences that caged it, and finding a tree that felt right I put my back to it and looked up.

And along my spine, like fire surging I felt it. It was like there was a lightening rod, like the tree were a conduit, a shout, a string, that lead from the ground below up to the stars above, and translated the sounds of the earth to them, a tree translator. It was full of so much energy and wisdom and fire I was captured, more than a witness to a beautiful sight, but witness to prayer. From the earth through the trees to the stars.

Native Americans believe the trees sing to the stars and the stars sang back. They believe the trees are so old they remember us being made of starlight. I have Cherokee, Blackfoot, and Sioux ancestors. I am not a part of a tribe, or can I claim actual lineage, but the native american music (the drums, the piping, the chanting) has always elicited a feeling in my belly, of instinctive recognition, their stories a familiarity.

I remember my step sister and I would read a book of Native American myths as kids, and giggle over the explicitness in stories about trickster coyotes  having sex with women with vagina teeth and marvel at the creation tales which were so opposed to Christian origin we grew up being told was the only truth. We were not allowed to read it but we did anyway. I remember that being my favorite book, so dog eared it was, not because the stories were so randomly awkward, but because the feeling of the book in my hand held the feeling of November.

The sound of the words strung together were in English, yet still tasted like some Native American tongue, and was much like the feeling I heard when I watched the trees stretch up arms to the sky. I may not know much of myself yet, in this present state of ignorance, but I know there is genetic imprint of nature in my veins, and call it starlight, or more recent Native American genes, but I know more in my body than I do in my head sometimes. And I feel more on my skin than I see with my eyes.

And I dare you to stand with your back against a tree. Feel the energy along your spine. Let the tree channel you back to heaven; from earthen soil you were made in this body to the starlight from whence your soul came.

I dare you to listen to the trees talk to the stars. And I dare you to lie and say you don’t hear it.