With your encouragement you give yourself and everyone you encounter a way up.
excerpted DREAMS chapter from the upcoming digital version of THE BARE MELCESSITIES Melanie Lutz's critically acclaimed self portrait of a year spent learning to love yourself after a divorce.
Is it the characteristics of consequence or the consequence of character that leads you into a relationship with an other.
As things fractured. I clung to the one detail that could have been my salvation or my crucifier. The one detail that could have taken me to heaven or hell if I had been able to see it correctly. If my perception wasn’t distorted. I never heard the sounds of self abuse that emanated from my partner… he merely amplified my own doubts and over active twisted self hatred and voice of “I’m not good enough.”
Sound like the symphony of support. Sound like someone you want to rush home to. It took me till right now to understand he was speaking to himself.
“You could have done it better.” Was one of his arm chair favorites.
Dreams are a funny thing. Waking up is an ongoing process.
“If you did it this way. Things would have worked out.” Really?
The story has been experienced in a million different ways as accented by Lady GaGa in a recent Cosmo… “I had a boyfriend who told me I’d never succeed, never be nominated for a Grammy, never have a hit song, and that he hoped I’d fail. I said to him, ‘Someday, when we’re not together, you won’t be able to order a cup of coffee at the fucking deli without hearing or seeing me.’”
I like that she gave it the f-you, I like that she used her energy to propel the deeper truth about who she was becoming.
My underling, unrecognized belief that I wasn’t good enough was working to keep me from my self. Outwardly life was beautiful, I had success, I was happy, I spread joy, I did what I wanted I lived fully and actively. I continued to learn and grow and develop. I helped a ton of people. I experienced everything. I just did it “alone” enslaved and isolated with my limiting belief.
A lot of the time the messages we surround ourselves with reflect the self esteem level that we are operating at. I didn’t know I had low self esteem. I thought I needed to work harder. To struggle. I had no idea that wasn’t how things were. Because I was always achieving, being recognized it didn’t occur to me I was sinking. By not going within as Debbie Ford puts it I went without.
When I started to notice that I was living outside of my body in an insane bubble of not connecting it came on hard and it went through me fast.
“Are you ready to own what you know?”
For a long time I wasn’t. It didn’t seem possible for me. I thought once you make a commitment you see it through. Unconsciously I was crying every chance I got. My tenacity was off the charts so all I could do was do more. Whatever it was. Show up. Move forward. No dwelling. While people are busy saying “It can’t be done.” I’ll just do it. No time to wait. Change. Think. Be.
I know what my thoughts were…
I’m tougher than he is.
I’m stronger than they are.
I’m etc. than other people.
I can handle it.
It’s easy to see how I became my patterned thinking in the relationship. My Man had some deep insecurities from his childhood and we fit together. Our unconscious parts a match. He was the “Life of the party” I was missing from my personality.
I knew how to work really hard at getting exactly what I didn’t want. That was my pattern. Work hard. Work hard. It doesn’t matter if it is what you want…Just do it… That’s how you get ahead.
I ignored the neurotic, anxiety ridden, unadmitted alcoholism he displayed and thought it was charming.
Until it wasn’t.
The wrapping of his happy go lucky exterior confused me. But confusion was par for the course.
Until it wasn’t.
It was only confusing because I never knew myself.
As Freud said intelligence is used in service of the neurosis.
I had no idea until my Dad’s quadruple bypass surgery, and a big thanks to the disastrous Brittany Spears opening number at the VMA’s for distracting me and my Dad’s nurse, that throughout my life my Dad suffered from a non debilitating, raging anxiety complex complete with a massive case of claustrophobia and paranoia hidden from the kids but manifest and flaring day in and day out.
In the Army my Dad was involved in a war truck transportation accident. A story he would tell repeatedly with great humor and laughter completely hiding the deeper trauma. In looking back it was a huge factor in his behavior throughout my childhood. AND. I had no idea.
I had grown up with surrounding neurosis and fear and trauma and it was kept secret. The energy raging throughout our household AND I HAD NO IDEA. My Mother was always in full on keeping it together behavior parading around with her own demons “helping” the man she loved.
When I found this detail out my Dad emerged as the shadow figure. It made sense to me that I would repeat the confusion of my childhood in my significant adult relationships.
I was living a happy, loving, fun life. Working and running as fast as possible away from myself. I had been doing a mad dash away from myself forever. I wasn’t connected to myself. I had shut myself down. I had morphed and twisted into a hideous beast. I kept running away and eventually I was so far from myself I had no idea how to get back to me. To return to the joy and lightness of being.
I allowed myself to feel, hold and live in a daily emotional betrayal. To energetically live with a deeply anxiety ridden soul because it felt familiar. It felt like the home I grew up in. I never learned how to be safe. I never learned how to be with people. I never learned how to do anything. Always saying things were fine, but knowing something was off.
There’s a book “Everything in life can be learned at the playground.” I didn’t learn anything I needed to know at the playground.
What I learned and held on to was… “I am not okay.”
We travel the highways searching to connect through whatever way we can because our hearts have been hurt our souls disturbed. It’s all we know, after awhile. The only way.
I was always working. Racing to build a company, launch a product, create a new division, produce a film, create a star, a series, do some fundraising… I used to joke about how because of work I satisfied my deep need to be alone and had plenty of time on my own.
My wake up call came in a most unexpected way.
Just like everything informs everything else.
There were a couple of events that started to crack the veneer of keeping it together, the I can handle everything party. I was working so hard and not feeling satisfied with any effort. I would be devastated after finishing something and had no idea why. A breakdown was in the wind. A business breakdown. A mental breakdown. A bodily breakdown. There were days I would wake up and my lower back would go out and I couldn’t stand up straight. I would drag myself into work wracked with pain and sit in my office and crank through whatever needed to be cranked through.
“You are amazing at taking care of everyone, you have compassion and patience and love for everyone but yourself. Who is taking care of you?”
All I could do was cry.
Things started to fall apart.
My Mother and a Friend were diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time. My mom decided that it would be best to not talk about it, stuff it down and power through treatments. She made a joke at the time…
“I’ll call you if I live.”
When both my friend and my mother had gone through their treatments successfully there was rejoicing and celebrating.
It didn’t last long. I had my own scare. A lump was discovered in my breast that needed tracking. My boobs were living in fear and looking for some comfort. I didn’t get any support on the home front. My Man was a dick.
I thought impossible.
Mel note: This vulnerable feeling reminded me of the one time I was so sick with a fever and sweats from a terrible flu that I couldn’t go to the drug store to pick up any medication because standing made me dizzy. When I asked My Man to stop at a local drug store and get me something to help my symptoms in a disinterested, I was bothering him way, he came home with a bottle of children’s Tylenol and said… “Oh. Sorry.” When I pointed it out. I never opened the bottle. I did the only thing I could, pass out and when I woke up went to the store myself to get something that would handle adult symptoms.
Waiting for their moment in the diagnostic mammogram breast center sun my boobs and I sat watching for the technician to walk down the hallway with the results from the review of the scan to give me my results, sitting with two other women in our breast friendly gowns on nervous edge. As the relief flooded through my body and boobs when I was told my results were clear I watched the woman next to me break down in tears when she was told hers were not.
It’s a horror show moment that takes place way to often in this world. So much goes on in those moments of waiting and not knowing. It gives you time to think clearly about what is important.
When I was asked to join a three day breast cancer walk fund raising event with a dear friend of mine I committed myself to taking the sixty mile journey from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles to putting one foot in front of the other to support breast cancer awareness to help make a difference. I said yes to the training and yes to getting out of town and yes to clearing my head.
Away from my home environment and surrounded by the love and community and common purpose we started off against the gorgeous pacific ocean and lovely homes of Montecito, we walked in the sunshine, we walked and cheered and shared and enjoyed all the stops; the breaks, the food, the camaraderie. We were 10,000 strong committed, loving souls joined together in a common purpose on a mission.
At the end of the first day after walking through blisters that almost got the better of me I was somewhere else in my being. When we pitched our tent I felt a sense of my self. I felt the grass and the accomplishment. I felt every step of that first days twenty two miles. I was away from my man and I was under the stars. I was with a friend who had been through a lot in her life and was a sincere joy to be with.
Waking up into the second day of the walk, we took our time, we chatted with survivors and family members discussing those who didn’t make it but were there in spirit with us on the walk. We cried and started out on the second day, knowing we had two more legs of the trip, two more days and forty more miles but optimistic after surviving day one.
There was a moment on day two when my blisters had given way to something else and the sweat and sun screen had mixed together so beautifully that my walk partner and I hit that walkers high. We just grooved it. When we set up the tent that night, after music and dinner and a hot shower I was in the full presence of myself and the stars in the night sky.
As I lay on my back in the tent on my sleeping bag every one of the 10,000 walkers strewn about me in their own tents in our tent city -- the energy of true love freed from the confines of routine was in the air and an energetic experience of connection came over me. Like a tidal wave of loving energy sweeping through the universe picking me up and bringing me along. Reminding me of the truth.
The universal nature of this loving feeling knocked me on my ass. I felt it. I was with my friend. I was with the entire group of 10,000 walkers. Like a scene from the movie ET an energetic explosion rocked me to the core. It was complete and total and whole.
On the final day of the walk there was no not feeling connected. I was with everyone. When we got to the finish line, a breast cancer patient, in the middle of treatment, bald, wearing a pink shirt was thanking everyone for their help. I reached out and put my hand on her shoulder sharing with her in that moment. Her healing and mine flowing.
I couldn’t speak and there was no need to. I had joined the walk to honor those women in my life that had to battle through a disease with courage and who had taught me everything I knew. Women that answered the challenge, women I loved.
After this game changing event. After realizing how beautiful the deeply connected space of the human heart is, I was not going home to live “alone.” I wanted the connection to live and breath in my relationship. I was reminded of the truth and had to stop living in the illusion of life wearing my mask. I was reminded of the kindness of strangers. I was reminded of my humanity and I was ready to live in that practice.
My being soared that night. In breathless anticipation of what was next.
Having experienced the higher degrees of intimacy with yourself in the oneness of the planetary field of love. The more connected to everything you feel; it makes sense the absence of connection is like a wet cold fish. Once you know connection you want to warm in its glow open up to the love and harness its womb creating peace and harmony. You do not want slimy, chilled, wet emptiness.
I felt like a puppy that had finally made the connection.
I can’t tell you how tricky it was to know you are missing something and not know what it was. I had my script I’m a loner. It’s what I always thought. The… “If I’m a loner I might as well stay in this relationship.”
After the 60 mile three day walk I got...
I wasn’t a loner separate from other people. My limiting thinking and inexperience just kept me in my child hood pattern.
If we’re all floating around alone… as Sinatra used to say “How’d all these people get in my room?”
The picture completing
Everything filling in
No more flashes I didn’t want to look at
Walking into the connections being offered
No more impossible.
I know what is possible.
The dream exploded and became reality. For me. Once I got it I didn’t want to live the delusion of separation and being different. The deeply hidden misery of not knowing anything about my needs, not knowing my tune, not recognizing my self. I wanted to live in Reality with a big capital R where I was alive and awake and in my loving center.
To do that my ego needed to die. I needed to wake up from the dream.
As Schopenhauer said “life can be regarded as a dream. And death as the awakening from it: but it must be remembered that the personality, the individual, belongs to the dreaming and not to the awakened consciousness, which is why death appears to the individual as annihilation. In any event, death is not, from this point of view, to be considered a transition to a state completely new and foreign to us, but rather a return to one originally our own which life has been only a brief absence.”
Killing the offending personality at issue was my path. Throwing away my mask of not connecting. Of not being good enough and living out loud the journey.
When I think of My Man I want to smile. I want to stay in the loving moments that we shared. I wanted everything that isn’t loving therefore not true, to wash away like so much chaff or straw disintegrating in the forgiveness that is my treasure chest of truth revealing the stash full of love and joy and peace.