Across the Universe

overlooking a jungle waterfall and swimming hole

There is something amiss. I am aware of multiple universes in which I exist. Parts of my existence are living in another universe outside of my body. Primarily, my heart. My heart is living in another universe where I followed it, did not fall prey to the convergence of societal pressure and unfortunately ill-intentioned actions, and changed the cycle in 2010. Now, it appears the cycle has come up again for attention. What I am finding is surprising, invigorating, painful beyond description, but also I feel the tightness around my chest that had been slowly suffocating me begin to release its hold. It is starting to become a little easier to breathe.

What else do I find? The love in my heart is safe, and not only that, it has grown more than I could ever have imagined possible. To my mind, this is absolutely illogical, and frankly, my mind is blown. (Good, it has gotten in the way far enough times, now it can sit there and just watch.) My heart, however, is pretty upset with me for ignoring it for so long and not listening to it in the first place, though it also remembers feeling afraid and helpless because of being intimidated and threatened, what I now see was a major vulnerability and weakness I had. I had to sit with this for what felt like centuries of tears, very uncertain for a long time if I would be split in two from the center of my body at any moment. I have never felt pain like this, it is beyond the unfathomable. It felt like being ripped apart from inside without any end. It felt like being turned inside out.

Somehow I managed not to die of either breathing too slowly or my heart collapsing upon reliving the moments that resulted in betraying my heart. Once I looked with gentle eyes and saw how naïve and innocent I was at the time, I then found compassion for just simply how helpless I was in that situation. I was like a child. Oddly, I could only find this self-compassion this once I was in a similar situation again — after an accident, concussed, and helpless. It took that for me to truly see how unclear my thinking was and how severely a concussion affects your personality, decision-making, logic, and emotional regulation processes. It took all of this for me to accept that as hard I was trying to take care of myself, in that situation, it is all but physically impossible without help. It also showed me just how violated I had been, experiencing now through older, wiser eyes just how vulnerable I actually was.

Realizing this, I felt palpable nausea that there are people who would see a twenty-five-year-old young woman who is injured, concussed, heavily medicated, and not of her complete mental faculties, and think to intentionally hurt her by using those factors in a malicious way against her. To meticulously and deliberately harm someone like this was previously unknowable to me, because this lacked all sense of heart or basic human decency whatsoever. Looking back, I can see my mind could not tell the difference between those who genuinely cared about me from those who wanted to hurt me, but my heart knew all along, and this awakens agony so terrific that my cries fell silent, open-mouthed, guttural. An immense amount of anger had to be worked through. Despite societal programming, healthy anger lets us protect our boundaries. If we do not get to express that for some reason, the anger is just sitting there, still waiting to be felt. This is true for many people, who grow up being told to be smaller, be quiet, don’t talk about your feelings, stop whining, stop complaining, stop crying. This is unhealthy. No one should be made to feel this way. This exact insistence that children suppress their emotions is precisely what leads to these types of situations, where a person becomes so emotionally suppressed that they then begin to take it out on other people for release.

I can also see that because growing up those who cared for me were the same ones hurting me, my neurobiology found confusion and pain as analogous to caring. It is unfortunate, because while we all have some sort of issues to resolve in relationships — this is the point of relationships — this lesson could have been learned in a much more positive, enjoyable way. Indeed, I was well on the way to creating healthy, safe, fun relationships that were free of these unnecessary harmful mental projections from other people, the same ones I had fought to get away from with family. I must remember that I was on the path to creating a healthy life for myself, that I had done it before, and can do it again.

a jungle waterfall emptying into a pool
That bad actor forced me to delete highly meaningful photographs online as a way of isolating me socially, of which this is one. They went so far as to even throw away my optical backup of these photographs. Thankfully, double backups are standard for me. Haters gonna hate. This photo is from one of the happiest times in my life and nothing will ever change that. (Pools of ʻOheʻo or Seven Sacred Pools, Kipahulu, Maui.)

Sitting here now, I feel as though I was kidnapped from my life. As I have been processing this, it has often felt like what I imagine it must feel like waking from a coma. To look and see that everyone you know has moved forward into lives you have virtually nothing to do with but you are sitting there feeling that it is ten years ago, and you recognize nothing about where you are. Nothing in your life is as you left it, as you had planned, intended, or even wanted. In this way, not following your heart leaves you vulnerable to a kidnapping of your consciousness. This brings me to my knees, because it forces to me to confront the part of myself that wants to blame myself for everything that everyone else has done to me. This is a survival mechanism carried over from developing in an unpredictable environment, and is a terrible strategy for handling life as an adult. It is a lot harder to admit that you are not responsible for the actions of others, because then you lose the ability to convince yourself if you had done better, it would not have happened.

To completely interfere with someone’s life and use them as an object is a horrendous reality, but it is significantly challenging to accept that you had such a massive blind spot that you could be manipulated like this in the first place. I must accept that this blind spot was programmed into me as some version of blind spot is programmed into each of us, courtesy of our primary caregivers and developmental environment. Part of life is becoming aware of these blind spots and fixing them. What causes a particularly wistful, angry pain is knowing it was not just me who was harmed, but others, as well. In reality, everyone I know was harmed because they were all denied the time I would have spent simply being myself. Instead, I was cutoff and isolated from social support, confused as to what was happening, and terrified to tell anyone, as it quickly grew out of control. My response was that of a child, afraid of being punished, so I just shut down with learned helplessness. I must remember that I did not consent, I kept saying no, and I was not being heard. I was too polite. Too many women are just too polite.

I do not know why there are so many people who are afraid to admit when they were once helpless, but I do know right now that it is very painful to admit this. Physically, my chest hurts to consider this, because it is such a deep pain that someone would intentionally seek to hurt others as a method of living their life, and have no remorse at all about what they have done. However, I refuse to accept admitting where I have been helpless in the past makes me weak. Instead, I have to be honest with myself and understand what happened, and seeking to learn from tragedy is a strength called resilience. Having encountered this type of unacceptable human behavior directly does still reveal a silver lining, namely pushing me towards deeper introspection and reflection, whereby I rather messily arrived at some type of thing approaching peace knowing that my heart was safe all along somewhere else. The only solace here is that I somehow scraped up enough courage to find a silver lining in this gigantic pot of shit, which hopefully means I must be stronger than I feel right now. This realization is enough. I can retrain myself to feel strong again, and as I continue rebuilding my physical strength, I create a positive feedback loop of vitality and continue regaining health daily.

After making my way through tears, anger, grief, sadness, and the feeling of unending separation from love, suddenly a joy and surprise fills me when I see that my heart and the love that it holds has only grown in size, even though I have had to shut it away for a decade. It seems it needed to expand to the size between the two universes I inhabit so as not to completely break. (This vision makes me smile contentedly.) I suppose it had to grow to keep finding compassion for people who were hurting me on purpose in a situation I could not escape. Perhaps it grew to withstand the painful attempts to convince me that I was somehow to blame for wrong things being done to me by others. We are never responsible for the actions of others, especially when they intend to harm us! This is why you must teach children to mature past the “but he did it first!” stage of development. If not, apparently they may grow up to be potentially dangerous adults seeking revenge for some phantom childhood punishment and can truly wreck entire lives and whole families and communities.

I must accept the fact that I did what I had to survive, and that I pushed someone I love out of the way of an oncoming train to protect them. I must accept that I felt the need then to push away love to protect it instead of simply stating, “Hey, there’s this fucking guy I don’t know, I don’t like, who I didn’t ask to meet, who I kept telling to go away that doesn’t respect me saying no, who just keeps showing up unannounced, who is making me uncomfortable, who is scaring me, please help me.” I must accept that I was incapable of doing this at that time even though it is all I could think about doing, caught in a freeze response terrified that no one would help, and worse, childishly believed somehow I would be punished. Though, this is not so childish when I recall that I was being yelled at, threatened, monitored, and bullied into compliance. I did not know then how to properly protect myself and I must not beat myself up over this. I had not learned how to properly stand up for myself. I fully believed at the time that all I could do was protect the one I loved and endure this torture, and that at least they could make it out and go on to live a happy life.

At first I struggle to understand why I felt this, but then I realize — we protect the people we love. That’s just what we do. We don’t want them to get hurt, so we take it for them. Well, it’s at least what I have done. I have put myself in harm’s way or even denied myself what I wanted for the people I love if I saw the chance they would be happier, and I have taken direct damage because of it. It took me some time to realize that people who love you will not repeatedly put you in situations where anyone will be in harm’s way. But this is not really quite how it’s supposed to work as a primary function between two adults, because if we deny others the chance to help share our burdens, then we deny them the chance to celebrate our wins. Sadly, I sincerely believed I was trapped forever and had no choice but to accept this life. My love was far too parentified and overprotective, which ended up hurting both me and the one I love. I must offer myself forgiveness over this unintentional pain and I must figure out how to address it properly.

I must also let myself have some slack knowing if I had not had a concussion and been temporarily overwhelmed by dealing with it in ways I could not comprehend at the time, and if this concussion had received proper treatment (looking back, it was a huge oversight), I would have made entirely different choices that accurately reflected my intentions, plans, and goals for my life. These were not flippant goals, these were major written goals, the culmination of my life until that point. It was also very confusing that others I did know and trust either disappeared or were encouraging this boundary-violating usurper instead of questioning their sudden and intrusive appearance — even when they knew about my plans. That part really hurts, because it feels as if they wanted to see me fall from the life I had built and was building for myself. I see this now as part of the same lesson in learning to listen to your heart, and also that I have historically chosen unreliable people to be reliable for. I must let myself feel sad that the people I had chosen to trust around me at that time unfortunately were unable to fulfill their roles for their own reasons having nothing to do with me. They were reflections and projections of the unhealthy dynamics in my family, and so given the opportunity, they did not rise to overcome this, but instead fell back to their own conditioning, as humans do. This is not my fault, this is out of my control, and while those actions did hurt me and resulted in my increased vulnerability, there is no purpose in being upset. I tolerated behavior that I should not have, and our society has created the dangerous notion that “people in relationships disappear at first” as if this is normal or healthy. It usually is actually not healthy. (I say “usually,” because there could be cases where this is healthy behavior depending on context, but not generally speaking for young adults.) Healthy people in relationships maintain and merge their existing social lives with a new relationship, not cut someone off from their social life. It is unrealistic and unhealthy to expect one person to fulfill all of your needs all of the time, however, I do believe a partner should fulfill the sense of absolute safety on all levels and that this must be a non-negotiable and reciprocal given.

All of the other roads we could walk on are paths to other universes. If I want to align my existence into one universe, I have to collapse all potentials back into it, here, where my vehicle is. My body. How to do this? Express your heart with your whole body, of course. Make yourself come alive in physical reality here. Be here. Undo all of the unasked for and unwanted parameters you were stuffed into in order to survive. Untrain these beliefs that you must stop and suffocate yourself in order to live, because while that was true for a long time, it is not true anymore. I have been doing this, day by day, bit by bit, and I will keep going until there is nothing false holding me back.

You are free to do what you like, when you like, how you like, where you like, for however short or long you like. In fact, this is how you once were, mostly free, before you put on too many hats for too many people, erroneously believing this was your only choice in order to stay alive and receive love. You almost had all of them off before the rug was pulled. No longer will you dance on command of others, you dance for yourself, you dance for your heart, and in doing so, this becomes the dance of liberation for all. This is both obvious and absolutely terrifying. But remember — unexpressed emotion will come out regardless, so better to direct it and sculpt your life. Yes, it is terrifying, especially after being hurt so severely. But the idea of living your life not as you for the rest of your days on this planet is thoroughly unacceptable. Having to perform to receive love is not love at all. You deserve better. You love better. Remember that.

What is this odd quality of life that has me relearning how to be myself at this stage? What an unusual turn of events to wind up in such a position. To be extracted against your will from your life just as you are making the steps in the very direction your heart desires, and to hold that down for ten years without expression because it wasn’t safe to do so. Then having an accident, concussion, and finally a global pandemic spill this completely out of you to face it. When there was nowhere to go, nowhere to run, nothing to distract yourself with any longer, you finally let yourself stop and feel everything. And it was all right there waiting, untouched, just waiting.

From this, you see this theme of sabotaged progress has been present in your life from the start, which means it is not your life you have been living. You have been living in the dreams of other people and what they expect you to be, which would not necessarily be detrimental if it didn’t automatically mean being treated with a lack of basic respect and decency. This is far removed from living in the life you have created for yourself, and the last time that you were doing that was June 2010. This is the last time you were yourself, and even though then you still held yourself back, you were slowly coming out of your shell as you navigated the waters to safety with the first person you had ever felt actually safe on all levels with.

Such an experience was so much more than you had known, and so naturally, the excess importance you placed on it caused an unintended wobble in your step. You were just trying to get to safety, away from the dangerous seas you grew up in. You could not see that some were trying to hold you back because it has never been in your heart to treat people this way. It is as if this love was too powerful for your existence as it was then to handle, that everything in life that did not belong to love was suddenly ripped from its place, and out of the abyss a venomous scorpion of malice arose to try to claim your soul forever. Who could be prepared for an experience like this? I know of no one, but I can now say I certainly understand what it means to live the statement, It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Without this one, genuine experience of real, pure, innocent love between me and another, I would not have had any light in the dark. I would have been lost. This love, no matter what, saved my life more than one time. That is extraordinary on its own.

path in a bamboo forest
So many paths, but just one is meant for especially your feet. (Pipiwai Trail, Kipahulu, Maui.)

Despite the fact that some rogue pirate tried to erase every bit of what you loved and held dear, tried to replicate and insert themselves as some kind of plasticine copy where they had no business to be nor were they even wanted, forced to do and endure cruel things that you did not want nor should anyone have to live through, things that tore you apart inside — you held on. And now you are here, right now, alive, breathing, feeling, and remembering. Despite everything, you know the only thing left to do now is to return to being yourself. Live. Be happy. Be free. Live, breathe, speak from the heart, scary or not. You held onto the life raft of love in your heart and survived what seemed to be certain death. After all of that, you are still here and you still matter. Now it’s time to matter to yourself.

How many universes have I mourned in ten years’ time? I want to celebrate the Supreme Reality forever, let the mourning of the future become liberation. I want to smile at every child, laugh at every animal, play in every wave, dance in every rain. I want my life to sing the song of transformation wherever it lands. I want to roam the mountains and valleys, shores and lakes, free as a bird and peaceful as a tree. Where the Creator will take me I cannot know, so let me be empty and flow with the current of the most beautiful, most delightful, most exquisite, most genuine. Let all resistance fall away from my body, let all judgment fall away from my mind, and let the flow of Life run through and animate me fully once again. Let me find strength once more to live with my heart fully open, for I have kept it hidden for so long, that the risk of being hurt is far less than the risk of disappearing. I would rather feel everything no matter how resplendent or painful with my heart wide open than be forced to endure pain hidden with flimsy, empty smiles. My heart, soul, body, and mind are my responsibility and they deserve the love I have given to others without expectation. Remember that you cannot lose what is truly yours, and all that is freely given comes back at just the right time. You just need to get used to being and doing things for yourself again, by yourself, once more, the natural way you have always been, so you can once again feel like yourself with others. You do not need to apologize for your existence and your story is yours to tell. You are remembering more each day, getting stronger each day. Despite it all, your life has had many beautiful moments and now you are free to express how much they meant to you in whatever way you like. It is a challenging road to recover from concussion, even rockier to process ten years of suppressed emotions while doing it, and even harder to do any of it in the middle of a global pandemic. All things considered, you are doing just fine. Just keep going. ॐ

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