I was thinking of writing a blog post about the only one-star review I have on Amazon for my book, but when I checked the reviews, I saw there was another one. This reviewer complained about a number of things she felt I had done wrong in writing my book, including the act of self-promotion.
At first I was horrified. I’d been right to stay quiet all those years I hadn’t committed to paper my feelings about being adopted, about being myself, because I hadn’t thought my feelings deserved so much attention. I mean, who cared, really, what I thought? Who did I think I was to write an entire book about me?
I was raised better than that.
And then I realized something. A miracle had happened. I had self-promoted. By writing and publishing my memoir I had said I was worthy of existing. I had said I deserved to be heard. (And by extension I had said that to everyone else on the planet.) My self high-fived my self and politely refrained from saying, It took you long enough, numbnut. I took me and my realization (and my friend Sue because it was her birthday) out to The Table in Willow Glen for a double dessert: beignets and pot de crème. I gorged on the fat of the earth and picked up the crumbs with my fingertip.
I had blown my own horn. I had gone from the nineteen-year-old girl with her head in the toilet and her finger down her throat in her desperate need to get herself out of herself to someone who felt so justified being on the planet she had written an entire book about her life.
I became my own hero.
(So this is where I have to say the annoying stuff because god forbid you think I like myself too much.)
This does not mean I think I’m perfect. At times I am all the things I fear: I am stupid, ugly, mean, etc., etc. But here’s the thing: I’m human. I poop. I am, at times, literally full of shit. I can’t even imagine what I must smell like inside the bag of my skin. So gross. I’m not just a shithead. I’m a shitbody.
But here’s the other thing: I can choose not to think like that. I can choose to feel what it means to inhabit this body instead of sitting back in judgement. I think about Whitman, about all those blades of grass. I’ve never heard one blade of grass say to another, “You’re such a loser.” Granted, grass doesn’t have lips, but even if it did, it’s too busy being to be that mean.
And if I’m not busy judging the blade of who I am, chances are good I won’t be judging the blade of who you are, either.
So let’s talk about hoses. Because these days I’m all about the hose.
When you water a garden or when you go for a drink, it’s a joyful thing when the hose is unkinked and the water flows unimpeded. It feels right. Free.
As a bodyworker, I have learned to run energy through my self, and I’ve been working on it a lot recently. When I get out of my chattering head and feel my body instead of throwing my body into the car and taking it somewhere else, I become energy; I become the water running through the hose. It feels like a slight tingling. Sometimes not so slight. When I’m really feeling good (I am a diehard cheater, and so also when I’ve had a shot of espresso), I feel part of the universe, like there is a tube of energy that runs from the center of the earth, through me, and up into the heavens.
It feels so good. So clean. Pure. But holy cow, is it work. It takes focus and a determination not to be cruel to myself.
It also feels scary because part of becoming energy is that the me who chatters in my head is gone. All the stories that I tell repeatedly, as if they were new, are burned invisible by the ease of the light. I just am. And, as an adoptee who struggles with who am I and what is my story and how will I ever feel loved when the body that made me didn’t keep me, maybe didn’t even hold me this is a battle. (Can you hear the fierce spin of story—this is stuff that did or didn’t happen 52 years ago and still the brain holds on because this aching sadness is all I have left of my birth mother, and it’s not something I want to lose. Except. Except that I also have this body that I am in. I carry her in me. And she can’t reject that. She can’t kink my hose now, today, but I sure can. And as much as I like clinging to the past, as much as I identify with my stories, I really like feeling free.)
I have hated myself more than anyone on the planet has probably hated me. I’m stupid, ugly, needy, useless, mean, a terrible dancer, a bad daughter, a bad mother, a terrible wife, a waste of breath. If hating yourself was a career, I’d have a big leather chair and a corner office with a view. It never felt like a choice: I was self-hatred. I remember coming home from school in eighth grade and eating brownie batter until I was sick and spinning from the sugar. I would lie down on the living room floor and hold on to the nap of the rug and listen to music and wait to feel normal again. Only there wasn’t ever really a normal. It has always been about, on some level or another, surviving the spin of myself.
I am in the process of getting my brain out of the leather chair, out of the corner office. I am firing my brain. It can go to hell. I try to stay in the pleasure of thinking How can I make the most of this day? What can I create next? What am I feeling? How can I honor the feelings and thoughts I have? What can I do to help? What do I want to eat? My life revolves around writing and bodywork and connecting with others. I exercise (sort of). I don’t drink much alcohol. I eat a lot, but I don’t each much sugar. I don’t weigh myself.
I take great pleasure in just how much I get away with—I am just myself and no one is berating me. What I am noticing is the more myself I am, the more themselves others are with me. And I love it. It’s like I’m stoned all the time. I feel like a big mess. Time is weird. Slow. When I’m not in judgement mind, it’s fine. It just is.
These days when people ask what I do, I point to my body. “This is a full-time job,” I say, and I’m not exaggerating: being myself is one of those 90-hour Silicon Valley specials. But it comes with benefits, and they are excellent.
Note: I think I should erase this post. I think when you read it you’re going to expect to see me glowing and skinny and climbing out of a Tesla next time we meet, and chances are I’ll look like I just woke up, and I’ll be picking a quarter off the sidewalk, but I’m going through with it because people who take my writing class keep telling me they don’t feel justified in focusing on themselves or on what they love, that somehow their thoughts or voice aren't special enough, and I’m degenerating my cervical spine by repetitively shaking my head no.
So I’m posting this to save my spine.
I’m a mess.
I’m writing. And that makes it all worth it. With every key stroke I am saying to god or the universe or myself, thank you thank you thank you. The mercy is in the feeling heard. And the freedom is in letting myself speak.