the dark messy chaotic place
i’m coming more out of the closet with exposing one of my greatest fears. why do I feel like this is so important? because those are the shackles that keep me from being free. it’s been my lifelong companion that dictates what i get to say or not say, what i do don’t get to do. and recently i’ve uncovered actually how much of even the tiniest little decisions I make during the day is governed by this fear. and how much of my energy is spent (unconsciously) in trying to avoid bypass deflect myself from feeling the implication of the fear. the benefit of making it my religious practice to value how i feel what i feel, sensitize myself to myself, is starting to really SEE my true self, decode and navigate the invisible architecture structures of control and power that i let myself blindly obey. this is the supreme intelligence of the body - the body does not lie, the body will never fail to alert you when something’s off, and this is the work of letting myself sensitize listen and tune in to the body.
so the deep fear I’ve been so scared of is … INFERIORITY. even just saying the word sends tremors all through my inner ecosystem. inferiority connoting that I am less than, not worthy, just innately wrong, bad. the shame associated with being inferior. i know where it comes from. i think the first times i recognized that there was such thing as social hierarchy. my diagnosis of the social climate when I entered the jungle of primary school was: well-to-do well-cared-for extroverted girls with pretty clothes and lovingly brushed/arranged hair by a benevolent parent at school got praise, the unkempt kids who didn’t do their homework and didn’t have lunches with love notes written by their moms on napkins inside, got scolded, ignored, or ostracized. i was troubled because i didn’t identify with either. on the outside i appeared more like the praise-worthy kids, just in that i always made sure to have my homework done. but i felt fraudulent because as soon as i left the school grounds i did not want anyone to know where i was actually coming from. a house of GLOOM, DOOM, DEMONS and HATE. i’m not even joking. a rageful mom who vacillated between either depression or anger, and a completely oblivious dad with asperger’s who was a ticking tantrum timebomb. we lived in a nice-ish suburban neighborhood - except for our house that was the prime-time eyesore. our republican next door neighbors who proudly hung a flag in front of the garage actually built a higher white painted latticed fence on our side. my house was the only house that wasn’t newly painted, spilling out with random junk hoarding, with unmowed messy edged lawn and my weird dad who was the only human in maybe all of suburbia who actually used the front lawn like it’s a park (good for him actually) but in his underwear reading the korean newspaper, and yell out hellos to every passerby. who would then get yelled at by my mom for being embarassing. a true spectacle. we were like the Boo Radley house in do you remember To Kill A Mockingbird. hence, i did feel more comfortable around the unkempt kids. the ‘disorder’ they embodied was a tiny representation of how my home environment felt. i felt safer hanging out with Carmen the girl in foster care who sometimes didn’t come to school with shoes. Getting invited over by Mandy the pretty praised girls made me feel uncomfortable, because her home world felt so different from mine. i did the very best i could to stay MIDDLE ground. don’t wear anything TOO CUTE or noticeable (leave those fluffy dresses from grandma in korea at HOME, or just wear it at home when no one’s looking), because I didn’t want my friend Carmen to feel different from me, to feel sad for not having shoes or a pretty dress, and therefore alienated. I also became neurotic about always having my homework done - not out of genuine love for learning but only to not be considered a degenerate. i worked hard at being in the safe middle, and worked hard to keep my home life a secret because that was something that from what I observed: even the unkempt kids didn’t seem to struggle with what I did, and this divide I created was the shame of what i perceived as inferior and dark-sided status, something that should be kept away..’don’t let anyone know where I actually come from.’
flash fwd a couple decades later during my quarter life crisis, I bought a new red vintage Peugeot bicycle with white leather seat and handle bars, that I must say I was prett-ttty proud of. the time came when this bicycle needed a wash. the logical thing was to take it outside on the street with the cleaning supplies but something inside me gave me a sharp admonishing No, like it would be wrong to have anyone see me do it, and that I should take it behind the building to wash it where no living soul could see me. Ok, sounds absurd but I almost listened to that voice until I was like Wait, why am I feeling this shame and embarassment in the possiblity that someone could see me washing this bicycle. the response I got was that if i wash the bicycle outside I would appear to be a show-off, and I would be hurting anyone who saw the bicycle because they don’t have such a nice one and they would be sad, and it would be my fault. yes i also had to chuckle at the absurdity, but the feeling that was voiced rang true.
AND basically hitting the same nerve as not wanting to hurt Carmen with my nice dresses. i’m confronted with the fear that if i have something of value then I will hurt someone who does not have it. and if I hurt that someone then that will endanger our relationship, and that means I will be alone on the playground. I came to the next realization that withholding the dresses or the bicycle or whatever symbolizes happiness or abundance is me trying to protect myself from being hurt again. because I am that person who was sad and embarrassed to not come from a beautiful happy home next to the girl who did. I’m trying to conceal the part of me who considers herself Inferior because she comes from the dark messy chaotic place, and tries to keep others away from that place within myself. Trying to uphold myself to appear OK. because that veneer of OK-ness is what I thought was keeping me acceptable, and where I made the dark messy chaos to be unacceptable.
So knowing this I feel a new level of tenderness for the part of me that gets scared, triggered, about actually owning the fact that I could have happiness and be magnificent, celebrated, desirable, wonderful, a magical manifestor, beautiful, capable, powerful — all expansive positive things WE ALL ARE and MEANT TO EXPERIENCE, because I understand and see the part of me who’s inside the gloomy house feeling inferior by herself. so now I get to caretake her, let her speak out her fears her wishes, let her be heard, seen, and felt as she is now upgraded into a whole new realm of awareness where she understands that she is important and her feelings are valued, while enveloped in a soft pink halo of light that includes a snoring poodle named Pearl, cuz that’s what she wants.
so the next moment you notice you're irked with something, take some space and time to honor the feeling and inquire deeper into where it might come from... with curiosity and with the stance of understanding. you may be surprised with what stories lie embedded that have been waiting to again be seen and told.