The Next Source

My friends organised a virtual murder mystery party the other night, and I was assigned a flamboyant celebrity character to embody for the night. And, not long into the night, I thought, yes, I’ve missed this.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about certain aspects of myself that I have disowned over the years. One of which being my attention-seeking, overtly unconventional, indulgently outrageous aspect. It used to be that I couldn’t help being that way, but being that way brought me so much pain, in the form of shame and self-hatred, that I eventually quashed it. I made myself less. I made myself smaller. I made myself easier to tolerate. It’s such a common fucking story that it’s hardly worth telling.

I thought the attention-seeking and the outlandishness were the wrong part. I thought the shame and self-hatred were caused by them. So I toned down the former and, indeed, the latter subsided.

In the subsequent years, I began to understand it was the shame and self-hatred that were, in fact, the problem, and over time I worked on them and, one way and another, disentangled myself from their grasp.

But, even though I still considered the playful rebel an intrinsic part of my identity, I couldn’t even admit to myself the extent to which I had diminished it. If I have ever fully embraced that side of myself, it could only have been in early childhood, because as far back as I remember, the reckless abandon, exaltation and satisfaction of its expression were always followed by excruciating self-consciousness and remorse, that prematurely cut them dead.

I believed, very potently, that it made me a bad person to indulge my desires so openly. And I also thought that maybe it shouldn’t. And I also didn’t want other people to think that I believed that it made me a bad person. I wanted them to believe that I didn’t care. I wanted to believe that I didn’t care. But I cared with such exquisite clarity that it gradually immobilised me.

I have been trying to unfuck myself for such a long time. My entire life’s endeavour has been trying to unfuck myself. And it’s funny, really, how the source of the fuck has been so very elusive all these years. I’ve tiptoed down so many shady back-alleys and climbed down so many winding ravines, tirelessly searching for the source of the fuck. There is always another source of the fuck. Like a desert mirage, the source of the fuck is always just out of reach.

To locate the next source of the fuck, I must first embrace my brashest, bluntest, boldest tendencies. I have been actively avoiding this my entire adult life. It’s been a limit I’ve been unwilling to cross, even though I’ve known I needed to. Because I don’t fucking want to. And I really fucking want to. And it’s all just very confusing.

As within, so without

When I was younger, the primary focus of all my desire was romantic love. I would happily turn my life upside down, and myself inside out, in pursuit of it. I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t so important to everyone else. I assumed they were missing something.

I was the one missing something – hoping endlessly that romantic love would fill the void where this missing piece should reside.

I suffered under that misguided notion for a couple of decades (I started very young). Eventually I figured out what I really needed to do, which was, essentially, learn to love myself.

And then I could soften my focus. I turned my attention to health. And then to wealth. And looking back, I can see I’ve been filling in missing pieces in order of importance, without even realising what I was doing. I was not always very effective in my endeavours, but there was something very wise at play urging me toward wholeness.

At this stage of my life, I am grateful to genuinely feel my greatest desire is to contribute. I deeply desire to be of service in the best way I can be. It’s not a sense of obligation, but a sense of inspiration, excitement, compulsion, to find the best path to enact positive change. I haven’t exactly found the path yet, and I’m not exactly healed yet, but the difference is stark from where I used to be.

It has pretty much convinced me that changing the world for the better is, first and foremost, an inside job. We all need to do our own work to fix our broken and missing pieces, before we can fully come together and do the collective work of fixing the mess all of our pains and traumas have created.

That’s a frustrating truth that many would argue with, but I set my sights high when I think about changing the world, and I can’t see a reality where we don’t create a world in our own image.

There are a whole lot of messes that need fixing right now, so we’re going to have to make do with some broken pieces in the meantime. The point is not to lose sight of the inner work amongst the outer work. Because to get the real traction that’s required to tackle our big fucking problems, we need more whole people showing up.