Men + Myself + God

Tag: Religion and Spirituality

Are You Normal? Me neither.

by P. Braithwaite

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Photo credit: A Widow’s Voice

Lately, I’ve taken to saying that I’m going through a spiritual adolescence. It’s like a seven year soul puberty that just can’t stop. I’m like the girl with the concave chest waiting for her boobs to sprout. I’m doing all the exercises in the back of Cosmo Girl, but nothing…the boobs just won’t come up.

When I was a kid (going through physical adolescence), my father used to remark that I was “all over the place.” I’d have a new interest and then drop it. I’d have a passion and then leave it behind. When I felt like I discovered something, I’d toss it to the side. I’ve spent most of my life wishing I were a more grounded person. I’ve always secretly admired those who can tough it out, think logistics and ignore emotions.

I’m not that person. At all. If the wind blows me left, I’m riding with it.

Lately, I feel scattered and uncertain. My sense of self is changing. Have you ever felt this way? An image comes to mind: the old version of myself is giving birth to a newer me, but in a very violent and aggressive way. This new ME has pushed herself out of my stomach, and I feel like she’s trying to kill me.

Normal people, I think, call this an existential crisis. I wouldn’t really know. I’m f*cking weird…

Here’s what I know for sure: As abnormal as I come off, I’m even less normal than that. In my private space – absolutely private space between ex-boos and new ideas – I’m a gypsy. I talk to spirits; I spin tall tales and soft souls out of pine needles and thread. I wish to cover myself with mud and live inside a tree trunk. I learn to speak the language of energy and dreams.

I’m not normal, ya’ll. And that’s okay.

We define so much of ourselves in opposition. We say: I’m not like my father; I’m different from my best friend. I’ll never be the person I was that one time when I was in love with him [or her].

Those statements, though potent, don’t scratch the surface of who you are. We cannot exist forever by who we aren’t. That’s not progress; that’s baggage. The truth of who we are begins where the opposition stops. The truth of who we are lives in the silence.

I’m still figuring it out, but here’s something else I know: asking the right questions is the route to transformation.

Are you normal? Me neither. I salute you

On Being…Human.

by P. Braithwaite

It is the sad reality of life that I cannot be all things to all people. Most days I fall short of being all things to myself. Shit, most days I am last on my list. I see myself through the lens of reflected appraisal – My worth is often measured by how happy I make the people who live in my space. I am only as good as my last hit; the fat Elvis of my own damn life…

The truth is, I cannot always live up to the standards I’ve set up for myself. I set a really high standard, but I fall short. I betray myself. I betray the people I love. I fuck up. I gossip. I can be mean, cunning and critical. I can hurt people unintentionally and my snarky comments can maim. I am a work in progress. We are works in process…

I’m am learning. Always learning. One of my best attributes is seeing the humanity in everyone. I just need to see the humanity in myself as well. I’m learning to love the slowest parts of myself. I’m learning to forgive my flaws even if others can’t. I am generous with others — I share everything I have, but I must learn to be generous with myself. I’m not perfect; but I’m completely beautiful and worthy of real love. I am learning that I am someone I can trust. Lucky for me, when humans fail each other, the universe will always provide. One way or another, God course-corrects for us. For this, I’m eternally grateful.

I’m going to go into cyber-silence for the next week (that’s about three blog posts). If my body were a cup it would be almost empty. I have to recharge myself. I’m learning that I must keep things to myself. Sometimes, I need to go within. Sometimes I need to take pressure off of myself, and abandon the need to show up for others. Sometimes I need to get reconnected to my own truths.

When I was in high school, I would sneak into my friend’s religion class and leave quotes on the blackboard. Sometimes these quotes were original, and sometimes they were from great thinkers and poets. Apparently the teacher loved them, and devoted class time to discussing them. She really wanted to know who was writing them, but my friend’s never told.

Sometimes I got requests, “Make it a long quote today, Pati. We’ve got a theology quiz.”

By the grace of God, I continue to evolve. At my best (and my worst), I’m still an awkward high school student, writing quotes on a black board because my friend’s tell me it’s cool. It’s amazing how hints of who you become are sprinkled in your past. Sometimes we have to stop and reconnect.

How are you becoming the person you’ve been all along?

The Yoga of Letting Go

by P. Braithwaite

My sister-in-law is a yoga instructor. She’s good too – I can vouch for her. Over the summer, we did sunset yoga on her rooftop, and it was single-handedly the best class I’d ever taken. She has a way of making you feel like you don’t have to strain to find the pose; the pose finds you. That mindset eliminates all of the anxiety around yoga: you stop thinking about whether you’re doing it right, or why you are so inflexible. Your arms and legs and torso just float and wobble until…click.

Your body finds the pose.

Today, I am sad. I am very very sad. Like I’m sad in my body – my chest feels sad, my limbs feel sad, my neck doesn’t want to support my head…It’s crazy. I feel like there’s an invisible drain that’s sucking my energy away. I’d give anything to get out from under this cloud. As I type this, I wonder if these feelings are my own…

Hopefully, by the time this reaches your inbox, I’m on my way to get a morning massage. A marma massage – which is supposed to specifically target the 108 points in the body where mind and emotion meet.

Trust me, I need it.

Anyway, this sadness is disempowering. I don’t know what to do with it. Nothing – not writing, meditating, getting angry or acting out – nothing seems to assuage the feeling. Typically, if I’ve done something to someone, I can change it, I can apologize and compensate for my transgressions, but what happens when both parties have missed the mark so many times that there’s nothing left to do? You can’t tell who is in the right or wrong anymore? Your apologies are smothered under layers of your own pain?

I think that’s when its…over.

So today, my life feels like a super uncomfortable yoga pose. Tree pose? Sure. Downward dog? More or less. But I’m not sure how to master the “Over” pose. I’m not sure how to master the yoga of letting go. I’m balancing on one foot, flailing my arms in the air and desperately trying to find this balance. I wish my sister-in-law could ‘yoga-instruct’ my life.

Breathe into it, she’d probably say. The pose will find you.

So I’m breathing into the discomfort and hoping balance finds me. At this point, toppling over would be better than this.

The floor might suck, but at least it’s stabilizing.