For the last week, I’ve been organizing, packing and visiting with friends. Saturday I had a big garage sale and brought the rest of the clothes I didn’t sell to a shop in downtown LA. At my sale, the physical memories I let go included a skirt I wore to a high school dance, fabric leftover from a musical that I designed, a dress I wore to a Marine Corps Ball, a jacket I wore to my first art show, and a lamp that came with my salon chair. I saw a belt turn into a hat and held my tongue when a dress was styled differently. This is taking more patience than I thought it would. Thankfully I have amazing friends who took me for a beer after and took my mind off of everything when they beat me in corn-hole.
In ridding myself of my possessions, I’ve been delving into the world of attachments. And I have many more attachments then I would like to admit. Attachments help us in some way: comfort, security and just because that is what we think we need. I’ve been challenging every connection, every person and idea, simplifying and clearing to make room for the experiences and adventures that are sure to come.
Tina (my sublet) and I have stayed up late multiple nights while getting to know each other, talking about attachments, boys and the forces of the universe. The hardest thing for me has been to stay on my intended path and not get caught up in memories and drama, distracting myself with anything that takes me away from my chosen goal. Tina has been instrumental in helping me with this, I’ll describe my day or explain a situation and most of the time, we end up laughing at the way in which people show their true intentions without realizing, or at the absurd drama that some find to encompass their whole life.
Tina is several years my senior and she has just been through the process of decluttering, selling and getting rid of most things in her life as she moved cross country to start a creative career. She moved in the day after I left for Nepal, I was in a pinch and agreed without speaking to her other than texting her the rent and where the key would be placed. When I first arrived back, it was really tough for me. She had purchased a new chair, a book self and all new kitchen equipment. I have spent the last year alone in my apartment turning it into a place that was my safe haven, a place that was all mine, filled with things that increase joy. I refused to sit in her new chair, I refused to use her kitchen things, I felt like she was taking over my space and I felt jilted that she didn’t get the same joy from my apartment. I felt a sense of non belonging, an unfairness of someone taking my home, conflicted with knowing that she was just trying to insert herself into her new life.
Change is hard, as much as I thrive in change, it’s still hard. Some things are easy to let go, things that have been buried and not used. Some attachments come in the form of an idea or a person. Patterns I’ve held onto for dear life are starting to show themselves for what they really are. Men have been a constant issue for me. Luckily I have a community of women I had just started to cultivate before I left. For all of the times I’ve surrounded myself with men, I’ve gotten used to interacting as they do, everything is a bit more logical, less emotional and less talked about, sometimes I’ll have deep conversations, but most of the time its surface level. Refreshing to me, I like being around guys because they don’t get caught up in details, I don’t have to worry if I’m offending them, they usually try to protect me in some way and the attention isn’t bad either, less competitive and more supportive.
I’m setting off in a new direction. I’ve been taking on the idea of women’s empowerment and equality, learning so much with each conversation. Since I’ve opened up about my own story, people seem more comfortable telling me theirs. I’ve heard so many similarly tragic and beautiful stories. Yesterday I sat with a women who I’ve admired for some time, a woman who has made a career and a name for herself while also staying true to her heart and internal compass. She came over and I talked to her about Nepal, about the murals and my speech. And then with much emotion she told me how brave she felt I was because she has had something similar happen to her, but she could never talk about it, the shame she feels is too great.
It’s for this reason I will continue my words and my speeches and my paintings. For the ones who have voices but can’t use them for fear, for shame or for not feeling worthy of sharing. Attachments can be debilitating. I’m commonly analyzing myself these days, when I get to a point in conversation or in an action when I feel paralyzed and can’t continue on, I first ask myself why? What is blocking me and why does it matter so much? The response is an attachment to an emotion, or fear of feeling an emotion. Most of the time, I’ll be able to overcome that block and ultimately I feel better, more free.
When we do what we are most afraid of, when we break the chains that bind us to our attachments, we are more free, we create the reality we want. But when we succumb to the attachments, when we allow other things to dictate to us how and what we are, our reality will become clouded, fear and anxiety will join hands and dance upon our backs.
The other day, I came across an article of clothing, I now don’t remember what it was, but it made me reflect upon my ex husband. It brought back such a strong feeling of shame, a reminder of how awful my life used to be and how blind I was. I made a comment to my friend about how funny life is and the difference in my quality of life, sharing a moment about something my ex had told me. My friend’s response was that it wasn’t funny, that he was offended and it set me into a moment of silence. It had hit me wrong and I didn’t know why. Later that night, a bigger argument emerged and a phrase was thrown into my face about the way my ex husband spoke to me.
In the past, I’ve attached myself to men. It’s the security, the idea that they won’t let anything happen to me, the idea of protection. They hear snippets of my story and the sympathy or even pity possibly leads to them making promises and I love to be told that I’m loved. I also love to be snuggled and I love to feel the warmth of another. I love to know that someone will have my back and I have always yearned for a partnership in that way. It sounds nice, but I have a knack for attaching myself to the first boy that walks past, I think this is really him this time.
In the process of breaking attachments to things I lean against when life gets uncomfortable, I’m seeing choices ahead of me. For everything I break, something new will come eventually to take it’s place, but change is a process and staying in limbo for a bit might be what’s needed in this moment, let a few more moments happen before I attach to the next thought. It’s scary to pair down and think truthfully about what is needed versus what I actually have. Beliefs can be so strong that they consume and devour you and then you think you are that thought. It’s all in our heads, what we think we need versus what we cannot live without. Choices not just in what we show, but in what we truthfully are.
Having and showing love in one’s heart means being uncomfortable sometimes. Loving a person despite what they have been through, despite what they are going through, despite the emotions and attachments they feel and have can be uncomfortable. It’s all a choice though; taking responsibility for our own selves, for the things we say and do, affecting others in a mindful way. Truth doesn’t stop because you are uncomfortable.
Another night this week, I read my speech outloud to a guy who works in porn. He is outspoken about the number of girls he’s slept with and can be offensive, plainly stating multiple times how much he would like to get between my legs. Although he interrupted my speech a couple of times in the beginning to angrily tell me how despicable what I described is, he listened to the end. Once I was finished, he quietly closed his eyes and thanked me for sharing with him. He urged me to continue with my art and told me I have his full support, he told me that he always knew I was a good artist, but my writing proves me as a great artist.
While in Minnesota, I had a long emotional conversation with a woman who has spent a great deal of time in Kenya. I was on a rant about female empowerment and equality and she responded with the answer for her was to bring the genders together to create conversation. That women will never be equal and respected until we educate and converse with men.
Attachments. Attachments to judgments, to feeling comfortable, to our clothes and our homes. All ideas that can make us feel happier, but if we delve a bit deeper, if we really look at our inner emotional state, how much of the things we think make us happier actually bring about pain and suffering. Maybe we don’t want to deal with it, maybe we’re happier in denial, that’s a choice. For me, every time I catch myself in a habit or attachment, I remind myself that nothing ever worth doing is comfortable. I prefer to float through life, to enjoy the moment without anything holding me in place.
I still have things to get rid of, furniture, clothes, prejudices and ideas of what life should be, but each time one thing is let go, a brighter thought comes to ease even more the burden of being human. I’m only at the beginning, though I’ve said it for awhile. I’m back in a place where so much has happened, cleaning out the closets has taken on new meaning. I’m taking a breather now, sipping on some tea my mother sent me, smoking a joint and hanging in the no gravity chair Tina bought. Life has stopped for a moment, life has just begun.