DISSONANCE

Depression and anxiety for me is a symptom of dissonance occurring between the alignment of my inner guidance and my outer existence– simply put: it becomes a part of my life when I choose to repress who I am and Be someone else. The root of that manifestation varies but can usually be found lurking in shame or fear. I’ll explain a portion of my life to elucidate how this phenomenon works for me.

 

My mom is liberal and takes pride in walking the walk. As a teacher she developed meaningful relationships with her students and fostered their wellbeing by genuinely caring about the people they were. This showed up in our daily lives as our house had an open door policy. Many of the students she cultivated relationships with were “fringed” individuals, they would stop by to have coffee and discuss arbitrary occurrences or to seek help untangling problems in their lives, and still do to this day. It became a joke that my friends would come over and end up having coffee with my mom rather than hanging out with me. 

 

This policy deepened as my mom opened our doors for people to stay with us. The first person to stay with us was a girl who had been our neighbour when we first moved to town and had come out to her family. Her family rejected her and her sexuality subsequently, she ended up coming to live with us until the air cleared in her family. We  had a couple foreign exchange students from Mexico live with us too. And Kevin. Kevin and I had become fast friends at a music camp in northern Manitoba. He was from a reserve that was well-known for being quite rough and unapologetic in matters of liberal ideologies. He was gay and it wasn’t until he lived with us that he became comfortable enough to explore this openly: wearing make-up, styling his hair and outwardly expressing his effeminate demeanour.

 

When my sister came out to me when she was twenty-eight, I thought deeply over the idea of why it took her so long to do so. Most people fear coming out because of the repercussions in their immediate family, but our family had no such consequence to fear: whatever and whoever you were was okay with us, as long as you were a good human being. 

 

My sister was married to a man at the time and between the time she came out to me and the time she left her married home was a journey. She didn’t tell her husband for three months and even then, they stayed together for I believe another month. The whole process confused me; the fact that she was not outwardly gay by fifteen like many of my other friends was a puzzle to me. 

 

I didn’t fully understand this question until I experienced my own integration of my sexuality, or “animus” as Jung coined the masculine energy within a female.

 

I too had been living with my long term boyfriend, had just bought a house, had attempted to have a dog, was integrated into his family and I was completely miserable. I was medicated for depression and balancing it with a mild anti-psychotic medication to keep the delusions at bay. My GP had categorized me as “depressed with symptoms of delusions”; I look at it from a chakra perspective now: my first chakra was fractured and so the energy went straight into my mind.  To top it off, I had smoked weed almost every day since he and I had begun dating and was mixing it up by chugging glasses of wine, eating myself into a coma or masturbating until I was numb. 

 

We had been fighting a lot, particularly due to the relationship triangulated between him, me and his mother. After a particularly gnarly fight, screaming, slamming doors, yelling through doors, you know… the usual, I had a dream where we were chasing each other through a foreboding home yelling at each other. Every time we yelled at each other we took literal chunks out of each other’s physical body until we looked like we stepped off the set of the latest zombie apocalypse movie. 

 

I had decided a couple weeks prior to take a literal leap of faith and attend an AA meeting. Thinking that addiction runs firmly through the veins of my genetics and it obviously had made its way into my heart to infect my personal body. The first meeting I went to, I shed two big crocodile tears: it was the first time I had heard people talk honestly about their relationships with substances where the energy of their words and the energy of the Being were not dissonant. What I mean is: they were walking the walk when it came to addressing the detrimental affects of substances in their lives and were reaping the benefits of having an aligned Being. They weren’t saying one thing and living another. They weren’t exaggerating their successes and they weren’t downplaying their challenges. They were brave and they were definitely vulnerable, and I desperately needed that environment to acquiesce to the fact that my mind was dominating my body while pretending to have an interdependent relationship. 

 

I had begun praying. I don’t conceptualize God as being the all knowing big man in the sky, to me it’s inside. It’s the quiet, gentle voice that speaks when you’re ready to listen, it’s the force that allows you to take the step onto a stage even though every molecule in your body is screaming, it’s the energy that beats your heart: it’s ever present if only I wish to surrender to it’s guidance. 

 

After this particularly disturbing dream, I woke up and got on my knees and asked “God” to please help me, please help me, please help me. I was in a state and within a few minutes of chanting on my knees, I felt a sense of calm. My tears dried, my breathing evened and I sat up on my knees and knew that I needed to go through the motions of my day and everything would be ok, I was being ushered somewhere I couldn’t quite see. Like the metaphor I’ve heard people use: you can drive long distances in the dark only by seeing the few feet in front of your car illuminated by the headlights. 

 

I got dressed, I went to work. I worked retail at the time, which gave me a lot of time to meditate while merchandising, which I loved. It was not characteristically monumental but at sometime during my day, a voice came into my head (Me) and said, “I am gay”. It was an arbitrary thought, it felt the same as, “I need to pee” or “it’s time for my break”. It felt normal. 

 

But then a shame gremlin creeped in. Only through time, experience and the guidance of Brene Brown’s work have I been able to differentiate the voices of Shame and Truth in my mind. Shame told me: “No you aren’t, you just don’t want to deal with (the boyfriend’s mother)”. Which I’ll give it credit, Shame always knows how to use the truth to twist it to it’s insidious advantage, I didn’t want to reconcile with her because deep down the truth was: there wasn’t an equal ground of foundation in which we could reconcile, there would always be a power differential and a codependent air unless big quantum leaps were taken on both sides of the playing field. This made me feel sick with grief, shame, relief, confusion… so many thoughts, so many feelings. 

 

When I got home I was distraught again. My boyfriend and I had been living in separate rooms and I went to my room and got on my knees again. I thought to myself, “What is the most loving thing I could do” over and over and over. It came to me: speak the truth, allow yourself to be seen, allow your boyfriend to know so he can reclaim his life and you yours. 

 

And so I did. I told him I was certain I was gay. Bless him, he fought it. And bless me, it was the first time I stood my ground with him and didn’t yield to his pushing like I had so many times before. 

 

There was an AA meeting that night and I knew it was important to keep this truth ball rolling and to keep the momentum of this truth lest I be snapped back by the gravitational pull of my straight life. The person I had bonded with the most at AA was a gay guy and I took my seat next to him. I was crying before it was my time to speak and when it was I tearfully said that I had found the root of why I seek solitude in addictive, compulsive behaviours around alcohol, drugs, food and sex: I want to love and experience a woman, I am a lesbian. 

 

My friend cried too and spoke about the time he came out, which was powerful but it wasn’t the most profound moment of that meeting. I had been going every day I could to meetings and I had never seen this particular couple of women sitting to my left. Apparently they didn’t come frequently as they were steady in their sobriety. They were also married. And both of them honoured me with the privilege of hearing their stories of coming out and their journeys to self acceptance and sobriety. I was meant to be in that room, speaking my truth and bearing witness to others. I was aligning with my path and I was again, being ushered. 

 

But inevitably, as many people do, I got pulled back into the gravitational pull of my persona and went back to my boyfriend and swore the “gay” thing was just another mask I put on to avoid responsibility (Shame). 

 

However, that didn’t last long. 

 

When we finally broke up, the hand of God was there again. I had to quit working for his family, for obvious reasons, and needed a new income. I had struggled to find even an entry level job in the city we were living in but within a couple days I had guarantee that I was going to be promoted at the current job I had and I had run in to an acquaintance at a café that I had thought was too cool for me who recommended me to her boss and I accepted. We put our house on the market but were not too hopeful as it had sat for over a year until we had bought it, the market was flooded with houses and there were six or seven other houses on our street alone for sale. We were prepared to cohabitate in this tense, estranged environment for a while. It sold in a week.

 

I remember this time as being giddy. I was experiencing deep grief, but it was overshadowed by this immense relief and flood of overwhelming possibilities. It felt like I had been walking on a treadmill for the past five years and suddenly I had become aware of it and stepped off. But that is always accompanied by a strange sense of vertigo like “holy shit, look how much ground I can cover!”.

 

I was being ushered…again.

 

I ended up where I am currently, back home working on building my foundation. 

 

However, I’ve begun the process of taking myself off of my psychological medications and replacing them with better sleep hygiene, nutrition, exercise and meditation. I am still and continue to practice sobriety every day (one day at a time). And I’ve begun to look at the aspects of my life that I fear the most: financial independence, my relationships, my integrity, my sexuality. The more work I pour into fostering an interdependent relationship between my body and my mind, the more united of a Being I feel. It’s very hard, I won’t undermine the fact that some days I am overwhelmmed by anger, grief, shame, and do occasionally regress. However, the dissonance has subsided and I’m beginning to move from a place of inner wisdom.

 

For me, this dissonant relationship between mind and body originates in my second chakra and has to do mainly with sexuality. Although I grew up in a liberal home with a mother who fought and fostered people-first idealogies in our home, the messaging I received in the world was that if I was gay, there were going to be very painful repercussions. Because I had experienced a disruption in my family unit very young through the divorce of my parents and subsequent estrangement of my father, the fear of abandonment was too high a price to pay for the expression of my sexuality. This coupled with my generational genetic substance which is steeped in disruption in the first chakra, amplified the need to repress and redirect. This process was not conscious to me, I was too young to have processed it at this level. So this repression of my sexuality due to fear of repeating the devastating loss of my place in life was cast to the shadowlands of my consciousness. 

 

The development of my ego became centered around how to most effectively portray, convince and become straight. I utilized chat rooms on the internet as a scientist analyzing data. I would put my MSN into a chatroom, casting my line into the ocean, and be flooded with boys adding me to “chat”– an early form of sexting, in my opinion. I would take images off Google of beautiful women and pretend to be older than I was. All the while collecting the data that would become my persona. What did they want to hear? What did they like? What didn’t they like? How do I get people to respond to me? What do I have to say to keep their attention? It became a grotesque study of manipulation. And I thank God the internet was still quite young as this could have ended worse than it did. 

 

I would spend a good chunk of my time researching, again I did not conceptualize it as I do now but that’s exactly what I was doing. Pretending and analyzing. Practicing. 

 

I became quite effective at it. As I grew up, I attracted a lot of “unwanted’ sexual attention from a lot of people. A lot of the friends I had that were boys at one point or another would proclaim their love for me, or try to make a move on me. 

 

But I only pursued relationships with the particularly unavailable or equally polarized. I would employ a certain set of unconscious patterns and create an ineffective codependency. And I was always miserable within those relationships. Always. It started off passionately and ended equally in the opposite direction. And I was always numbing in one way or another. Unpleasable sex, excessive masturbation, over or under eating, elaborate spending or overindulgence in alcohol or drugs. Anything to run away. Anything to repress. 

 

I watched as the people around me moved ahead in life and wondered aimlessly why I felt like I was at a standstill, regardless of the fact that I had come out of the gate with a bang: top marks, full extra curricula, I excelled in music and theater… but I couldn’t catch momentum in my 20’s.

 

It was because I lacked integration. 

 

I had banished my true sexuality to the dark parts of my psyche and guarded it with my life. I was a square peg trying desperately to fit into a round hole. A peacock masquerading as a swan. 

 

When I hear people talk about coming out, they describe it not as a big event, like a bar or bot mitzva, but as a sequence of small events that reveal who you truly are. I believe that the only way for me to reclaim my destiny, if you’ll indulge that language, is to begin participating in these small acts of victory. 

 

Before I came out to my boyfriend, I had phoned my oldest sister. I told her that we’ve come full circle, I think I’m gay. She held it with empathy but told me that sexuality is challenging and that I don’t have to put myself in a box. 

 

Right before I finally shut the door on my final heterosexuals’ relationship, I told my Mom that I had told him I was gay and had been grappling with my sexuality. She said that she doesn’t think I’m gay, but am attracted to certain energies regardless of physical presentation. I don’t have to put myself in a box.

 

But psychologists have known for a long time now that children in early stages of development need boundaries in order to experience freedom. In fact, that’s a common theme I run across: to fully embrace freedom is to paradoxically embrace limitations. So to that effect: I think I need my box. I need to limit myself to the idea that I am a lesbian, that my body, my soul, my heart wants to share it’s deepest intimacies with a woman. That in order to access the freedom of my divinity, I need the limitation around my sexuality. 

 

As I foster communication with my body, it punctuates this idea. When I think of myself as a lesbian, when I conceptualize and visualize my life from that angle, when I adjust the lens to how I see the world in that direction, my body flows. I can run longer, I can do asana with more deliberate calmness, my singing voice is stronger and more robust, my musical prowess is amplified, I can paint what I see in my mind, my creativity deepens, my concentration is sharper, my ability to lay and enforce boundaries is stronger… 

 

These, to me, are not coincidences: I am being ushered into a deep union of Self.

 

I am manifesting. 

 

When I say that depression and anxiety, to me, are a symptom of dissonance, I do not state that lightly. I understand the toll at the gate of integration. It means being crucified. It means allowing yourself to be burned alive at the stake. Every metaphor that has ever been set up in humanity to elucidate this point does not do justice to the actual act of walking through that fire yourself. It does not embody the experience of be-coming. It cannot.  Because although we are all intrinsically connected, our experience on this plane is unique to us. Your crucifixion will look vastly different from mine however, I can wholeheartedly empathize because the feelings and outcomes of being aligned and unified Self is a universal experience. But the fallacy that you will find yourself if you go to Italy, India and Bali because Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey took her to those destinations needs to be acknowledged and examined. 

 

Only you and yourself will know where, when, and how.

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