If you are seen, you will die. That sounds almost funny out loud. But it’s not at all funny inside my head. This is because that is what my brain has been telling myself every time I begin to execute a plan that pushes (or usually in my case launches) me out of my comfort zone.
Before I left for Bali my plan was to keep up with my blog religiously, keeping the world (or realistically my mom and her three friends) updated with how I was doing. Now that I’m back from a month long writer’s mastermind multiple people have asked why I didn’t post anything. I’ve been saying that I was just so busy with writing and then when I did have time for it I was so burnt out from writing. This wasn’t a lie, but it also wasn’t 100% true either.
I let my survival pattern, or Survy as call her (nicknamed that because I liked how it sounded like Scurvy!) convince me to not write. Ok, super fast anatomy lesson (the massage therapist in me couldn’t help but stop by!)–I promise it’s quick, not boring, and unlike most of my tangents actually has a point and relevance to the story! What happens is our brains are wired for survival and the brain forms survival patterns based on traumatic experiences to keep you safe from that type of danger in the future. For example if you are bitten by a dog at age five your brain tells you (from then on) that all dogs are dangerous. But as you can see this is a massive generalization and in reality keeps you from positive things like forming a loving relationship with a dog. So in an effort to keep you safe your brain actually causes you to lose out on many important things.
So for me, I was battling with my survival pattern every time I sat down to write my book on my (mostly internal) struggles with having dyslexia and being a lesbian. And with my newly formed cheerleading squad (Mastin, you are definitely the guy that throws everyone in the air!) I was succeeding. However, the thought of tackling Survy on another front was exhausting, because even though I was winning and making massive leaps with my writing it was leaving me zombie like most days. So I caved and let Survy have this one without putting up any sort of fight.
I regret that now. Why? Because I told myself so. Let me explain! Before we left for Bali Mastin gave us one last gift. While we were still in our authentic state before heading home where Survy would begin to dig her claws in while we were on the plane, we made ourselves a personal video. A video telling ourselves what to do when we got stuck and how to successfully fight off Survy. I’d completely forgotten about this eight minute solid gold speech I’d left myself. Listening to it I nailed everything I was currently feeling. Hearing myself tell me to knock it off and quit living a life in shackles especially because I knew the key sitting there at my feet was a big wake up call.
So instead of wallowing and feeling sorry for myself I’ve decided to do the best thing I can in this situation: launch an attack and prepare for battle. Take that Survy! I realize now that I was too scared to write a blog post. I let Survy tell me that no one wanted to read what I had to say and that even if they did I had nothing of value to tell them.
But first a quick monkey picture!! We ran into them often and I’ll admit they were fascinating to watch. I saw one monkey steal a guy’s hat right off his head and another one take a woman’s water bottle, unscrew the cap and drink from it!
Photo taken by my fellow Bali writer, Elizabeth Morris
So here’s what Survy doesn’t want you to know:
Bali was incredible, but it was also a scary, intense four weeks. It was like a thrilling roller coaster ride where halfway through you realize that your seat belt is way too loose and that the next time you flip upside down you very likely could slip out and go crashing headfirst to the blacktop below causing a few kids to drop their cotton candy. I had chucked a lot of uncomfortable memories around my dyslexia under the rug and writing about them brought them flying to the surface and knocked me over. One of the big ones was I didn’t want to admit to myself that I suffered. This was no one’s fault and I realize now not necessarily a bad thing (more on that later). However, because I wasn’t beaten with a stick or a belt and I had loving, caring parents I thought claiming I had suffered was weak. I thought claiming I had had a difficult childhood was pathetic compared to someone who’s parents were murdered and then they were gang raped. That was suffering. Believing I was stupid and working very hard to keep my burden invisible to the rest of the world couldn’t even begin to compare. So I hid behind it. I didn’t like telling people I had dyslexia because they felt sorry for me and looked at me with such sad eyes. I hated getting that look–it was the same one people gave a tick-infested abandoned dog they came upon on the side of the road.
In Bali, listening to my fellow writers tell their stories made me realize that one person’s suffering didn’t outshine another. Despite what my survival pattern had told me there was no hierarchy whatsoever. And then I thought back to why I was diving into my life vault fighting with myself to retrieve memories. I was doing this to help other people, both fellow dyslexians as well as others who for whatever reason had been told they were unworthy because they were different. And maybe if they could relate to the struggles I went through with feeling inferior to my peers they might be able to relate to feeling like it didn’t count as suffering. Only one way to find out! And regardless of whether or not that is true it is what I felt and I’m allowed to say that aloud. And look Survy–despite what you think I’m not going to die from saying it. I know I need to step out from behind the thick shell of my survival pattern and so even though this is nerve wracking it’s also exciting to finally stand in my truth.
Survy is furious at me right now. We could fry an eye on each of her cheeks they are so hot and smoke is coming out of her ears. She’s screaming at the top of her lungs that I couldn’t possibly hit post and release this into the world of the internet. And so that’s exactly what I intend to do.
Oh and for those interested in what Bali was like here are some additional photos and look out for future posts involving my Bali adventure.
First one is the stunning view from my balcony, second is from the top of a rice terrace, and third is the entire group before we entered a sacred water temple.