The meaning in my head

I’m backkkkk.

This has been my longest hiatus yet. It’s not that I haven’t had any ideas; I’ve been thinking of writing about my travels, a relationship that started just as I set out for BC, my first mystical experience and the reason for this hiatus. To be honest, I just haven’t felt motivated to publish anything in the last few months. Not in the sense that I have been lacking energy or passion. It’s just that I haven’t felt the need.

I previously felt a deep need to blog. I often felt an urgency to write and share something when the emotions still ran high. Capturing my experience at its peak felt important, crucial. I also thought my best blog posts (not my most popular ones but the ones I felt most proud of, the ones I felt really captured something meaningful) came from moments when I could harness those big emotions to nourish my creativity and my writing.

I wonder now how much this practice of pausing and bringing awareness to those intense emotional states has impacted my growth. It’s as though capturing those moments and writing about them has helped me foster the ability to actually first be with myself, and then connect to others, rather than keeping that pain for myself, hiding from the world convinced my suffering meant something was deeply wrong with me, fueling the shame that engulfed me . And that makes sense. Brené Brown has studied and written about the importance of connection in dispelling shame, and so I think blogging was the first way in which I was able to find connection in my deepest shame filled moments.

And yet, I’ve wondered how “healthy” my need for blogging has been. Instead of turning to blogging as a way to find connection and relief of shame, surely it would be better to actually ask for help, seek “real” connections and be more present in my relationships. I now realize that this was and still is not a bad thing, to use blogging as a stepping stone. Because for the past 3 years or so, it has been the easiest way for me to begin opening up. I recognize and even appreciate how blogging has been so therapeutic for me, regardless of if we want to label is as “good” or “bad”.

Blogging has also provided me with some validation. At first that came in the form of popularity and traffic on my blog, which gave me a sense that people were curious or resonated with my writing in some way. That felt good, for the first time in my life I didn’t feel so alone in my experiences, I started to have moments where I believed that maybe I wasn’t so fucked up after all. Apart from my few more “sensational” blog posts, though, the traffic on my blog significantly dropped after my first year of blogging.

In the last year, I started to find validation or benefit in the simple act of writing and sharing my thoughts and experiences. Speaking up, even about little things, and taking up space has always felt scary for me. And I’d even go as far as saying that it was difficult for me to even feel confident about my truth, what mattered to me and how I felt about things. So blogging has been like practice for real time moments in life where I want to speak up, share my perspective or express myself. It’s also helped me feel confident about the things that I believe and that matter to me, while also knowing that these things will change over time.

Anothing significant positive outcome of my blogging has been practicing vulnerability. I’ve written about vulnerability in a number of posts and I have often thought back to those posts and my blogging in general and wondered about the quality of the vulnerability I embodied. Has my vulnerability been good or bad? Has it been enough? Or too much?

This insecurity was compounded by a comment from a coach I briefly worked with in 2019. The comment came after I published the blog post A letter to my 14 year old self, which was actually an exercise they had given me to help connect with younger me, to give that younger version of myself the validation, support and love she needed. The coach talked about “true” vulnerability – quoting Brené Brown in the process- suggesting (I assumed) that they thought me sharing that post either did not qualify as vulnerability, or that maybe it was a ‘bad’ form of vulnerability. So that insecurity has stayed with me, as I have continuously questioned how healthy and helpful it was for me to share such personal details of my life and inner world with the public.

In a dialectical behavioral course I took over the last year, as well as a current course I am taking that is grounded in the polyvagal and attachment theories, I am learning more about the deeply rooted and unconscious forces that often drive our thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

I am learning about why we might do something compulsively or out of urgency, and later look back and think “why did I say that” or “why did I do that”? I am learning about why certain things may feel safe, and others not. I am learning about the importance of that safety – not in the way we often think of safety, as if it’s something created or offered up by someone else. No, this safety I write about is the felt sense of safety, one that comes from very ancient parts of our nervous system, a system that exists to keep us alive and safe, and acts primarily out of our conscious awareness. And yet, we have access to information from this system, it’s just that most of us have been taught to ignore those cues, disconnect from those intuitive and subtle feelings.

And with all this learning, and painfully slow unlearning and practicing, I am realizing just how helpful of a tool blogging has been for me. I have a deep appreciation for blogging and all that it has taught me, for the safety I found and created within my blogging, and for how it formed a much needed foundation. A foundation for me to build new ways of meeting my needs and finding safety and connection.

I have been learning to slow down when intense emotions arise, noticing the feelings of urgency that accompany these emotions, rather than letting the urgency take over me, dictating my thoughts and behaviors. I have been realizing that the things I feel and think and believe when I am in those intense emotional states are just transient. Not that there is not wisdom in those experiences, but that making decisions from the peak of those experiences is generally not terribly helpful. So I have been busy exploring these emotional states, getting to know them and myself within them, rather than only using them as a means to creativity.

I have also been finding other ways to tolerate the intensity of my emotions. I have been learning to self-regulate and learning to take tolerable steps towards safe connections with others (in fact, the first of which was blogging).

I have been able to find validation in my experiences when I do connect with others, but quite frankly I have also developed this ability to validate myself, somehow finding confidence that my experiences are valid, not wrong, not something to be ashamed of. It’s certainly not something I am able to maintain all the time, I definitely slip into moments (sometimes rather long periods of time) where I constantly struggle against self harsh talk, where the shame tends to creep back in. But those moments are not as deep and as prolonged as they used to be.

Finally, I have started, very very slowly and in miniscule undertakings, to practice vulnerability in my relationships. The way I have come to understand it, is that blogging usually happened after I had processed something, or at least after I had the awareness of something. Previously, I simply did not have the capacity to tolerate letting myself be seen in the midst of my struggles. But I was able to let people into the stories of my struggles once the intense struggle had passed. Now, I am learning to let people in during the struggle. It’s a wicked amount of work and it’s at times draining. But it feels like one of the most important work of my life.

So where does my blogging go from here, if blogging used to be a means to meeting needs that I am now learning to fulfill in other ways?

One thing that has fueled my blogging which I haven’t fully explored in this post is meaning making.

We humans are meaning making machines. We need to find meaning in our experiences, or at least, it’s certainly helpful to create and believe in stories and systems that make us feel as though our experience of being a human on earth has some sort of purpose and value.

And so, blogging for me has always, and will always, be a way for me to make meaning out of my experiences, especially the very difficult and painful ones. Yes, by creating and sharing the stories in my head. But also by believing that my blogging also serves a bigger purpose, that my struggles can be transformed into something helpful and meaningful both for myself and others.

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