I spiritually vomited all over myself last week. I felt the panic and fear come on Monday and I ran out of my house to get away from my trembly dog who shows me my own anxiety through ear flapping and panting. Running away in shame knowing that my frantic energy has affected him but these are the moments I spin out and cannot take any outside stimulation. I feel out of control, triggered, scared, like a child.
I joke about this workbook I scribble in here and there designed to help me with my self-esteem. Shit gets better every day but I still feel my cheeks burn when I’m told—you’re intense, you are too much, you intimidate me, you are loud. I internalize all these things but I’ve always been big and loud and would come tramping up the stairs in my childhood home singing or speaking languages that might have been just of our family clan. We would yell, giggle, the neighbors commented on our loudness.
We all sang and had rituals like most families I’m sure. Some of my favorite memories are the songs we made for our pets. Our three legged dog: “Tripod—no bipod, he is a friend of mine.” Or our black sleek lab mix Albert: “Ali-berto gentille Aliberto, je te plumerai.” Then there was our sheep dog Buddy who we would provoke by making the letter O with our mouths and wailing up and down, up and down so he would sing with us.
These things did not seem weird or intense or intimidating as a child. As I find myself interacting with children, much more rarely than I wished, I find that they are the most accepting of me. They even appreciate my weirdness, my intensity. They know my intentions without my having to say so they know I still speak the language of un-nuance, of simplicity, of utter straight forwardness. And they speak straight forward to me, sometimes in a cheek burning way—Miss Jen you are sometimes pretty but sometimes not pretty at all. And I say thank you because all I see is not pretty at all. And so I scratch in the self-esteem workbook.
I don’t understand some of the unspoken rules of the adult world and have professionally crippled myself numerous times—in school, at work. Anxiety is supposedly rooted in low self-esteem and in my tradition of receiving high marks, I’ve got A’s in both. I think every day how I know I’m intelligent but if folks are too intimidated to listen, let go of that achievement. I can listen to NPR but I still sing nursery rhymes in the shower.
I used to get pretty stinkin’ drunk to deal with who I was because in drunk world, Crazy Jen (the name I obtained for myself in my asshole years) was accepted that way. People found it fun. I was a pretend extrovert, the life of the party sliding around drinking fellahs under the table watching them vomit beer as I challenged them to shotgun contests. Slamming my car keys into aluminum, drinking, drinking, hoping someone would stay until the sun came up and I became my true introvert self so we could talk about books and God.
I will vomit again I’m sure. Maybe beer, maybe this confusing stream of spirituality but sometimes it’s not too bad to have the warm insides come rushing out, to feel the relief and release of pressure that builds constantly in a world that isn’t ready for my vibration. Lou Dog, who has many songs and phrases, will continue to show me when I’m off the ol’ rocker and then the choice Is mine to act on the fear or to laugh at myself and use the mantra I heard a child say this week–I am what I am.
“All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.”