Faith? Cue the Nervous Laughter

faith
/fāTH/noun
1.complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

Voltaire tells us “Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” Sounds lovely and perhaps the beauty of faith is the reason I’m always intrigued by individuals who have faith they openly discuss. Often times I’ll find myself engaged in a discussion with a person about their beliefs and I find that their faith is a beautiful thing, even if I completely disagree with what they are saying.

I’m not so strong on the faith front. Martin Luther King, Jr shared that “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” This quote alone causes me a bit of discomfort and panic. Maybe you’ll take the first step, but me, I’m refusing to. I need to know where we are going, how many stairs there are, are the stairs steep or shallow, why are we taking the stairs, is there an elevator we can use instead, is this journey necessary, etc. Clearly, I’m a joy to behold in any unknown situation and my therapist probably needs to charge me double.

If I manage to take that first step or the first couple steps without any of my questions being answered, I’ll hover for a moment as my fear takes over and then I’ll rush back down to my perceived safety. Yet, I’d like to have faith. I am that person that does believe in a larger power and I do occasionally pray for signs, but then if the sign shows, I wonder if I prayed wrong and if the sign doesn’t show, then maybe the universe wasn’t listening or maybe I again prayed wrong.

Now if someone said the above to me, I’d point out there is not a wrong way to pray and to trust the signs or lack thereof. For me trust comes hard. My foundation for trusting others was damaged years ago and I’ve never been sure how to rebuild it. Compounding that difficulty is that I was inadvertently, or maybe purposefully depending on your viewpoint, taught not to trust myself. I’m not sure, but maybe the only way to have stronger faith is to practice trust, not only with others, but with myself. Perhaps that needs to be the first step, really beginning to trust myself. If there is one thing I’ve recently learned it’s that I’m not crazy and my intuition serves me quite well. So maybe, just maybe, I’m ready for some good ole fashioned faith.

With love,

E.R.A.

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Me Too: a Poem

And sometimes I cry

For the little girls going through this too.

And sometimes I want to die

The pain feels too big to survive.

And sometimes I have to lie

Just to pretend I’m fine.

And sometimes I let out a sigh

The weight is crushing me.

But…

Often times I sigh

Relief that I’m moving on.

Often times I don’t lie

I own my dark truth.

Often times I don’t want to die

This life is not bigger than me.

Often times I cry

Because me fucking too.

❤️ E.R.A.

My Mirror

I looked in the mirror today

To see what I could see.

At first I couldn’t grasp

But what I saw was me.

Through my eyes I looked.

Beyond the physical-

Not looking for a flaw,

Nor something to love.

I just looked at my physical

And looking deeper still

All the things I try to hide

Couldn’t escape my eyes.

Standing on the edge of my deep canyon of fear

I saw.

Fear – that I am not enough.

Fear – that I cannot be loved.

Fear – that I am too broken to love.

Fear – that my path is hidden from me.

Fear – that I am losing my mind.

Taken aback by what I saw,

But looking deeper still.

I saw love.

Self love – I am enough.

More self love – I love me. All of me! & I am loved!

Love, love, LOVE – the smiling faces of those I love.

The journey I am on – my path isn’t hidden. I’m ON IT!

My mind is afraid, but my heart loves still.

I am not alone.

I have never been alone.

I am whole and complete.

I looked into the mirror today

To see what I could see

My mind couldn’t grasp what my heart saw

It was you all along

Reflecting me.

With love, E.R.A.

Ready to Run

It seems that at least once a year I panic and feel like my best option is to run far, far, far away. So far I have not done this, but the urge is there and it’s strong. My fingers flex in anticipation of getting rid of almost everything and just taking a carload to the other side of the country.

People, myself included, ask what is running away going to solve? I don’t know. What I do know is that this desire is layered with hope that running away will give me a chance to start fresh and be the person I want to be, instead of the person I am. In a new place, maybe my traumas wouldn’t haunt me… or I guess they’d still haunt me, but maybe they’d be easier to live with. If our honesty here is as raw as a fresh egg then, my quiet hope would be that I find someone to love me.

Running away, in my head, always accompanies severing ties with everyone in my life. Letting go of the past and creating a whole new future. The problem with this is that some of these connections I’d miss the way I’d miss a limb. That is normally how I put the stop to my run away fantasies. Ending other connections would be an absolute relief.

Perhaps the compromise here is that I end connections that feel like they’d be a relief to end, nurture the connections I’d miss, keep working with my therapist on the trauma stuff and keep loving myself. The biggest part of that compromise is letting that be enough, because until me loving me is enough- it’s going to continue being damn hard to know who I am and just be that person.

I’m just so damn tired and I really wish there was a short cut.

With Love, E.R.A.

Use Caution

Like so many others I’ve read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” many times. It is one of my most cherished books which you can see from the worn cover and spine. Tonight, after a hellacious day of one long internal temper tantrum after the other, I am reminded of Richard from Texas telling Liz to be careful what she wishes for. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie then here is a quick fill in for you- Richard from Texas prayed and begged God for an open heart for quite some time, and eventually, he wound up on a surgical table getting open heart surgery. It doesn’t get much more open than that.

Richard’s tale reminds us that not only do we maybe want to be specific with what we are asking, but maybe to also, use some caution in what we are asking for. Now, I did not have open heart surgery today, but in fairness I hadn’t asked for an open heart. Nope. Instead what I foolishly (not really foolish, but it feels foolish today) asked for and the universe hand delivered was something to help me confront my demons. That something is discussed in my initial post, so I’m sparing repeating it here, but oh man, today has been rough.

Today I was browsing in a shop and there was a woman next to me, we weren’t interacting, but it was one of those times that I was realizing that I didn’t want to be sending any energy out into the universe because internally I was having a temper tantrum. It was like my bitmoji was up from her hammock and she was stomping around like a small tired child and repeating but I don’t want this or that, over and over and over again. When I recognized this, I doubled over and burst out laughing. The woman next to me looked at me curiously and I just owned it, “I’m having a temper tantrum in my head over feelings and emotions I’m experiencing and I don’t want them. Like a small child, I am so fucking tired.” She laughed with me and was very gentle about it but asked me why I didn’t want the feelings and emotions I am experiencing, to which I replied that they aren’t comfortable.

Tonight, despite many more temper tantrums (some text messaged to my therapist) I am reminded of Richard from Texas, because ultimately, I did ask for this discomfort. I begged for it even. I may not be laying opened up on a surgical table, but I am open and I am facing down so many demons at once that I’m ready to pray for them to be in a single file line. Today and tonight, I’m just so damn tired. With that, I’m going to sleep.

I just wanted to remind anyone who reads this, be gentle with yourself and be careful what you wish for.

Love, E.R.A.

New Blog, Who Dis?

i·den·ti·ty cri·sis/īˈden(t)ədē ˌkrīsis/ noun PSYCHIATRY

  1. a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person’s sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.

Okay, we are a few weeks into this “new blog”, so it’s not as new as it could be, but still who am I? Isn’t that the question that plagues us all? Or is it something more like, is *insert name here* my soul mate? (Many of us have been there.)

About a month ago my younger sister posed a question to me about who I am. She wondered if due to some family dynamics whether or not I felt like I was having an identity crisis and didn’t even know who I was. She hit the nail on the head. I am just learning who I am. For years, I’ve defined myself by my work and my work ethic… Hold the phone, most days I barely like my job. So I was defining myself (MY ENTIRE SELF) by a job that is not something that makes me want to get up in the morning and I missed the flawed logic in this decision.

This blog came from the desire to start knowing myself better and just to accept myself. I’m over 30 years into this life and I have not done that before. I don’t have a map or timeline of how this works, but I guess this is the best place to start…

Hi, I’m Elizabeth Rebecca Ashton (or I will be, as long as the judge approves my name change request.)

I have pretty bad posture and much of it comes from the shame I have regarding my body.

I love, love, love, love stories. I’ve got a few select go to romance novels for a quick read, but I’m a huge Jane Austen fan.

I’ll send/buy myself flowers. Receiving flowers is one of my favorite things and so I’ve started buying myself some. This will be the second week that I’ve bought myself flowers and I keep them by my bedside, to remind me that I love me enough to buy me weekly flowers.

My favorite color varies based on my mood, but mainly, I’m a big fan of the color grey. Pale yellow comes in a close second to being my favorite color.

My core value is honesty. My second core value is compassion. Like with my favorite colors, my core values are almost tied for the same place of being the top. The quickest ways to really piss me off is to lie to me or be a dick to someone. This isn’t to say I haven’t lied or been a dick. I’m not a fucking saint, I’ve done both, but doing either is in such opposition with my core beliefs that I find it hard to forgive myself for either transgression.

As I have aged, etiquette has become very important to me. I’m the person at McDonalds that just ordered my McFlurry with a “May I please have a snack size Oreo McFlurry, with hot fudge?” And when the cashier tells me the total and to pull around, I thank them.

I very proudly work with my therapist. No shame in my mental health game at all. Frustratingly enough, I operate from a position of panic and anxiety. This is seemingly stemming from insecurities of not being enough… Not fun enough, not quiet enough, not polite enough, not happy enough, not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not educated enough… The not enough list goes on and it’s also the biggest lie I’ve told myself. Like am I athletic enough to come on that Ninja Warrior game show thingy? Nope. But do I want to be? Hell no. So why is that I focus on the bit of not being enough in that capacity?

Putting on make up makes me happy. I recognize that I don’t need it, but brushing my hair and wearing make up, makes me happy. This is new, like in the last year new. The fact that I even know where my hair brush is now is amazing. We’ll probably discuss this later as to why this love didn’t develop until my thirties, but for now, we skip it.

I am a writer. I don’t have any paid for published works yet, but I am writing and that is my biggest creativity of choice. I do love dancing though and am trying to decide how I best want to get back into that.

For the past 4 months, I’ve been steadily peeling back my layers to figure out who I am. And that really is what this blog is about. So it’s nice to meet you.

With love,

E.R.A.

The List

fear:

noun 

an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

verb 

be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening.

Driving home from therapy last night, I was thinking about those walls that had been destroyed. If I was a cartoonist, the picture of my brain would have been a bitmoji me, rocking in a hammock with stacks and stacks of fictional books around me. My nose would be stuck in one book and there would be so many books, that you’d almost miss those thick, tall concrete walls surrounding me and my books. From this picture, you’d think that I’m so engrossed in my books and so comfy in my hammock, that I’ve never even noticed those walls. You’d only be slightly wrong in this assumption, because I know when those walls were erected and I’ve always known they were there. After all, I built them myself. I just couldn’t destroy them myself, because I was too busy reading fiction and that corner with the “how to books”, was dusty, I was afraid of what I’d find. Besides, I don’t operate large machinery… Well, other than my car.

Shortly after my walls were destroyed by the Brit with the permit, my brain was absolute chaos. The walls were down and so damn broken, that I couldn’t put them back up again. The thing is I really, really, REALLY didn’t want to put them back up. It was a goddamn war zone of emotions in my brain where abject terror and panic reigned, but also this bizarre sense of certainty that I am okay. My brain has moved into a sort of calmness, but also into complete exhaustion as the past 3 months have been defined by a period of candid self reflection. Though the fat lady ain’t singing yet. While I don’t believe self reflection is a one time kind of item, I also don’t believe that it’s always quite this exhausting.

Now that my brain is calmer, my bitmoji self is standing among the debris, with her hands on her hips and surveying what’s gone down. Somewhere though I’ve begun picking up the pieces of my walls, examining them and gently laying them back down because I don’t know what else to do with them.

Being that people build metaphorical walls around them as a defense and/ or response to trauma and pain, it may not be surprising to learn that the pieces of the wall I’ve examined thus far are made up of fears. To get past fear, I need to identify what the fear is. On my drive last night, I decided that to create a list of these fears might be the best way to examine them fully. This thought was so scary that I almost drove off the road to give into panic, before I reminded myself that a list CANNOT hurt me. Also, I LOVE making lists, it’s one of my favorite things. I make grocery lists; to do lists; gift lists; project lists; pro and cons lists about every single crush I’ve had or major decisions I had to make; etc…. Look, I just made a list about my lists. So why the hang up on making a fear list? Well, because then it exists… Right there… In black and white. And that terrifies me. Examining my fears, acknowledging the fear, is my top fear.

Of course since I came up with this idea, my bitmoji self is totally on board and just waiting for the order to pick up a piece of wall and examine it. Also, she’s kind of been letting me know, in list format of course, what she’s seen thus far. Some of the things she’s listed are truly scary and will need to be examined further and addressed, but some, I’m not sure why they are there. Some of my fears almost seem silly and I wonder if those fears were potentially collected to help fortify my walls. Either way, each piece will need to be collected, examined, and then properly disposed of or put away, so that I can move from this fear based living, into my dream of coming from a place of love.

Wish me luck… No, wish me perseverance.