It’s funny, but I didn’t think I could get any stronger than I already was. I thought I had been pushed to my spiritual and emotional limit enough that I had also reached my upper limit in terms of how strong I could be. Perhaps I sound naive? I probably was. I probably still am.
There is a recurring line in the TV series Go Ahead, about how one becomes an adult overnight, at some age which could be very young, or very old, or somewhere in between. I used to feel this way, that I kept waking up to a new awakened self who was every day splitting into a gazillion pieces and reforming again. But that’s not what they mean in Go Ahead. In their logic, something definite occurs, something which is irrevocable. In my turbulent cycles of disintegration and reformation, I was running something closer to a design sprint, producing iteration after iteration with tweaks, trying to improve rapidly, trying to endure my life through this form of control. It wasn’t that I wasn’t changing, or changing into someone good. But I lacked clarity about what I was iterating towards. I simply believed that as long as I improved along some scale (intelligence, strength, beauty, kindness, etc.), I was okay. I was good. I was going to be someone I wanted to be.
Now, the changes occurring in me feel different. And despite how consciously I’ve been tracking my own changes, I still surprise myself. Especially over the course of the past year, where I weathered new fears, responsibilities and the break-up; learned to have friends; held a range of jobs that made me consider money, privilege and freedom more carefully; thought about futures I want to participate in, who I want to be, etc. It was a turning point, one which I turned slowly around, with certain steps. Over time, I trusted the process more. I tried not to control every shift, or force one into being when there was none. I did my best to stay conscious of how I was doing physically, emotionally, mentally. I reflected on my conditions but didn’t fight them. I’m still inside this process. It doesn’t feel turbulent. It feels loving, sustainable, safe.
A new kind of strength is forming in me. It is not the same strength that I measured in myself before. That strength was marked by reactivity, protectiveness, anger, hurt, pride, a pure-hearted recklessness. I still carry that strength. It insists on justice and ideals; it pushes back against bullies to protect myself and the people I love; it fights for its dreams. This new strength, in contrast, feels closer to what a mountain feels like. Enduring, unfazed and sturdy within ease. It is unreactive. Sometimes it may not even feel the need to respond. It knows that if its centre is pure, is emptied of pride, ego and fear, nothing can make it waver. That doesn’t mean that no waves rise within, but that I know: a risen wave falls, rises, falls again. Each time this strength surfaces, I don’t need to be brave, because I am not afraid. I am at ease, because I know I am not fully in control, yet I am able to keep the soul light and flow with the currents that come and go. The universe has its particular temperament and logic which I do not understand, but I have learned to trust it. I am learning, slowly, to trust what I do not know.
I have always had pretty accurate intuition, which I think makes the process of trusting easier. So perhaps I’m still just trusting what I somewhat know? Regardless, I’ve been very lucky, because this intuition has kept me safe and welcomed good energies into my life in many ways. It is rare that someone I instinctively know to be good turns out to be anything less, even if my idealisms may obscure their (very human) flaws. The same holds true for people who I immediately recognise as selfish, careless, etc. (They largely turn out to be major asses, but also insecure, needy people I feel for…) I suspect it is a kind of intelligence or knowledge I’ve developed from feeling unsafe so often as a child. I needed to know at one glance who I would be safest with, and who to keep away from to avoid harm. So while it feels intuitive, I think it rests upon a sprawling library within me, which stores all the behavioural features, voices, personalities, traumas I’ve subconsciously studied over time.
I remember now that I used to study people somewhat obsessively. I still do on some level, but I was really committed in the past. Besides stalking their social media profiles and trawling Google for every little thing I could find about them, I paid close attention to their habits, their preferences. I don’t know how I knew, but even then I was already attuned to all these patterns. I knew, instinctively, how the way a person wore or treated their sweater indicated the presence or absence of neglect or desire. I knew how the way someone walked told me about what they thought of themselves. I could tell, even then, who was pretending to be good and getting away with it. I could tell how other people were being fooled. My instincts would be confirmed over time. Is this all very obnoxious to say? Yet, despite feeling self-conscious, I mean it all: I knew and felt alone in my knowing.
Being insecure and fearing people, I began to wield my knowing as a form of power or superiority. By studying people who made me nervous, I felt less out of control. I scoured and gathered more and more knowledge about how to read people to cope with how much they frightened me.
Like I wrote above, though, this defense mechanism has been good to me. I hope it has been good to the people around me, too, because someone once told me that I have a knack for gathering the right people, good people who will work well together. I think I know. I can tell how different people might gel. I could probably articulate these things as some kind of theory or heuristic, but I really don’t want to. It would take away the magic. It would turn this vibrant feeling into dull language.