I recently gave myself permission to say fuck in class.
I love that word, but the practice of saying it when I feel like saying it (especially in a yoga class), is new for me. I never used to allow myself to say that. It was like this little rule I had that when I walked into a yoga space; I had to be all yoga-y and shit.
So what happened?
I had a moment of honesty with myself.
I teach yoga, but I don’t know the answers. In fact, every time I think I have an answer, I’m quickly reminded that what I think is an ‘answer’ is actually nothing more than a threshold to a deeper level of questioning.
This is about being honest with myself.
I am a fractal—a kaleidoscope that bends and shimmies into itself, curling into a center beyond center beyond center. I never end. And the crazy thing about it is that sometimes I get this really pious thought that says, “Good job, Brentan, you really know yourself.”
I know myself?
Actually, let’s be honest.
I don’t know myself. Because I never end. Because I will always exist one step beyond my ability to fully intellectually grasp myself. Because I am bigger than I give myself credit for.
Sometimes I pretend to be in a different place internally than I actually am. Let me give you an example: the other night, I pretended to know a pop-culture reference that I didn’t know; there are times when I edit my journal entries before even writing them; and once or twice I’ve been known to reflexively sputter out, “Fine, how are you?” without any intention to figure out how I’m actually doing or really listen to someone else.
So, let me ask myself the question I have been scared to admit I’m avoiding: why all the pretense?
Every single day of my life, I experience internal discomfort, anxiety and isolation that shows up in me editing myself, pretending to be something that I’m not, and full-on hiding (like ‘hide-and-seek’ hiding—like I’m so uncomfortable I’m going to go be in this towel-closet now…).
It has definitely gotten better over the years, and I feel beyond fortunate to now be in the position where I can responsibly and lovingly engage in self-dialogue about this suffering without putting myself into a full-blown “What am I doing with my life?!” crisis.
This is not to say that I don’t experience clarity, love, compassion, gratitude, and courage every day, because I do. In huge, beautiful and totally blessed quantities I feel these things. (How interesting it is that I felt like I needed to add this paragraph to somehow clear up a potentially rough image of myself that I’m admitting to in this piece.)
I’m learning to be honest with myself.
I’ve already said this, but I feel it’s worth mentioning again: I don’t know the answers. I only know that the way for me to clear my system and for me to feel truly accepting of myself and of others is for me to simply express what is inside of me at all times.
That’s the kind of mortifying, exhilarating, totally balls-to-the-walls honesty I’m talking about here. I mean, if I’m experiencing anxiety, fuckin’ say it. If I want to kiss someone, tell them about it (or just do it?). If my feelings are hurt, show it (instead of screwing up my face to what I think is neutral and hoping beyond hoping that I look normal enough to be left alone).
I need to admit what is going on inside of me because I haven’t figured out how to release it and clear my system and just fucking grow into this huge human that I am, without being honest with myself and allowing expression.
It’s time to be honest with myself because I don’t like being in hiding.
This is not to say that from this moment forward I will never find myself in hiding again—that I will magically become this absolutely transparent ball of Me-ness, completely impervious to the judgments, expectations and opinions of others. But I’m hoping that as I move deeper into my own internal fractal, that I can at least be aware of when I’m hiding, and own the fuck up to it to bring myself back to that place of internal honesty.
It is this space—this terrifying space inside of me that is wholly paradoxical, this place that wraps around fear and love simultaneously and sometimes gets confused and makes interesting life choices—that I make myself open to.
Because what else am I supposed to do? Keep myself in hiding… from myself? Pretend like I’m a ‘better person,’ or ‘more evolved,’ or ‘the best at bladibla?’ Am I really supposed to walk around with that sort of half-present ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’ mentality, where I’m simply acting the way I think I should be acting based on ideas I’ve formed about how the world wants me to be? (Phew, that question was exhausting for me to even write down.)
The more I give space to myself to come into my honesty, the more the resounding answer to the aforementioned pseudo-rhetorical questions breaks into a huge vibrational certainty that booms out, “No!” and my internal world rapidly shakes, stuns and then, like that precise moment of a storm passing, pacifies into a pond of happy homogeny.
I am simply here to allow myself to be me, and to express that to the world. Because that’s what makes me feel simultaneously huge and completely clear.
And I feel that my internal kaleidoscope—that changes and morphs and becomes new every single moment—keeps moving and flowing freely when I guide myself back to honesty, instead of feeling stifled and forced, like when I throw a whole bunch of pretending and hiding into its gears.
I’m coming out of the towel-closet and out of pretending now.
And if that means saying ‘fuck’ in class, then that is what will fucking happen.
Just being honest.
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Ed: B. Bemel
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