(Warning: F-bombs up ahead)
I used to have such a resistance to the fact that life is messy.
It’s not like my life hasn’t been messy—it’s been motherfucking messy—but it was more a resistance to the fact that I could get messy, be messy, within that.
And that life being messy was a ‘normal’ part of life—it wasn’t and isn’t me doing anything wrong.
Being a child of trauma, the belief and thought pattern that when something goes wrong—when shit gets messy—it’s my fault, or something I’ve done wrong, is completely normal and understandable, because to my inner girl growing up, this theory appeared true. Even though it couldn’t have been further from being so.
As an adult, the idea that shit getting messy is ‘life’ is an idea that used to make me nauseas and uncomfortable as fuck. It still does, but I have a softness around it, now. An understanding that it is just life.
And life is messy.
As this truth increasingly feels like mine, I am beginning to realise that if life is messy, I can be messy within that.
Because to be messy is to be human.
To be messy is to survive wholeheartedly.
This truth is something people have told me, something people have showered onto me as an offering of reassurance and solace—peace amongst my inner storm that began to show externally, too—yet it was never something I could hold onto completely.
If at all.
You see, to give myself permission to be messy is like allowing myself to be truly seen. Something that I have feared for so, so, long, yet something I have craved desperately for all my years, too.
To give myself permission to be messy is like giving the critic inside me, permission to shut-the-fuck-up. Or for me to just witness rather than feel all-consumed by his theories and his presence. It’s like painting a new picture on top of a canvas that was once covered with thick paint of confusion, isolation, desperation, isolation, and sorrow.
To give myself permission to be messy is introducing a new way of living, a new way of being, a new way of being me. It’s like giving me the opportunity to be authentic, to be whole, to be 110 percent me.
To give myself permission to be messy is like giving my inner perfectionist permission to take time out, and even typing those words feel scary.
Typing those words, I hear her scream. I hear the agony of needing to keep it all together, to keep the world inside me as insane as the world outside me. It goes against everything she’s ever known, everything she’s ever experienced, everything she’s ever been told—by her, my inner critic, the world around me growing up.
To give myself permission to be messy, is like shattering the belief my inner girl holds that she needs to keep it all together, she needs to keep it prim and proper from the outside, she needs to appear fine on the surface when inside she’s crumbling, she’s grieving, she’s feeling so incredibly messy and desperate.
That’s the thing, it’s not like parts of me aren’t messy, it’s just the idea of showing the world My Messy, is what used to fill me with terror and discomfort. But an idea that I’m now becoming able to witness and see, but not completely experience.
As a parts of me grow—my inner healer, my inner parent, my inner mother, my inner wise woman—I’m able to see that the same rules apply to me, as they do to everyone else. And in that, I notice my band-with of compassion and acceptance of other people and their Messy in my life, grows, too.
The more I forgive myself, the more I allow myself to be messy, the more I allow My Messy to be out in the world, the more I want others to show me theirs, and the more time I have for theirs, too.
In fact, I am increasingly loving other people’s Messy.
I want tears, I want stories of shit going down, I want to witness things that I witness in my bedroom—meltdowns, tear storms—because it makes me feel normal. It reminds me that who I am, what I’ve experienced, what I currently experience, is nothing more than being human.
It’s fucked up and confusing and often so painful, but it’s what brings us all together, it’s what unites us as humans and as animals.
And, it’s life. And life gets messy.
I used to think that to give myself permission to be messy is like telling the world my story, showing the world me, without roses and buttercups beside it, showered on top of it, or growing all the way through it. But I’ve recently been noticing that by being messy, I’m giving the world my story, me, in all my glory, all my sorrow, all my pain, all my beauty, all my discomfort, all my struggle, and all my wisdom.
Because, to be messy is to show those roses and buttercups, and the horse shit—the compost—that’s covered on the ground beneath them in order to help them grow.
Because, to be messy is to offer it all rather than just the shiny, pretty bits.
To be messy is to be authentic.
To be messy feels like opening up my soul to the world. Opening up my heart in all her glory to the potential of abandonment and hate, neglect and betrayal, but also so much unconditional love, acceptance, and forgiveness.
To give myself permission to be messy is like offering the wounds and the defensive armour that is here around them, a band-aid of forgiveness, acceptance and the opportunity to be here with me, not living in the shadows, where they’ve become so able used to being. But somewhere my heart they now don’t need to be. Because life is safe, now.
Life can be messy and I can be, too, because things are different.
I am different.
The world around me is different because it’s empty of the trauma and abuse that made these wounds externally invisible but internally ragingly visible, and these defences so strong and so present…so here.
I used to think that life being messy was me failing, that me being messy was me fucking up, or me being fucked up. But the more I challenge this theory I’ve held for so long, the more I’m openly messy, openly authentic, I am, the easier things are.
The more I feel supported.
The more I feel seen.
By sharing my dark and messy, painful and confusing, restricted and wild, emotional and physical experience, I feel a sense of freedom and understanding, and a decreasing sense of isolation.
And I feel so much compassion—for myself and for the world.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ~ Brene Brown
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard