So when I was younger I noticed pretty quickly that there seemed to be two types of girls. One type was the girl who could wear white clothes and go through the entire day without getting dirty (still completely in awe of that). Their hair always seemed to be glossy and bouncy and they magically never had stubble on their legs. Somehow they managed to have clear complexions and no dirt under their fingernails. Their purses never had clutter and everything seemed to tidy.The other kind of girl could NEVER wear white because it would be dirty before they left the house. Their legs may or may not have been shaved, but regardless there was alway stubble and probably a little bit of razor burn. Their faces were shiny and their purses and backpack may have had remnants of a burst pen that leaked all over everything. No matter how hard they tried something was falling -off apart or torn.
and Girl B ….
I was always girl B. My sister was girl A. My sister’s life was tidy (until later- nothing can stay tidy forever), and my life was messy as fuck.
When I was younger I used to feel awful about being girl B. I would try my best to be girl A, but it just wasn’t happening. Since Girl A was the one that seemed to have everything under control and was the girl everyone loved and made life seem easy, I started to convince myself that Girl A was correct and Girl B was just, well….wrong. Even the media noticed these two types of girls and told me that even if you were Girl B, you had to change. Happiness was just a makeover away!!!!!
I convinced myself that the only way to be happy was to keep everything clean and under control and become Girl A. Messy was just.not.a choice. So I set about to clean up my life. Things would be put in their place. Bags would be organized. Clothes would be carefully curated. Skin would be blemish free. Pretty soon I realized that I could never be Girl A no matter how hard I tried. So I decided to embrace that my legs would always feel a bit stubbly even right after shaving. I stopped caring that I was never going to have porcelain skin. I stopped trying to even make white an option (I mean really who cares about white anyway when there is glorious, glorious black?). So whew! Thank god I figured that out early on. But not so fast….. just because I realized that the outside didn’t have to be neat, didn’t mean that I realized that the inside didn’t have to be tidy as well.
We live in a world that encourages us to always be in control, to say the right thing at the right moment. The self help gurus tell us to ferret out the flaws and flies in the ointment and ERADICATE them with a series of self affirmations and awareness exercises. We are told what the proper reaction is in response to specific problems. We are asked to tie up loose ends and make clear thoughtful choices. We are told to keep our internal house immaculate. Believe me I bought this all hook, line and sinker (and yes, am guilty of spouting some of it myself). So the great battle to do, think and say the mess free thing began to rage inside of me.
I have a huge personality. I am passionate about life. I love to eat, laugh, drink, love with reckless abandon. I love to burn bright like the sun and sing at the top of my lungs. Im unapologetic about that. But if the emotion is anger, fear, sadness, doubt, I find myself being apologetic and ashamed if I dont tie up lose ends, say the right things and take pause to make the correct choice. But Is it possible to live your life with your whole heart without being messy? Is it neat and orderly when my passion for life sometimes causes me to fly so close to the sun that the wax starts to melt off my wings? What happens when we do the “right thing” all the time? What happens when we play by the rules of self help and self care all the time and are “messless”? Not too long ago I found out what happens. We implode.
A while back I went through something pretty challenging. I made sure that I followed all of the mess free protocol. I handled it with grace and dignity. I tied up loose ends. I cried as much as I thought I should. I “processed” my feelings in a productive way that allowed me to make thoughtful, clear cut choices. Not one time did I scream, sob, say the wrong thing or lash out in anger. “Ha! Look. THIS is how you handle things. Just because I live passionately on one end of the spectrum doesn’t mean I have to on the other end of the spectrum. Now things are ok. Right?” Wrong. What I didnt know was that I needed to get messy. Along with the mess free protocol, I needed to scream, wail, beat my fists on the ground and lash out like a wounded animal. When I denied myself that, I held onto the messy part. I didn’t discharge it. I didnt allow it to burst its way outside of my most primal spaces , take its face as Kali who would burn away the darkest part of it. So the darkest, messiest part of it sat inside me and festered. It festered and grew from a shadow into a specter. It curled into a twisted mass and perched on my shoulder. No matter how much I used the mess free protocol- it didn’t go away. But because it was messy, I refused to acknowledge that it was there.
A few months later seemingly without reason, my mess free protocol stopped being as effective as it usually was. I started to cry (and crying is not something I do very often…as stated in this post. Jesus, THAT is no longer true …sigh) and become angry for seemingly no reason. So to combat this I applied the protocol even more. I kept on trying to tidy up the loose ends and make the correct choice. Soon it started feeling like I was digging a hole in dry sand. No matter how fast I tried to dig so things didn’t collapse in on themselves , the more things started to collapse. Then one day the other shoe dropped. I had the mother load of messy meltdowns. I drank too much, I said the wrong things. I lashed out. I cried…and I cried…and I cried. Mother Kali came screaming in. She burned houses down. She took no prisoners. She wailed and gnashed her teeth. She spattered pain, regret and fear on the person standing closest to me. She pushed me into the darkest parts of my pain with both hands. She made me sit in the middle of the messiness and rained blood onto my head. When I came out of it, the darkest part of it was burned away and my wound had been cauterized. The wound was still there. But it had stopped bleeding. When I looked around to make a damage asessment, I saw with horror that I had spattered my mess all over someone. So I apologized. I felt awful. I was ashamed. Then it occurred to me that I had to do what I just did. I had to be messy. I had to burn houses down. I had to scream and gnash my teeth. When I only applied the mess free protocol, I was only delaying what had to happen. I was letting the mess fester and grow. Because I didnt allow myself to be messy when I initially needed to, instead of a little bit of backsplash, the person closest to me in all of this got completely drenched in fear and sadness. They got sucker punched in the gut.
This was hard for me to understand. How is it EVER okay to let your mess splash onto anyone else? How could that ever be the correct thing to do? How was messiness the only thing that started the healing process? WHY DIDNT THE MESS FREE PROTOCOL WORK GOD DAMNIT!!!!!???? So here’s what I came up with. Sometimes life is messy. The heart is messy. Sadness can be messy but so can happiness (Really, you think it was Icarus’ sadness that made him fly to close to the sun and melt the wax on his wings?). Sometimes life can be tidy. It can be ordered, catalogued and have clean crisp edges. When life is tidy and the mess less protocol works it’s wonderful! But sometimes you just cant avoid getting messy. No matter how hard you try you will probably get the person closest to you messy too. They will have to wipe some of your fear and sadness off their shirt sometimes just like you will have to wipe their fear and sadness off yourself sometimes as well. Perhaps we need to really understand and accept that if you don’t sit in the mess you may never be able to resolve it and you will never be able to do the “healthy thing” that allows you to move on. If you dont cauterize the wound, you are only putting a bandage on the problem. So maybe we accept this. Maybe we let it happen. Maybe we give the people closest to us a poncho and tell them that things may get a little messy, but it wont last for very long. Maybe we tell them we have our poncho too, so that if they need to get their mess on us a little bit we will be ok. Maybe afterwards we clean up together. I hear that a bottle of wine and lots of laughter are GREAT at getting out stains.