Healing from Survival Mode

Listen to audio before you proceed:

I created this audio, accompanied by a video—that I cannot seem to find—just last year, with my last significant relationship as it’s inspiration. He made me feel so undeniably small—as you may hear in this audio—and if i’m honest with myself, I enjoyed every moment of it. I wanted to be small right next to him. That would mean that he would do the impossible part and I would benefit by association. it was an unconscious intention founded in a lack of belief in myself that trauma had lended me.Social conditioning. I would be his little girlfriend and one day his little wife. Cheer him on from the sidelines and hope that he’d choose me to be the main character in one of his plays one day—metaphorically speaking.

It was undoubtably my commitment to being small that was my contribution to the demise of that relationship. His contribution was pride and misogyny to be sure

this was my third time on this rollercoaster though. my second time living vicariously through love. relating and loving in survival mode.

relationships should be able to breathe and evolve, die and be reborn again with both parties commitment as the facilitator of that flexibility. But that’s not the case for many like myself, in my case the relationships just died. Brutally. There was no resuscitation or rebirth just flames smoke and shattered pieces, and I was left to pick them up each time. 

Lovers would come back when it was too late and i still hadn’t learned the lesson. a lesson others seamed to skirt by.

I was relating and loving in survival mode  

Doing My Part

I finally went on and became the woman I wanted to be—the woman that I imagined would be standing beside my love, but I did it on my own terms and for myself. I became the woman of my own dreams and the woman I imagined he would cast in one of his big plays one day—metaphorically speaking. Doing this healed a big chunk of my wounds.

But healing myself meant loosing him. Loosing who I made him out to be in my mind. It used to be that he was big and I was small. But the more I invested in myself, the more I saw things I hadn’t seen before. The more I realized that he wasn’t who I made him out to be, I projected my wishes and desires, but so many of those just weren’t there. I wasn’t ready to love someone that was truly as human as i was. He didn’t want me to see the chinks in his armor either and totally played into the fact that I was so blinded by my own insecurity. He was emboldened by my need and encouraged its presence in many ways.

and even still, a lot of people can evolve out of that together and into a new shared reality in relationship. In an ideal situation you would. but unfortunately or maybe fortunately none of my experiences were ideal.

This is so because both of us where loving and relating in survival mode. living out wounds of the past in the present, feeling unsafe in our own experience + bodies, choosing fight or flight instead of communication and embrace, making assumptions based on past pain instead of grieving.

Living In the Present

My therapist shared with me recently that I was living in the past, and that I needed to take a new approach. It resonated, and then I ran across this video I made with some old footage a few years ago:

I have grown, but much of my sentiments in the think piece above are similar to conclusions that i have come to more recently, but in a new way…I think.

It makes me so curious about what living life in the present and leaving survival mode means for me. What has made sense so far is this:

Maybe all we have is right now. Maybe we need to be decisive make our own choices and have faith in them. maybe forgiveness is the answer.

-Amber B

feel your entire life, every moment and everyday.

Pain

aspiring to evolve out of pain—especially when you’ve experienced utter devastation more than once—is initially very appealing. This idea that we can evolve perfectly, that we can respond perfectly in any given instance, instead of being emotional or ‘imperfect’ at times. The notion that we should have this ability to smile and wave goodbye, in peace, at someone we loved deeply, despite not getting the relational outcome you wished for—if we only were perfect enough; perfectly ‘enough’.

just a few weeks ago i got my hopes up about something that momentarily let me down. in that moment i had a thought ‘i have to find a way to never feel this pain of disappointment ever again’

where does pain come from?

we hold onto things in life,

just to get by.

we place our hope in sandcastles that the wind-of-truth inevitably blows away, or at least shakes really hard until we finally decide to start searching for some cement to build our home with and solid ground to lay that foundation on. 

for me though, finding my own solid ground hasn’t meant achieving some idea of ‘perfection’ in my emotionality; rather it has meant an assured confidence in my understanding ; understanding of myself and the way i experience the world around me. 

i am allowed to feel; however i feel in any given moment. it’s all valid and it is all my responsibility.

why is it hard to feel pain?

one thing that i have learned about the self is that feeling your life—the entire thing—can be hard. However, it is only through allowing our feelings to pass fully through us that we can come to new conclusions about ourselves and the world around us and ultimately creates more room within us to express and experience love. but in so many ways we run away from our emotions. scrolling on any social media outlet is a great example of that.

i can remember a time when i first moved to los angeles. i had been running from a certain feeling for a while, with busyness. it was as if this great big cloud was following me everywhere. it was filled with rain and it wanted me to feel it. i ran and i ran but it always stayed in eye view of my sprint. one day finally decided that i was just going to stop running and i was going to feel it. i lay in my bed one sunny day in los angeles, under my covers. i was afraid of what might happen if i felt that cloud, but i was feeling brave. my emotions bubbled to the surface. this is the moment when i would usually run but instead i stayed still. i laid still. in my cool bedroom of the fourth floor of my apartment building. my emotions rushed in and i cried, then i got really angry, then a subtle trembling came over me, i felt shame, it was very very painful. i was afraid but i didn’t move. and eventually it passed on. the cloud broke up and some light came in. i have never felt that way since. its been years.

my EP is named Phoenix

Phoenix is my exploration of what it would mean for me to be ‘okay’ on my own terms and by means of my own definition. In my search, i didn’t find that i simply lived with a smile on my face at all times. I found that hard emotions benefitted good emotions and that i had to discover healthier ways to allow my self to feel my painful feelings. they were signaling me to go deeper and in some instances they were signaling me to fight back, but either way my response always had to be proactive because time itself doesn’t solve anything. 

the sounds are fun + retro + romantic but the words tell a deeper story.

a story about feeling your entire life

xoxo,

amber

ps. I would love to hear your thoughts on feeling your entire life. Do you have a healthy relationship with pain? not according to anyone else’s standards but your own. sound off in the comments below ❤

lemonade and unconditional love

Infidelity

A few weeks ago, Beyonce notified the entire universe that she had a surprise presentation prepared for us all entitled ‘Lemonade’ and it would be displayed on HBO. As a big Beyonce fan, and an even bigger fan of all things ‘girl power’ I was completely excited by this surprise announcement. I came home late Saturday night and immediately grabbed some snacks and watched my recording of Lemonade. It was a candid and risky-honest visual production about Beyonces journey to self-realization through her marital woes. In Lemonade, Beyonce insinuates that her husband Jay-Z cheated on her and that they were contemplating getting a divorce. In the end, Beyonce and Jay-Z reconcile and commit to healing together and being better for one another. Jay-Z even makes a cameo appearance at the end of Lemonade during the ‘reconciliation’ scene.

Infidelity happens often, especially within the relationships of couples in the limelight. I used to negatively judge women who did not leave their husbands that cheated on them. I remember speaking with my hair dresser a few months ago while getting my hair done, about how I hated that women are always expected to ‘take him back’, compromise, play the supporting role and tolerate the brokeness of men in relationships. We ‘date down’ and choose personality over looks and give up our careers to support our partners even if ours is more lucrative. I know that in part, my judgement came from the fact that in the past I stayed in a relationship where there was a moment of infidelity and I deeply regretted that decision for a while. I felt ashamed of it.

Since experiencing infidelity within a romantic relationship I began to believe that bad behavior in a relationship should always be rewarded with neglect, rejection or a break-up. I thought by doing so I was re-righting my wrong from the past.

I never was.

Marriage, I’m sure, is such a complex relationship to maintain; because of societies expectations of it, social norms, gender roles and the war wounds that all of us humans acquire in life. With this marital union both parties are publicly declaring that “no matter how ugly your truth gets, I am committed to loving you and supporting you as you figure out how to heal yourself.”

Relationships require you to master boundary setting while unconditionally loving. Which is really hard! If the other party isn’t looking to grow and to change, then setting boundaries helps you to not be abused and also give the other person space to grow. Sometimes you have to wait in that boundary for a long time until the person is ready to practically apply the critique but ultimately you have to be committed to loving them, which I personally find completely challenging. I think to myself ‘why do I have to deal with this?!’ I want to run, server the relationship and move on, but that’s not how life is.

In those moments of waiting in your boundary while still being committed to loving, supporting and seeing the potential and value in another you get to experience a part of life that is not merely self serving. You get to be self-less, learn patience and you also get to find your own joy and fulfillment from within yourself that is not dependent on your friends family or significant other behaving in a certain way.

unconditional love will ultimately lead you to you yourself; because humans are all so imperfect.

I no longer negatively judge women like Vanessa Bryant, now Beyonce and even myself, who have stayed/stay in relationships after experiencing infidelity. Although I find it provocative, they are dispensing unconditional love.

-Amber B