One of the best things I ever decided to do was to become human.
I spent a long time being a machine–no needs, no emotions, no help. I didn’t even know I had needs.
I was disconnected and blocked within my own self. I wasn’t aware of my emotional life and consequently, bottled up without even knowing it. My thoughts were whirling chaos, but I was not in tune with them; I only felt the dizziness and repercussion that the thoughts produced–sweaty palms, choked throat, churning stomach.
Strong feelings of excruciating shame that there was something horrendously ugly about me, and a strong belief that nothing good could come out of me were paralyzing. Although these powerful feelings were present, I didn’t know how to feel them, so I disengaged.
My realization that I’m-totally-not-okay-and-that’s-why-my-life’s-been-a-mess-for-years occurred when I was creating my album Serenity. Singing into the microphone made everything even more loud and clear. It felt like every single quiver in my voice was amplified, every insecurity shining under the spotlight.
For the first time in my life I truly heard myself and stepped into the raw experience of my feelings. I tuned out the world and tuned into my own heartsong. No running. No numbing.
Accessing that deeper part of myself in the studio felt like being sucked up into a tornado. I was overwhelmed by the acuteness of actually feeling my feelings because I’d become so accustomed to fearing and denying them. But this time, I refused to run away.
We’ve grown up in a world learning to numb, not learning to feel. We are raised in schools that teach math and science, but do not teach us how to cope with pain. Because no one talks about these topics of struggle, we are given the message that our emotional and mental pain is a source of weakness and that there must be something wrong with us for experiencing them.
Self-protection becomes necessary when we are unable to sit in the discomfort of reality because we don’t know how to deal with it. In response, we either cover up or isolate. We stay hidden and we feel lonely. We become cookie-cutter conformers and lose sight of our true nature.
Although it’s terrifying to go against the current of the culture, it’s dangerous territory to swim alongside and be washed away by it.
If we learned how to feel, we’d be able to integrate our whole selves – mind, body, soul – and we wouldn’t need alcohol, drugs or food to un-feel. We’d have real, satisfying connections with ourselves and others. We need to effectuate the message of being human and feeling rather than living life being remote controlled by a crappy culture.
As I look back now on my dear little self, I understand why I struggled with anxiety and depression. I understand why I learned to dissociate from my feelings. They were so strong and felt so real and I didn’t know how to untangle them. I’ve now learned that being present with my internal experiences as they rise–like I did for the first time in the studio–allows them to pass by without me being tumbled inside them.
Being human kind of sounds like a diagnosis these days, I know. But the real issue is being a robotic machine following the rules-no needs, no emotions, no help. Sure, to be human means we aren’t invincible or impenetrable; but that’s the beauty of it: embracing our humanity allows us to be ourselves. And this creates authentic connections.
I’m choosing to rise above the storm surge by connecting with my true nature. I’m going to truly show up in the world, by first showing up for myself. This is what it means to become human.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather be myself in a world that doesn’t accept me, than be in a world where I can’t accept myself.
Check out my corresponding video here: Becoming Human – Learning to Connect