Pleasure Principle

Today I spontaneously dyed my hair back to my natural color while at Umubano Hotel. I was there to meet with the manager of the gym to see about teaching Yoga. I want to teach but all the momentum that had begun to sprout has totally died off, which tells me that it is not meant to happen right now. Truthfully, what I want is to go to the gym and be in a space that inspires me to stay fit. So why don’t I just go to the gym? Well, for some reason I have a hard time giving myself the things I truly want. Like my hair for example, the reason I dyed it was because I want to get braid extensions while I am in Africa as it is something I really like and think are beautiful. What I did though was create a barrier to me actually getting them by wanting to have platinum blonde braids with colors like pink, purple and blue highlights and being really rigid about it. Yeah Hello – you’re in Africa, everyone here has black hair! I spent a whole day running all around the city from tiny little places to big markets searching for this elusive hair that I had to have. Today it hit me that I need to decide what it is I want and what I am willing to do to make it happen. I WANT BRAIDS, so I decided in that moment to make a small adjustment that would make that possible, dying my hair a more natural color so I can find hair to match and now I am one step closer to my desire being manifest. This is so applicable to many things that I desire in life. If I get too stuck or too focused on something being exactly one way then it can actually prevent anything from happening at all.


(Downtown Kigali)



(Beauty supplies and Suits!)



IMG_1423 IMG_1425

(The “Mall”, mostly nearly empty or full of random boxes of things!)



(Beautiful Sophie who tried very hard to find me pink hair! She was oozing personality and style!)

I want to be more expressive externally and since I arrived I have watched myself create barriers to that by making things more complicated than they really are. I watch as I make things so extravagant that I get lost in it, eventually feeling like I can’t do it at all. An example would be having clothes made. I love Fashion, always have and I am very creative with my style. I had a dream of being a fashion designer for years (actually I feel that coming back into my life as a possibility again) so when I walked into the shop where you can have anything made, any style, any way, shape or form I was in heaven, for a moment and then I felt the pressure to make something so fabulous and so unique, and then “Patricia Perfection” showed up and almost stopped me in my tracks. I feel like I have so much creative energy lying dormant or repressed within that the moment that it has a chance to reveal itself it all explodes out at once and I feel overwhelmed. In that case “Olivia Overwhelm” would appear and again nearly stop me from moving forward.

So just like the hair, I need to ask myself what it is that I want. I want some new clothes that feel like an outward expression of how I feel on the inside in this moment. This is a very important step for me in terms of self- esteem, self-expression and creativity. It is also a representation of honoring what I feel I need or want. What steps am I willing to take to make that happen? Design one simple dress to start and see where it takes me, open the creativity up a little more gently but with a knowing and trust that it will be expressed. Maybe I don’t trust that there will be another opportunity for the creativity so it all tries to burst out at once. Kind of like when you say you are going on a diet tomorrow so you eat a ton of junk food the night before! I need to build trust within myself that I am listening and I am going to continue to honor that energy that has been waiting patiently there for me my whole life. If it knows that it will be expressed on a regular basis then maybe it will hold back a bit and not get me so flustered that I shut it down anyway. To me this feels like I am taking something very pleasurable in my life and making it a painful thing.

I feel like I have felt a lot of pain in my life and have not really allowed myself to feel, truly feel, pleasure. One thing that comes to mind right away is SEX! Sex is creative energy, it creates all Life. It is designed to be a pleasurable thing so that humans want to do it and thus humans continue to exist on this earth. It has to be powerfully pleasurable enough to make sure that we do it otherwise we cease to exist. So why then has sex always been more painful than pleasurable in my life? I feel it comes from all of this fear we have around it that is taught to us by our society, the grown ups in our lives as children (ie: teachers, parents, etc), the misrepresentation of it in the media and the impact that these external factors have on our daily lives. When I think about sex and how I was educated about it in my life, one example comes to mind and that is of my mother sitting at the kitchen table and angrily saying, while looking away from me, “She’s waiting until she’s married!!!” and the conversation was over. That doesn’t exactly fill me with a warm, tingly, pleasurable sensation. What it did was tell me that sex is bad, wrong, angry, and that I was doing something wrong because I was feeling sexual feelings and thinking sexual thoughts, therefore I was bad for growing up and ultimately for being Human.

Another example comes to mind and that is of my father pulling up in the high school parking lot in his work truck, which was equipt with red and blue flasher lights, a metal guard rail across the back and a shotgun in the front seat. He was wearing his uniform and he asked me to get in the truck so he could talk to me. He then said “You’re mom thinks you might be pregnant.” Now, I get it….Sex is a difficult thing to talk about especially if you yourself are not comfortable with it but we can do a lot of damage by putting our unresolved shit onto other people, especially our children. I feel, and I know I am not a parent but… that being a parent is a JOB that you sign up for when you decide to have kids. Its not so you have someone to love you when you get older or to make your life complete – it’s an uncomfortable, messy, unpredictable, rollercoaster ride of a Job. That means you have to put your own stuff to the side, work through it, or at least be willing to talk about it so as to not make it your child’s issue as well. My thought is that if you are going to ask your daughter if she’s pregnant your might have already missed a few steps along the way to ensuring that was not going to happen.

So once my Father said this to me I became enraged, jumped out of the truck and into the car I had driven to school and speed away as fast as I could. I skipped the rest of school and spent the day feeling horribly ashamed and incredibly angry. I decided not to go home that day but my Father found me at a local corner store and because I refused to go home with him, drug me out of the building by the neck and arm and put me into the truck. I tried to jump out at every stop sign, so he just stopped slowing down at them. When we reached the turn to our home and he had to slow to turn in, I opened the door and ran away. I just kept running. My brother came driving around and found me walking on the back roads, by this point I had calmed at least enough to get into the truck and talk with him. This is one of the times when my brother was very supportive. I talked and he listened but what he didn’t know was that I was lying the whole time.

What?? I know what you must be thinking, why would I lie? Well I had been lying about sex to myself since it became a reality in my life. The way in which it became a reality in my life was partly why. At age 9, a foster girl who lived with my parent’s friends, molested me at her house during a sleep over and of course what we did was to be a secret. Around the same age I turned on the TV and pressed play on the VCR to come face to face with Pornography. I remember also doing some inappropriate things at this age with boys at school, like writing one boy a love note that told him he was the “sexiest man” I had ever seen. I was also spying on my brothers in the shower and telling the girls at school about there penis’. Now as an adult, this tells me that something was going on.  I do remember begin talked to about it by my parents, but more like reprimanded than trying to understand why.

Then as I grew older and began having boyfriends, which was really not that much later, I encountered one that would have an enormous impact on my life. He would give me attention one week and then totally ignore me the next. Send me love notes and then date my old best friend. I became an emotional mess. I would wake up with stomach cramps. I would have diarrhea and sit on the toilet crying. I was just so confused and I totally gave up my power. I wanted his attention so badly, I almost craved his negative attention, which was what I mostly received from my brothers at home and their friends, it felt like the only way I knew love from men. So after a year or so of this on and off dating, I began dating the new boy in town.

It was during this relationship that at age 15 I became sexually active. It built gradually from harmless kissing to oral sex to intercourse. I am not saying that I wasn’t an active participant in all of it but what I see clearly now is that at that point I would have done anything to get the love that I felt I needed from someone else to fill the void in my heart . So on the night that we actually had intercourse for the first time, it wasn’t like I hadn’t been experimenting with him for weeks prior about how it all worked or that we had “sort of done it” a few times before, I was not ready. We had never actually talked about it and yet we were doing it and without protection. It  just started happening like I had no say in it and then I literally couldn’t say “No”. Like many first sexual experiences for young teenaged girls it just sort of happens and in our minds and with our bodies we are saying “NO” but our self-esteem has been robbed of us to the point where we lose our voice as well as our ability to know or speak up for what we really want. This is a very common way for young girls to lose their virginity. I feel that we are doing our young woman of today a huge disservice by not talking openly and honestly about sex, our bodies, our thoughts and feelings.

Because I was so ashamed of the fact that I even felt sexual feelings, let alone was acting on them, I could not talk to my parents or teachers. I had no mentor or person I trusted to  confide in. I felt totally alone, lost and confused. I contemplated suicide MANY times at this point in my life and spent hours sobbing on the bathroom floor. I began to hurt myself physically as a way of releasing anger and also on some level to get attention because I knew I needed help but could not ask for it.  I felt so incredibly guilty. I became very angry and began to give up on life. My marks in school went from honor student to nearly failing and even failing. I gave up on swimming competitively and I spent all of my time with my boyfriend. He at least knew the truth so there was comfort in that, but he did not know the pain I was feeling. Our relationship became physically violent at times and often verbally abusive. I felt completely trapped within my own life so I lied about it.

Prior to this relationship I was quite adamant about waiting until I was married to have sex, this was back in the time when I didn’t realize I had a choice about marriage as well. I wrote in my diary to God and promised that I would wait. I would NEVER have told anyone in my family that I was writing to God either as it was something that created a lot of tension in our home. Needless to say, I have had very few pleasurable sexual experiences and created many more painful events in my life to help push me to the edge of my sanity. I don’t actually know if I could honestly say I have had one sexual encounter that didn’t involve some feeling of guilt or shame, most times I feel like my parents are sitting on my shoulder telling me I am bad person while I am engaged in the act. Now this is clearly my issue to resolve and that is why I am doing the work to understand it and let it go. I am not perfect, I am human and I know that my parents did their best, just like all parents do BUT that doesn’t mean that there weren’t mistakes made and in order to heal from them we need to first admit to them and accept them, and then open it up for healing. I am creating my own healing by being honest about my life and if I do ever have children I will continue to be open and honest about my life for them. To me this is the greatest gift I could give them.

I lied to protect myself. I lied to save my parents the hurt. I lied to uphold my “good little girl” image. I lied to not have to face my own truth. This is a dangerous place to live in and it eventually lead me to a place where I didn’t even realize I was lying anymore. I threaten my boyfriend so he would not tell anyone. No one knew until we broke up and even then I still denied it. My best friend had no idea. So to be confronted with my truth in such a way as I was that day with my father, scared the shit out of me. A piece of  my tightly woven web of lies was about to be cut and to me it meant death. I panicked. I was in shock, fight or flight and would have done anything to not have my parents find out the truth because in my mind it would mean I had let them down, betrayed them, and that they would no longer love me and at that time I would have rather died than let them down.

The theme of being named “Worthy of Love” (Amanda) plays out so deeply throughout my life and I see how my life really is about finding out for myself that I am worthy of love because again no one can tell us or teach us to love ourselves, we must do the work on our own to truly know it and live it. So I am grateful for all that happened once again because it all brought me right here, right now and hopefully someone will gain something from reading my story and take one step towards living their life more honestly. This time in my life had a major impact on who I became over the next 15 years and I created a lot of pain for myself and others. It is because I spent so much time lying about who I am that I now find it incredibly healing to speak my truth and to do so without limitation. Speech is a powerful gift and it is a vehicle for my own healing.

As I look at why I have difficulty experiencing and giving myself pleasure in life there are many things that come to mind on top of this subject but today felt like the day to really lay the big one out there. Expressing my truth is one part of the process and creating new responses is another. When I feel myself resisting giving myself the things that bring me pleasure I have the opportunity to make a change. Today as I toured the most beautiful room for rent I have seen, maybe ever, I heard myself say “oh, but you don’t need this…” and to that I say “So what…maybe I want it!” I don’t have to live in poverty to help people, I can accept good things that I am capable of allowing into my life and I can give myself anything that I need in order to continue doing the work I am doing and right now that may mean a room with a tub, a balcony and wait for it….a beday (sp?). It means getting a membership to the gym, braiding my hair and getting a dress made. All very simple things but they are all steps towards learning to express love for myself by giving myself the things in life that I find pleasurable and allow me to thrive. If I thrive others will benefit as I will have more to give because I feel well cared for in my own life by my own Self. Hari Om

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