This week has been about easing myself into an uncomfortable living situation with the intention of the transition being one that pushes me to be more of who I know I am by putting myself fully into something that I usually would tell myself I couldn’t do, in the this case living at an art studio so I can really believe that I am an artist and start work on my first project. Although in this case it really doesn’t feel like the artist part is the what is making me uncomfortable, it’s the building itself.
I went from a fairly modern house with an American style kitchen, a bathroom that was almost what you would expect in a home in America, minus the shower curtain and hot water on demand. It also had real walls made of concrete, that were painted and tile flooring – yes, these are luxuries here! Where I am now I have an unlevel, unfinished cement floor that has puppy and kitty pee everywhere, my room faces the outdoor studio which is full of people doing art all day listening to music and talking, a bathroom door that is barely on hinges, a toilet that may not always flush and a shower that is just a metal cord hanging from the wall and the whole room is 4 feet squared! I am not sure if there is hot water yet as I have not dared to try the shower. I don’t want to even step foot in there. The kitchen is very small yet it has a stove top on the counter and a tiny fridge but it too is about 6 feet by 5 feet and is behind a locked door, everything is because we live in a public space that is shared with many people. This is partly why I feel uncomfortable in my new setting.
If I had to do my daily hygiene activities outside, cook on a fire and even sleep under the stars I would be fine but it’s the weird mix of modern technologies in a society that isn’t equipped to maintain them that throws me off. Who wants to risk using the washroom to have a bowel movement or a shower in a room that has no secure door, in a public space and there may or may not be water to flush the toilet or shower. Rrrrrgggggggghhhhhh!
Sometimes I do get really get frustrated with being in Rwanda all together but then I remember all the good things about it and I know I have a choice to be here, where I live and how I live, which most people here do not. I am in a room that when I walked in somehow felt like my room and I had visions of decorating it and making it my own. Was that just because I thought I finally found a place to stay for a longer time span and could settle down a bit? Was it because the energy feels good here in the sense that it is very creative, inspiring and full of life? Was it because it was what was handed to me and I knew there was something here for me to learn? Was it just another interesting thing that popped into my life and I wanted the opportunity to say I have done it? Is it a way for me to make my life harder, because for some reason I tend to do that to myself as a way of proving my own strength to others all the while not listening to what I really want. Seeing as the other option before this place was a mansion in Rwandan standards and I knew I wanted to live there, which is the extreme opposite of where I am now, I feel as thought this may be the case. Am I being mean to myself? Am I pushing too hard? What is it I am meant to learn?
The first thing that comes to mind right away is me being brave enough to step into a space that in the past I would have said I did not belong and been to afraid to even entertain the idea of. But does that mean that I am meant to stay here or was it just a test to see if I would do it and to spark my creative juices in terms of my art project that needs to happen and can still happen even if I am not living here. I do tend to go to extremes and I am really watching this one to see just how uncomfortable I am willing to get and why?
The next thing that comes to mind is past relationships that I kept myself in out of fear, insecurities and lack of self-worth. I created so much pain in my life because I was unwilling to act on what I knew I wanted. Why am I so resistant to giving myself Love? Why do I feel so unworthy or at least that is what my actions in life say to me, again my name meaning “Worthy of Love” seems to haunt me with its relevance to how I live my life. I have always put others before me and put myself last which is not the way to truly be of assistance to anyone.
When I broke up with my fiance, David, I refused to leave the house that we owned together and so did he. There was an empty basement suit but both of us refused to go down there, we were both very stubborn. I felt so entitled to the home I felt I had created all by myself and all the physical labor I had put into it alone and with my father, that I was actually willing to live in the emotional kaos that followed for 5 months.
It was during this time that I was pushed to my absolute limit and suffered a Nervous Breakdown and was very suicidal. I went out to the beautiful garden I had created with a chain to hang a new hammock from the huge apple tree, an area we called “Hammock Heaven” and nearly hung myself instead. Every time I have considered suicide there has always been something that just wouldn’t let me go through with it. It was not my family, friends, or even fear, it was something more subtle and yet much more powerful – it was my Spirit. That part of me that knew I had bigger things to do in life and it was not going to let me miss out on my potential.
I see now that I had so many options during that time that could have prevented me from loosing my mind the way I did but I also know I had to take the path in order to get where I am now, it was really the only option I could see at the time. I had friends, co-workers and family offering me a place to stay but with all of the other factors that I had going on at the time I could not bring myself to act on those options. I was so inflexible in my mind, so rigid and so afraid. Taking the step to go to the Ashram was one of the biggest steps I took towards self-love and it was because I pushed myself to such a limit that I was able to act on it.
When this time came to my mind just now I realized how the present moment is a reflection of the same holding patterns that led me to kaos and pain and how I am doing it again but in a different way. Neither one of us was thriving is this environment and it was a way to keep the pain alive, I was festering in and with pain. I needed it to feel something, anything. But what was I missing out on? What could those 5 months have lead to if I had taken my many friends and co-workers up on their invites to go stay with them? Would I be in the same place as I am now? Did I take the long way, the harder way, the right way and does it really matter?
Staying in relationships because I was too afraid to give myself what I knew I needed and wanted, that is the pattern I am being shown. I put myself into situations to intentionally hold myself back out of fear and a deep belief that I was not worth giving myself what I need. What may seem like a way to push myself forward can also be seen as a way to hold myself back. I ended the relationships but I didn’t end the pattern it just transferred to another venue and/or is showing up in the many ways that it was always there but I couldn’t see. Now I have removed more layers and can see how the same pattern can manifest in many ways, especially if it’s root is something really deep like self-worth.
If I don’t believe that I am worth the things that are coming my way or the things that I am capable of I will never reach my full potential because I will be unconsciously pushing success from me and holding myself back due to a belief that I don’t deserve it. Is that why I also try to put the recognition of success onto other people? By doing kind things for others or making this trip about helping others I am in some way taking away the recognition of my part in the journey? I do that as way of putting my success solely onto others, a deflection from being recognized or being seen. This feels like a visit from a personality aspect I know well, “Reverse Ego Richard”.Like my mind thinks it’s sneaky to get attention for being a good person through doing good for others and not taking any credit – hold on, am I just being mean again to myself.? Its so tricky!
I thrive when I do for others, when I am in community and when I have a reason to give back I feel momentum in my life but why not when it comes to doing for myself? Why not do the things I want to do for myself first and then do for others? Simple things like going to the gym, hatha or eating well, things that keep me well so I can have energy to give to others. I cannot keep on putting myself last, even in this seemingly self involved state I am in right now I still manage to put my needs last. Rwanda is teaching me to really own my needs and act on them as this is the only way that I can truly give my all to those in need. I do not need to live in poverty to understand or help those who do.
As I write this I am putting the puzzle together, I see more clearly how I am afraid to give myself comfort in life because in the past it meant I was hiding from life and hiding from my truth. I also see how it is related to my Ego and a righteousness that came from needing to prove to others how strong I was when really I was needing to believe in myself. Now I know that I have healed those wounds to the point where I would not let the same mistakes happen again and this is my opportunity to slowly start giving myself the things I need to be comfortable so that I can give back to others to the best of my ability. I need a place to write my blog and my column for the paper in The Pas. I need a space to prepare Yoga classes (Yes, I found a place to teach- http://www.cityartskigali.com). I need a space to have quite time alone. I need to be physically active and dance. I need to create art. I need healthy food choices and clean water. I can give myself these things, all I need to do it say “Yes” to allowing myself to Thrive. This is a challenge when I spend the evening dancing with young men who literally have no home, no food, no water, no parents but holding myself back does not make me any more caring or capable of helping, I see now that it actually makes me less helpful because of the amount of energy that goes into thinking about and processing the situations I am in, the energy that could go towards helping them.
I trust myself more than ever and what I see clearly right now is that I have a choice right in front of me that would make my life more pleasant and allow me to be better at what I am doing. I trust the feeling that I needed to experience the art center in order to realize the gifts I have been given and to realize that I am not afraid of my life, my potential, my skills and my power. I am ready to own it more fully and give myself the things I need to reach my potential so I can help others reach theirs.
What I know is that there are no mistakes only lessons, there is no right or wrong choice only choice itself and the consequences that follow are where the learning lies. So, am I in this place of uncomfortableness because I made a mistake – no, I am here because I made a choice. I made many choices that lead me to the present situation and right now I have the choice to make change.