And This is How We Must Learn to Love

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And this is how we must learn to love; without expectation or attachment.

To understand we cannot force people to come into our lives, or stay in our lives, simply because we want them there. There is nothing forceful about love; we cannot demand it, manipulate it, control it, coerce it into being.

We cannot bind another person to us but must understand those who want to be in our lives, will be. Indecision is still a decision; if we must convince someone to see our worth then they do not belong in our lives. There is no place for those who are not ready or able to love us now, as we are, and to set them free is to create space in our heart for those who will see us, and love us, as we deserve; it is to set ourselves free also.

To love without expectation does not mean we should ever be okay with a love that offers us no loyalty, respect, understanding, or hurts us in any way. But that we learn to love without an expectation of outcome; that we cannot place those we love inside our predetermined ideas of relationship but must allow love to manifest of its own accord, all the while finding the grace to accept we may not always get the outcome we hope for.

It is allowing those we love to put their own needs first, even if those needs do not include us; to become whole enough within ourselves that we do not need another to complete us. To love ourselves enough that we do not need another to prove we are worthy of love. To learn to love in a way which honours both them and ourselves.

It is accepting that there are days love will hurt; days our wounds of rejection and abandonment will be reopened when someone we have loved is no longer there; it is learning to sit with our pain in those times, to lean into it and know this too shall pass; tomorrow it will hurt less to breathe, tomorrow we will lift our heads a little higher toward the sky.

To love without expectation or attachment means to be open to allowing love to enter, but also to be willing to set another free. Knowing when we let go of someone we love it will make us bleed, yet so will the blisters on our hands from holding so tight as we force them to stay. Allow them to go; allow their freedom to become your closure. Their journey is not yours, and that is okay. Take what you have learnt, and use it to become stronger, and wiser, as you continue down your own path; eyes and heart open to new horizons ahead.

– © Kathy Parker 2018 –

For My Fellow Survivors ❤️

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For my fellow survivors ❤️
 
It says on pill bottles as a disclaimer, do not operate heavy machinery. The irony in all of this, is trauma is heavy fucking machinery, which is to say, I’m not giving you permission. But if you ever decided it was too much and you wanted to rip yourself from the soil of this world, I would understand”
 
Sometimes, I feel like my heart is doing okay. And then, without warning, something wrenches it open and I come undone. I listened to this spoken word poem today and came completely and utterly undone. Because as people who have survived trauma, this is the kind of validation we need. We need to know it’s okay to feel what we feel, no matter how dark, no matter how terrifying, no matter how uncomfortable it makes others feel. Rarely do I allow myself that validation. Instead I tell myself I’m fine. I tell everyone else I’m fine. So goddamn fine. Except, some days I’m not fine.
 
Today I’m not fine.
 
There are days I still wake up so damn tired; beaten before the day has even begun. Beaten by the memories and the flashbacks and the triggers and the demons and the shame and the anxieties and the fears and the way these things seem to find me in the night while the rest of the world sleeps and leave me feeling like a small girl in a big world; so very alone and afraid. I woke up today like this; the graveyard of my heart dug open in the night and me, too weary to fight against it. To outrun it. To stay above it. To shovel the dirt upon it once more.
 
“You will feel broken. It is okay to feel broken. Broken is where the healing begins. This is where we begin. This is where we begin again, and again, and again.”
 
Healing doesn’t come in straight lines and even spaces. It is a wayward journey that brings us back to the places we need to be broken once again; that after the breaking, eventually, we will know the rising.
 
But for today, I am reminded it’s okay to be broken. It’s okay to feel this way. It’s okay to begin again. Today, I am reminded I am not alone in this.
 
“You, survivor, are still here.”
 
I am still here. You are still here.
 
And by god, the world will see us bloom.

She Might Be Beautiful, But She Will Never Compare To You

And she’s beautiful, the girl in the Instagram posts. All perfect smile and perfect tan and perfect proportions. You wonder what it would take to look like her.

If he would notice you more if you did.

In your head, you begin to calculate how many less calories you would need to become that thin. The amount of sit-ups it would take to get abs that defined. The cost of laser hair removal and breast enhancements and anti-wrinkle injections and teeth whitening.

Filled with inadequacy, your heart sinks. You know how much it would take to even come close to comparison; how much it would take to grasp a standard of beauty you know you’ll never measure up to. One you’re not sure you even want to try and measure up to.

Dear woman, you forget.

You forget she may be all those things.

But she isn’t you.

She isn’t the strength of your body that has brought forth life and risen above death; battle-scarred and weary but held together with the resilience and determination of the warrior spirit that blazes beneath your bones.

She isn’t the complexity of your mind, the paint strokes of colour and swirl like the starry night of Van Gogh’s imagination; the intelligence, the creativity, the emotion, but also the tangled knots of questions and doubts and fears; the blisters on your fingers from how much it has taken to unravel the distorted lies of your foundation to uncover the truth that now radiates from your existence.

She isn’t the beads of light behind your eyes that glimmer with the hidden mysteries of your soul. The quick wit you carry inside the cadence of your laughter. The words of courage you fearlessly speak to those who need them. The helpless tears that overflow from your heart for those who suffer around you.

She isn’t the love that rushes through your blood or the passion that douses your veins; the untamed wildfire that aches to be set alight by the strike of his fingers against your skin.

She isn’t vulnerability disguised as bravery.

She isn’t the taste of hope mingled with quiet apprehension as she learns to lean on trust once more.

She isn’t you.

And maybe he’ll never see that. Maybe he’ll never see beyond the surface of a woman’s skin; beyond an image on a screen, beyond a superficial ideal, beyond an unrealistic standard.

But maybe you deserve better anyway.

Because she might be beautiful.

But she will never compare to you.

And the only person who needs to see that, is you.

– ©️ Kathy Parker 2018 –

And I’m Not Sorry For Choosing Me

The more I begin to heal the less I find myself apologising for it.

It would be easy to say sorry.

Sorry for the ways I have pulled away.

Sorry for the ways I have let you down.

Sorry for the messages I have not replied to.

Sorry for the calls I have not answered.

Sorry for my absence.

Sorry for my silence.

Sorry I can no longer meet your expectations.

Sorry I can no longer meet your needs.

Sorry I can no longer put your needs above my own.

Except, I’m not sorry.

Because, the thing is, it isn’t me that needs to heal.

It’s the little girl within me; the wounded child that nobody protected. Or stood up for. Or put first. Or made to feel mattered.

The girl who was not heard, or seen.

The girl who grew up believing the needs of others were more important than her own.

That her body was not her own.

That her voice would never be heard.

That she wasn’t worth the respect of others.

That love was something to be earned.

That boundaries could be crossed by whoever so pleased.

That her value was not in what she could give, but only in what others could take.

I am fighting for her, because no one else ever did.

I am putting her first, because no one else ever did.

I am standing between her and the world; honouring her, protecting her, nurturing her, allowing her the time and space to mend the brokenness without more being taken when there is nothing left to give; without more of the world pulling her in every direction with its demands and expectations.

Because she matters. Because I matter.

I am choosing to heal the way I need to; my time, my way.

I am choosing me.

And I will no longer apologise for that.

– ©️ Kathy Parker 2018 –

Their Acceptance Is Not Worth Your Freedom

I spent much of my life trying to hide who I was, convinced I wasn’t worthy of being loved. After all, if I had been worthy of love, then people who said they loved me wouldn’t have left. Wouldn’t have betrayed me. Wouldn’t have hurt me. It became clear that to be loved I would have to hide my true self; this girl with the fierce mind, wild spirit and poet’s heart.

I learned to hide these things and instead be whatever I needed to be to fit in and gain acceptance. I learned how to make myself the same, how to make myself small, how to make myself submissive. I learned how to make myself silent. I learned how to conform.

I learned these things will actually gain you the acceptance you’re looking for.

I also learned the cost of that acceptance is freedom.

Their acceptance is not worth your freedom.

There is nothing lonelier than existing separated from who we really are, than spending each day in captivity to the expectations of others, than denying the true heart within us that aches to be set free.

The road to self-acceptance has been a hard one; to finally have arrived at this place where I believe I am worthy of love exactly as I am. Where I will never again settle for anything less. Where I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of all that I am. It has taken me so long to be at peace with both the light and dark in me. To see my scars as victory stripes earned by overcoming every goddamn battle I’ve faced, and not just ugly reminders of how unworthy I am; how unloveable.

Freedom comes when we learn to accept and love who we are, exactly as we are. Including the regrets, the mistakes, the choices we made when we had no other choice. Including the bad days and the messy days and the godforsaken days where darkness wraps itself around us and we take comfort in the bleak heaviness that falls upon our souls. We cannot choose to love only the parts of ourselves we think are acceptable and not the rest, we cannot love ourselves only in pieces and expect to be complete. And if we cannot love ourselves completely, we will never be able to love another that way either.

Becoming our true selves in a conformist world is an act of rebellion. I have lost many people from my life who don’t like that I no longer fit inside their boxes. How dare we be different. How dare we make people uncomfortable. How dare we be so defiant. Fuck the haters. People will rarely tolerate the freedom they see in others that they choose to deny for themselves. And if others are not capable of love without conditions then we are better off without their love. Because once we have truly learned to love ourselves with the kind of love we deserve, we soon realise that anything less than that will never be enough for us anyway.

~ ©️ Kathy Parker ~

And Sometimes This Is Healing

And sometimes healing is oceans upon shorelines; tides that crash upon the thirst of empty sands, replenishing all the midday sun has scorched from our dry bones, made full once more until the moon calls the tide back again and suddenly we, too, feel pulled back to where we once came from. We clench our toes into sand that crumbles beneath our feet, powerless to fight against the grip of the tide; once again at the mercy of waves we can no longer find the strength to keep our head above anymore.

But here’s the thing about the ocean. She is forever a contradiction; wild yet gentle, fierce yet calm, rising yet falling, taking; yet always giving back. A coming together and pulling apart; the universe as it dances to the music of the night sky.

This, too, is how we heal; forward, then back again.

Such is the ebb and flow of our existence.

There is no right way to heal. We will rise, and fall. We will triumph, and fail. One day we will stand on shorelines, soaking saltwater healing into our pores; the next, we will find ourselves pulled below by our pain once more.

We must allow ourselves these undulations; forgive ourselves for the frailty of which we cling to at times. For it’s when we resist these laws of nature we struggle the most; yet is this not what the ocean comes to teach us, whispering her secrets to our parched souls: healing comes the moment we surrender to grace.

~ ©️ Kathy Parker ~

I Am Learning How To Be Lonely

I am learning how to be lonely.

How to not reach for another to lessen this ache in my ribs when I have known no other way.

I am learning how to not fear the silence; to be still with this hollow chest and no longer fill the space you once belonged with shallow distraction.

I am learning things I should already know, but was not taught; instead raised to hold a man’s sovereignty before my own.

I am learning I am more than what I was taught.

I am learning what I am worth.

I am learning I am worth these hard things.

The Woods Are Lovely, Dark and Deep…

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For years, I have been haunted by these words – by their imagery and metaphor, their ambivalence, their struggle, their resolution. By the way they encompass everything I feel; the days I long to dwell in the woods and take comfort in the darkness because it is so much easier than having to show up; than having to fight a never-ending battle to stay one step ahead of the shadows; never far behind me. Because it is so much easier to give in to the heaviness that settles upon me, to get lost in the loneliness of the woods with no desire to be found, than to find the strength to get out of bed and face another day.

But I promised myself I would fight, and never stop fighting, for the life I deserve. For the life my children deserve. To turn the ashes of the generations before me into a structure of strength and beauty that the generations ahead will walk into with sure feet and fierce hearts.

Though some days weak, I am never defeated.

This is my reminder.

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

and miles to go before I sleep.

And miles to go before I sleep.”

(Robert Frost)

Love Is Rarely More Than a Fatal Blow

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I.
When the boy with the green eyes comes looking for my body, I let him.
He is absent-minded hands upon the soft curves of my flesh; he takes in
the body but not the girl and I pretend it is enough for I am desperate to
believe these crumbs he offers will sustain my malnourished bones until
I know what it feels like to be loved and not just settled for.
Frantic he will leave before I can convince him to stay, I turn my body
into a war-zone; torture it, starve it, persecute it for every morsel it
consumes and for every proportion of this womanly mass that does not
shrink from the underskirts of my skin and if my body is the only currency
of which I have to saddle his pockets then I will punish it into flawless
compliance and maybe then it will no longer be her name that rises and falls
with every breath he kisses into my lungs; rife with the taste of her memory
which he cannot drown beneath the sinkholes of his eyes where I am too
afraid to swim. My body fades until all that encases these organs is the
corpse-like skin of a hollow beggar and it weeps its song of victory,
Please stay, please stay, please stay,” but still, he does not know the sound
of my name on his tongue and my heart becomes a wasteland as vacant as the
hollows of my cheeks but I tell myself this is love because even though his laces
are tied he has not yet left and I am still cleaning the mess from the ones who
came before and slit my wrists with the sharp edge of their goodbyes; whose
blood of abandonment I used to finger-paint the words of my story upon the
walls of my house when I needed to remind my heart of what it had not yet
learned: Everyone you love, leaves. But hope is a diehard weapon and though
his finger rests on the trigger I convince myself he will be
the restoration not the destruction;
the healing, and not the wound.

II.
Love is rarely more than a fatal blow
we never see coming.

III.
When the boy with the green eyes no longer comes looking for my body,
I write a new story upon the walls of my house:
Leave first, before they leave you.

Sunday Ramblings and Wide Open Spaces

It’s the last day of school holidays here, and as much as I love the time with my babies home, I am so restless at this point to get back into routine, back into writing, and to find some much needed solitude. It seems I’ve become quite accustomed to my working week, which is spent mostly on my own; having others around 24/7 – even my own children – has proven challenging, and I have found my only sanity has been stealing away each afternoon for a long bike ride in this glorious autumn sunshine.

Riding this afternoon, I was reflecting on my journey of wanting to live a more wholehearted life, and how exercise has been such a huge part of that – a huge part of who I am, of what ignites my joy and passion, what makes me come alive, what propels my motivation and focus, and also how vital it has been for managing my PTSD.

Recently I’ve had a couple of injuries – a torn disc in my lower back and a torn hamstring, both of which have seen me unable to exercise for a fairly long period of time. During these times of no exercise, much of the wholehearted living thing has gone amiss; instead I have only managed to live half-heartedly. I lost my joy and passion, my energy and motivation, and my mental health struggled immensely – I feel as though in not being able to do something I love so much, I lost a huge part of myself.

My love of exercise has never been about the exercise itself. I don’t know what I weigh nor do I care what size my clothes are – in this Instagram world I’m not interested in competing to be the fittest or the thinnest, there are already enough women pitting themselves against one other rather than cheering each other along to be the best version of ourselves we can be. I refuse to let numbers define my worth and I will raise my daughters to know their value lies in so much more than this world’s unattainable standard of beauty.

Exercise for me is about movement, energy, freedom, exuberance. It’s soaking sunshine into my bones and gulping fresh air into my lungs. It’s about feeling healthy and strong in body, spirit and mind; finding wide open spaces where I can renew my spirit and connect once more to myself (which, let’s face it, usually means connecting to the 14 year-old tomboy in me who loved to fang around on BMX tracks – long live her zealous spirit). It’s about doing something I love; taking time out of my busy, responsible life which mostly involves caring for other people, and choosing to care for myself. It’s about deliberately choosing to live a wholehearted life – to embrace life and not just survive it.

After what has been quite a long recovery time, I’m so damn thankful and overjoyed to be able to exercise again (which, SA peeps, can’t recommend the amazing people at Adelaide Advanced Physiotherapy enough), to feel like myself once more, to find joy in each day again.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman.

Here’s to a fresh new shiny term and embracing each day with wholehearted abandon.

K x