I Am Fire
Today I am picking up from the end of yesterday's post, Just Like Fire. This ended up being more than half after edits. My edits tend to add more content. It's who I am as a person. I'm fine with it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I love the song Just Like Fire by P!NK. Really, I just love P!NK. Sister is fierce. Unapologetically herself. As she says in the song, she doesn’t play games. If she isn’t for you, nbd, babe. You can go your different way and move on with your life. But these are the lyrics that I feel were written by my own soul, that kickass part of me who was banished for so long but now cannot be escaped:
That’s where I am right now.
NO NO NO NO.
You see what I did there? I sold myself short. Acting like this isn't me, all this growth is just a blip. A phase.
I am glad I caught myself.
This is who I am. Not where. Who I, Tami Lee Hagglund, actually am. This is the sense of self I never had in a home where I had to walk on eggshells, where no matter how precise the tiptoeing I remained a scapegoat for my parents’ frustration with their lives. And then again in a faith where I could keep the rules perfectly but one wrong move put me back on the outside, aching to be pulled in but believing it was God tossing me aside in the first place.
I said this to you at the end of Dances with Diet Culture. Turn up the bass, because here I go again, busting out my drum and dancing to its beat. If your courage is on today, dance with me. If not, put this on a playlist for another day.
My reunited whole self is on fire. Do you know why?
Because I am fire.
To keep with my reunited trinitarian self theme, my whole self is having a hell of a house party where anyone who wants to come is welcome. I got some people showing up who are finding their own blaze. Others who used to be close neighbors don’t like the music, and/or are annoyed by the rave out back.
I had to edit in this part before posting. This is my eXvangelical reality and I want to share with you something that happened. When posting Just Like Fire yesterday I owned my truth that writing about my faith/spirituality shift was scary. Evangelicalism as I knew it takes over your entire life. Leaving cost my husband and me nearly everything except our marriage, kids, and a few close friends. But some people figured as long as I still loved Jesus, just differently, I was still cool, albeit from a distance.
Welp, I outed myself as not a Christian in yesterday’s post. If you don’t know this, that is a big fucking deal in the evangelical world. I counted the cost, but then realized as my truth went from thoughts and feelings to written words that every tap of the space bar made me a little more free. Actually sharing the post wasn’t scary at all. It was liberating.
There were consequences, though. My husband has an app that tells him when people delete/unfollow on social media. I used to, but I got rid of it because I love myself. Around 6 months ago I shifted from worrying about who didn’t want me in their digisphere (yeah, I just made that up) anymore to being someone who asked myself who I want around. But sure enough, some notifications came his way today.
I ain’t even mad about it. Those aren’t my rock-people. If who I am now, as my authentic self, isn’t acceptable to them then they are paper-people to me. Because, as I keep telling you, I am fire. Fire is scary as fuck to paper people, and I get it. I was a paper-person for approximately 35.5 years of this 36.75 year life of mine.
I’m not anymore.
I’m fire and I intend to light up the fucking sky, which brings me back to my mind and her communal living with Body and Soul.
In order to actually know my body I have to do it in a healthy way. I have to integrate my soul, and be aware that I am prone to falling back into the habits of my mind bullying and resenting my body. I can confidently tell you I am finally practicing health toward my body, and I’ll tell you how next week. But this process required me to regain the sense of self that I lost at five and a half. And that self realized that I’m not sure if there is a god or even a spirit realm.
I’m not sure there isn’t, I’m not sure there is. All I know with certainty is that I am.
[Sidenote: To my remaining in the Christian faith friends, I know the fear that me saying "I Am" struck in your heart. But I’m okay, Loves. I really am okay. I am at peace and I am free. I don’t know much, but am confident that if there is a god, then she is completely okay with me saying that. She isn’t threatened by me beholding my truth. Rather, she is pleased as fucking pie that I am finally becoming the vision she had when my existence began. If there’s a god, that is her character. Beautiful, vibrant, and ecstatic love and freedom.]
What I believe now is that I only have this one fucking life and it’s all on me. As I have said to a few of my rock-people recently, you might think that would bring suffocating pressure. But it hasn’t; rather, it’s been the complete opposite. No longer is the endless trauma train in my life because of some higher purpose by a god for whom I can never quite be enough, in that I keep getting rejected and hurt and re-traumatized.
Someday I’ll share the whole story, but here is the catalyst to why I left the church for good. Sticking up for trans people led to the ugliest mean girl ostracizing from a small "family" church which my husband and I had made our entire life.
And I knew I did the right thing. I knew it was all her, her own insecurities and issues drawing in ire toward me from others in the church with their own crap to make me the bad guy.
I. Fucking. Knew.
Yet there I was again, god apparently cool with letting my life fall apart. Circles of women chatting suddenly closing when I walked up. The volume of conversations lowering when I walked in the room. Events with no invitation sent my way. Those doing the cruelty held all the power as the punches kept coming with Jesus’ name tattooed across the fists.
But where I wanted to say, “This is WRONG,” I bit my tongue. When I wanted to call out the bullshit, I said nothing as a means of keeping the peace. That justice-loving self in me stayed locked out, because she was dangerous and an offense to god. And it was his story, not mine.
I kept waiting for a reckoning that never came until I made my own.
Ever since I first wrote Alive nearly two years ago I ached to blast open the floodgates with all the other chapters of this story bound in my soul. I couldn’t, though, because as you well know by now, I didn’t know my own soul. I didn't think I was allowed to, because I had so deeply believed that it was "all about Jesus."
Once my story became my own, my life became my own. This allowed my soul to return, my self to exist. That changed everything. If this story is mine to own then this body is mine, and I don’t have to figure out if my attitude is “godly” which, if we’re going to be really honest, typically just means, “passes the litmus test of acceptable in your corner of Christianity.”
Now, there is no “godly”. Instead, I get to ask myself what I think. What do I know is right? The good news is my soul isn’t a damn mystery like god. Soul always answers with quick precision.
When she told me that Body had to move in, I asked Soul:
“Okay, but how do we live with her? Because if Body’s just going to remind us of our trauma and make all of us as miserable as fuck like her then I can’t do it, Soul.
If I ignore her then what’s the point of letting you both back in? But if she refuses to change I will eventually kick her right the fuck out even though I know it means you’ll go with her.
And I don’t want to lose you.
Plus, truly, I want to love Body. I just have no fucking idea how.”
“You love her by listening to her, Mind. You connect to her. Body’s life is really fucking hard. Some days she’s going to want to go for a walk, so go with her. If that walk results in excruciating pain, cheer for her that she tried and you can learn together how to minimize the pain the next time.
And yeah, she’ll have days where getting out of bed is a big ass fucking victory and so you celebrate it as such and then sit on the couch with her. Have some damn compassion instead of resenting her.
Over time, maybe you’ll start to understand her.
Have you ever considered that if you didn’t bully her for the days on the couch then maybe there would be fewer of them?
That if you connected with her, you’d hear her when you’re doing too much and you wouldn’t push Body so hard that she has no choice but to be stuck on the couch?
That her sickness now is what it took to keep all of us alive?
That she stepped up and said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got this,’ and went alone into battle when someone had to be raped and beaten and told she was an unwanted piece of shit?
Body is a motherfucking hero, Mind, and you don’t get to treat her like she’s lesser because her war wounds are inconvenient for you.”
I fucking told you—Soul is always right.
Now that Soul has a voice, it’s helping me learn how to listen to Body, too.
This is the last point I want to make, and man alive, please listen. I have said this a whole lot to people individually and have been dying to say it in writing here in my corner of the digisphere.
[Sidenote: I just googled "digisphere" and while I did make it up I am apparently not the first. Whatever. I’m using it as my own.]
My writing has always been almost apologetic. Like, “I think maybe this is pretty decent and maybe helpful but I’m sorry that I want you to read it?” Those who have read my various writings over the last decade-point-five-ish would attest to that. I haven’t asked them, but they’ll affirm me because I know it’s true. This is because when Soul was banished, all pure confidence went with her.
I’ve told you that a shadow of my soul remained, and that helps me understand why I have always been sorta confident. I have a whole post in mind about that. But in case people are like, “Wait, you definitely have always been confident, what?”, the fact is that I was never fully confident. I was worried that people would see through to the core of me, where I was begging them to care. To love me.
I couldn’t love me, because so much of me was missing. But I thought that if I was godly enough, wrote well enough, was nice enough, there for others enough, then people would see goodness at my core and it could wash way all the layers from decades of being shit upon by others.
What I didn’t understand—was completely blind to, actually—was that no one else can ever do that. Christianity told me I could find it in Jesus. But when I thought I did, somehow his people always had their ways of undermining everything I thought I knew, gaslighting me into questioning my motives that I knew were pure. The mountains of shit grew as I was promised there was only sparkling-white-diamond-priceless grace and Jesus loved me perfectly.
Now I’m different. I believe it shows, because I’ve always been very open, but that isn’t the same as real. Open is willingness to say whatever it is that you see, but if you don’t know who you are then all you can do is describe the shadow and call it the real thing. If you are like I was, you believe it is the real thing and cannot see nor smell the fecal matter creamed over everything you believe is true about yourself. A whole lotta shit gets mistaken for authenticity when all is cast in shadow.
Me now has no shadows. And I’m finding that as I have allowed this process of becoming whole, messy and confusing as it may be at times in all the newness, my writing is resonating with people in the ways I always hoped it would. The more free I am with my story, the more actually real I am because it’s coming from my place of wholeness, that soul of mine fierce, bold as fuck.
As I embrace my truth that I am human fire, the more my story resonates with those who know what it is to be human themselves.
But that doesn’t make me more confident. Not getting that feedback wouldn’t make me less confident. I know I am being true to all three parts of me—mind, body, and soul—and that is where I have finally found my enough, my home with no shadows.
Can you hear it in your own soul, that cry to be free to be unapologetically you? And if that puts certain people off then they simply aren’t your rock-people. The raging inferno doesn’t mind because fire has never been threatened by paper-people anyway.
And your rock-people? They surround your flames, enjoying the glorious warmth when you are ablaze. When the rains come and you smolder, they reflect the retained warmth back to you. They reassure you that smelling like smoke is beautiful if it’s vapors of you.
Get you your rock-people, Loves. And tell them who they are. You only have this one fucking life so don’t assume you have time
With blazing confidence I tell you that only if what I have been saying either resonates with you arriving at your truth already, or has acted as an awakening in you to invite whatever parts of you that were evicted to come back in, then when I share about my eating and body movement next week it won’t be very helpful to you.
If you do not know yourself, you cannot trust yourself, and if you cannot trust yourself then you are only a shadow of you.
Shadows don’t light the world on fire.
But as for me?
I am finally free.
I am fire.
Do you want to know more? Are you inspired to learn how to fight for yourself? Stay with me. I know some of you are dying to know the "how" piece, and I feel you on a spiritual level, but also the "why" is the how, and without it nothing else matters. See you with more Tuesday, 08.21.18!