Posts Tagged ‘vulnerability’

Brenè Brown: A Video Walkthrough.

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

“Maybe stories are just data with a soul.” -Brené Brown

I shared this 2010 TED speech long ago, and longer still before that, and I will keep periodically sharing and adding new talks as Brenè continues in her incredible work.

Her follow-up from 2012 is awesome, too, and reminds me of many, many things I’ve talked about here for nearly 20 years on neevita.

“If you’re not also in the arena getting the shit kicked out of you, I’m not interested in your feedback.” – Brenè Brown

And even still, she continues to expand her message, her knowledge and her biting insights into showing up, being seen, and getting the shit kicked out of you for it.

“What I do is enough.” – Joan Halifax

I was in the audience for this longform interview with Chase Jarvis and Brenè back in April, and had the opportunity to meet her afterwards to discuss the education certification that is offered based upon her work. I was truly honored.

“(only) Share with the people who have earned the right to hear your story.” – Brenè Brown

I’m incredibly grateful that Brenè is out there doing what she is doing the way she is doing it. Her willingness to share her own story of evolution and cultivating self worth as she researches a universal human condition is a combination I find endlessly inspiring. I am always moved by her presentations and feel with her sharing a gust of wind at my own back.

As far as I am concerned, her evolving messages are required consumption for anyone who values facing the world with integrity, as well as those who struggle to both discover, as well as learn to be, who they really are.

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Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we will ever do.” – Brenè Brown

The present past

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

I’m conflicted about publishing this. It’s long been hidden in the drafts section of neevita, offline since slipped quietly into the night, like most of the stuff I wrote about back then. There are rape triggers and erotic elements. It’s difficult subject matter and I expect that isn’t limited to how I am reacting to finding it again, and it will probably bother people.

However, it’s timely. As our social media begins to question and speak out about rape culture I’ve been thankful that I hadn’t ever been taken advantage of like the young women I’ve been reading about, many who died of suicide later.

The stories I’m reading are horrible. But, it doesn’t take the extreme of being video taped and physically abused by men who then brag about their deeds to cause real damage. I would argue that few rapes are so cut and dry and easy to identify. Mine wasn’t.

One of the main points I am hearing that I wholely agree with, is the lack of education surrounding what rape is, and how to recognize it.

Mostly, I hear this being called out as needing to be explained to men. And clearly, that’s true – the facts and actions of the perpetrators of recent crimes like the Steubenville rape show that, and most of the literature and advice surrounding preventing rape lies in the hands of the women.

But there are so many women who limp, injured and violated, for years, without understanding why, or what it is that happened. There are so many people who don’t understand coercion, manipulation, bargaining, or what consent means, or even if they’ve given it or not. Don’t understand that curling up in a ball and being pestered by someone to fuck them while they’re half drunk isn’t ok, isn’t their fault, and isn’t the way it’s supposed to work, no matter who you are.

In fact, though I’m incredibly connected to the results of the transformation that came about from this experience, which I had when I was 16, I’d completely fucking forgotten about the actual incident. For a long time afterwards when I did remember it, I was an apologist for my own rapist. Feeling for him was more natural than feeling for myself. Because my rapist wasn’t a monster. He didn’t stalk and hunt and tie me down and beat me up and hold a knife to my throat like I was taught rapists do.

I wrote this nearly 10 years after the incident, once I had finally discovered psychotherapy, and began to recognize that the manner in which I had weaponized and harnessed my sexuality was hurting people I cared about – and also damaging me. I wrote because I’d found where my sexuality had shifted from seeking intimacy and caring to a wielding of power and a hatred, from exploration and connection to a deep subconscious violence.

Maybe there is another kind of rape, that we aren’t talking about as much when we warn people about bad touching and fighting back. The kind that’s learned like abusive tendencies that continue as unconscious obliviousness and corrode and damage us. The kind that encourages us not to see or be seen like any other subtle form of abuse.

Even 10 years later, I still couldn’t see what had happened to me as rape. Even now, I struggle to call it what it obviously was. Because that means I will have to look at it.

That means I will have to stand in the possibility that rape can be something unconscious, something that sometimes, people don’t even realize is happening. The possibility that rape could be faultless and subtle. It means I will have to look at what all the other times were. All those other times I laid silently, feeling deadened inside, skin flushing in heat and anxiety, paralyzed, hiding, responding by staying limp and quiet, hoping they would notice..

and stop.

What if I told you I was awake
Written by courtnee on June 9, 2006

Note: I created a playlist which accompanied this time in my life. You can listen via flash here.

I can tell something’s wrong. You won’t look at me, your face is sour, you’re slouching more than normal and that vein on your head is real obvious. If I had the fucking balls to stand up for myself, I’d confront you right here and now. Right here in the train station. If I had the balls I would pin you down and make you admit what you did to me. Make you apologize. Make you fucking suffer.

But I don’t have the balls. In fact, I’m such a fucking doormat that I feel sorry for YOU and what a horrible fuck you must feel like. I’m afraid that if I stand up for myself you will leave. My best friend. My only close friend.

I go home and think about what I will say to you when you get back on IRC. How will I approach it? Should I scream at you, be angry? Am I supposed to be sad and afraid? Am I supposed to call the cops?

I know I am supposed to do something. And I know it’s supposed to be something strong and amazing and smart like everyone says I am.

But all I can do is mourn the loss of our friendship and pine for things to be the way they were before I woke up from a dead sleep to feel your hand down my pants. Before I felt the hot flash of adrenaline course through my body and paralyze me with fear and disbelief. Before the thought of stopping you flashed through my head but dissipated instantly when I considered how badly and pathetically you would react. Before I heard you whisper ‘grow’ while you clutched my breast. Before I thanked fucking god I had a tampon in.

I ache for the person I once knew, who was into books and parks and speed walking who didn’t like to be touched. The person who used to love when I would play guitar and sing, whose piano playing amazed me, the person who had tasted my tears after brushing them from my cheeks with his finger. The person who was so disgusted with human contact I thought I would never have to fear him like I did others. I ache for his regret, his pains, and that he has to live with what he’s now become forever.

I know I should hate you for what you are now. I know I should want to kill you, hurt you somehow, and sometimes I can manage enough anger from other places to pretend, but I just don’t. I am so sad for you, so scared for you, and still posses so much love. It makes me feel weak and powerless, and I find in you another reason to hate myself.

When you finally come online I waste no time setting the stage. You were odd today, is anything wrong. Did something happen last night. What’s bothering you. Slowly my questions descend into very obvious implications that I know what I’m looking for, yet you still deny. Over and over, you deny.

I don’t want to give up what feels like my only leverage. I don’t want to negate my power position by letting you know that I just fucking laid there petrified and let you fucking touch me and breathe on me and fondle my tits and who knows what else before I woke up. But I am a creature of gratification, and I simply can’t allow this to die without your confession.

What would you say if I told you I were awake?

The same.


Because I have to.

You leave. For months you go away to be head shrunk and cured. You tell your family you raped me, and they don’t believe you. I don’t believe you. Your therapist doesn’t believe you. It was something else. You couldn’t have raped me because I still want your friendship, because you didn’t force your cock in me.

I am waiting for you to come back so we can mend things and go back to the way things were, talking on IRC for hours upon hours about everything and nothing. I don’t realize it, but another brick in the wall is set by your abandonment.

I suddenly come into the habit of thinking about you when I masturbate. I’d done it once or twice before to see how it would feel, but it was awkward and without climax. But now, it’s different. Now I’m angry. Now I am pissed the fuck off. And now I know how to satisfy it.

We are at your parents house in Santa Rosa watching a movie. You’re on the couch, I’m on the floor kneeling in front of you. You tell me no. I don’t listen. Neither does your crotch. I pull all my best moves as you protest between extended periods of paralyzed submission in which you’re too terrified to move. I groan that you wanted this while breathing hot through your pants. Your head falls back onto the back of the couch as you let out a devastated whine before beginning to silently cry.

The way your tears stream silently into your hair is exactly how I cried while at the dentists office with a raging jaw infection that threatened my life after spreading to the back of my neck. After getting a root canal in which the dentist rested his hand on my infection-gorged jaw the entire procedure, I had become entranced from the pain.

There was no motion, no sobbing, no resistance. I laid in that dentists chair while tears silently whispered from the corners of my eyes into my soaked hair in defeated silence while I went through the most painful event of my life. In reward for my will my bottom lip was eventually pulled away from my jaw so a scalpel could be jammed into my chin and tablespoon after tablespoon of yellow cottage cheese was massaged from my face and neck into my mouth and throat while I choked. I have never experienced pain to that degree of transcendence in my life since.

And here you are. Crying like I was that day. For me.

Your tears incite no mercy. Once snaked through your zipper I immediately mount and force you into me, glaring at you. You whisper for me to please stop. Please don’t. I hold your shoulders to the back of the couch and start systematically drilling down, pulling up. You wanted this. You wanted this so bad you decided to take it without asking. You’ll get what you want. And you’ll never want it again.

As your orgasm mounts you fight back more aggressively, like a man being drowned in a body of water, gripping at my face under my jaw trying to push me away from you. I continually outsmart you and pin your hands. Eventually the distraction gets the better of you and you relent to your fate, whimpering and sobbing as I feel you come inside my fantasy as I come in reality.

I feel a surge of power rush through me. It outweighs my hate, my love, my fears, my guilt, my confusion. It outweighs everything. It feels amazing. I feel amazing. I am amazing. And you, are ruined. Ruined forever like I was supposed to be ruined by you.

I don’t feel right about the fantasy. About the hate. But it feels so good to fuck myself thinking of forcing myself on you, I don’t stop. It becomes my staple sexual outlet, and perhaps the way I cope with your absence as well as your deeds.

Your return is confusing, upsetting, distant. You don’t want much to do with me. I feel like I’ve done something wrong, and try to tell you that I forgive you. I don’t care what happened, and over the course of your stay I’ve realized that it was bound to no matter what based on our relationship dynamic. It was no ones fault. Please take me back. So good to see you. I’ve missed you so much. So glad it’s over.

But my friend is gone. What was left of my innocence is gone. I am left with only change, disappointment, and a newfound hate for my always-apparent sensuality and appeal.

My hopeless romance, my quest for someone to love me, my openness and honesty about wanting that, wanting affection, and hoping that some day I will find someone to take my sex and do right by it, already battered and broken from others before you, withers and dies.

My fantasies of entangled limbs, soft kisses, gentle thrusts and whisperings of sweet nothings no longer excite me. Thoughts of being made love to, being brought to orgasm, gone down upon with tender care, are dry and fruitless. Now I have a cock. Sometimes I make myself suck it. Sometimes I fuck dead girls with it. Sometimes I let the object of my affection borrow it so I can feel him come for me, in me, on me.

The power in surrender and trust is gone. I now understand that sex doesn’t have to sadden me, make me feel used, be abusive, be scary, be submissive, force me to allow anyone inside any part of me ever again. My sex is power, my sex is no longer a shameful burden or a curse that makes me feel inappropriate, haunted, exposed. Harnessing it makes me the most powerful person on earth.

Now I have taken control.

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Yesterday, I believed I never would have done, what I did today.

Gatekeeper covering Lisa

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Holy shit. It’s Liddell.

I don’t know if anyone else can hear it but me. She started taking over at 1:30, and letting go around 3:45.

Though it was seamless and natural while I did it, I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard to something I’ve recorded before in my life as I realized what had happened while listening to it.

Holy shit.

I so feel for her but god she fucks up my life. She’s my muse and my tormentor. Fuck.

At least she’s talking again.

Or, at least I can hear her now.

Or whatever the fuck this is.

Rock Lobster: Finding home

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Ever since I can remember really, I’ve felt a deep sadness when passing seafood tanks full of crab and lobster in the supermarkets. The way they’re piled in on one another with their claws drawn shut, robbed of their dignity and eventually their lives, bothers me. Deeply, profoundly, seeing them treated that way has always felt so inhumane to me, so close somehow. Often times I will tear up.

I’ve wondered why it only consistently bothers me at this level with those species, as opposed to the other fish and living things. I mean, it’s not as if they’re cute, or as if they’ve ever been a significant part of my life. I’ve come to realize of late why I relate to them so much (even though they’re like, totally ugly and gross.).

In my recent leveling experience, one of the many things I’ve evolved about is my understanding and internal relationship with what I used to think of as my armor (which I now see as My Protector).

I’ve been thinking about, even though armor is meant to be versatile and removable, why it is, that when I work to strip it away, especially at the encouragement of becoming closer to someone else, it’s so utterly painful and uncomfortable and wrong feeling, and ultimately it doesn’t work.

It’s because what I’ve been thinking of as part of my armor isn’t my armor at all. It’s my shell.

Lobsters and crabs live in hard shells and must molt periodically in order to grow. They grow in spurts, much like I do, in an excruciating and all encompassing process which includes swelling themselves with seawater to the point that their shell splits and separates from their little sternums.

They then spend all their time and energy hiding in their burrows, writhing their way out, and once free of their old shells are completely fucking vulnerable until they grow and calcify their new, bigger shell, in part by eating what they’ve just discarded to nourish the process.

It takes all they have and more, as well as having the ability and instinct to create a hospitable and safe environment, to be able to live through this agonizing and dangerous growth process. And, you can imagine how painful and inefficient trying to peel their shell away at any other time might be.

Each time I’ve embarked on a dark night transformation life transition doohicky thing like what I’ve just experienced, this is what has been happening to my emotional body. It is utterly traumatic, incredibly painful, and encompasses all my resources to achieve.

I thought, when I first realized the distinction between a shell and armor a few weeks ago, that I would relate more to the Nautilus, which is a creature that moves to bigger and bigger shells over the span of its life, living inside of them, making them their home. Plus, you know, beautiful, and all that – and they get HUGE, which is something I relate to – some day I am going to be larger than life if I keep this up.

But, as it turns out, once again the universe shows me that not everything about me is pretty – and my shell is not my home, which is why trying to make it my home has failed me so.

I need to make myself a burrow. Someplace truly safe, that is mine, where I can go through these processes in peace. I understand now why I yearn so, so much for a house, a safehaven, a place I can belong, a place where I can grow and molt and suffer these tides in unabashed dignity. I thought it was about family and connection – it’s not. It’s about taking care of me.

It’s time to prioritize taking care of me. I want to build myself a tiny house, on a trailer.

It feels like the rightest thing I’ve considered doing in a long, long time – since December of 2006 when I decided to go to massage school and leave my marriage. It’s small, which caters to the part of me that enjoys working with little, and having a small footprint. It’s portable, which caters to, well, just about everything about me. And it’s cheap, which caters to my life situation.

Funny, how this shit seems to so frequently happen in Nov/December. Though it looks different depending on how I’m expressing it, I am fucking peeling apart my protective layers and literally growing out of myself almost every year when the weather turns cold. No wonder these months are always so hard for me.

P.S. Honk if you ended up with the B-52’s earwig from the title.


An introverted peace

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

For as long as I can remember, I have identified with with my thinking, and being thought of, as a naturally extroverted, gregarious, outgoing person.

It wasn’t a conscious choice, it just happened somehow that I caught onto the facts that a) I did well at creating myself as the center of attention and b) that people who are noticeable are the ones who receive the affirmation and encouragement I wanted.

I remember a specific interaction I had as a very young person, as I began to withdraw in response to the pressures of significant dysfunction and tension in my home life. A no-doubt well-intentioned, somewhat concerned figure of authority and reverence to me, probably my Dad or one of my favorite teachers, took me aside and mentioned missing the bubbly me.

In that moment, I determined that the quiet, introspective me, wasn’t good enough. That being that person made the people I cared about hurt and worry, got me in trouble, and being available and seen was what was best for everyone. Through this and other observations, over time nurturing my fledgling ability to communicate my desires authentically and effectively was overlooked.

It is true: I have magnetic, charismatic social talents, and I do occasionally truly and fully enjoy going out into the world and sharing them. Coupled with my intuition and understanding of people, I’ve experienced amazing, even transformative social interactions that I highly value as part of the life I’ve lead, and I am certain I will again.

However, I have habitually, and with potentially misguided examination, met my more frequent tendencies toward solitude — though intense and from a deep place — with shame, and all too often with a vehement self inflicted emotional punishment.

In my teens, my deep desire for a quiet safety and security was under constant, incessant attack. Though eventually recognizing the wisdom in doing so, I left high school an angry, guarded, self-perceived social failure, even though I passed the equivalency exam with ease at the age of 15, immediately and very successfully joining the work force.

Due to many factors I spent years in an agonizing isolated depression, in pain, online; a constant pressurized stream of my fears, my weaknesses, and my disappointments lurching passionately from my mind into IRC channels full of people ready to commiserate and affirm my negative beliefs, which were carefully constructed to appear as though I thought they were completely and utterly right. And I probably did.

It took me until 27 years into my life to be able to say, compassionately and authentically, that I didn’t enjoy loud live music, crowds, and bars so packed I’d find myself having to scream in order to be heard speaking. Due to other facets of my personality as well as prioritizing social interaction, it was scary and incredibly hard to ask for the closer one on one and small group connections my soul was really seeking.

Until my 30’s I met the physical disturbances in my body, and the numerous emotional hurdles present in most of my preparation for social events, with blame and negativity. For years, I’d get churning nervous shits while preparing to go out, holding onto the promise of inhibition annihilation by way of drugs and alcohol to power through it.

I have often been assuming that those responses were just me being weak, and seen my anxiety an unnecessary obstacle, or worse, a fundamental psychological flaw. I have scorned myself for wanting to be alone, for wanting to hide, for wanting quiet around me, when I feel scared or threatened or off kilter or tired.

Self scorn, and more frequently now self-doubt, is still my first response toward wanting to be with myself, in many cases. It’s a long road back from it being nearly impossible to trust when I need to be alone, and when I am trying to withdraw to punish myself in silence. Over time, they had simply become the same thing.

As I’ve aged and learned more about how and why to be alone, I’ve started to embrace alone time, usually in the form of travel. For a long period of my young-adult life I forced myself to constantly value expressing connection over taking time for myself, in part for fearing that if I took that time my job/lover/friend/parent/insert-connection-of-value-here would be gone when I returned, and as such often undermined the limited time I had so boldly and bravely taken.

Boldly and bravely may even be an understatement. Even now that I am beginning to master recognizing my need for solitude in wilderness, and having felt the amazing freeing power in listening to that call, prioritizing it is still incredibly challenging. Over these last few months as I’ve been frantically struggling, I’ve known and even proclaimed to others repeatedly that I desperately need to get away for a while, even just a few days, and have yet to make it happen.

There are many, many pieces to this puzzle of worth, of connection, of belonging and feeling accepted, for every one. What this woman said helped me find another one of mine:

In health and otherwise, my introversion is where my revelations come from. It’s where the meaningful, impactful words I write, the ideas I share, and my awareness of the connection I feel with humanity comes from. It’s where my performances come form, it’s where the layers upon layers in my shows come from, it’s where the compulsion to create Vita Arts came from. It’s where my paintings, my music, and every self photograph I’ve used in this post comes from.

My introversion is the birthplace of my extroversion. It’s how I communicate with my soul.

Hiding isn’t always a lie.

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

“If seeking resolution with someone who’s hurt you, wait until you can respond to them with the civility in having omitted your defense missels from your approach. Connection is risky enough, why risk the waste of energy and collateral damage in fighting off their return arsenal before tapping into their empathy for you?” – Courtnee Papastathis

The struggle for worthiness

Friday, April 6th, 2012

My constant struggle to find and retain worth in myself is something I rarely truly embrace about what it’s like to be me. How childlike I am, how emotional I am, how deep and violent my internal conflicts are — Always expressed with a tinge or more of resistance, shame, disapproval, when I talk or think about them. There are so many aspects of myself I can’t actually run away from or ignore, as much as my instincts tell me I can. Which is where my talents have come in.

Soul-crushed and speechless over being rejected in a relationship? Music. Reconciled a portion of deep shameful hurt toward myself? Aerial. Spitting angry, spurned, and literally sick with grief? Obsidian. Don’t know what the fuck is going on yet? Paint.

They’re all abstract children of few words, they hint at what’s happening in me but don’t fully illuminate it. Through them, I hide from you in plain sight. Through them, I get to hide from myself. Through them, you see me as a truth teller while I see glimmers of truth on the surface of a giant, incredibly intricate lie.

I think I’ve begun scratching the surface of what I’ve been concealing. I don’t like it very much. It’s incredibly uncomfortable. But my relationship with myself is changing, deep plates are shifting whether I like it or not, and even if I could stop it, I’ve learned enough to know I don’t want to.

How the hell I’ll come through it, I honestly don’t know. What the goal is or what my life might look like in a year, I don’t know. What the fuck I’m doing or what’s happening to me or how I’m managing to function right now, I don’t know.

I don’t know. Perhaps it’s all his fault.

“You show me a woman who can sit with a man in real vulnerability and fear, and I’ll show you a woman who’s done incredible work” -Brené Brown

Hold me. I’m so exhausted.

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

“I rebuilt my life without your apology” – The Naked Truth Project