Waking Up

Who you are (and who you aren’t) suddenly makes so much debilitating sense.

Writing by Ashton Bowie
Assemblage Art by Ingrid M. Calderón Collins, Featured Artist for Mum’s Garage II

Waking Up 

I can’t count how many times the accurateness of the term “waking up” (consciously) has made me nauseous. You don’t know it’s possible to occupy the same space as reality without being a part of it until you do. I think about the sleeping days a lot. When my pain, smallness, and concealed suffocation were all I had to keep me company. When I didn’t know my parents were puppets, and their puppeteers were invisible in the room with us. But those puppeteers were also puppets, and their puppeteers were also in the room with us. And to confuse further, those people, yes, also puppets, with their own strings being pulled. 

Before waking up, we don’t decide who we are, what we see, how we react—our conditioning decides. It’s so commanding. It filters our experience meticulously, through a lens made of the repeated pathways we’ve tread (of no choice of our own, like walking the plank at sword-point, kids don’t get to choose). And these pathways merge with their cold, scientific counterpart: our natural human response. Primal guidings, like threat mapping, fear bowing, safety seeking, and capturing as much love and acceptance as we can, at any cost.

Until we wake up, we’re all just a kid with a hijacked compass and a mason jar on a never ending lightning bug hunt. With no words for how we feel, we focus on the glow—it’s all we see. Into the jar it must go.

Nevermind the bloodied teeth and claws behind the glow.

Remember, invisible things can’t be seen. 

Our conditioning narrates our experience, in real time. It gatekeeps reality. Conditioning traps each person’s inner child (which every person has regardless if they’re aware) like a steel vault. And that forever-child, like a glimmering flacon plucked from the ending of a folklore storybook, holds that person’s soft, pure, unchangeable truth. A truth that cannot be removed from existence. Only suppressed, masked, painted, and overlaid with an ever-growing number of layers—never destroyed! Just left in the underworld to squirm and stir and confuse and ache. Some may not believe this, that a human ball of the darkest dark still holds any light, but a planet billions of lightyears away is still a real, existing planet, whether we can fathom it or not. 

My truth, and it’s beautiful, wonder-filled, love-exploding agenda never had a chance, for it was born a faint cry in the midst of a violent storm. It’s no wonder I always felt so powerless. Remember the Russian nesting doll puppets (generational trauma) from earlier? My parents didn’t stand alone. Their ill-informed hammer was backed by an army. The amount of piercing, glaring eyes, clenched jaws, and fear mangled bodies that were determined to shove my experience back into me for the sake of their own unconscious safety is unknowable. I wonder where a person’s love for someone else goes when the domination takes over? 

I’ve woken up.

And I believe in my bones that since I’m the first to do this in my lineage, my senses are somehow bearing the compound force of every ounce of every single one of my ancestors’ eyeless rage. I feel like my consciousness is being pelted with bukkake from a sinister entity forged from countless timelines. And this devilish dick sludge—that’s as thick and black as tar, that’s dripping down my figurative eyes, nose, mouth, and cheeks onto my figurative tits—is ferociously alive. It’s not some weak ejaculate set to crust over into forgotten flakes. It’s writhing and twisting, hissing and screaming. It contains every raw, developmentally appropriate emotional expression that ever poured out of every innocent child it was near, and every parent’s responded wrath. In it swims the warm sunny destinies the children never made it to, and the remorseless monster that robbed them of it. cPTSD – I’ve learned a lot about you, and some days I feel like me knowing you has ruined my life. 

Do you know her too?

And if so, have you ever looked at your parents and convulsed that these <insert verifiable adjective> (unconscious, ignorant, chronically dysregulated, survival mode-living, wounded, triggered, codependent) humans are who raised you, from the initial blink of your tiny, fragile existence? Did the fact that there’s no protector of brand new helpless humans behind closed doors maliciously dance before your eyes with the other fact that there’s a scorekeeper tracking every notch of the child’s damage that will live on to infect every relationship (or simply every social encounter) they ever have, crumpling it to bits? Did this sudden clarity trap you in a bag and seal it shut? Why your body reacts to its surroundings like some Hell Dance? Why your perspective has always seemed to be lined with razor blades? Why the colors of life weren’t colors at all?

Who you are (and who you aren’t) suddenly makes so much debilitating sense. 

It’s at this point panic surges, but that panic is immediately attacked by an anger so great, it feels like it wasn’t born from a place any anger has ever been born in you before. This time, it’s coming from miles deeper than you knew you went. It’s slamming your senses, and you want to hold onto it because for once you finally have an outlet—an explanation—for all this confused agony that’s stalked your existence. An agony that up until this point, you’d been questioning was even real. But the anger is dissipating, just as you’re fully tasting it. And creeping into its place? Exploding. Fucking. Empathy. Because this clarity not only informs what happened to you, it also informs what happened to your parents when they innocently came into existence (and to their parents and their parents and their parents and their parents). Everyone becomes a child. If you ever catch me with a perturbing vagueness in my eyes, it’s probably because I’m being plagued by the everyone’s-a-child lens. 

The anger always returns with a vengeance though, doesn’t it? Because no matter the reason, at the end of the day, the destruction of your sense of self was done by their hand. They’re the ones who enlisted your nervous system into a lifelong war with your perceived safety. They’re the ones who re-wired your unconscious to run on shame. They embedded it into the walls of your mind like an infestation of rats—they’re in your house, so they’re yours now! The effects of the harm they caused un-consentingly touch nearly every moment of your existence with its big, groping, unapologetic mitts. And too often you’re engulfed by the inescapable fact that if you want to reach the peaceful, happy, safe state of Being you were meant to have, you and you alone have to willingly devour an enormous amount of pain as you wade through all the poison that got woven into your personhood. 

It’s your tired, skewed perspective that must be the one to pick up and inspect each part of yourself asking “Is this poison, or is this me?” Spoiler alert: the two have become fused. So even once you’re sure something must go, it doesn’t go quickly or quietly, does it? No, because your psyche’s warm bed is made out of the only materials it had to build with back then, when you were so vulnerable and needing. (The wretched things a child will blindly clutch dearly, like a sacred comfort blanky, handed to them by the person who makes up their whole world after they reached out for the love and affection they innately need to survive, will bring you to your fucking knees.)

Your shadow’s sense of safety has become the poison. 

So now you’re here, ripping and clawing at what feels like our own flesh. Your fingers are blistered and knuckles bloody and vision blurred and knees buckling and you don’t know who you were or who you are or who you will be or who you were meant to be and life around you is still moving and reality has never screamed so loud. 

If you’ve found this place, if you’re in this unforgiving room, I just want to say on behalf of the violent truth, I’M SORRY. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry! But also I want to say, despite the disturbing nature of everything above, waking up is WORTH IT. Breaking your own heart in the name of the truth is worth it, when it means finding a map that leads to the locked chest that holds everything they stole from you. If ever there was a good reason to shatter everything you know yourself and the world to be, flick a match on that mountain high pile of rubble, and watch it be engulfed by irreversible flames, it’s this. Reclaiming your story. Discovering your power. And altering not just your destiny, but the destiny of everyone to come. No more will we merely survive our existence, we will LIVE! Captured in a sea of all the unquenchable beauty and love life has to offer. This is our birthright.

About The Author

Ashton Bowie is a writer, consciousness diver, and emotional warrior who believes mundanity is a myth. She holds a BS in psychology and MS in Organizational Psychology. Ashton writes on topics such as trauma, consciousness, healing, parenting, and the fight and friendship between meaning and absurdism. When she’s not writing she’s cooking, Googling megalodons, bottling gratitude, and exploring the vastness and intensity of the human experience while living as slowly as possible in her tiny bubble of beating hearts.

About the Artist

Ingrid M. Calderón Collins is a poet and tarot reader. She is the author of twenty-seven poetry books. She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, painter John Collins.

One response to “Waking Up”

  1. Hicksy Avatar

    Wow! Digging the passion👍

Leave a Reply

Blog at WordPress.com.