primal self - in prose

...on realizing my primal self was still alive in there somewhere...

the primal part of me was tamped down pretty early on in life. american society in general, a controlling father, and subsequent unhealthy patterns with childhood peers and school teachers supported the notion that my best bet for safety and assured survival was to follow orders and make a good showing on report cards - though that didn't guarantee me friends.

as i reached adolescence and began questioning (to a very limited extent) parts of my life, i began to realize that the choices that others would make For me may not be what was Best for me, nor what my heart wanted. i came upon the notion of my own, potentially infinite, agency.

a handful of years later i found myself at acorn community in virginia, my soul being deeply fed by mornings without alarm clocks, healthy meals with food grown just a few steps away, and new friends who seemed genuinely content to be around me without requiring that i maintain a facade or performance. with that environment as a background for my explorations, i came to the knowledge that it was possible to live the life i had dreamed of as a child - building my own small home, growing food, and being Away from society as i knew it.

years pass as i read books, travel, ask questions, and try to wrap my brain around how to live the life of my dreams. one of the biggest questions throughout this journey was not so much whether i was physically capable, nor so much how to manage financially or socially, though those can easily be uphill battles for me - the biggest question was whether i had the Tenacity to actually do it. to name my dream and make it a reality, knowing full well that once that dream was reached i'd be left in a world that involved me being capable of doing whatever i wanted - that's a terrifying responsibility for me.

up until now, my soul/spirit was certainly Responding to my path, to various places and decisions, but was still so drowned in rationalities and justifications and trauma-induced stagnant personal processes that i wasn't necessarily that aware of its presence. i wasn't necessarily ready to believe that i had a primal self who was very much Aware and ready to be active in my life. i was still running on the old childhood program - follow orders, be rational, hold power in the socially-approved way, and take logical steps to reach a goal.

finally, in what i would consider the fourth year of actively working toward my dream life, i had a recurring episode that turned out to be an endearing introduction to my primal self. i was waitressing at an olive garden in kansas at the time, and had very set pre-work routines to make sure i made it to work on time and appropriately clean and well dressed, etc. i resented using so much of my time, both in prep and at 'work' itself, and so often that pre-work prep was carried out in frustration and with a strong sense of grim inevitability. as i passed the threshold, walked inside, and clocked in - giving myself over to my employer for yet another shift - my primal self took its small opening, leaped out, and SCREAMED. Screamed, and Screamed, and Screamed. things beyond words, things that had me crawling in my skin, coursing with adrenaline and suddenly overheating, and things that sometimes could be translated to words like: WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING HERE!? HOW ARE WE HERE AGAIN?!?! HOW DID WE GET HERE!?!??

it took me a while to figure out what was going on. for those four years i'd been slowly dropping hints to this unknown primal self that i was... germane to its preferences, so to speak. that we were on the same path. had similar goals. that i was working on it. and so over time it perked up and started paying more attention, listening, and chiming in as needed. FINALLY i was getting to a place where i could Hear my intuition and make choices accordingly, rather than taking the more obvious cues, like blatant illness when i needed rest or to be away from somewhere i wouldn't leave otherwise. finally my rational self realized that i was not just the sum total of my experiences in this short life, not just one person's reaction to socialization and trauma - no, i'm much more. i am the collected memories of my ancestors, a genetic scrapbook built over vast millenia, an animal among animals, and a creature very capable of a whole, connected 'self' enmeshed in a living world despite all training to the contrary.

dismantling that training has, so far, been the work of about half my lifetime. i know it will continue, but these last few years have been so fruitful. i don't have to rely on my 'trained' brain anymore - i can let go bit by bit, sit uncomfortably in new empty spaces and watch as answers and new processes emerge, coming from the distant past or a sacred connection to all-that-is rather than wikipedia and whichever authoritarian figure used to claim my deference.

it's heartening to know that primal self is in there, and growing stronger. helpful to know that as i become stronger i get that much closer to ditching this civilized 'person' that is really just a clusterfuck of coping mechanisms. it's damned good to know that not only can i grow and build myself into something better, but that that growth can be informed by what is hands down the best resource in existence - the wild, living, sacred, screaming world.