Below is a guest post from a close and trusted friend and colleague, Alex Amorosi. He is a brilliant and thoughtful yoga teacher and trainer. I truly love his blog and found this post to resonate with the eating disorder work I do. While Alex writes from the perspective of a gay man, his words apply to any of you who do currently feel at home with yourself. Sit back and enjoy.
I love to be in my house and the home I’ve created. It feels like a sanctuary to me. When I come home, even from a stressful day, I can be at peace. There are many aspects of my home that I love, but maybe the most important is that my space feels good to me. When I am in it, it feels peaceful. Our outer homes, where we house our bodies, are the places where we let go from the outer world. Our inner homes, where we house our minds, bodies, and psyches, are where we all truly have to live 24/7. It is in this inner space where we often feel we are not at home, like we are strangers in our own lives. It’s the space that when not tended can turn into a scary and unwelcoming place. One of the most important feelings we can work towards is a feeling of being at home in ourselves. It’s an aspiration, and takes a long time to excavate the layers that clutter our internal space, but it is possible. When we do that work, we truly begin to relax and rediscover a sense of happiness.
Growing up as a closeted gay teen, and even after I came out into my twenties, I never felt like I was at home in who I was. There was too much conflict, especially in the years of bullying I endured where I would have given anything to not be myself. What made that time so hard were not only the ceaseless taunts, but also the feeling that there was nowhere to go and nowhere to rest. If I retreated inside, I saw the truth that I was gay, which I blamed for the painful life I lived each day and hated more than anything. If I went outside myself, there seemed to only be a world strewn with the landmines of “faggot” and “fairy” in my social life, which only reminded me of the inner world from which I had just tried to escape. The cycle set up a feedback loop of self-hatred and loathing. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to be able to come out to my close friends and family when I was 17 and could not have received more support and love. I’m blessed beyond description to have the parents, relatives, and close friends that I have and give thanks for them every day. And it was ironic that after I came out, most all the bullying stopped. My outer world shifted dramatically in that sense.
But the internal conflict, the embers of self-hatred were still burning. My internal home was still a dusty and cluttered space strewn with the tattered papers of a severely battered inner self. It took a good 12 to 13 years, some relationships, some yoga, some dharma, some big mistakes, and a heaping dose of humility to slowly clear that clutter and restore my inner home to a place in which once again I truly desired to be.
I think when you love yourself and you never question it you are in a good solid groove but you can be shaken out of it because you don’t know the alternative. I think when you have hated yourself and learn to love yourself again that sense of love is absolutely unshakable. You have fought through the brush with your machete and reclaimed every lost acre of your self-love. You know for sure now that you are beautiful, that you are sacred, and you are created exactly as you are supposed to be. You really know it because you have been to the other shore and survived, and returned to an unwavering and committed peace.
And that peace makes for a really lovely internal home in which to live life. It’s not that we don’t take a swing through self-hatredville ever again, or become agitated, angry, grief-stricken, or depressed, but we now have our cozy cabin by the ocean with a lighted candle in the window. No matter where we may wind up, we can always see that candle and it will always guide us home.
You clear the inner home by being aware of the inner home. Little by little, one old newspaper of suffering at a time, you clear it out. You let your body/mind system process, and release, and clear, and one day, you have a pretty cozy internal space. It feels good to be in your body, and you feel good about yourself and who you are. Take it from someone who, and I mean this, never thought he would feel that way. Buddhism and Yoga probably both saved my life in that respect. Both of these traditions really asked me to take stock of my internal home, get a dumpster, and start heaving the old clutter of conflict out the window.
Without the clearing of my internal home, I could not write the words “I am a proud openly gay man” and mean it. Without clearing my internal home, I could not love the people in my life in the way that I can love them now. Without clearing my internal home, I could not make real decisions about what is best for me and live a life that is truly authentic to my desires, morals, and values.
But most of all, without the internal clear-out, I couldn’t say that I am happy. I couldn’t say that for no particular reason, I feel happy. Not high, not manic, just calmly happy. And all of us are worth that. We are all worth a peaceful, happy internal space in which we can relax. We are all worth being able to revel in the fantastic differences in the manifestation of our current incarnations and love how wonderfully diverse we have all created ourselves. We are worth that. Tell yourself tonight, before you go to sleep, that you are worth that. Tell yourself that it’s safe to be at home inside yourself, or set the intention that you want a good feeling internal home in which to live. The universe will furnish you with all the tools necessary to clear out. It is not a quick process, it’s not easy, and it never really ends. You, I, we will all eternally be clearing our internal spaces as life continues to happen and bring us the situations that it brings. But one day, you will stretch out inside your internal landscape and take a deep exhale truly being glad to be, home.