Baby, You’re a Firework

Today on my morning jog the song “Firework” by Katy Perry played when I used “shuffle” mode to ask the Universe to give me a sign about love (try it, it’s uncanny). Katy sang and my heavy kvetching jog suddenly picked up into a buoyant gallop. I am always amazed at how emotions effect energy levels so quickly. Emotions are energy. My energy shifted from being an anxious anvil to being brightly inspired and my jog morphed from slog to spree. The lyrics and melody got to my true self and woke her up. Music is magic. Music, art, and any creative expression speaks directly to the true self, the heart, the essence.

“Firework” by Katy Perry

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind
Wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper-thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?

Do you ever feel already buried deep
Six feet under screams but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there’s still a chance for you
‘Cause there’s a spark in you?

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

‘Cause, baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go, “Ah, ah, ah”
As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make ’em go, “Ah, ah, ah”
You’re gonna leave ’em all in awe, awe, awe

You don’t have to feel like a wasted space
You’re original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt your heart will glow
And when it’s time you’ll know

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

‘Cause, baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go, “Ah, ah, ah”
As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make ’em go, “Ah, ah, ah”
You’re gonna leave ’em all in awe, awe, awe

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It’s always been inside of you, you, you
And now it’s time to let it through, -ough, -ough

I love these simple lyrics. Let’s scrap the teeny bop aspect of the song but also, we all have an inner teen still wondering inside… am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I sexy enough? Am I smart enough? Do I belong? The feeling statements underneath these questions are; I feel rejected, I feel lonely, I feel insecure, I feel sad, I feel angry, I feel confused and I feel lost, among others.

When feelings don’t leave the body (through feeling them) they get trapped and turned into negative narratives that play on repeat in your head. Neurosis ensues. The complex grows. Your insecurities become a storyline that sticks.

You might be aware or unaware of these negative narratives. Conscious or subconscious, they are poisonous because they turn passing temporary feelings into lasting negative self fixations that can further turn into what I call dark narcissism which is when an aggrandized story of how horrible you are takes over the sense of self and self worth hides completely in the shadow.

The ego often intellectualizes difficult feelings, saying they are immature. The ego loves to moralize feelings, saying they are wrong to feel due to the worse suffering of others. Many egos squash difficult feelings with a false story that feelings are weak. This story is deeply embedded by the multigenerational toxic patriarchal narrative that this blog is not about but it effects everything psychological.

The psyche is constantly being programmed and reprogrammed by cultural narratives. What you value and how you narrate your sense of self is largely due to what culture has inadvertently programmed you to value and narrate.

The ego is the conscious aspect of the mind. Ego is the you that you are aware of, the you talking, thinking, expressing and doing. The personal shadow, unconscious, subconscious is where all personal parts of you live that you are unaware of, be it wounds, gifts, feelings, and often times, the true self. True self can be called the authentic self, the soul, the essence. Call it what you will, it is the you that you feel is the real you in contrast the you formed by your upbringing. Nature versus nurture as they say.

True self is timeless and like your fingerprint, unique. One of a kind. Your soul lives on after the body and incarnates again and again. True self is the merging of soul with body. (If you don’t believe in the soul, toss this part out and view true self as authentic self).

True self is usually shadowed because the ego’s main motivation is to be wanted, valued, and liked by the pack. Therefor, most of us become what we think will bring us validation by others. Unless your true self matched what your family and culture wanted you to be as a kid, true self hid in the shadow of the psyche and may still be hidden. It’s a spectrum of course, parts that are not valued hide while parts that are valued shine.

Due to ego needing to belong and be valued by others, we tend to get all of our self worth from other’s perception of us. This is very natural. No judgement. It’s ego’s function. But when you add in the abuse, neglect and trauma so many of us endure as a child the ego fragments and self worth shatters very early on before the ego is developed. I always see the neural pathway metaphor as wet cement drying. Around age seven, eight, nine, the neural pathway. which is the material form of ego, has fully dried. Self worth is cemented by this age.

To learn to experience an internal sense of self worth requires creating a new neural pathway and awakening the true self. This is the quest for the holy grail and the treasure at the bottom of the sea. Recovering your true self is deep shadow work. When you can bring soul out of the shadow, it will shine. Your true self is your firework. Making new neural pathway is like building a new highway, it takes a long time and daily work to build it. Soul work and neural pathway work are two distinct practices and paths that will let your colors burst, as Katy sings.

Katy Perry makes it seem easy because that’s what pop songs do and it’s also easier for people who match the toxic patriarchy’s image of beauty. Famous stars are the very pinnacle of the cultural narrative’s image of special which is why we get so obsessed with them. We project our desire to be special onto them. No offense against Katy Perry, who probably has major insecurity issues as most famous stars do because to match the toxic cultural narratives image of being the best does not provide an internal and secure sense of self worth.

Being thin, wealthy, pretty, successful or brilliant will not provide you with a secure internal sense of self worth. It will provide a momentary good feeling that leads to needing another momentary good feeling. You know how hard you have to work to keep getting that validation hit. It’s very conditional. Gain five pounds and self worth is gone. Lose your position and it’s gone. Don’t get enough social media likes and it plummets. Self worth can flush down the toilet real fast.

Every one us is measuring ourselves up to others to keep getting hits of validation. Those who don’t get cultural, familial or relational validation feel like crap. Depression is a result. Isolation is a result. Escape is a result. Mental illness can grow from external conditions as much as stem from a chemical imbalance and the two are usually always connected. Shame becomes chronic.

Shame. The scariest feeling of all.

The way to move through shame so it does not bully you is to stop identifying with it. You are not the shame coursing through you. In fact, you are not any of the feelings coursing through you but that’s another blog. You are not the shame. Shame is a natural human feeling built into the body that fires off when the pack does not accept you. The cultural narrative knows this and many people make bank off of all of us by getting us to buy the products and experiences needed to get the validation hits.

We all want to be special and we all want to avoid shame. The cultural narrative is like a mirror of what is in our collective shadow. Shame. And where did shame come from? We made this reality. It isn’t a devil making it. It’s us. Collectively. Learning. How to love. Ourselves and each other.

Could it be that shame originates in the fundamental fact that as a human being, you are wired to be conscious of the self? You can watch self consciousness develop in an infant as the brain becomes aware of self being separate. Pride in all nuances is the good feeling that results while embarrassment, humiliation, and shame are the bad feelings.

Self consciousness is intense for just about everybody and if you don’t experience the intense embarrassment of being human from time to time (or often) then you are working really hard to match the cultural narrative’s version of good and you are hardly ever being vulnerable. To match the cultural narrative’s version of good (attractive, in control, successful, smart, wealthy, white, male etc etc) you must already have a certain amount of privilege to begin with at birth. To stuff your vulnerability into the shadow you must keep getting those hits of validation because the hits substitute real intimacy and connection with others, self, and life. Real intimacy only happens when you allow yourself to be vulnerable.

No wonder so many famous stars are tormented. They are getting abundant hits of validation but many probably suffer from lack of real connection and intimacy. Self worth is probably completely addicted to external hits of validation to such a large degree that a constant chronic anxious fear flares within that takes up a ton of psychic space. This is my theory anyhow, Where is the self worth of Katy Perry, I wonder? Can she feel a secure internal sense of self worth separate from her looks, talent, and privilege? Has she awakened her true self and connected authentically with others? Is she creating a new neural pathway? Does she feel shame or run from it?

I often see life like a video game (though I don’t ever play them). Shame is like one of those ghosts in Pac-man (can you tell how old I am now with my reference?) that Pac-man needs to eat in order to not get killed. If you don’t identity with shame and you see it more like a ghost in Pac-man, you can “eat the shame” and keep moving. To eat the shame is to feel the shame course through your body without taking it personally and perpetuating a story that you are not good enough. You gotta starve out the low self worth neural pathway by not identifying with shame when it pops into your field of vision. See shame as storm coursing through your body (changing the metaphor here). The shame storm will pass through you and leave you unharmed if you do not identify with it. Over time, this starves and dissolves the old pathway.

Shame is not to be feared. Shame is to be tolerated. It’s a chemical storm that comes with being a pack oriented human animal. That’s all. Guilt operates the same way. It’s built into the operating system of the human body to fire off when ego feels it has let the pack down in some way. Or a member of the pack. These ancient firewalls were originally meant to stop the ego from doing harmful things to others. In its original form, shame and guilt are meant to keep the ego in check.

Yet through thousands of years of toxic patriarchy, guilt and shame have morphed into toxic versions that act as firewalls in your brain that stop you from being authentic and feeling an internal sense of secure self worth. If you can turn the volume down when guilt starts playing and if you can ride out the shame storm without identifying with either guilt or shame, you level up. You build the new neural pathway that is feeling a secure internal sense of self worth independent of what the pack, your partner, family or culture thinks of you. You can keep diving deeper into the shadow to retrieve your true self. You can become the firework realistically which is incrementally through effort with skill. Katy’s song brings the inspiration as music does.

I want to end this blog with sharing that I too have struggled which is why I am therapist. The best therapists are the ones who suffer and heal as much or more than you do, not some “expert” in a lab coat. I come from childhood sexual abuse, attachment wounds, being the pariah at school, disordered eating, body shame and struggling through mental illness as a teen and young woman, adult sexual assault and feeling incredibly low self worth. I too am one of Persephone’s children.

I have healed myself and know results are possible first hand. I recognize the privileges I have had that helped me tremendously. I also honor that it was my effort that healed me along with my strong connection the spirit world/collective unconscious, Universe, Goddess. This work is my labor of love. I am here for you because I was here for me.

Here I am today, a forty eight year old woman in menopause (cultural narrative negative witch), with a big belly (the opposite of cultural narrative desirability), and an ugly autoimmune disease (talk about shame storms) that I have in remission through diet which forced me to heal my food addiction and finally connect with my body in love (new neural pathway at last). I have yet to find a life mate, another cultural narrative no-no (spinster). Oh and I am very spiritual in a supernatural metaphysical way being psychic and talking to beings in other dimensions which is very poo-pooed by the cultural narrative (I really do not like being referred to as woo woo but whatever). I experience the privilege of being caucasian and financially secure and want to name that because it’s two less aspects I have to fight against in this toxic cultural narrative world.

I have healed myself yet I still suffer because suffering is part of being human. Healing myself did not bring me the soul longings in life. It only brought me the internal treasures: self love, self worth, moderate inner peace, unconditional love and true self out of the shadow.

I feel beautiful because I am me. Sure, I have my days where I hate parts of myself. I slip and fall. I struggle. Don’t care. I am far from any need for perfection. I can speak from experience that the effort of healing brings results. I can speak from experience that self love and self worth feels better than being thin, rich, successful, or desired by others. It feels better because it cannot be taken. It’s like feeling an internal glow that never goes away. I can be going through the worst life has to offer and still feel that glow. That glow is love.

Baby, your’e a firework too. Cheesy, I know. Yet….it’s true.

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