Listen, honey, there is nothing you could do to offend me.
Because you don't send me anymore..."
Belle and Sebastian, from "You Don't Send Me", Dear Catastrophe Waitress
I feel horrible today. I have some kind of therapy hangover, some sort of relief now turned into spiralling release, probably with the momentum of samsara nausea, one of my favorite concepts to discuss, and least favorite things to experience. CTR says in numerous texts, and is quoted in endless interviews with his students, as saying that one has to actually become sick over samsara, our endless cycle of suffering, literally pukeably sick over it, before we can move on from our habits and forge new openness. Before we can let go. I know this is true for addicts of all ilk - I've watched friends try to quit smoking while they were still gaining from it, still enjoying the high, but that's nothing compared with the motivation of hating the smell, taste and worn out lung feeling of smoking. You have to really want something to be done in order to move on.
Yesterday, I uncovered a huge world, a world I had thought was simpler than it is, and my therapist and I rooted around in there, in the dark, hands out and eyes closed. He encouraged me to treat this world with tremendous tenderness, and to *not* assume I know what is in this room, though at first glance it seems as familiar as my own bedroom. How well, after all, do we really know the back of our own hands? How well do I really know my own mind? I am amazed, truly amazed, that nothing in there astounds me, and yet, that I was totally, consciously unaware of the workings until now. I had to want to see it, to see it. And now that I am seeing it, I'm not so sure I don't want to push it all back in and close the door.
How many times I have blamed others for pain I cause myself? I am not ashamed. Practice has taught me that this is the way we shut ourselves away from life and into the cocoon of suffering. I am nauseated by it, though, not at myself, but at the repetition, the seeming endless variation my ego entertains itself with. Last night, D. said he feels like he's in high school, staying up with me until 1am only go get up at 6am. Only now he can't recover as well, being 29, not 16. I laughed, but what I didn't fully recognize at that moment is how much *I've* been feeling like I'm in high school, only due to different reasons. Teaching these younger kids, going to What's Your Damage (the open mic where you bring JHS and HS notes and the like to read outloud at a bar!), being with him, and discovering, seemingly for the first time, patterns I set *then*, at 12, at 16, at 21, makes me feel like I am in some strange retro zone. Yesterday I even put on a t-shirt over a long-sleeved shirt, and a skirt with stripey socks. This was my uniform for most of high school.
It's not exactly retrogression, or regression of any sort. It's some kind of reconciliation, and not all of it is with "negative" things. In my first appointment with my therapist, he asked if I was popular in High School, was I socially successful? I surprised myself to discover I was. Yes, yes I was, I said, in the group I was in - the theater group. I was well-liked, I dated often, etc. What about in college, he asked. College. The void. The post-mom's death world of being lost. Of dropping out. Of being from nowhere. Constant travel, good grades, few friends. It was horrible. You certainly won't catch me getting any kind of interest in dressing that way again, a weird sort of nostalgia.
Last week, at Planned Parenthood, getting my annual, I was weighed for the first time since I went last year. I don't weigh myself otherwise, as I get into numbers games. I have lost thirty pounds since this time last year. I was amazed, least of which because it confirmed all the math - I am now the weight and size I was in High School (my freshman 10 was 30 and lasted my whole 20's). I can wear those clothes again - though, now I see how large they were, how I never wore fitted clothes in High School.
The world I discovered, this underground zone of people living in the subway, riding on the fumes of my external presence (I am back to remembering how much I have ridden, both for me and others, in the past on my sheer force of nature, driven personality, and not on true connections, though I feel this has healed up a lot in the last year alone), are not resentful, nor am I of them. In fact, it is almost as if I am no longer receiving messages from the underground. I practically stumbled into that dark, familiar but not oft-visited room. I was as surprised as they were, which is to say, not much. I am nauseous, and so are they. So far, we all want to work this out, and we feel safe doing it. Doesn't mean it isn't sickening, though.
I sat tonglen and did something I hadn't done since retreat this summer - sent out into the world compassion for folk who commit sexual crimes and for survivors, both. It is hard, but it really clears my head. Anger turns into molasses, and slowly eeks out of all of my pores. It doesn't mean I am ready to do any confrontation yet, but it helps me let air into my own little dark rooms.
I dreamt last night of my mother and my brother David at our old cabin in Lake Geneva, WI. My mother was lost, didn't know what to make us for dinner, and I offered to make chile. As David picked out kidney beans and I asked her if we had ground beef, I realized that there seemed to only be us three in the whole world. Why only us three? My semi-awake mind (this dream came right before waking) noted that there were only us three in the cabin, but not in the whole world. It was so simple, breaking that assumption I had made for so many years. But that simple, simple act made me hungry enough to cook dinner and eat it, and not puke it all back up again. After dinner, I left for a walk, and saw the stars, alone, and didn't worry about creatures or strangers in the forests around me. It was very healing to keep it all in, not try to get rid of any of it, but let myself see the sky at the same time. That way, none of what was happening astounded or offended me.
I feel less nauseous now, recounting this all. Thank you for reading.