Saturday, September 10, 2011

Clean House

About two hours ago, I just couldn't take it anymore.

In some ways it feels like our house hasn't been cleaned in months. Of course, my in-laws did a great job (especially considering cat illness and dischord) while were gone in Europe. But even before then we started a room-moving project that was left half done and meant that, for instance, my shrine room had two more pieces of furniture in it than usual and piles of things meant to get stored away, you know, when we got the chance.

That was two months ago.

So I started putting things away down in the living room, our bedroom, etc, until checking in with Dylan, I realized it was really bugging me that my shrine room wasn't getting cleaned.

It's been a rough day, otherwise. PMDD (sadness, anger and discontent) hit me after a very nice cafe visit and walk this morning at Cherokee Marsh. I didn't want to go visit a cemetery with a friend (another friend's dad just died and I feared triggering), I didn't want to do anything. One of those days when a voice inside says "Oh my god! We only have x number of hours until the next commitment. Not enough time!"

For what?

Panicking. For feeling like I need space. For suffering. I say it's to feel my feelings, but once I can connect with them (that's the part that takes forever and consumes so much energy) it takes little time. Holding them off, being afraid of them, ignoring them - that's what takes time.

I caught myself checking email, Facebook, Twitter for NEW things - not messages left unanswered but NEW things to see. I was looking for something to make myself feel better and that, in itself, was making everything feel worse.

So I wrote about it for a bit. As soon as I noted that I was looking, I suddenly couldn't see what I was seeking, but it gave me some space. When I asked to have help cleaning the shrine room, I got even more. Then I sat and found some more. Suddenly, at eye level for the first time all summer were my dharma books, and after sitting, I pulled out the apt title That Which You Are Seeking Is Causing You To Seek by Cheri Huber.

I opened to a bookmarked page (quite a few more are dog-eared) right to this passage:
The first thing to consider here is that there is nothing more important than compassion. Nothing. There is nothing that needs to be done, nothing that needs to be improved, not if the price we must pay is to lose compassion. In terms of this question, it is good to explore "who" is deciding that "pushing aside" the frightened parts of ourselves is the thing to do.

How apropos. Just this week I finished the epic Set This House In Order by Matt Ruff. This book/author has been recommended to me before, but a few weeks ago, Gabi recommended it again in the comments section of this blog post. It is an amazing piece of literature, though it was an emotionally intense read for me. Two characters work with their Multiple Personality Disorders and try to find a way to sort and understand their needs and wants. Obviously it can be a helpful corollary for working with "subpersonalities" or parts/facets of ourselves.  I was talking in the post, as in many others about the "parts of myself" that negotiate and argue over what I want/need. And I was thinking about those same issues before I sat and during my writing.

Huber goes on to explain:
What are subpersonalities? We use this term to refer to aspects of ourselves, the different ways we can be and behave: for instance, one minute I might feel completely irresistable and wonderfully competent, and the next, unloved and worthless. Subpersonalities act as though they have lives of their own, but their survival and identity actually depend on other subpersonalities - both within ourselves and others.

The metaphor of cleaning house/making order of various parts is the center of Ruff's book. Little did I realize that doing the non-metaphorical physical cleaning would lead me to further insight on how to do the more abstract, but just as important, mental/emotional cleaning.  

Thank goodness for compassionate partners, cats and where literature and dharma meet, inspiring curiosity.

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