Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Empty headed

I have heard people talk of spiritual homes and if there is such a thing, mine is on mountains. I thrive in the thin air at the same time as it slows me down. Life up there reduced to its bare essentials seems right to me. Most importantly, what happens to me is that I become like an animal. I just am. Very little thinking goes on.

When we were training back at home for the adventure we went on, I often found that my head was filled with unpleasant thought. I thought  of it at the time as toxicity. Technically, the challenge of the training should have emptied my mind, but it rarely did.

On the adventure, it was a different story. My mind totally emptied such that when people express their admiration for what I did at my age I tell them that it wasn't me that did that trek. I really wasn't there at all.

I have a few specific memories. Perhaps with two, maybe three hours to climb to get to the Summit, having no idea at that stage how much longer it would take, I became aware I was walking alone. A Sherpa wasn't that far behind me and later he was in front of me, so technically I wasn't walking alone, except to say that is how it felt. I had a safety valve but also the feeling that I was in the wilderness alone.

I felt invincible. I felt like a machine that simply has one task: to put one foot in front of the other. I'm not inclined to tell myself 'Good job' but it was at the moment of the rocks being sort of wide and flattish that the thought came into my mind something like, 'Nothing can stop you.'

On the way back to the bus on the final day, maybe 3 hours walk, I purposefully stayed about 30 seconds behind the main group and a minute in front of the final group. In this blessed space I could feel alone but supported; a creature walking through the Andes aware of my feet, the gushing water beside me, the sound of the water rolling over rocks, and the sacredness of being there. I was in my bliss state. So alive!

To change the subject somewhat I just finished eating lunch listening to Shirley MacLaine being interviewed.  She made the statement that her greatest teachers have been the people who hurt her the most. This resonated with me.

I always knew in my bones that when I was exploring the BDSM space that it was a scary place to go. Yet, I felt absolutely compelled; drawn to it like a moth to a flame. When I was deeply hurt in that arena I needed to know why these were such open wounds and why it took so long to heal. I also felt compelled to understand this.

In this way, it was all quite inevitable, necessary and productive. Through the emotional pain I explored the wounds and healed. Without the pain I would have been hurt in some other way, or else I might have had to live with the wounds forever.

Fortunately, I am strong and not silly, so the pain was contained. I listened to my intuition. I never went further than to investigate the physiological responses and the emotion responses, although there was plenty of looping; repeating the material enough times until the wound had completely healed; almost as if the wound needed to be dressed again and again until the seeping stopped.

I wasn't meant to think much; as little as necessary. This is what makes the mountains so appealing. This is what made the doll state so luxurious.

My confidence in the ability or desire of man to engineer this state is not intact. Possibly, I just didn't have a lot of luck there, but more likely I think is that there are next to no men who are that steady. I don't say that in a critical way entirely. I just think men become overcome with their careers and their place in their world and the state of the world. It's almost an impossible thing to ask, I think. So, I have no expectations and I've made my peace with that.

I engineer those experiences now for myself. I empty myself of the contents of mind and I float in my bubble of bliss, as often as I can. It's finding happiness (happiness? perhaps 'authenticity is a better word), again. It's all good.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Suppressed Emotions

In the past year my brother and I began to share observations and memories about our childhood. He'd remembered more than me, but I had done more research than him, and together we began to piece together what had happened.

In the end, we realized that we had been searching for what had happened, when in fact we needed to look at what did not happen. What didn't happen is that we were able to be our authentic selves with opinions and feelings. We had both quickly realized at an early age that having feelings, unless they were to say how wonderful things were for us, was not going to be well received, and was going to cause our parents great angst. We obliged by keeping our internal world very well masked.

I told him something last night for the first time and he told me something that he had never told a living soul, which is amazing because he is joined at the hip with his wife. I can't share here but suffice to say that we both had beliefs that make clear that we felt completely alienated from our parents.

So, that's where we are. Now, where to go?

For my brother's part, he has reinvented his life. The music that he loved but went completely unappreciated by our parents is a big part of his life now; so too is fitness, health, and well being. He plans to live every last day.

For my part, I have to get into all those suppressed emotions. This is vital for longevity. Suppressed emotions are known to lead to illness, so this isn't some fancy notion of mine but more about survival, as well as contentment.

I am a capable person in many ways. I have proven that. But, I know I haven't met my potential. I can feel disappointed with myself and I can feel like I am on the inside looking in. You would not likely pick it up to meet me but I can struggle with self-discipline, with assertiveness, with my feeling states. This is all very common for someone who has experienced emotional neglect as a child. None of these feelings are remotely new. I have lived with them all my life.

Since taking up the Meditation Teachers' Certification course I have been meditating in a new way, with full appreciation for my emotions, and I journal about that, as required. I love leading meditation groups where I introduce this idea to them. Even if you have cancer and are scared, getting in touch with that fear in a meditative state isn't as scary as it sounds. When you face your fears and bring up other suppressed emotions, the body appreciates that. It is part of healing and courage building.

I think I have an ongoing emotion of being lonely, sad. I know that it is best not to rely on another person for my happiness but I do miss my husband and the bond we had. His trading keeps him up at night nearly every night now so we aren't often in bed and awake at the same time, and in any case, he is profoundly asleep when he finally comes to bed, very overtired. So, I feel sad about this state of affairs and conscious that there is not much I can do outside of holiday times, best taken thousands of miles from home and his screens. The difference between home time and holiday time is like night and day.

I feel abandoned. I'm told that's silly, but I do feel abandoned. That's the truth. Yes, maybe it's true, probably is true, that some cancer type therapies, as in supplements, affect his libido, but in all my years on the planet I have been a sexual creature. I miss that state so much.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my grandson and my daughter and we ran into old friends; showed the lad off. It was an afternoon filled with so much joy. I felt abundant joy. I absolutely adore him. It's a love I didn't truly expect to feel. Sure, I would love all my grandchildren, that's always been a given. But I simply love every moment of being with the little thing. He fills my cup, that's for sure.

It's harder than I ever knew it would be to come out of denial. All those years I held to the story we'd had a happy childhood until it all came flooding back in a whoosh. I barely knew my father. He loved me, absolutely, but he only really wanted the company of my mother. It's just the facts of the matter. He never expected to be a father, was a relatively old father, and had no parenting skills. I loved him and he loved me but we were worlds apart and never bridged the gap. That's the way it was.

So now I go about getting in touch with my true nature, as they say. No more painting a pretty picture of the past for myself. We keep the pretty picture for my mother, of course, because that's the picture she has always seen. But, my brother and I know what we know now. Thank the Lord we've been each other's witness. It's all about moving forward now, finding a place inside ourselves where we may be comfortable, at last.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Emotions

If I hadn't been to meditation retreats, or started Meditation Teacher training, or explored the BDSM space, I doubt I would know much about emotions. Well, that's not quite right. I bought a book called 'Emotions' in 1981.

I was first introduced to the idea of suppressed emotions causing cancer several years ago on retreat and I've mulled it ever since.

Recently, I have also considered the idea of creating good and happy emotions. This has been found to be one of the many things people do when they have a radical remission from cancer.

Articles I have read have suggested releasing anger by writing; a journal, a blog, a letter you never send. Or, exercise. Or, do chair work. In this case, you'd put a chair in front of you and speak to the invisible person you are angry with and tell them how you feel, and why.

Personally, I experience anger towards those very few people who make promises to me, or commitments, but don't follow through. That definitely makes me angry. I stay calm for longer than I should. Patience only goes so far before it feels like a waste of time. You can feel a bit of a dill when someone makes promises but doesn't keep them, over and over again.

Eventually, I say how I really feel. There is fall out, hurt feelings, but to hold in my anger after being remarkably patient for long periods of time would undoubtedly be detrimental to my health. Instinctively, I knew that I had to say what I felt because I was just too uncomfortable in my mind and my body keeping it all held in.

I attended a meditation retreat this past weekend and I used a receptive method of meditation to simply allow my thoughts and feelings to reside and be front and center. After each sitting we journaled what we remembered. I noticed on the last half hour sit that my mind's position had mellowed, but only so far. Promises made still hadn't been delivered and I was angry about that; about being taken for a fool, or being taken advantage of as the empath that I am, with an abundance of desire to create a pleasing state, no matter what; to put happiness first.

People tend to think of meditation being creating a state of calm and bliss. Sometimes. Sure. But, without allowing the mind to be receptive to thoughts and feelings, you are missing out on the opportunity to know the mind and to get at repressed emotions; lethal to your health.

The good news is that once repressed emotions are expressed the mind and the body heave a sigh of relief; abnormal levels start to come back into healthy zones. The mind settles more and the opportunity exists to problem solve in a normal and rational way.

It makes sense to almost everyone, I am sure, that elevated emotions, serve our health well. This is where metta meditations serve us very well. To sit and think of one's loved ones, to cast one's mind over a sense of care for the World, to recite a loving kindness mantra, to have one's heart swell with loving feelings is not only lovely but also wonderful for the mind and body.  Singing, dancing, laughing is all highly recommended.

This is where my life gets stuck. At home, there is a lot of expressing emotions, though rarely mine. I listen and listen, trying very hard to 'observe, don't absorb'. This opportunity to vent is not afforded to me, since regular rants would be most uncomfortable for both of us. I tend to sort my emotions out myself. Every now and again, I disregard these unwritten rules and let it be known exactly how I feel. This is my life saver; perhaps literally.

It is interesting (to me) that I dwelled in the space of metta meditations for a couple of years, really building up 'feel good' and healing emotional states. Once that was in good shape I needed to work on the repressed emotions. This has accomplished two things:

- I needed to acknowledge that my mother was fundamentally absent in my childhood. Once I acknowledged that,  and the damage, I had made space for forgiveness in my heart. I feel very close to her these days.

- I needed to acknowledge my personality - an empath who has a deep need to bond, who has a strong internal critic and a strong need to please. I have been, without doubt, prey to the Narcissist who wanted a devotee, happy to be led, such that he could pretty much do as he pleased.

Older now, I have no interest in this game. If you make me a promise, keep it, or experience my expression of my deep disappointment. No more excuses. No more repressed emotions. Say what you mean. Mean what you say.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Behavior

Raising memories and feelings from the sub-conscious can take a long time. If I had been absorbed in a life of full time employment I am not sure that I would have been able to see the full picture of my life, and the lives of other people who I know well. It's not just come to me in snippets here and there; a thought that has halted me such that my mind insists on it being further explored, or a piece of conversation that has struck me as happening thousands of times before, but ultimately as the complete story of an era, of several families over the generations whose lives have intertwined to bring us to the modern day.

It has a unique quality about it - certainly the characters are unique - but also a universal quality about it; that there are soul mates all about me nearly all of whom I will never meet, who have vaguely similar stories with the same theme. I wonder if they are still trying to nut it out - why he responds the way he does, why she responds the way she does...some sort of dance with a vaguely familiar tune. How did we finds ourselves here on the dance floor again, she wonders. Unless you can break it down for yourself, it's a language and a scene from the movie of your life that seems indecipherable.

When and if you do come to realize that you got where you are, or where you were, through a series of  events where little people weren't treated well and grew up with deficits that they then exposed other people to, especially their own children, but perhaps too their siblings and people at their work place, or just in the wider world, you begin to see the damage delivered to the world by the behavior of the individual.

If we posit that even huge world events such as a World War can begin with an event, with individuals not being able to have a conversation that is reasonable and fair, we begin to see how devastating it is to have individuals in any sort of power situation who are not fully formed; rather living out their lives in terms of an inflated ego and crippled morality.

The crisis of a World War, or any war, leaves countless human beings having seen and experienced devastating carnage; the physical body and mind broken.

Survivors return to a more peaceful world once the conflict has reached an end, for now, but with broken minds, they often are in no position to parent the next generation. But, they do, and therein the damage is inflicted once again on innocent children. It goes on and on.

Until, with luck, the behavior is brought to the surface. Until, somehow it gets through to the person that these are people you love and you don't really want to hurt those you love, do you?

Awareness is everything. For as long as we allow unaware behavior to march on into the future, behavior that carries the scars of the past, we can't break out of the cycle of toxic shame, of mental anguish, of an egoic identity that demands its way. For as long as the more empathic souls amongst us allow this demonic egoic identity to thrive in others, refusing to build barriers against such outlandish behavior, we can't stop the devastation of a tidal wave of destruction knocking down the doors of our homes and our world.

This is, if for no other reason, why it seems such a downward turn for our civilization to be satisfied when any person who is so full of himself as to say that he thinks he is the best at nearly everything, to have great power. What the World needs now is full understanding of the overarching damage done by narcissistic abuse; not more people wrapped up in their own importance, but more people willing to devote themselves to providing the love, attention and care that the next generation need in order to stabilize this world and recover from the last century.

It sometimes feels to me like we are living in a world where so many people walk around like aliens without a brain that can decipher right from wrong; that think of manipulative strategies as downright clever. If we don't wake up by the millions pretty darn soon I think we are writing our own death warrants here. The world won't withstand the neglect.


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Emotional wound

I've been working on the basis that to heal an emotional wound you have to trace it back to the event or events that happened.

I am starting to think that there are two elements in place, not one; that one is a harmless sort of thing and the other is a wound that needs to be healed, as best I can.

First, the kinkiness: light, fun, harmless play. I think I probably developed it at a very young age. Remember when I was young, in the 1950s, spanking was a normal sort of thing, though not for me.

I think I was curious. I think I connected it with  a sort of loving approach, to the extent that the child received attention. I think I was starved for attention and so maybe that resonated for me.

I saw movies. I noticed my reaction to the scenes where there was a power dynamic of some sort.

In short, spanking was a turn on for me. Still is.

For whatever reason, feeling helpless, in a good way, is a lovely letting go response for me.

Much later, I got hooked into an objectification sort of kink, which fed me in some way at the same time as it was a power dynamic that humiliated me. It could leave me feeling heavy and damaged; angry and flawed.

Feeling a need to try to remember my childhood, I began to realize, piece by piece, that I carry a great deal of shame for my early years and probably carried even more then.

It isn't just that the circumstances of my exterior life involved shame. That's about 20% of it.

The major part of the shame comes from the fact that my parents spent very little time with me; an incredibly small amount. And, that I was so different to them in nearly every way. That I had no belief in the value of expressing my feelings. That I felt it a waste of time to have needs.

On the contrary, I developed a strong need to aid my mother in her emotional life, to prop her up when needed. Seeing clearly that my father had a great many needs, needs that he seemed to feel that only my mother could fulfill, that left me to handle life on my own, and to do for my younger brother whatever I possibly could.

It wasn't that they looked out for me but rather at a tender age, I looked out for them.

This seemed to set me up for an adult life where I didn't feel it my place to have needs or to express them. I looked after other people. I was even proud of my ability to do so.

At the same time, giving and giving, I worked on the basis that if I gave over my agency to another, he would do the right thing by me. If I was brave enough to express my needs, he'd do his best to fulfill them.

Eventually, I did express my needs.

But, I learned that over the long haul, that wasn't enough, for the special people in my life had wounds of their own; needed to control their world, and me.

Somewhere in there, my needs got prioritized further down on the list, rarely to make it to the top of the pile.

This is when I started to pay attention.

Why was I carrying around these days a great big boulder, a heavy heart?

The experts say that I have to develop more self love and self esteem. I have to understand that people rarely change and that I have been putting my faith in the wrong people. That I need to be assertive. Mostly they say it is best to go my own way.

I'm astounded at the depth and intensity of this wound. I don't really expect it to ever heal completely.

I wonder what my untapped potential would have been, if my life had been different from the beginning.

It's tempting to think this is one of several lives; that there is a lesson in all of this, preparing for the next merry go round.

Or, maybe, life will unfold from here in wonderful and positive ways; open up for me like the petals of a flower. It's a bold statement, but I think I deserve that outcome.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Guilt

In an episode of Wanderlust we see Joy in a session with her therapist where she is eventually confronted about a "pattern" that her therapist has identified. When something awful happens to Joy in her life (for example, the funeral of her mother when her father said to her in the car on the way to the church that 'nobody wanted her to make a fuss today'; or the time her client rang Joy (who is also a therapist), she didn't answer the call and he promptly decided to suicide off a bridge), she goes into a non-feeling state and subconsciously enacts various other crises in her life so that she doesn't have to feel the really awful thing.

Joy may be unaware of her own patterns but she is smart enough and educated enough to see the truth of what she is told in this session. This new awareness of her behaviors throughout her life shocks Joy into a deeply felt feeling state which then leads to a complete breakdown of emotion where she cries intensely. 'It feels good to feel, doesn't it, Joy?'

I was entranced throughout this episode by the brilliant writing and the even more brilliant acting abilities of Toni Collette who I have always admired for her courage to lose herself in a role. How clever to have the audience watch all her missteps, baffled by how dumb a therapist could actually be, only to be discover that her mind was, in all its deceptions, protecting her from discovering the deep emotional pain hidden inside.

In the more immediate experience in Joy's life, where she didn't answer the call from her client and it was the last call he ever made, she was later told by the police, a sense of betrayal, a sense of letting down this man, of possibly being able to save him, was too much for her mind to take in. It was a deeply sensed feeling of guilt. She felt responsible, when, as we know, his choice to take his life was his responsibility and his alone. Still, responsible types, empathic types, are always going to feel strongly, almost unbearably, responsible for the other.

So, the episode, as all good drama does, pointed out a fundamental truth; that some of us hold ourselves responsible for the behavior of others, so completely sometimes that we are prepared to make a good old mess of our own lives.

Will does a similar thing in his life. Beaten and battered by his father, Will hides his deeply troubled emotions behind a veneer. He lets the girl he loves, and who adores him, head off across the country and seems powerless to change, until his therapist, the much missed Robin Williams, manages to get through to him finally that "it is not your fault".

I am personally familiar with this dynamic; with this feeling of responsibility, at the same time as I register the irrationality of the thought. The mind twists and turns trying to make sense of things. I remember someone saying this to me, "It is not your fault. You did nothing wrong." 'I know, I know," I said, almost in the exact way as did Will. So she repeated it, much like Will's therapist, until it finally sunk in.

Guilt. Responsibility. What powerful words they are for humans!

At this juncture in my life I do better with simply letting go; with accepting that there are some things over which I have influence, but I can't, nor should I, change what cannot be changed.

It is what it is. It will always be thus. Who I am to think I can alter the grand scheme?

Monday, December 31, 2018

The end of the first decade

It's been over 10 years since I began this online journal. Thinking back, I think I was just so happy to be living in an authentic way - expressing overtly what I had held in for so long - that it was pure delight to share the journey with any potential reader.

These days, it's rare that I suddenly am motivated to share my thoughts in this way, but I am still here; still happy to have the journal in an online forum for any like minded soul who happens to come across it.

Over a ten year span none of us is the same person. I am certainly not that giddy person I was at the outset ten years ago. Age tends to mellow most of us and once we get into our 60s there is a tendency for most of us to take the long term view. We know a few things by then. We've started to identify patterns in ourselves, in others, in our long term relationships, in the world at large. If inclined towards the positive, we are happy for each new day. We delight in a bunch of roses, a grand baby's smile, a good night sleep.

Personally, it's been a ten year journey more intense than I had bargained for, yet one that I had no alternative but to pursue. Good times led to confronting times. I started to see things, to feel things, and I had to understand.

I have done the most enormous amount of reading. Until several years ago, I was a keen literature buff, but now I can barely read a novel a month. I simply had to get to the bottom of behaviors and feelings and to work out what had become so confusing for me. I have a small library of psychology and spiritual books now, all very well read.

There were times along the way when I felt I may have no choice but to exit from the lives of a person, or two. I was changing, growing, learning. Their presence in my life, triggering in me intensely difficult feelings, seemed untenable.

But, I am a fighter, not a quitter, not to mention that these same folk, I loved. So, I went on, trying to understand them, what it was they were inducing in me; why the Universe had transpired to put us together; why the Universe had insisted I walk this incredibly painful path.

I would have made a bad Nun, but I am drawn to a contemplative life. There is no doubt about that. It began when I was very young and I got something out of being in a Church; something more than the rest of my life offered me. So it went all my life and yet the material world was what was there before me. Family life kept me busy and it was not until the children were grown up that I had a chance to explore my sense of the spiritual; something deeper.

In these ways, psychology and the spiritual merged for me. I learned about abuse - more emotional abuse than physical - and what that does to a child's mind. I learned how to be whole in myself, how to carve out boundaries, to self-love and to self-soothe. I learned to practice unconditional love at the same time as I held onto some private hopes that I'd see progress in others too. It's not an expectation but rather just a little bit of hope; a little bit of swaying on my part towards good outcomes.

The biggest change of all? The past is not important nor is tomorrow nearly as interesting to me as it once was. It's this moment that fascinates me; the breath, the sensations, the possibility that the thoughts that wander in and out of my mind will be intriguing to me but in no way weigh me down.

I am aware of unwanted thoughts - an angry or resentful thought, a sense of disappointment or frustration - at the same time I am observing having the thought. It passes. I rarely get stuck on the thought. The thought passes and I return to a sense of quiet contemplation.

When life it too busy for my sensibilities, and by that I mean too busy to effectively direct my attention as I like, I suffer. I once thought I'd like to have a writer's life but all those thoughts demanding the attention of going down onto the page would exhaust me.

Instead, I write, sort of, meditative scripts that I can share with others, though so far the best scripts are those that come up quite naturally; a written script perhaps but then put aside. I speak of space, of connectedness, of presence, the present moment, the senses, of letting go of identities and roles; of awareness, an open heart.

When living in the present moment, as I aspire to do, one notices most of the little flaws; the little impatiences and frustrations. One aspires to do and to be better without making it a big time ME project these days. We're not robots. We're not perfect. I don't beat myself up about what I notice but I do note it and hope I do better.

I've explored kinkiness and mental illness. Where an excessive need for control is found - either giving to or taking from - so too is often some level of mental illness. Coming to know that, I needed to explore my own damaged being and to heal.

Well now, completely at peace with my level of mental health - my level of self-love, my boundaries, my functioning and state of mind - kinkiness prevails. It is perfectly possible to have both. I am certain of this.

I love to experience my submissive soul - to be held down, to be spanked, to have to speak certain words of reverence; to be turned on by all of it. I still revel in it, whenever it comes my way.

In this way, I enter into the next ten years of this journal hopeful for a long life. I've got the living of this life, my life, by the throat now. I am happy and content; not without joy, not at all.