Full of Wounds and Still on my Feet

This morning, whenever I stop writing, I’m in a place of emptiness.  I feel like I have absolutely nothing to write about.  I suppose I could see it as the creative void instead of being scared of it.  It’s basically the same as meditation.  Why am I scared of it?  It makes me feel insubstantial, like I’m not really here.  I think Krista Tippett says something about that, maybe even in the conversation with Bessel van der Kolk.

Van der Kolk “The big issue for traumatized people is they don’t own themselves any more.  Any loud sound, anybody insulting them, hurting them, saying bad things, can hijack them away from themselves.  And so what we have learned is that what makes you resilient to trauma is to own yourself fully.” p88

What I see is that what brings me down, what “hijacks” me, is not just someone insulting me.  I was thinking that I was getting there (wherever “there” is) when I saw that what I was sad about were things happening out there, and it wasn’t about me the way depression is.  But now I’m seeing that I got hijacked by “Hillbilly Elegy.”  I am seeing that, as in my childhood, I still feel that it’s my fault when anything bad happens, and it’s me alone who has to take care of it.  I can see that the hillbilly book hijacked me because it looks like a difficulty, a culturally engrained group of dysfunctional behaviors, that no “program” can help, and I don’t see anybody who is helping, and that makes me feel like I’m supposed to do it, but I can’t, and so I feel bummed out, helpless, and discouraged.

Brené Brown said something like “remember a time when you thought the obstacles were bigger than you could succeed against, but you managed to.”  Going back to the quote I see that it was “coming out from underneath things I didn’t know I could get out from underneath.”  p251  I’m interested to see that I seem to see evidence for me being some kind of weakling, unable to beat the odds, instead of seeing that she was talking about surviving things you didn’t think you could survive.  Instead of seeing that I actually survived, I see myself getting defeated and running away over and over again.  Actually I made most of those “running away” decisions — like going to Europe the year after I graduated from college, going out to California a couple of years later, coming back East — those decisions were made out of desperation.  I wanted to find someone who would love me, and I wanted to find some way I could make a livable life for myself.

What I’m remembering, but can’t find the original, had something to do with identifying your strengths that you were able to get through something you didn’t feel you could get through.  I couldn’t think of a time when I had done that.  What I remember is what Kazantzakis said “Did I win or lose?  All I know is I am full of wounds and still on my feet.”  I do know that the many times I collapsed and “gave up,” something in me, usually a day later, got me up on my feet again.  I call her the tough little drip that just wouldn’t quit.

I remember when I used to see how I got through my life as though I were walking through a blizzard.  Somewhere somehow I knew that I couldn’t lay down, though I had forgotten why.  I said to myself “Now put your right foot forward, now put your left foot forward…”  I remember watering the plants when I was terrified out of my wits by a bad reaction to Paxil, and holding on to the stream of water because I had to hold on to something and that’s all there was.

What Brené Brown actually said was “Think of the last time you did something that you thought was really brave.” p248  I do things I don’t think are brave, just make myself do them, and then other people tell me I’m brave.  People tell me that those decisions I made out of desperation were courageous.

Brené Brown:  “C.R. Snyder’s work … shows that hope is a function of struggle. … hope is not an emotion.  Hope is a cognitive, behavioral process that we learn when we experience adversity, when we have relationships that are trustworthy, when people have faith in our ability to get out of a jam.” p250

I’m interested that she doesn’t say you have the faith in your ability, it’s when others can see it.  Your belief in yourself is relational.

As I write this, I see that when I saw myself as defeated over and over again, the truth was that I was up against PTSD, a truly huge and undefeatable monster.  To be still on my feet is an achievement.

I remember a quote from Rilke that David Whyte reads:

Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.

All the quotes, except the one from Kazantzakis (which I’ve memorized), are from Krista Tippett’s new book: Becoming Wise, an inquiry into the mystery and art of living.

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Pictures of Little Jenny

Wednesday, March 1

Tough morning.  Very hard to get up.  I’m feeling grief — but it’s more stuck grief — o god do I have to do this again?  I prayed for help but nothing came.  Yesterday’s session with Erica was very difficult.  We looked at the pictures of me as a child, of Mom & me when I was a baby, of the whole family.  There’s one picture, I think it’s 7th or 8th grade, my hair has obviously been set in pin curls, and the face is so vulnerable.  She looks so sad and unprotected.  I would look at that picture, or Little Jenny with the Dar Gorani look, or the other little jenny with the open face, and my body would contract with grief, and I would start sobbing.  I can feel the pain now.  It’s more in my gut than in my heart.  I feel like a mother who lost those children.  They never got to grow up.


Little Jenny

Little Jenny with the Dar Gorani look

Jenny at 12

 


I don’t feel very connected to the younger pictures of me.  Even though I’ve been looking at them all week.

The pain has moved to my heart.  I don’t know what to do with this pain except sit with it.  It’s connected to looking at those three pictures — but am I feeling their sadness, or my own sadness knowing how much pain they are growing up into?  Especially the vulnerable one.  It hurts so much to see how easily she will be hurt.  I look at her budding breasts and wonder if this is when Daddy was molesting me.  That look could be that she’s understood that he’s not doing it because he loves her, that she can’t protect herself, that she’s not worthy of a loving person, but only for the sleazy ones to exploit.

I told Erica that the piece I had written to Stravinsky was very dark, and I told her as much as I could remember of the Thomas Wolfe.  I said I thought all those were about how I was feeling inside, but I didn’t know it.  She said you knew it, but you didn’t know you knew it.  I was thinking just now about Judy Collins’ Albatross, and the Song of the Wandering Aengus.  I’m seeing now, that these expressions of pain come from a world where there are spirits, and spiritual energy, but there’s no overarching universal Spirit that is loving and good.  Where there are all kinds of emotions and feelings but no solid ground, no connections.  No connection.  That’s what’s missing in the songs, and even in the young Jenny faces.  In the earlier ones, she is still hopeful of finding what she wants and needs, but it’s not near her now, but in the sad and vulnerable one she’s lost hope.

I sit with the pain some more, and then I want to throw my arms around the vulnerable one and comfort her.

When the pain’s in my stomach, it’s about safety.  When it’s in my heart, it’s about love.  As I’m writing this I have a sense of a big container that’s holding all of it.  I’m glad that’s there, even though I don’t connect with it, other than to sense its presence.

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A Co-dependent Child

The original title of this post was about my denial.  Fairly soon after I had saved the first draft, I realized that it wasn’t really denial.  Denial is when you are faced with evidence, but refuse to believe it.  The refusal is not conscious.  If you’re in denial, you don’t know it.  You truly believe that you are not an alcoholic, even though your life is falling apart.  What took me so long was not denial, but lack of information, compounded by my mother’s refusal to acknowledge my pain.  I once told my mother that I was being teased by classmates, and she said “Ignore them.”  I didn’t even know what the word “ignore” meant.  My pain was invisible to her and so it was invisible to me and without cause, so I believed I was defective.

Denial was why it took so long for me to accept how damaged I was.  I was the oldest child of five, and both our parents were alcoholics.  I was given far too much responsibility for the younger kids.  I was expected to do things that were way beyond the abilities of a child.  Mama Greene told us a story of when Mom & Dad wanted to go to a cocktail party, and the babysitter fell through.  So I was left alone, at 7 years old, to care for 3 yr old Jack, 2 yr old Josephine and infant Jesse.  When I told my friend Beverly about it she was horrified.  She pointed to her daughter and said “Olivia is seven.  Leaving a child alone like that is illegal now.”  It surprised me to see that Olivia was just a child.  I had no image of myself as a child.

I remember learning to cook hamburgers for my younger siblings when I was left to babysit at our summer house in Maine.  I was 12 years old and no one had ever taught me how to cook.  The first batch of hamburgers were burned on the outside and raw on the inside.  The next time I babysat I tried again.  This time they were not burned but thoroughly overcooked.  Finally on the third try, I managed something tasty.  After I had got the kids fed and into bed, the sun had set and the sky was darkening.  I remember feeling alone in an empty house, feeling bleak, unwanted, and alone.  I imagined that my life would never be more than this, looking after someone else’s children and then being alone.  I called it “that twilight feeling.”  There was no support for my intelligence or my creativity.  Years later, when I finally understood that I was depressed, my therapist asked what was my first memory of depression.  I started describing “that twilight feeling,” and realized that it was exactly what I now knew was depression.

These experiences left me with a life-long sense of inadequacy about all the practical tasks that were part of living.  The only place I didn’t feel inadequate was at school.  I was very intelligent and got good grades.  All the way through grade school I thought everyone got A’s.  I was surprised in Junior High when I was first made aware that it wasn’t true.

I did well in school, graduated from Wellesley college with honors.  (This is the person my parents thought only good enough to babysit.)  I had no idea what to do with my life, so I thought perhaps I might go to Europe.  I mentioned it at the dinner table in my dorm and a classmate said “I’d love to go with you.”  Only now do I realize how lucky I was that she wanted to do it too.  We planned a trip that started in Ireland and went all the way to Greece and back.  As we interacted with people in different countries, I discovered that Bettie had good social skills and I had none at all.  This became more evidence for how inadequate I was.  I had no idea it was due to lack of teaching and modeling, I believed that I had been born defective.  I remember watching other people to see when it was OK to eat, always waiting for someone else to start.  I was horribly embarrassed as a teenager, at a dinner party given in my honor at a country club.  We all sat around the table, food in front of us, not eating until an adult (not my parents) came and told me that, as hostess, I had to be the one to start.  (One of the characteristics of Children of Alcoholics is “guesses at what is normal.”)

Another thing that happened with Bettie was that I would say and do things that puzzled her greatly.  I said that I had taken math and science because I was good at them.  She said with astonishment “You don’t take courses because you’re good at them.”  Another time she told me I didn’t have to lose my temper.  She was right, I even said it to my father one day far in the future.  But Bettie’s puzzlement I interpreted as criticism, and when I came back after the year abroad I felt exhausted and a failure.

I spent the next year at home with my parents.  An Aunt, who was a supporter of the Natural History Museum told me that they were looking for someone to help in the Planetarium.  I really loved the work, I loved teaching, I loved running the machine.  It was during this year that a school friend came for lunch.  Mother drifted in and out of the pantry in her usual fashion and Susan asked “How long has your mother had a problem with alcohol?”  The lights went on, that’s what it was.  Denial would have said “What problem with alcohol?”  Not that I even began to guess what that had done to me.  I still thought I was defective.

The next year I tried what co-dependents know as the “geographical cure.”  I went out to California, to the Bay Area, where another Aunt had been trying to get me to come for years.  I got into Stanford, I even had a fellowship for the MAT program: Master of Arts in Teaching, and I would do it in Earth Sciences.  I loved Geology, and did well at it, but going to school with men was too much for me.  As I had done earlier the few times I met a guy, I fell in love with one after another, who either didn’t know I existed, or dropped me after one date.  I had no idea how vulnerable I was, and that I had never learned the skills for negotiating relationships.  It was the 60’s and I was swept away by the rebellious intellectual ferment.  I dropped out of Stanford, giving up my fellowship, not wanting to be part of the “Evil Establishment.”  Because I had a small independent income, I didn’t need to get a job to support myself.  I had several emotional breakdowns, which no one saw as such because I wasn’t working or in school so no one noticed.  I did start seeing a therapist, and I’ve been seeing them on and off for most of my life.

While I was in California, not realizing how badly I had been wounded, I took lots of “Personal Growth” workshops, but I continued to have difficulty with relationships. I met a man on some computer dating scheme.  I didn’t like him that much, but I was desperate for security so I moved in.  I made myself believe that I loved him.  Eventually I was forced to see that the relationship wasn’t working.  I fled to my friend Kathi who lived in Oakland.  She offered sanctuary with her parents, who couldn’t have been kinder.  They let me have a room to myself, fed me, and asked nothing of me.

Kathi moved to Davis to go to Nursing School, and I followed her.  The environmental movement was just gearing up — it was 1970 — and I was invited to be part of a team that was exploring computer modeling of biological systems.

Looking back, I can see that if I had wanted a career, I could have easily found one in Planetarium work — the San Francisco Planetarium hired me to teach a class, and I was even allowed to run their beautiful machine.  Or, I could have had a career in the growing environmental movement.  I remember Dr. Watt saying of my Wellesley degree, “They taught you how to think.”  It was all too much for me.  I got overwhelmed, got into another bad relationship in my desperate search for security, and finally had a breakdown that landed me in the University Health Center.

I used to feel guilty for the luxury of not having to have a job.  What I didn’t know, until I began to work with PTSD, was that I would never have been able to work a 40-hour week.  If I had not had an independent income, I would probably be in a mental hospital, or dead.

Previous posts on Denial:
Denial and Science
More on Denial

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Guidance

I don’t know when I stopped asking my Guides and Guardian Spirits for guidance.  I didn’t stop consciously for some reason, I just stopped and only realized it when a lot of time had gone by.  Recently I was with friends, and I started to feel this “buzz” inside.  A good word for it is “activation,” a jolt of adrenaline.  I couldn’t feel it as fear, or anger, or excitement, but I was finding it uncomfortable.  So I softened around it, and then relaxed around the softening, but it didn’t change.  That always makes me feel like I’m doing it wrong.  So I asked for help.  Divine Process started answering before I had even formulated my question

Tuesday
Divine Process, I really need your help.  I don’t know what this buzz is inside         — the buzz is all the fear of people who will lose their health insurance, and the ones who are afraid of being deported, and all the people who are scared in these dark times.  Softening around it is the exact right thing to do.  Finding compassion for all those scared people is the right thing to do.  You are doing fine just the way you are.
Thank You.

It did help to know what the buzz was about.  I can hold a frightened child, or a whole crowd of scared people, but I can’t seem to hold the fear if I see it as my own.  In this case, the fear didn’t go away, but I was able to hold it with compassion.

Thursday
Divine Process, please help me.  I remind myself that I did do the Vitacost order, I did call John about the plowing, I did pay a bill and look up my balance online.  (good for me!)  I think there’s limit to how many hard things I can do in a day.

Divine Process, please help me.    I am with you all the time, even though you can’t feel my presence.  I love you very much and I feel your pain.  You are doing very well with this extremely hard task.  You are actually healing a very deep and wounded part of yourself.  You are with her as I am with you.  I know you are scared and angry that you are not “getting anywhere.”  It’s not about “getting” somewhere, it’s about being present.  Being present to extreme pain — and the pain that baby feels is intolerable, that’s why she was traumatized — is very difficult.  You are doing well with it.  Keep on as you have begun.  Remember that you are loved and cherished infinitely and forever.
Thank You.

Music in my head right now is American Prayer — “and this is the ground that keeps our feet from getting wet…”  I need grounding.  I need something under me that I can stand on.  The “floor” that I once found in Somatic Experiencing doesn’t seem to be there now.

Again I asked for help, and the first answer just came into my mind.  The second answer was the voice of Divine Process.  The third answer was in the song, a message from my subconscious.  I’ve begun to see songs as synchronicities, as “postcards from God.”

Friday
O Divine Process please guide me through this day.  Thank You, Divine Process that I woke up OK.  I was able to lie in bed for 30 minutes, praying to Divine Process, asking for loving kindness, mind drifting off but not upset about it, listening to the Silence.

Saturday
Divine Process, I feeling sad and scared and pretty bummed out.  I need help.
Dear Jenny, the world is much bigger than the Trump idiocy.  The planet will survive, you know that.  Your love for the planet helps even when you can’t do anything more.  Positive energy is real, complex self-organization is real, many dimensions and beings that inhabit them are real.  The planet you love is protected by many non-corporeal beings.  You are doing your part in the effort to heal the planet and create a real democracy, that works for all the people.  There are many many others who have picked up the challenge and become active.  You do not need to do more than you are already doing.  Remember you are loved and cherished totally, there is nothing you can do wrong, and there is nothing to fear.
Thank You.

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Resistance to Feeling My Pain

Saturday, January 14

Woke up early feeling scared.  Not terror — this is ordinary scared.  In fact I’m starting to wonder if how I’ve been feeling the last couple of days isn’t how I used to feel all the time.

Erica told me yesterday about a poor little traumatized puppy who froze when people came near, felt like a stone.  I think I must have been stiff when she sat there with her arm around me.  She said I’m doing well, asking for what I need, noticing things I might not have noticed before.  I don’t know what she means.  I feel like such a failure.

Right now I can feel resistance in my body, though I don’t know what I’m resisting.  I am trying to find compassion for myself, I think that would help a lot.  But I can feel my anger at myself — for being caught in a baby state, for being unable to “shape up” and act like an adult.

I try to step back and find compassion for myself, but all I find is “shame and blame.”  What’s the matter with you?  Why are you telling everyone that you’re “caught in a baby state”?  Asking for help, bothering people.  You think you were so hard done by.  You should be grateful for what you have for god’s sake.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself.  The angry one turns her back and walks away.  I see myself, very young, curled up on the floor and trying to stop crying.  I remember a time when I actually hit myself to make myself stop crying.  I feel my heart soften toward this abandoned child.  I think about the frozen puppy and I just wince away.  I don’t want to think about it.  I have such a hard time when animals are being hurt.  I wonder if I turn away from feeling how much Little Jenny is hurting?  I wonder if this is what I’m resisting?  Or if the resistance I was feeling earlier is resistance to feeling my own pain because it’s too painful?  I think of those waves of intense pain when I pull myself into a crouch, and what I’m really doing is stopping feeling the pain.  I feel the beginnings of compassion for the woman whose pain is so intolerable, for that little girl on the floor trying to stop crying.  I think that pain is so bad that I can only let myself feel it when I’m with Erica.  What’s in the pain?  Grief for never having known what it felt like to be loved, anger at being treated that way, fear of being punished if she speaks.  O yes I can feel compassion for her caught in this tangle of emotions, not daring to speak out about what she is feeling.  Also feeling ashamed that I don’t have the energy to dress up appropriately for this weekend.We are doing our fundraiser for Standing Rock.  I think of wearing black and red, then remember that my black pants are too tight.

O gosh I feel so much sadness for that poor little girl and for the adult woman too, feeling so much pain.

Afterthoughts: The times when I hit myself to make myself stop crying were when I was between 6th grade and 10th grade.  I had stopped doing it when I started writing a journal.  The waves of intense pain pull me into a crouch as a way to express it, the movement of my body is NOT a way to stop feeling.

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Trying to Integrate the Past

Thursday, January 5

Feeling a little cranky, angry? unhappy?  No, I think there’s anger there.  The old anger “I have worked so hard for so long…”

I’m lost and confused.  I don’t understand what’s going on with me.  I’m not even sure who I am.

So I sat and paid attention to my breathing for a while.  But I just kept feeling more and more sleepy.  So then I thought maybe I should just lie down for a bit.  Then I thought what’s next is to make a second cup of tea and take the things I have to take on an empty stomach — which are the calcium supplements and the iron — and I just don’t want to do any of it.  Then I asked myself how do I know/decide what to do next?  Usually I just follow my routine without questioning.  Then I thought the next thing is to make a second cup of tea and write about all this.

I was thinking that I have lost myself, fallen out of the story of my life, and wouldn’t it be possible to meet the day as a new thing and start to explore what my life is now?  A fresh start.  But it doesn’t feel like a fresh start.  It feels like I’ve crashed and burned and am just lying here in the ruins — no, that’s not the right metaphor — flung from the vehicle as it crashes and burns.  Now, how do I pick up the threads of my life?  What do I want?  What I want is to have some sense of central flow, or a path or a direction.  What would that feel like?  I would feel like I was being carried by something bigger than myself, and that there would be clear guidance for what to do next.

Thinking about my sister reading the 4th July monologue, and going through old pictures with Christia and finding the one of all of us on the terrace for Dad’s 70th birthday, and showing her the Torah of Jenny — thinking of the things left out of the Torah — marriage, divorce, dad’s death…  I see an image of stuff being shaken up, shaken loose, stuff from the past, that’s been all packed together, being shaken up, shaken apart, so I can decide what to keep and what to get rid of.  It’s a time out to deal with the past.  There’s a way in which I never have dealt with it.  I have no positive memories of the past, no good places to revisit.  I’ve always pushed on ahead, trying to get away from the pain, trying to find a life that worked for me, trying to heal those early deep wounds.  I see that I want/need a container, a hospital or a nunnery, where there are other people around, where meals are prepared, so I can stop fighting the daily battle and turn my energy to integrating the past.  I see it as being like traumatized memory, undigested fragments and chunks, no coherent story.  So my job is to construct a meaningful & coherent & usable narrative of my life.

After breakfast.  I see that I took a break from my life by really losing myself in books, but on emerging I don’t feel rested and refreshed, I’m still tired and lost.

What do I want to do.  A question I ask only rarely.  Usually it’s what do I have to do, what’s next on the schedule.  If it could be any way at all?  I’d be part of a group of people, and I’d be OK.

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Step One: admitted that my life is unmanageable

Written a month ago, but explains very well what I’m feeling now.

Feeling a little wobbly and a little nauseous.  Gosh — I feel scattered and confused.  What does it need?  A container.  Can’t seem to focus or to collect myself.

Spent most of yesterday reading Rosamunde Pilcher, “Voices in Summer.”  One I hadn’t read before.  I was able to really disappear into it.  Before I talked to Erica I started reading my journal from the beginning of 2016.  That was intense.  So much was going on.  I felt a little overwhelmed with my own life — that’s a little how I’m feeling now.  That my life is bigger than I can contain.  I want to be focused and flowing in some definite channel and instead I’m all over the place.  Perhaps I seriously need to be meditating.

At the beginning of last year I was beginning to get it that the person Erica sees may be closer to who I am, than the person I experience.  I was also reciting “peace, love, etc.”  I see that I start a practice and then lose it, and then start it again…  I don’t know what to do with that.  I need some kind of consistent, daily practice.  Actually I thought this writing  was my practice, but it hadn’t really been working the last few days.  I sit and think odd disjointed partial thoughts and don’t write.

I remember once, when I had gone back and read part of my journal [this was years ago] and I saw how it made a shape, how writing each day its own truth, still resulted in a whole, not a jumble.

I’m feeling like my life has got away from me, and I’m very uncomfortable with this, but some part of me is wondering if I can’t just be with this and not try to figure it out or close it down.  I see that I’m not trusting the process.  I also wonder if, instead of trying to pin it down, I were to look at it as a question of finding out who I am now.

What do I know about this person?  She cares, she cares about the Earth in all its wholeness, she cares about people who are marginalized, treated without compassion, all those who are suffering — I was reading in my journal for January 2016 what Father Greg says about those people.  I feel so much pain for them.  It’s so unjust what is happening.  I care about truth, peace, compassion.  I want to have deep, rich, honest relationships with people.  I want to do good in the world.  That is what’s important.

From January 24, 2016:  I will manage, or I will die.  I will live with integrity and kindness, doing my best to be in the present with compassion.

I think what’s making me feel uncomfortably diffuse is that I’ve stopped trying to keep track of every detail.  Stopped trying to be in control.  No wonder it feels disconcerting.  but I think it’s a very good thing.

David Whyte on anger:  “… the incoherent physical incapacity to sustain this deep form of care in our outer daily life; the unwillingness to be large enough and generous enough to hold what we love helplessly in our bodies or our mind with the clarity and breadth of our whole being.”  I think that describes very well how I’ve been feeling — “incoherent,” “to hold what we love helplessly.”

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Utterly Defeated by Life

I’m feeling utterly defeated by life.  It takes every scrap of will I have to get up and go through my morning routine.  I no longer do my stretches because I take the dog out during that time.  I’m pretty much non-functional when I’m alone.  I’m triggered into the state of a baby left alone: apathetic and helpless.  Truly helpless.

I’ve been trying to reduce my dose of Ativan because studies have shown that it’s not good for your brain as you get older.  In the last year and a half I’ve managed to get my dose down from 1.0 mg to .25 mg.  But getting down to zero is much harder than I expected.  I had to take Ativan last night, so I haven’t managed to lower it at all.  Very discouraging.  I’m wondering if I should wait until the weather’s warmer and I have some way to be with more people.

I’m wishing I had what Renee Yohe had, a group of friends who would stay with me and support me while I withdraw from Ativan.

It’s possible that the very hard time I’m having now is related to the effort to get off a drug.  The political idiocy also weighs me down.

O Great Spirit, please help me.  Please help Eleanor.  May I be filled with lovingkindness.  O Great Spirit, I want to serve you, I want to do your will, I want to do good in the world, I want to help in this time of great crisis.

I just read through Erica’s suggestions for things I might do to help myself and can’t imagine being able to carry them out.  I need a practice that’s very simple.  Maybe trying to find compassion for myself should be my practice.

It’s painful to see how quickly I come down from my excitement about Jalaja’s book and Andrew Harvey’s.  I was thinking about when I was married to Dana, and severely depressed and suffering from the airplane phobia, and reading Agatha Christie mysteries over and over again.  I look at that woman and my heart goes out to her.  So much life unlived — and I had so much to give, but didn’t believe in it, and didn’t know how much help I needed, to get the slide show out into the world for example.  I wanted passion and color and engagement, and some way to make a positive difference in the world, and I had no idea what I was up against.  I feel such pain — grief and anger — for that woman who was unable to open her gifts and share them with the world and blamed herself for being lazy and cowardly.

Of course the other thing that’s being so hard is Eleanor’s having a hard hard time and there’s nothing I can do to help her, and Mocha is scratching worse and I don’t know what to do for her.  I can’t do anything to help these two beings who I love very much.  My helplessness is so painful and brings me down too.

I am totally at the end of my resources.  There’s nothing left.

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Struggle to Lift My Heart

Rosten, quoted by Fox, in Hildegard:  “The purpose of life is not to be happy.  The purpose of life is to matter; to have it make a difference that you lived at all.”  p xi

I like that a lot, and it would really lift my spirits if I could really get that I have done things that matter, that I have made a difference.  It feels like I can see it as though through a glass wall, that I can almost know that I have made a difference, but I can’t feel it in the way that makes it real.

Fox talks about how our knowledge of the Divine is experiential.  I find that painful because I’ve had so few experiences of the Spiritual.  Right now my heart is feeling squeezed.  I got an email “Game over for the bees,” and I meant to donate $5 but I don’t think it actually went through.  That just makes me hurt more.  [Later I got an email saying my gift had got processed.]  I love so many things, like the bees, and I just see them getting trashed.  I look at this person who hurts because she loves, and how much she wants good for everybody, and the pain she’s in because she feels helpless — and I want to find compassion for her but I can’t do it.  “Endure without relief.”  Endure this feeling of loneliness, helplessness, lack of love, unable to believe that anyone would ever come and help.  I had a momentary image of a number of beings with wings landing on the other couch.  I “know” they care about me, but my heart doesn’t lift, and only when my heart lifts, do I get that it’s something real.

A friend sent me this awhile ago.  I found it somewhat comforting, but most of the time I can’t really connect with a “heaven” that cares about me.

A Prayer
Refuse to fall down.
If you cannot refuse to fall down,
refuse to stay down.
If you cannot refuse to stay down,
lift your heart toward heaven,
and like a hungry beggar,
ask that it be filled,
and it will be filled.
You may be pushed down.
You may be kept from rising.
But no one can keep you
from lifting your heart
toward heaven –
only you.
It is in the middle of misery
that so much becomes clear.
The one who says nothing good
came of this,
is not yet listening.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Monday

Woke up feeling painfully lonely.  Tried to meditate but couldn’t hold on to anything.  It came to me that this is a passage, that I am moving.  Yesterday it felt like I was completely flattened.  Not only could I not get up, I couldn’t even hold my heart up to heaven and ask that it be filled.  I was angry at myself for being defeated.  At the same time, I was angry at those who say you must help the downtrodden — where are you when I need you?  It was a pretty bad day, one of the worst.

While I was walking the dog I asked for help, and my heart got warm.  I said “Thank You.”  Later I asked for help again, but nothing happened.  Sitting here writing, I feel angry at myself again.  How dare you complain?  You are warm and sheltered, you have food to eat, etc.  Yes, but I was traumatized as a baby, and that has made my life very difficult.  I need more support than I have to be able to do more than the bare minimum of cooking and eating and washing dishes, taking care of the dog, paying bills.  I haven’t been able to do laundry, or make important phone calls, or even do something that makes a difference.

That reminds me that one good friend’s away, that I called three friends yesterday, left messages, but they never called back.  That’s a lot of triggers.  I did send Judy a thank you for the note I found — and she came to dance!  That did warm my heart.

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Endure without Relief

Grey again and another dusting of snow.  It feels like it has been like this for weeks.

Woke up feeling very lonely.  Tried without success to feel love for people I know I love.  So instead of avoiding I have to just sit with it.  There must be a lot of people out there — elderly ladies living alone — who feel like this.  And babies left alone too long.

I’ve read three Hillerman novels in two days.  At one point yesterday I had a horrible moment of falling into a very bleak world view.  I managed to pull back out of it, but I saw that I was “wallowing.”  So I decided I’d better shape up.  Those are the words that came but really they sound like conforming to someone else’s judgement.  I wasn’t “wallowing,” I was too tired to make an effort, and angry at myself.  What I want to do is take charge of my life again.  Today I want to wash my hair, wash the dishes and change my bed.  Taking care of myself is one of those things that becomes impossible when I am triggered.  Even if I keep feeling painfully lonely, I can still do those things.  Actually, I think this is the first morning in about a week that I haven’t woken up exhausted.

I’ve been thinking about Erica’s words “endure without relief.”  That’s the center of the attachment wound.  I think I’ve felt that most of my life.  That’s what fueled my constant, desperate search for a boyfriend.  Now I’ll just sit with it.  I will endure without relief.  Interestingly, as soon as I say that, I see that relief is possible.  Today, even, if I manage to get to St. Johnsbury for Circle Dancing.

Second cup of tea.  While it was brewing I moved some things on the landing and found a card with a baby seal on it.  I was just going to throw it away, but thought I’d check to see if there was any writing in it.  It’s a beautiful note from Judy Felsen.  No date.  I read it through and something in my heart resonated.  I’ll copy it so I won’t lose it.

Dearest Jen,

You have done for all of us, what environmentalists and animal welfare groups are doing for this seal pup.  You, Jen, have been, and are, saving the world/humanity (sometimes from itself).

I love you, as we all do, and daily I am thankful and offer gratitude for the gift of you to us.

May the light you have shown us shine within and reflect to you your love, wisdom, care, empathy, generosity, and compassion.

From my heart with all my love to you

Your dance daughter, Judy

Someone said that synchronicities are “postcards from God.”  Thank You!

I have the feeling, as I have before, that the person she describes is real.  She’s not me, but she is my task to embody.  I see the face of Baby Jenny, looking up with such eagerness to engage, she is who I’m bringing through and she is who Judy sees.

Went back to check “endure without relief” against the attachment patterns.  I fit under “ambivalently attached.”  This child “experiences the parent’s communication as inconsistent and at times intrusive.”   Dan Siegel, Parenting from the Inside Out, p105

I read Karen the note from Judy.  Asked if it sounded like me.  She said absolutely.  I said I was beginning to get that it might be true.  She said what would you do if it were true.  I said I would relax, I would stop trying so hard, I would know that just by being myself I make good things happen in the world.

 

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