Attachment wound — so deeply buried that it’s out of experience
— absence of that felt sense of support
now — felt sense of internal conversation — in there to be drawn upon
Something going on — let’s sit down and talk about it —
other attitude — rigid judgement — misrepresentation
When what’s needed is a change of belief — Byron Katie’s process works
If I take that system away I disappear
I exist in relationship by belief that I’m defective
Baby — utter annihilation — doesn’t show up as belief
Katie doesn’t acknowledge the power of the felt sense.
These are notes from a session with Erica on Tuesday, May 18. I am just typing them up and am struck by the power of what is said here. I sometimes have a hard time understanding what she’s talking about so I try to take careful notes. Going back and typing it, I begin to have a sense of the depth and strength of the damage. I’ve always known that Byron Katie’s process doesn’t work for me. “Who would you be if you didn’t believe that?” Nothing happens for me. Something did happen, three times in the past, that I remember because they made such a big shift in my consciousness.
The first time was when I came to Feminism. I thought I didn’t need feminism because I was wealthy and well-educated. But one day — this was when I was living in the Zen House in Arlington Massachusetts — I dreamed of Lesbians. I don’t know how I knew to not start worrying (or rejoicing) that maybe I was one, instead I saw it as what I now know was correct — a desire to explore my own feminine nature. I took the bus to Harvard Square, went into the bookstore and straight to the shelf of women’s books. I pulled out a book called “Women & Madness,” read the first couple of pages, bought it, sat down in Passim with a coffee and almost finished it. I exploded with anger — I had bought the belief that women were second class. I had in fact identified as a man. I think that was partly a consequence of having gone to a girl’s prep school and a women’s college — I wasn’t competing with men, and didn’t have to pretend I was dumb. I remember thinking that “they” were interested in clothes and dates, while I was interested in the things of the intellect. I identified with “man” in so far as “man” meant “people.” as in “Man studied the universe…” So I converted instantly to being a fairly fierce feminist. I even knew that it was a mistake to aspire to male values, that women had values that I saw were better than masculine ones (as simple as caring for people instead of competing with them) but were not valued in our patriarchal society. I had seen after I graduated that I was up against problems of being in relationship that my intellect couldn’t solve for me, I had been in therapy. As soon as I saw the belief I dropped it. In this case Byron Katie’s process worked.
The second time this happened was when I was in a therapy group after I had bought my house in Brunswick Maine. I had decided that my life was too flat as it was and I needed to be using my intellect. I wanted to take a course in Geology — I had started taking geology classes when I was in a Master’s in Teaching Program at Stanford. There were no courses in High School in Astronomy, so I was advised to get my degree in earth science. Here I was in California in the 60’s, starting to see the world differently, and of course I dropped out. Now, I wanted to go back to school at Bowdoin and take a geology course, but I wasn’t managing to go and register. Someone in the therapy group asked “Why aren’t you?” and the sentence came out of my mouth: “If I actualize myself by getting a PhD, I will be so threatening that no man will ever marry me, and my life will be wasted.” I didn’t know what I was going to say until it was out of my mouth, and I saw instantly the absurdity of “If I actualize myself … my life will be wasted.” The next day, I went and registered for the course. Little knowing that the Universe had other plans for me. See “How I got to Stonehenge Again.”
The third time was after “Journey Into Courage” when I wanted to write a book about cutting myself and realizing it was a response to having been abused as a child. I was calling it “Written in Blood” and creating it out of passages from my journal. I was having a very hard time editing it. It seems very odd to me now, that at the time I had no idea why I did it, except that it was a response to childhood abuse. In my script for Journey I said “It feels like there’s some evil demon inside me. How can I get it out? I know, I’ll take this razor blade…” That was the best I could do at the time. Since doing the work with Erica, I have been able to understand that it had to do with creating a real wound with real blood, since my emotional pain was invisible to me. Blood validated that I was hurting. Because I was struggling, my then husband asked “If you published a book, what would you have?” Again a totally unexpected sentence came out of my mouth: “If I published a book, it would prove that I deserve to live, even though my parents were disappointed in me.” The whole motivation for creating the book dropped away. It felt like a huge part of my life fell into the abyss. I thought I might even stop writing every day, but I didn’t, it was too much established as a practice. But I did stop typing up my journals. This was in 1995, and I didn’t start typing again until 2000, and at that time it was only the guidance passages. In about 2003 I started typing up more of what I had written. Once I began the blog, my journal provided raw material, and I started typing up most of it.
I realize that this third time was not quite like the other two. I stopped working on the book, seeing the belief that if I published it, I would gain something worthwhile, and recognizing the idiocy of the belief. What it didn’t do was eliminate the profound belief that I didn’t deserve to live, and I continued to push myself out of that motive, but without naming it to myself. It’s not a belief that functions, it’s a felt bodily sense of worthlessness, and since the felt sense is how I know something is true, that was not a belief but a truth about me.
This is why, when I was in a state of blind terror, I would say to myself: “The thing you are afraid of really happened, but it was in the past. It’s not happening now. Mother is dead, she can’t hurt you any more.” It gave me an intellectual context to frame my feelings, but it didn’t stop the feeling.
My best description of why I cut myself is in the entry about the “Grandmother Patches.” Since it’s a long post, you may want to go down to the WHO IF patch.