I Feel Pain Because I Love

Last Saturday I didn’t have any human contact all day.  I typed a lot of journal, played a lot of solitaire.  Washed a bunch of dishes.  Dumped a puzzle on the table & started turning pieces right side up.  I finished Wildfire at Midnight and started a biography of Crazy Horse.  I own the book, but I can’t have read it before, and it’s too difficult to keep going.  I started The Middle Window last night.

“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day unto the last syllable of recorded time. and all our yesterdays light fools the way to dusty death.  Out out brief candle.  Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.  It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  I memorized that as an adolescent, thinking I knew what it felt like.  The truth is I had no idea.  That passage from MacBeth is such an accurate description of despair.  It’s the full-blown version of “that twilight feeling.”  Yes, that’s exactly how I feel.  I ask myself if I really know that that level of despair is based on reality.  And something inside me says “No, it’s not true.”  It’s how you are feeling and that’s a combination of emotional exhaustion, “compassion fatigue,” the ongoing battle with PTSD, the pain of helplessness in the face of Eleanor’s suffering.

I think “If Eleanor weren’t living here, I could have had the kind of life I was hoping to have living in this house.”  I would have been able to scatter seeds and see the birds…  but then I would still have been battling attachment trauma, and I would not have her support.  It’s like the work with Erica, sometimes it’s so painful I wish I had never started.  But I had no choice.  Why did I have no choice about working with Erica?  Because I had to get down to the bottom of what’s causing my suffering.  I had no choice with Eleanor because I love her.  That’s the great learning I got from these past weeks of pain.  That I really do love her very much, that I am capable of loving in such difficult and painful circumstances, that this is what love is.  Some hard thing that you do, not some nice thing that you feel.

I wonder about typing up what I wrote about despair and love for a blog post.  I get that little IRNK feeling that suggests that I am bragging, an old old voice.  Actually, I’m telling the truth.  Because of early trauma, because no matter what I did I couldn’t make my mother happy, I internalized a belief that I am not loving.  This is the first time that I have seen that how much pain I’m in tells me how much I love.  And the fact that we both want to stay in connection with each other is one of the first times I have found out what it feels like to repair a major break in an important relationship.

I think this is how Jesus loved us.  He came to teach us and show us what compassion and forgiveness were, and he accepted a painful death because that was a consequence of his revolutionary teaching.  He didn’t “die for our sins.”  Unlike me, he had had the experience of a loving god and that gave him the strength to challenge those in power with revolutionary teaching.  He knew that they would execute him, but that didn’t stop him.

Because I love, I am willing to accept the pain of my loved one, even pain I have caused.  This is what my ex-husband couldn’t do.  Hurting me made him feel despicable, and the only way he knew to stop it was to cut me off.

“Some hard thing that you do,” and “Hating those we have injured because it makes them feel despicable,” are both quotes from the writings of Elizabeth Goudge.

Wildfire at Midnight is a romance by Mary Stewart
The Journey of Crazy Horse is a biography by Joseph M. Marshall III
The Middle Window is a novel by Elizabeth Goudge

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Feeling Unreal

For the last few days, I have been feeling “unreal.”  I went back in my journal trying to find where I first started to feel that.  July 17 was the first time I wrote something like “I don’t feel like I’m here, don’t know where I am.”  Other entries since then are “I don’t feel like a person,” “no sense of future,” “everything ahead of me feels like a chore.”  I can’t find compassion for myself, and I have no sense of Spirit in the universe.

Last Tuesday I wrote:

I see Erica today, but I can’t imagine she can help me.  Two friends have told me I am much stronger, but I don’t feel that at all.  That’s a little scary.  If that’s true, it means that I haven’t been able to take in, experience, the healing I have done.  If healing doesn’t feel real to me, how can I ever truly heal?

Erica’s waiting room.  I call it “feeling crazy” but really it’s feeling like I can’t trust myself.  I can’t trust myself to remember, I can’t trust myself to make a good choice, I have no idea what to do, or what I want.  My routine is not functioning very well.  I put the eggs in the pan first, not the rice.  I wonder if I’m only seeing what I expect to see instead of what is, so I have no sense of being “better,” of having learned or gotten stronger.  When I asked Jan why she thought I was better, she said I’m more present.  I brought sweet chestnut, for when you are at the end of your rope.  “When anguish overwhelms you and you can see no way out.”  But this doesn’t feel like anguish, it feels like confusion and despair.  It’s true, I don’t see how to go on.

“Sweet Chestnut” is the Bach flower remedy for “Moments when the anguish is too great and seems to be unbearable.  Your mind or body feels as if it has come to the uttermost limit of its endurance. It feels as if there is nothing but destruction and annihilation left to face.”

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My Pain is Not About Myself

This was in my journal for June 10.  I typed it up today, and saw that I was making my pain personal, and a mistake on my part.  I did not see that it might be related to the state of the world, the awful things going on out there, and my powerlessness in the face of them.  Though I immediately realize I’m not helpless.  I sign petitions, I called the Governor of New Hampshire, and I can teach writing for healing.  Also, when we do the circle dances, I know that we are creating a new and different world, where diversity is celebrated.  It feels like a powerful prayer.

Woke up, and was almost immediately hit by sad & scared.  I look out at the bright green trees, and feel the weight in my heart and belly.  Is my life still worthwhile?  I say yes, but it’s become a concept, not a reality.  Well, I had a good run.

I think it was probably taking a friend to test drive a possible car in Littleton.  On our way in she talked about her fears, about needing to save money for her teeth and someday she’ll have to get another car.

I can see that I’m angry at myself for losing the feeling of being OK.  I tried to tell myself that there are a lot of people out there who feel scared & sad, but it doesn’t seem real.  What happened?  This is so frustrating!  Yes, I’m angry about losing those good feelings.  I’m angry at myself because I have enough money to not have to worry about taking care of my teeth and getting another car.  The political situation doesn’t help.

Yes, I’m angry and disappointed with myself for losing that good state.  Can I find compassion for myself?  Yes, something softens inside.  Can I forgive myself?  What comes up immediately is it’s not my fault.  I don’t do this deliberately, it’s triggered by something.  Compassion for Jenny, who is powerless over her own mental state, who is powerless to help her friend.  Well, that definitely shifts things.  I feel more sad than scared — maybe the scared is related to the anger.

What I see now, especially after rereading Miriam Greenspan’s book “Healing through the Dark Emotions” is that my sadness, my loss of that good feeling, is related to my friend’s situation and all the terrible things that are happening in the world.  It’s not about my individual pain.  It’s not because my trauma has been triggered — though possibly it’s because of my helplessness in the face of so much pain.  It’s another blindness in the culture we live in, actual denial of what we are doing to the world and each other.  Going to a therapist is seen as weakness, that there is something wrong with you, not that you are sensitive enough to perceive what’s happening in the world.  It’s really a sign of how much I care about the world: our planet and all the people and creatures who depend on its life-support.

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From Despair to Meaning

I continued to work with the ideas in Stephen Cope’s book The Great Work of Your Life.

“Here are the central pillars of the path of action — the path of karma yoga — as expounded by Krishna. …
1. Look to your dharma.
2. Do it full out!
3. Let go of the fruits.
4. Turn it over to God.”   p16

Quoting Krishna “It is better to fail at your own dharma than to succeed at the dharma of someone else.”   p16

This addresses my question.  I think that helping someone else at a cost to myself is not my dharma, but someone else’s for whom the helping would not be a loss, or would be a worthwhile loss, as Walt Whitman shortened his life by giving everything he had to wounded and dying Civil War soldiers.  Cope describes a woman he calls Ellen, whose dharma is clearly to help others.  She does it with joy, with shining eyes, because it is what she is meant to do. p49.

“The Sanskrit word “dharma,” as used in the Bhagavad Gita, is so full of meaning that it is impossible to grasp its full scope through any single English translation.  “Dharma” can be variously, but incompletely, translated as “religious and moral law,” “right conduct,” “sacred duty,” “path of righteousness,” “true nature,” and “divine order.”   p21

He quotes Réné Guénon, and paraphrases what he says as:  “The word dharma in this teaching, then, refers to the peculiar and idiosyncratic qualities of each being — those very essential and particular qualities that make it somehow itself.”    p21  This means that I have do what it’s laid upon me to do, even if it creates difficulties for someone I care about.  Despite the pain I’ve felt in trying to understand and heal what happened to me, it is still worthwhile, a task worth doing.

As best as I can understand it, there is a process and I have to let it carry me, and not worry about the outcome.  I’m feeling very uncertain about whether I will get in to Kendal because of my financial picture.  I’m going to have to leave it in God’s hands.

Reading these books, the story of Job has been used as an example.  Job loses everything, his family, his wealth, even his health.  His three “comforters” tell him things that aren’t helpful, like “It’s your own fault, you sinned,” that in our culture basically mean “I don’t want to hear about your pain.”  At the end, he is comforted by recognizing how small he is.  I have always had a hard time with that.  But now, the thought of the Ben Shahn silk screen I own, with its words from the book of Job, comes to remind me of something I love.

Canst thou bind the sweet influence of Plieades, or loose the bands of Orion?  Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season?  Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?

It always amused me to play the part of God, as I felt when I ran a planetarium, and sent the planets racing along the zodiac.  And I love to say these lines in a God voice:  “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the deep?”  But now I think of my vision of the universe, that comes from Astronomy, my major in college, and what I’ve learned since: “The universe is beautiful, interconnected, complex and creative — the universe is unbelievably beautiful, extraordinarily complex, intricately interconnected, and outrageously creative.”  The universe is way beyond our power to understand.  At the same time, how could a beautiful, interconnected, complex, and creative universe create anything that’s not beautiful, etc?  So I have to accept that there’s no way I can understand why things happen as they do, and have faith in the unfolding of the universe.

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PTSD and Dharma?

I’m very grateful that I’ve been reading Stephen Cope’s book The Great Work of Your Life.  I’ve read it before, but this time many things spoke to me in a very personal way. I’m wondering about looking at my struggle with PTSD as my dharma, as a learning to work with, not a battle to the death.  In the last chapter he talks about Harriet Tubman and Gandhi, how they asked for guidance, listened for the answer, did what they were told.  Put their lives in service to some good for everyone.

Cope says “If you don’t find your work in the world, you will inevitably make yourself your work.” p244  Is that what I’m doing with my hard work in therapy?  I think about Journey Into Courage, how I saw myself as a voice for the voiceless.  Seeing the video of Journey I was reminded that I was guided to it when I talked about wanting to make guerrilla theater about domestic violence.  When I realized I couldn’t do it by myself, I said to God “If you want this to happen, I can’t do it, so you have to make it happen.”  Almost the words of Harriet Tubman.  Then Lynelle saw a poster for a “Drama class for survivors of domestic violence” and I went eagerly.  This was Bess O’Brien’s way of starting to create a theater piece about domestic violence, which became Journey Into Courage.  When the movie had been made and we were no longer doing performances, I dropped into a serious depression.  I was guided to get on medication, and then Lynelle got me to try Somatic Experiencing, and I discovered that I was, in truth, suffering from PTSD.  I was guided to Erica, and the work with her seemed to reach the foundations.  Does in fact work at the foundations, but it’s harder and more painful than I ever imagined.  I guess I could say that I was guided to “Kindred Spirits” by Erica being away for three weeks and what Jack said about people in AA telling the truth.  When I got there, I found out what it was like to feel like I was OK just as I am.  I didn’t have to hide my defects, and I didn’t have to hide my gifts.  That is my goal.  Not fame or fortune, but to feel OK just as I am.

In my life here in Franconia I’ve discovered that I simply don’t have enough support to be OK just as I am, and as a result I’m unable to share my gifts with people who would benefit.  Kendal was, in many ways, a good solution.  Moving to Kendal means that I will have enough support to begin to share my gifts with other people in a way I can’t do here.  I could teach astronomy, teach circle dance, facilitate writing groups around grief, writing for recovery, writing for healing.  But in moving I have to abandon my dear friend of thirty years.  Eleanor has been living in the apartment attached to my house, but if I move she won’t be able to live there any more.  She’s on disability and has a housing voucher, so moving, especially if she has to move to another state, is full of difficulty and risk.  She has enough stress in her life, aging abusive parents, many health problems along with PTSD, a therapist who isn’t really helping her, etc.  I feel terrible about letting her down, and it also triggers early trauma about having to take care of my younger siblings, and not having my needs acknowledged.

This conflict/crisis has caused me enormous pain and mental/emotional confusion so that I have made serious mistakes in relationships with people who matter to me.

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Bleak and Dark Inside

From my journal for October 2003

I’ve been writing and run out of things to say.  I’ve finished my tea.  I don’t want to move and I need to go on with my day.  There there Jenny, what you are doing is very hard.  Courage my dear.

Breakfast, wash dishes, water plants, dance to Shoror.  My heart aches so that it’s very hard to keep doing things, but now that I’ve stopped I’m feeling the fear again.  There’s no place to rest, no place safe to be.  It’s a beautiful day out there, autumn gold — intensified by mist earlier, and it doesn’t touch me, doesn’t lift my heart.  I feel so bleak and dark inside, and I so love the beauty of the world and grieve that I’m unable to celebrate it.

Dear Spirits, I’m pretty bummed out.  Please help me.

Dear Jenny, we think you should raise your meds back to 100.  This is being altogether too hard for you.  Medication is neither good nor bad, it is a way you can support yourself when other kinds of support aren’t available.  There is no support for you in the culture and too much pressure in the opposite direction, not to mention all the COA stuff: judging yourself without mercy, making things too black and white, etc.  Yes, if you lived in a therapeutic/spiritual community you might be able to get by on less medication, but that’s not a realistic option for you right now.  Yes, go ahead and call Dr. L.

Took Bella up Rte 3.  I carried my painfully tight grieving heart and paid attention to my feet on the path and the colored leaves.  Sat by Skoogumchuk Brook for a little bit.  Was able to take in a little of the beauty of yellow leaves against the sky.

My intention: I offer myself to the process of grief, to allow it to transform me in its way.  I wish I knew better what to do next.  I’m afraid that my ability to grieve is badly compromised by the nature of my losses.  I found myself crying on the trail with the pain of losing the “real life” that I had for such a short time.  And even when the loss was clear — loss of Shenanigan, of Dana & marriage, I wasn’t able to participate fully in my grieving because I kept falling into depression.  I do not know how to let myself grieve, sit with my grief, without falling into depression.  I keep trying to do it but I’m afraid my efforts are sabotaged by dysfunction so I’m unable to really surrender into the process of grief which then creates more toxic depression.  It would be much easier if I could spend one day wholeheartedly grieving and the next have some respite and joy, but it seems like I am either stumbling through the fog and dark and cold of depression with very little joy, or else I’m “doing well” and the grief doesn’t appear at all.

Shoror is one of the parts of the Oratorium.

My sense that if I could grieve adequately I wouldn’t be depressed was right on.  But I didn’t know enough about grief.  Francis Weller’s work helped a lot this past year.

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Pattern of Overdoing and then Crashing

October 2003

Put on the Oratorium CD.  Sitting on the floor, moving with grief, pain in the heart, lack of hope — walking out into the desert with the fragments of a culture, knowing that it’s most likely I will die in the desert, least likely that I will come to people who will receive joyfully what I’m carrying.  (Noise down the hill, there was so much noise last night that I was only able to sleep with ear plugs and fan on and relaxation CD.) I have only the vaguest knowing that there’s divine energy out there, buddhas and bodhisattvas, and they are holding our wounded planet very gently.  Whether or not anything ever heals does not matter because it will all die, but at least all this suffering is held in compassion.

Bring compassion to this poor woman, who’s fallen into the pit of terror and depression, who’s lost whatever sense or belief gave her life its meaning, who is having a hard time with noise, and is angry at herself for being so sensitive.

Went to Kayla’s for lunch.  I was feeling pretty lost — still am actually — feeling like it’s not OK to take up space, I don’t belong here, I don’t feel safe.  It’s true, this could be because I wasn’t held enough as a child — I just need some explanation so I won’t blame myself and get angry at myself, and I suppose with some hope that it will change.  If it’s a loss due to things that weren’t there in my early environment, can it be healed?  I have no idea.  And I don’t know what to do.  Can the work with Dave help with this?  I have no idea.

I’m feeling so discouraged and defeated.  I see how, when I was feeling better in the summer, I did the COA black & white thing “I’m all better now.” And so I immediately wanted to widen my life — to take workshops in counseling techniques etc — so I piled more stuff on myself as well as trying to get off the medication.  I see now how foolish that was — I’ve lost ground so badly — I’m back in the place where it’s too hard just to get up in the morning, just to keep up the normal schedule here at Neskaya.  I’m very angry at myself for being so stupid.  And I’m very disappointed because somewhere in me I want to have that wider life — to go to Jalaja’s workshop, the Windhorse training, visit Bobbi on Cape Cod.  I can see better the cycle that Karen talked about, how when I’m in an upswing I pile on more & more instead of building in time for the down cycle and so I crash instead of coming down gently.

So discouraged.  But at least I don’t feel as lost as I did yesterday.  I didn’t do anything to try to bring myself out of it.  I started the music for “Turning Toward the Morning” and did the dance to express my bleakness — but it helped.  I look at my painting of the dancer that appeared when I surrendered to disappointment.  That’s the sort of transformation that Greenspan talks about.  I suppose if one could get skilled at allowing these emotions to move, it would not be so upsetting that they keep coming back again and again.  I imagine/hope that I can be completely free of them — that’s what I thought last summer — Dave tried to warn me, but of course in the up place the downs don’t look like a big deal.  Somehow I have to find a balance — enough little joys every day to strengthen me for the inevitable losses and disappointments.

The Oratorium Cd is the Oratorium in Memory of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
Recording        Blog post about the music

Dave Berger was a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner I saw in Concord for a while.

COA – Children of Alcoholics

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Struggle with Emptiness/Meaninglessness

This was written on October 11, which happens to be my mother’s birthday. She died fifteen years ago.

Woke feeling scared — tried asking it but nothing happened.  Tried bringing compassion to it, sitting next to it — no softening, no feeling  (I could have tried “softening around” it)  Now I’m up, fire, candle, tea — moved the dog from the bed to the couch next to me.  I’d be really lost without her to love.  The dimension of meaning is gone.  I don’t know how to live in this place.  I can feel the fear that if I don’t do something I’ll never come out of here — and at the same time there’s a curiosity: what if I just stay here?  What if I explore this place?

A dream about grade school – where I learned not to let on that I wanted something for it wouldn’t be given.  Family was that way too.  I think about babies who die because no one is there for them emotionally.  This is no foundation for a life — for living with any sense of energy or delight or vitality — for being able to go out and meet both the joys and the disasters with a sense of adventure — this is what I really value and so want to be able to do: to meet life with courage, every fiber of me engaged, fully in the present…   and this is why I’m so angry and disappointed in myself, for being so numb and dead, for shrinking from the daily tasks — as though if I would only choose to, I could go out and meet life with a gay spirit…

I felt a little better while I was writing about the dream, and I did feel some love in my heart—   yes, DAMMIT, I do love life, and that’s why it’s so painful to go out into the world, to go to the laundromat and see people isolated in their cars, the world around them all paved, vacant-eyed people going through the motions, reading the ‘want ads’ while their laundry spins in machines — instead of going with others to the banks of the river and using their bodies to get the clothes clean.  Some of this sense of isolation and hopelessness is projection of my own state, not everybody was numb.  There were the two young men wrestling and laughing, the woman who came up and helped me…

Dear Spirits, please help me!

Dear Jenny, we encourage you to stay in this place of emptiness.  There is great richness here.  Do not be afraid.  You cannot be stuck here forever, or rather this place is no different than any other place you’ve been, it’s still in the hands of god, still part of the territory of life that you are exploring.

There was another thought and I lost it!  Please tell me again!

Dear Jenny, it doesn’t matter.  It will come around again as dreams keep coming until you are able to pay attention to them.  There are infinite numbers of “second chances”, there is no way that you can make an irredeemable mistake.  Dear Jenny, do you not see your profound love of life, that makes you so angry when you see it squandered? Angry because you imagine that those others are doing it wilfully, whereas you are stuck with no choice having been inflicted with depression like a birth defect…  or else the story changes and it’s you who are wilfully refusing to enjoy a life that you know is good.  Dear, no one wilfully refuses the gift of living with energy and eagerness, unless they have been hurt.  Everybody wants to be happy, and everybody is either reacting to pain by pulling away (understandable and forgiveable) or else they are struggling, as you are, to learn how to use their hurts in the service of greater consciousness and compassion.  No matter how lost you feel, this is your intention, this is what you are doing with your life.

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Trying to Work with Fear

I’ve been reading my journal for 2003.  For several years I had just been typing up the guidance writings, but in 2003 I started typing up more from my life.  This was written in October 2003

Feeling so sad about the state of our planet — the enormous numbers who are suffering from war, famine, refugees, and all the animals & plants that we are destroying in our greed and ignorance.  I can feel how much I love the earth and how sad I am because of all the suffering.  I need us to be acknowledging our interdependence, and cooperating for the greater good of all of us.  I had a strong sense of oneness — how what we do do the creatures we do to ourselves.  I have a feeling of carrying the planet — our desperately wounded planet — in my heart.  I’m staying with the sadness as best I can while going on with the housework.  I feel the fear that just staying with it, and not doing anything to change it, means I’ll stay stuck in the sadness.  Bring compassion to that fear.

Feeling pretty bummed out.  Can’t tell any more if I’m sincerely staying with my pain about the world or if I’ve just got lost in my own misery.  Bring compassion to the misery, bring compassion to the sadness.  There, there, Jenny, you’ve been frightened and sad this morning, easily upset…   And the phone rang, and it was Kayla.  I told her what was going on for me and she gave me a quote from Pema Chodron: “The problem is that the desire to change is fundamentally a form of aggression toward yourself.”

Paid all the bills.  Got in trouble trying to reconcile the account in the computer — failed to check off one deposit — didn’t see how to go back and change it.  Burst into tears and I continue to feel upset.  I think I must be very angry at myself — first for making the mistake and then for letting it upset me so much.  I tried reading Pema Chodron (Things Fall Apart) but it didn’t help.  Just another assignment that I’m failing at.  She talks about seeing ourselves with both clarity and kindness — and I think I’m doing that and it’s hard work and it doesn’t make me feel any better. I want to feel better.   I want to be a different kind of person.  I want to be able to live in the moment ——

Actually, I’m not looking at myself with clarity — I’m too caught up in how awful I am and how painful it is to be me.  I feel like I’m just grinding myself down, and I don’t know how to stop it.

Dear Spirits, I’m so angry at myself for creating all this misery.  Please help me!  Please!

Dear Jenny, you are being much too hard on yourself.  This is why you really need a spiritual community — it is just too hard to do this work all by yourself, and too easy to fall into this horrible tight spiral of trying too hard and making yourself wrong.  Dear Jenny, we love you very much.  We are all around you holding out our love.  It’s OK to collapse completely, it’s OK to stop struggling to be better than you are.  You are doing just fine, stumbling around, getting the bills paid, making mistakes, being unable to get yourself up off the floor.  You need a break.  Something completely different like running downtown with the mail & then take the dog for a little walk  — a minimal walk is OK.

Did that.  Felt scared the whole walk.  I’m so sad to be unable to enjoy a beautiful day like today.  At least I was able to enjoy my two walks yesterday.

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Working with Uncomfortable Physical Sensations

The situation: I bought a car for my friend Eleanor, because the one she was driving has bad brakes that may go anytime.  I am also in the final stages of applying to Kendal, a retirement community that will provide me with the container I need to be able to live any kind of life.   More about Kendal and the characteristics of a container that works for me.

Session with Erica.  I’m upset and cry a lot.  She asks if I can have compassion for my younger self — who bought the car a week ago, and Eleanor’s younger self — the one who wasn’t able to hold on to her knowing that she needed more time.

To buy a car and go to Kendal on the same day is too much.  But the mechanism of “I’m fine,” came into play.  I don’t see that either one of them is a big deal, much less doing them both.

Kendal was enough complexity — I didn’t need more

The one who bought the car was the child with no parents —she has to make the decision or it won’t get made.

Maybe angry at Eleanor?    That thought causes enormous pain.

Erica suggests that I’m angry about having to take care of younger children without support, which was the situation when I was a child.  Maybe 7 years old.  I’m not angry at Eleanor, but at the situation.

This is really hard.  This house is too much for me

Complex situation     I am overwhelmed — can’t tell I’m overwhelmed.  It’s false for me to take ownership of this whole thing.  “This is all my fault” that’s 12 yr old or younger Jenny

Overwhelmed and under-resourced.  Can’t ask for help.  “I’m fine” is denial of overwhelm & lack of resource.  Nobody to turn to and say “This is too much for me, I need help.”

Erica says I should answer these two questions:
“What is my responsibility in this?”
“What is true?”

I came back from the therapy session feeling upset and confused, not seeing any way to make things work out.  Slept badly, woke up early, feeling tangled pain.  Wrote about it in my journal.

I’m doing really badly.  Finding it hard to get into words.  In fact it isn’t in words.  I try to focus on my breath and feel major discomfort.  If there were words they would be “Eleanor” and “car” but it’s more of a tangle than that.  There’s a kind of ache in my chest, not just my heart, it fills my lung space.  Then there’s a kind of tension down my sides, possibly an attempt to pull my shoulders forward and down.  There’s discomfort in my jaw, not exactly tension, maybe it wants to do something? yell?  There’s a kind of tension just under my ears, in the corner of my jaw, and it runs up the sides of my face to my eyes.  There’s tension around my eyes & they feel dry and burning.  Sitting quietly, what’s most obvious is the tension in my jaw and around my ears.  Now I feel something under my tongue (distracted by thoughts of a PriusC) (distracted by thoughts of money & trouble accessing my accounts)  lump in my throat? needing to cry? or vomit?  What’s coming is I have to get something out, something inside me that’s causing me extreme discomfort.  What does it need?  lump in my throat says “someone to listen.”  Erica and Karen and Barbara are probably the only people I feel safe with to open up.  I ask “Is this about grief?” and get an affirmation.  It’s about making things difficult for the person I probably love the most, and not knowing what to do about it.  It’s worry about what’s going to happen to her when I sell my house.  It’s pain that taking care of myself means letting her down.  It’s worry that my financial situation isn’t good enough to get me into Kendal.

There are a lot of unknowns here.

What is my responsibility in this?  To take care of myself adequately so that I can function, so that I can make good decisions.  Especially about resisting pressure (from myself and others) and giving myself enough time.  To recognize how easily I go into denial about how hard things are for me to do.  To have enough self-knowledge, and grounding in myself, to be able to see when something is too much for me.  Or to say “I don’t know what to do.  I need more time.”

What is true?  That I have to move to a place where I feel contained enough because I have no “calmly abiding center,” and I don’t know how long it will take to create one, with Erica’s help — can’t do this alone — or if it’s even possible to create such a thing.  I think again how Kendal can be an ashram for me, with Erica as my guide and teacher.  What else is true?  I love Eleanor and want what’s best for her.  What’s tricky about negotiating our going different ways is what I learned from Mother: that if I don’t do what you need and want me to, then I don’t care about you.  For her they were the same.  But that’s not true of living.  You can care very much about someone, and yet taking care of yourself adequately may mean letting them down.  And there’s nothing I can do about it.  I have enough money to buy my way into Kendal, but not enough to help my friends who don’t have anything to fall back on.  And it hurts like hell.  I feel that in my heart.  And I’m angry, angry, angry that it has to be this way.  For now, and no hope on the horizon with Trump and the Republicans.  It’s a really painful situation and I just have to bear it with as much grace as possible.

Posted in Journal, Present Day, Somatic Experiencing, Spirit | Comments Off on Working with Uncomfortable Physical Sensations