I want to write about what’s been happening lately. When I came back from the visit to Kendal, I knew I could create a good life for myself there. I put it in that form without really thinking about it, but looking back I see that at that moment I took charge of my life. I didn’t say “It’s a good place. I’ll be comfortable there.” What I saw was that there was enough support, a strong enough container, so I could “have a life” — a real life, created by me to be what I want. This is a big deal. For most of my life I didn’t know I needed support, or I saw the need as a weakness. My parents shamed me for asking for help, and I learned in my family of origin that if I wanted something to happen, I had to do it all myself. So being able to say “I can create a good life” is tremendous. It means that I have accepted that it’s OK to need support, and it’s OK to find support for myself, and it’s OK to use the support.
Another thing that happened is that I started playing music that I haven’t listened to for years. The CD was by a Scottish group, Ossian, called St. Kilda Wedding. I haven’t been able to listen to a variety of music for a long time. I’ve been restricted, or restricted myself, or actually couldn’t tolerate a lot of music, especially from the past, from happier times. Or maybe I should say times when I felt more solid and could be cheered up by music. As I’ve had to restrict myself to “safe” reading, books that wouldn’t trigger me, books that didn’t require a lot of brain power, so I read the same books over and over. I can always enjoy meeting again characters I’ve come to know. So in music I could only tolerate music we dance to, Gregorian Chant, and the Oratorium in Memory of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
Another really important change is that I am meditating every day, and doing it in a completely different way. I’ve been wanting to start meditating, but when it happened it was a surprise. I’ve been coming to a place where I have no thoughts. Sometimes I experience it as scary and empty. But recently I thought “I haven’t anything to write or do, why don’t I just meditate.” So I set the timer for 20 minutes, and just sat there, on the couch, with my feet on the floor. I started counting my breaths, then began to just notice when the out breath turned into an in breath, and the other way around. Of course my mind got distracted, but I didn’t get stressed about it, I just went back to the breath. When I was first learning to meditate, I was very harsh on myself. “Sit straighter.” “Pay attention.” I also had a problem with following the breath, because as soon as I did that I started controlling it. I couldn’t seem to witness my breath without interfering. Now it’s completely different, not because I’m actively trying to do it different, but because I’m naturally doing it different. I’m finding it easy to follow my breath. I notice when my mind goes off, and bring it back affectionately. I’m so immersed in what I’m doing, that I jump when the timer rings. I don’t sit there wanting to look at the timer or wondering when it will ever ring. No more getting bored or impatient. Now I’m surprised that a whole 20 minutes has gone by.
I think these new openings are coming from some place deep inside, some place far out of consciousness where I have finally been able to integrate my new learnings. I have been reading my journal from a year ago and am struck by how many new realizations I was having. For example, really getting it that my depression is not my fault. But I was disappointed that this new understanding didn’t change how I felt. Now I see that feelings/emotions are not very important. I tend to think they are very important, that they give me information about how I am now. But the truth is that my emotions are too often triggered by some reminder of my painful past. What tells me the truth about how I am now, is the felt sense in my body. The felt sense of “sturdiness” that allowed me to pick a different CD and put it on. Though I’m not aware of doing it consciously, I just take the action spontaneously, and then realize it’s something I haven’t been able to do for a long time.
This is healing from the bottom up. It’s a process that’s completely out of my control. I can’t make it happen, I have to allow it to happen.
“Sturdy” is a new word for me, at least applied to myself. My friend Elizabeth used it to say what she heard in my voice as I was telling her about these changes.