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.

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