more from my journal for Tuesday, October 16
I read some more in Krista Tippett’s book. It is so amazing. A lot of it feels totally beyond my poor brain at the moment. Maybe because so much of it is about the social engagement system, which I think, is currently offline. That makes sense of why I’m isolating.
Got up to make my second cup of tea and realized how unbelievably tired I am. Just sitting here with my head propped on my hand.
I wanted to write down about Trisha saying that she has a hard time doing yoga exercises and she blames it on not wanting to give up her story of being a victim. Is that what I’m doing? For me I think it is about taking care of myself. Things that are basically taking care of myself — yoga stretches, meditating, even doing laundry, but especially ones that require being alone with my body — are very difficult to do. It’s so painful to have to be with myself in that way. Maybe there’s a lot of grief and anger that I wasn’t cared for by someone else when I was supposed to be. I want to spend my time doing something of consequence for the world, something that matters. If I can’t be doing something like that why take care of myself? No motivation at all. I’m not worth taking care of.
Third cup of tea. Still tired, but I feel totally washed out and finally ready for some kind of new beginning. Maybe stop apologizing for not being more effective in the cumbersome bureaucratic details of living.
Three moments of beauty noticed and savored: last night, walking Mocha, all the lamp-lit windows made rectangles of golden orange; this morning, standing behind the couch, a little sun coming in the window, sun at just the right angle to make a beautiful pattern of darks and lights of trees, grass, buildings; walking Mocha, enjoying sun, blue sky, fall colors, fallen leaves. I notice that the sun is not making me feel like I have to hide, which is how I’ve felt for the last couple of weeks. Comforted by grey sky and rain.
I wonder if the end of a process of struggling (but I keep doing this same one over & over) and potential for new beginning and extreme tiredness is a result of spending most of yesterday working on the blog piece. Which was also working on the whole issue of am I a failure at living? or have I done a good job with a very tough assignment?
I took notes in my journal while I was talking to Erica, I’ve edited and expanded them here.
Talk with Erica. I say “I’m overwhelmed,” she says what’s happening in your body? — heart squeezed and all the tissue around it being pulled into the squeeze, torso diffuse, arms shaking a very little bit, then there are tears, and then I start to cough. Sometimes the cough has meant that I’m angry. Erica suggests that coughing while I’m crying may mean it’s not OK to pay attention to what’s happening in my body. There’s a traffic jam, anger going in different directions. The cough interrupts a state of profound flow, I went from “overwhelm” to tears, which happened because of my attention to my somatic experience. Erica’s language is almost too much for me, so I reformulate what I have understood: “I’m not supposed to pay attention to what I’m experiencing — what’s going on for me.”
Erica reminds me that when I was a little kid, crying, I was right in the flow of my experience. Mother’s response was “go to your room.” That’s a slap in the face. She says my whole system is sputtering with shock and bewilderment/disbelief. I start to wail about how much in me is shut down. Erica lets me wail, and then reframes it. She says that right below the surface the flow is fully intact. My response to someone who’s vulnerable is instant compassion. “The flow is fully intact.” I had been seeing my whole life as a desert, but I’ve only been living in a desert of not being able to see the truth about myself. “We are being with how quickly you move into your responsive flow with your own experience.” What am I feeling now? — relief and disbelief — I didn’t believe my real life is still here (“under the surface”). I had to disbelieve in my own experience, mother saying “Go to your room” erases me, Jenny.
Krista Tippett’s book is Becoming Wise, An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living. She quotes interviews with people on her radio show, On Being, who have helped shape her understanding.
The “social engagement system” is a very recent part of the brain, it tends to shut down when the reptilian brainstem is activated by trauma.
“Trisha” is in the book The Education of Will. I say more about it in my post Struggle with Feelings of Failure.