Finding Support in the Ordinary

From my journal for Oct 25

Guy in the hall on the big noisy vacuum.  I stop to comment on the little dog on the front.  He tells me it’s “Snoopy” and his nickname was Snoopy.  As I go on I feel gratitude for this “little good thing.”

From my journal for Oct 31

I’ve also noticed that I’m starting to be OK with “superficial” conversation, that I’m starting to notice little moments of beauty — single colored leaves on the ground — and little moments of goodness — friendly contact with someone I don’t know or hardly know — like “Snoopy” and the very noisy vacuum machine.

Erica has been telling me that I will begin to get a sense of how ordinary things are part of the support, and something I can enjoy.  When she said it I reacted with “Ordinary?  That’s boring.”  For a long time I’ve had a lot of trouble enjoying anything.  I know that the ability to enjoy depends on brain chemistry, but it also seems to depend on whether I’m feeling safe.  If I’m not feeling safe, then ordinary, everyday things can’t get through, only very big, intense things register on my consciousness.  I’m missing the blazing colors of fall north of the Notch, of having the mountains be part of everyday things, of having magical Neskaya and soul nourishing circle dance regularly available.  But when I had those things, I wasn’t supported enough to keep going on the practical level.  I was too much alone.  Shopping, cooking, cleaning house, scraping snow off the car, etc. were too difficult.

Once I got here to Kendal, I started looking for soul friends, for people with whom I could have soul or wisdom conversations.  Sometimes at the dinner table, we would have a deep conversation, and that would cheer me up.  But all too often the conversations were superficial, and I would feel disappointed.  I realize I almost always felt bored by “small talk.”  I could only tolerate it when I was with people I knew well, people I felt safe with, people with whom I had had deep conversations.  I realize now that only if the conversation was intense was I able to be unaware of the underlying discomfort.

Since I’ve been so exhausted, and let myself be exhausted, I notice that I’m happier at the open table, where you can sit if you don’t have people to sit with.  I’m too tired to make conversation, and I don’t have to do it at the open table.  I can also get up when I want to.  So I started going to the open table when I wanted to isolate.  What I am now finding is that the regulars at the open table have become familiar, so I’m comfortable with them.  I don’t mind the “small talk.”  I am actually feeling supported by the ordinary.

I notice, as I’m writing about this, how important the issue of safety is.  Many times, someone I considered a good friend would say something that invalidated me in what felt like a cruel way.  I have finally understood that they do this because something triggered them, it’s not about me.  But even understanding that doesn’t keep me from closing down a part of myself and being wary of that friend.

From my journal for November 10

Talked to Erica about how I’m letting myself be tired.  She said I’m still exploring my limits.  There was also something about learning how much support there was in ordinary things.  Like sitting at the open table and not having any deep conversations.  I’m wondering what kind of life I would still have if I stayed within my limits.  I think about “comfort zone” and it makes me laugh.  I never had a comfort zone.  I was always trying to get away from a place that was painful and find a place where I could be comfortable.  Now, when I’m finally in a place where I can relax enough to feel how tired I am, I am also starting to appreciate hanging out with the ordinary.  When I was first here, I was only happy if there was a “good conversation” at dinner.  Now I’m OK with ordinary remarks.  I think Erica said something about “ordinary” a while back, and I thought “how boring.”  Now I see what she meant.

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