Needing More than Comfort

I’m really tired from all that’s involved in moving. Not just the physical effort and trying to organize things, but also all the bureaucratic stuff that is needed when you join a community.  I think about what Brother David Steindl-Rast says, in a conversation with David Whyte, about exhaustion.  The antidote is not rest, but whole-heartedness.  A lot of what I’ve been doing does not engage my heart.

I talked to my new friend Carolyn about Spirit.  She doesn’t believe in anything.  I realize that I don’t believe in god, but I do believe in Spirit.  She said she had never understood what people were talking about.  I tried to describe my understanding of Spirit.  I found it really difficult.  I finally said it was something about the depth in things.  She said she found that in music.  I said I could find it in dance.  I remember John O’Donohue’s definition of beauty — “it’s what makes you feel more alive.”  That lift of the heart.  That’s what I’m missing.  I’m missing how it feels to do circle dance in a sacred space.  How it feels to do yoga, or even Nia, in sacred space, and also with people I know and like.  I need a connection with depth.

If I had a writing group, that wrote and shared pieces with depth — as in writing about grief or about recovery — in the service of recovery —  in the service of health, of feeding the soul.  In participating in the Grief Workshop with Francis Weller, and in Writers for Recovery, I learned that sharing what you wrote is a big piece of the healing, because you are witnessed.

I’m glad I drove to Montpelier to see Karen in the flesh, instead of talking to her on the phone.  I was very tired, but I remembered that being with someone whose nervous system is regulated is a big help to someone like me, who has trouble with self-regulation.  I was able to just lean on her and be quiet.  We talked about “doing nothing.”  In my talk with Elizabeth earlier in the day, she said she still heard some activated energy in my voice.  Some degree of anxiety or excitement, unable to let myself down into the container, to let myself be held.  Or maybe I am held, maybe I am safe enough, I feel safe enough, to start missing that sense of “real life” that comes from being with people who care about all of us who are struggling with pain, poverty, ill-health, racism, mental/emotional dysfunction…  depression, addiction, self-mutilation, suicide…  Those are the people I want to help, or at least stand with, let them know they are not alone.  It’s not about being safe and comfortable.  But it’s only when I feel safe and supported enough that I can try to help the wounded, and maybe be effective instead of triggered.

In conversation with Erica, I talked about how my safety alone is not enough.  I need to be involved.  Erica said “You need to make room for appreciating yourself. Your desire for connection does not end with your own comfort.”  I think about what I learned from the Mandala of Truth at Kindred Spirits — how comforted I am by knowing that other people care about the things I care about.

Note: “self-regulation” means being able to return to normal fairly quickly after being activated.  For most of my life, if something scared me, I would remain in fight/flight terror for hours.

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Long Way From Home…


I haven’t posted to this blog in a long time.  I moved into Kendal on November 20, and since then I have been overwhelmed with myriad details that have to be dealt with in a move.  Though I was glad I didn’t have to sell my house before coming, and could continue to sort things out, it’s not easy to be living in two places.

I have been so busy with moving, and having to get a lot of practical details dealt with (getting a new phone, registering my dog and car with Kendal, etc.) that I haven’t been paying attention to my inner process.  I have made a lot of silly mistakes, mostly losing something I just had.  My therapist suggested that it might be due to my attention being dragged off to some inner process.  So I spent some time trying to sink down under the practical stuff, and make space and safety for whatever it was to show itself.


What came was it’s about “home.”  There’s a way in which I never felt at home anywhere.  The music in my head a couple of days ago was “In the early mornin’ rain… she’ll be flying’ o’er my home in about three hours time…”  Then David sang it last night.  I can only think of moments when I felt at home.  Flying over Ireland in ‘77 or ‘78.  The Mound of Kerkado.  Sitting in the house on Bickford Hill watching chickadees come to the feeder, and not feeling the push to do something “useful.”  In the Rochester Zendo, by myself, on my sitting cushion, realizing “I’m going home.  That’s what this is about.”  Possibly dancing to the music of Alan Stivell, and feeling my Celtic ancestors rise up in my blood.  Possibly the Chalice Well — “all burdens laid down.” or the Ocean of Compassion?  I felt held.  Kindred Spirits and the Recovery Community and feeling at home with people who tell the truth.  Feeling like I belong, being able to let down all my defenses, feeling safe to be myself.  That’s what home is.  Feeling safe to be myself.  I guess there’s a way it doesn’t have anything to do with a particular building and/or belongings.

I realize that I’ve never really felt at home in the world.  The house where I grew up, at one time I thought it was a good house and deserved better than an alcoholic couple and their five children who were left to bring themselves up.  When I think of it now, I see it as narrow and dark, and musty with neglect.  I remember going “home” for a week in February, when I was living in Portland Maine.  It was cold, and the house in Cincinnati had not been built for cold.  No storm windows and the furnace couldn’t keep up.  Not only was I cold the whole time I was there, but I was in a state of frozen terror the whole time.  I didn’t understand it at all then, but now I know it was the “freeze” that happens instinctively when the creature cannot fight or flee.  The house in Biddeford Pool felt like home when I was a child, but when I grew up, and it began to change, the magical country of childhood faded.  I don’t think I ever thought about feeling at home, I suppose having never felt at home as I was growing up, I had no idea what it would feel like.  I do remember something I called “that twilight feeling,” that I felt in the evenings when I was twelve.  Mom & Dad had gone to a cocktail party and I was left to feed my three younger siblings and get them to bed.  Then I would wander around the house as it got darker, feeling like my life stretched forward into grayness forever.  I remember when I first knew that I was suffering from clinical depression, and the therapist I was seeing, a specialist in mood disorders, asked me when I first felt depressed.  I started telling her about “that twilight feeling” and realized that it was depression.  When I finally got on medication that worked, I was astounded to find that normal brain chemistry was something I had never experienced.

“… for home to me was certainly never anything remotely material.  It consisted, I have decided, in something I sensed as refuge: an atmosphere of safety in the love between my parents.  It came in a tone of voice, in the preparation and eating of meals, in conversations during washing up and being busy in the garden.”  from Dennis Severs, 18 Folgate St….   quoted in Deborah Crombie, Necessary as Blood, p203


In the morning I talked to Erica.  It is so hard for me to get that what I am doing is a big deal, that my system is involved in processing a complex mass of material.  Talking to Erica, I began to see that I needed some art materials, I need to work with color and shape and pattern.  I realize that my job is not to try to put it all together in coherent fashion, my job is only to be aware of how it is today, and make a picture of it, or perhaps a visual rendering, or perhaps just an approximation.

Note:  I often hear music in my head and I pay attention to the song as a message to me from my subconscious.  Nearly always relevant.

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Big Life Change

The first step was feeling totally helpless and needing to have someone come rescue me, but then being able to just witness that I was “at the end of my resources,” without trying to figure out what I could do about it.  I’ve been here many times before.  At one point in my life I called it “shipwreck.”  Now I realize it is also AA’s first step:  Admitted that my life was unmanageable.  Calling it “the end of my resources” makes a big change somehow, a way of accepting it differently.

Then I stood up for myself, saying “No” to people’s suggestions for what I could do.  When people told me that was “courageous” I had to recognize that my old pattern of making myself wrong for saying no to an assignment was dysfunctional.

Next I went to the interviews at Kendal.  They are a requirement for getting in.  At least that’s what I thought, that they were going to see if I was “good enough” for Kendal.  Instead it was more like a welcoming.  They were trying to make sure I would be happy at Kendal.  I showed one of them the brochure for my Audio-visual Presentation: Sacred Sites of Ancient Keltia, and she said “They’ll want you to do it here!”  The last woman I talked to asked what was my life’s work.  I talked about Neskaya, then started to explain about Circle Dance.  When I said it was rooted in International Folk Dance, she said “You’ll have a whole group of eager people waiting for you.”  I felt wanted, a new experience for me.

For a while I continued to feel sad about the things I was leaving.  But I also thought about the work I did in the Francis Weller workshop, in particular feeling and expressing my grief for “the career that didn’t happen.”  Now suddenly I’m seeing that some of that career will be able to happen when I’m at Kendal.

Sorting and downsizing, burning the original notebooks from the 60’s and 70’s, made me question why I keep writing.  I came to a place of seeing that it is satisfying in itself.  The blog in particular.  I’m putting my ideas and experiences out there and people can read them or not, that doesn’t seem to matter, putting them out there is what counts.

The next thing was looking at the New Story Hub and seeing an article by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.  A friend had sent me a link to one of his talks on YouTube, and I liked what he had to say a lot.  He’s a psychic and a Sufi.  So I read this piece which is titled “Darkening: A Four-Point Plan.”  His four actions are:

1) Witness.  Looking at what is going on, without wanting to change what you see.  I’ve been witnessing the pain in the world but also feeling my helplessness to change it, so I’ve been in a lot of pain.  But if I let go of my need to do something about it, then I can witness purely, and I don’t get disabled by depression.

2) Grieve.  I’ve been doing a grief practice since the Weller workshop.  It would be better if I had a group to grieve with.  Makes me think of the Truth Mandala.

3) Pray.  I’ve been doing the loving-kindness prayer for all beings, since it seemed to make the most sense.  I’m not asking some higher being that I don’t trust to do what I want.  I’m just saying what I want.  I can also sincerely ask for help for the earth from whoever/whatever can do it.  I’m comforted, as I recite the words of the prayer without any felt sense, but with the belief that repetition of the proper forms can be counted as prayer.  And also feeling supported by knowing that people all around the world are saying that prayer.

4) Act.  Vaughan-Lee reminds us of Mother Teresa’s words: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”  I also thought of something I learned in DMA, a course in creating what you want, about the value of a “symbolic gesture.”  You do some small act to indicate that you are willing to do what it takes to have what you want.  So signing a petition, sending a small sum of money to support a cause, are “good enough.”

The most important thing for me was that reading this convinced me that I’m already doing what he’s talking about.  It  validated me on a very deep level, and gave me a tremendous boost in self-confidence, and a sense of the total dissolving of the belief that I had to “prove that I deserve to live.”  Since then I’ve been able to feel my love for things, to have a felt sense of loving and being loved, to feel excitement about the future.  It’s so amazing!

I suspect that part of this is knowing I am moving to Kendal.

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Saying “No”

Wednesday, September 28

The session with Erica was very painful.  I cried a lot.  I didn’t write anything down.  I didn’t feel connected to her.  It was hard to say how I knew that.  I said something about how her face was flat and broken into pieces.  Not really, but that’s how it seemed.  I felt dead, like a piece of wood, porous but dry, no juice.  I think she asked how it felt to be witnessed, and I could feel a little water trickling in from above.  While I was trying to find words to describe the felt sense of “dead,” I wasn’t paying attention to my breath.  Possibly she asked about my breath, and I didn’t know, and she told me my breathing was slow and deep.  After that I paid more attention to it.  I told her that she & Lynelle had both made good suggestions for how I could take care of myself better, and I refused to do them.  I felt bad for refusing to do the assignment, but Erica said something about dignity, and then praised my courage.  When I told Lynelle about it, she said it was courageous too.  I told Erica I couldn’t do anything to help myself, I needed someone else to help me.  She said “You are at the end of your resources.”  Yes, that’s exactly right.  And there’s nothing to do but be with it.

I told Erica that I didn’t feel I could say “thank you” for the session, and she said “Then I’ll thank you — for your courage in telling me your truth…”  She said several things but that was the most important.

Looking at it later, I saw that I felt very wrong to refuse to do the assignment, but in fact I was standing up for myself against someone’s unreasonable expectation — no, that’s what happened in childhood — this expectation was reasonable, but didn’t take into account my degree of being triggered into a very young state.  In the past I’ve judged myself as “weakling and coward,” when I’ve been unable to take what I know to be an action that might help my situation.  So it was a big surprise to be told that it was a courageous stand.  And also a stand on truth.  No more saying “I’m fine” when I’m not.

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Mandala of Truth

This is a piece I wrote during the Kindred Spirits gathering at Rowe.  I did this workshop with about 10 other people.  It was facilitated by Satyena who is the director of Starseed.

Yesterday I did Satyena’s workshop “Mandala of Truth.”  It sounded like it was developed by Joanna Macy as part of the work that reconnects.  We were in the Farmhouse living room, sitting in a circle.  There was a cushion in the center with four objects, a stick for anger, a stone for fear, dead leaves for grief, and an empty bowl for emptiness.  I think we must have done a bit at the beginning which involved walking around outside, barefoot, to get in touch with the earth.  We also did a five-on-five about what we were most upset with about the current state of affairs.  I did it with Peter, who works in the health industry in the Berkshires.  He was fearful about all the men with guns and pickup trucks, afraid of another Charlottesville.  I talked about my feelings about the exploitation of the earth.

Then we sat around the four objects, with a pillow in the center, and when people felt called, they got up and picked up an object and talked about their anger and their fears.  I was impressed with Tommy who said that he had focussed on recovery and was in denial about what was going on, and he wanted to change that.  A lot of people spoke about both anger and fear about the gap between the rich and the poor.  I spoke about my anger and fear that we would destroy the capacity of our planet to support diverse and colorful creatures, and grief for the whales, the polar bears…   I was surprised by how much strength I got from hearing people speak their truth, even though it was all “negative.”  I think part of it was just hearing truth spoken, and also knowing that I wasn’t alone.

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Why Keep Writing a Journal?

I’ve been working with Christia to downsize and prepare to move to Kendal.  Christia discovered that she could tear the pages out of the spiral journal notebooks so they could be recycled.  So she’s been doing that, and it gives me moral support when working on something else.  I had saved the originals from 1959 (my first journal) to 1970.  They were written in hardbound notebooks, and I had named each notebook (I was copying Anaïs Nin).  Names like “Collision with California,” “Sight of the Sea.”  She tore out the pages, leaving the cardboard covers.  I saved the pages to burn and the cardboard can be recycled.  Burning is a ceremonial way of letting go of something.

Today we did another round of dumping printed pages, and tearing pages out of spiral bound notebooks.  I discovered that I have three crates of spiral notebooks from the years 1995 to 2003 where I wasn’t typing up.  I want to go through them and type things that are meaningful.  And why, why do I want to do that?  Do I imagine someone in the future being interested?  No, actually, I think it helps my own work of integration.  I want to be able to see my life as a whole.  Do I ever go back and read all those journals so carefully typed and printed?  No.  It does feel like meaningful work.  I guess it has meaning in itself.  I can’t imagine not doing it.  If for nothing else, it also gives me a chance to look at the events of my life again.  I suppose I really don’t need to type up all the stuff about the dog, and my health.  I know I was thinking that a record would be helpful — but to what? to whom?  I guess I imagined myself going over them to look for improvement…  as I walk the dog more regularly?  I’m not going to do that.  Maybe I don’t need to type up all that kind of information.

Things I have saved:  a big binder of Ritual Year — though I don’t have a digital version so I can’t edit it, but would have to start over.  Ritual Year is a project in which I put (usually edited) passages from my journal, one for each of the 365 days.  I also have three binders of dreams.  Not ready to throw them away, but am I likely to reread them?  I see that I can’t imagine a future in which anyone would be interested in the record of a life lived by a highly intelligent, well-educated woman, living mostly in the 20th century, and struggling with PTSD from infancy.  Who would be interested?  Who would care?  I see the world having to change radically, whether by people taking back the government, or by nuclear war, or financial disaster, or environmental disaster…

Writing and typing up later is a devotional practice.  It’s honoring the wounded life of Jenny.  I’m a little horrified that I can’t see a viable future.  I don’t want to “hold a vision” of the world being destroyed, but that’s all I can see from here.  At least I can continue praying “May all beings be safe, may all beings be happy…”

Often a help in times of doubt, I went back to Matt Dancing around the world…  A wonderful image of peace, health, happiness.

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Depression/ Apathy/ Exhaustion/ Despair/ Grief

Last month Erica was away for a week.  On the Tuesday when I would have seen her, I woke up depressed.  It’s the first time I’ve been depressed in a long time.  It gave me a chance to differentiate “depressed” from other similar states.  When I’m depressed I feel without hope, that there’s nothing I can do to change things, and that I’m held down by a weight.

“Apathy” is something I began to pay attention to when someone told me that a baby gets apathetic when left alone too long.  I feel without motive and without energy.  I need someone from outside to get me moving again.

“Exhaustion” is something I have ignored most of my life.  My parents would say things like “How can you be tired?  You haven’t done anything.”  So I would tell myself I’m lazy and cowardly, and push myself way beyond what I could reasonably do.  It’s still hard for me to take care of myself when I’m tired.  The first time I got a hint that I habitually go past what is reasonable or healthy was in a yoga class at Kripalu.  They told us to get into a posture, to push or stretch until we could feel our muscles straining, and then to back off a little and breathe.  They talked about the “zone of tolerance” as the space between relaxing and pushing too hard.  It was the first time that I realized that I habitually push too hard.  Learning to back off has been a long and interesting challenge.

“Despair” is when I feel that nothing I can do will make any difference.  Unlike apathy, I still care about whatever is happening that I want to change.  I don’t feel heavy or complete lack of energy, and despair can certainly be a drain on energy.  But mostly despair is when the difficulty is too big, or something I’ve tried to change many times.  Sometimes what I’m trying to change is my own state of mind — trying to change depression does not work, can even make it worse.  Then there’s a tendency to judge myself for “not really wanting to change” or “holding on to depression.”  I think those two judgements are a pernicious result of a culture that teaches us to blame people for their difficulties.  Sometimes what I want to change is something going on in the world, like the degradation of the environment.  I do everything I can.  My car is a hybrid, a Prius, and I drive more slowly than most people do.  Currently I am getting over 60 miles per gallon.  I recycle as much of my waste as I can, sorting out plastic, metal, glass, paper, putting vegetable matter in a compost pile.  I live at the top of the watershed, and my well gets 25 gallons per minute, but I use as little water as I can.  I have a wood stove, and backup propane heat, and I keep the thermostats in the low sixties.  I also have a solar panel that generates electricity, and solar hot water.  That’s about as much as I can do without more help from the community.  What I can do makes such a tiny dent in the problem that I’m sometimes tempted to quit making the effort.  But I keep doing it as a kind of prayer.

“Grief” feels like a softening, it flows instead of being stuck.  Grief is the act of letting go.  When I started to let myself grieve, I didn’t get depressed.  Grief can be hard to get to.  Often I’m not able to feel it until I start to tell someone else about what I feel or why I’m sad/depressed/discouraged etc…

Typing up from a month ago, I find the seed of that post:

I used the word “hopeless” and Karen produced her usual rejoinder “That’s a thought not a feeling.”  I said yes it is a feeling.  She asked “Where do you feel it in your body?”  like my ribcage is full of concrete, I’m being weighed down, held down.  Apathy, tiredness, depression and grief.  Apathy is having no motivation, tiredness is having motivation but no energy.  Depression is having no motivation, no energy, and being held down, weighted down.  It is hard and stuck.  Grief is a softening into a process, grief moves.

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Kendal Retirement Community

I have mentioned Kendal several times, but never said much about it.

I started having a really hard time after Bella died in September 2013.  Lynelle warned me that it would trigger abandonment issues and it certainly did.  I started working with Erica in June of 2014.  She specialized in working with “trauma and attachment issues.”  Her methods were totally different from anybody I had ever worked with, and I could tell that we were really getting to what happened to me at last.

Trying to support myself, I even got a little stuffed dog to be a “transitional object.”  I think it was about that same time Lynelle mentioned that I might want to look into Kendal.  Someone she knew had moved to Kendal and loved it.  I talked to her on the phone.  I remember that I was actually terrified to make the call.  It turned out that what she really liked was the excellence of the healthcare, and the number of activities she could participate in as a volunteer.  Things like reshelving books in the library.  Those things didn’t interest me at all, nor did I really warm to the woman.  When I first mentioned Kendal to my friend Eve, she was horrified.  “It’s full of rich Republicans.”

I got serious about looking for a retirement community after I went to Kindred Spirits for the first time and found out what it was like to feel like I am really OK just as I am.  By that time I had learned that having people around, and regular meals that I didn’t have to prepare, helped me to at least be functional.  What I hadn’t yet had was the experience of being with people who are willing to tell the truth and to hear the truth even when it’s painful.  I was amazed to find that when I’m with people who are committed to truth, I actually feel that both my “bad” parts (i.e. depression) and my “good” parts (enthusiasm) are completely acceptable.

The importance of not being alone and having food available reminded me of my experience at Caron Institute.  They are in Reading PA, and were the first alcoholism treatment center in the USA.  They run a week-long program for co-dependent people, “people whose lives have been impacted by the disease of addiction.”  I went because two of my brothers went and said it was really good.  When I was signing in, they took my car keys (so I couldn’t leave without talking to someone) and my medication (so there would be no temptation to overdose.)  They said I couldn’t walk around outside without someone else.  Finally they told me that there would be someone available all night if I needed to talk.  That was the most reassuring, since being sleepless and alone has always been very hard for me.  I was surprised that instead of feeling restricted, I felt safe.  I felt safer than I ever had in my life.  I didn’t have the concept of “container” back then, but that’s what made me feel safe.

Seeing that it made sense to join a retirement community I checked out the Westview in Montpelier and Riverglen in Littleton.  They are both small, about thirty people, and I realized that I probably would have a hard time finding enough “Kindred Spirits” to feel comfortable.  The Kendal community is about 400 people, so even if I can only feel really comfortable with 1 out of 10 people, there would be about 40 people that I could find deeper relationships with.  I also investigated “Eco-communities” as I knew they would be people who shared my values.  But all that was available were small houses or apartments.  There was no setup for regular community meals.  I also considered co-housing, but again it would be too easy for me to be isolated.  I know I need to be more involved with people, and at least at first I need to have already established ways of getting together around common interests.  I need to be part of a writing group that already exists, not trying to start a writing group on my own.  I need to have classes in things like yoga and dancing nearby, so they will be easy to get to.  Kendal is big enough that things like fitness classes are in the buildings where we live.

The first question I asked all of them was “Can I bring my dog?”

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I Need Other People to Share my Pain about Current Events.

My heart hurts.  It hurt a lot yesterday as I drove down to Hanover.  I was hurting for the people of Puerto Rico, and the ones in Las Vegas.  I say nothing about the hideous denial by Drumpf and his cohorts of people’s pain and need for help.

When I got to Erica I just cried and cried.  Erica made soothing noises.  I finally managed to say “what can I do with this pain?”  I said something about the vigil after Orlando, how it was comforting to be with people who felt the same way I did.  Driving down I thought I wanted to be in Kendal right away.  I wanted to find other people who were angry about what’s going on and be with them.  Erica talked about things I could do to help strengthen myself.  She said something about a “joy practice.”  I said I can’t do that.  I don’t feel joy.  The best I can do is a sense of contentment, of being OK just as I am.  Erica said “You need other people, you can’t do it alone.”  I think I finally got it.  Usually I get angry at myself for being “weak.”

I took the Tough Little Drip I had made from clay.  Erica was really impressed.  Said she was very strong and determined.  She said she could tell that what she was fighting her way through was no small thing.  I think that was something I found out only from the work with Erica.


It was something I got briefly as I started each new therapy: Children of Alcoholics, clinical depression and medication, possible sexual abuse, PTSD, and then finally getting how trauma in infancy is far more devastating than when it happens to someone whose brain and nervous system have fully matured.  Each time, I would welcome each new explanation for why I was so dysfunctional and unhappy.  I would start working with a new therapist, work hard, and then work hard, and then work hard.  After years of hard work I would feel like I hadn’t got anywhere.  At this same place I would intuit that we still hadn’t gotten to the bottom, but I didn’t trust my intuition.  Other people could see that I was doing better, but for me the struggle was still very difficult.  What’s the matter with me that with this fine new understanding, and years of work, I still don’t have a life?  Now, finally, I get how deeply established the tentacles of trauma are in my body and my brain.  It’s still hard for me to stop blaming myself for not working hard enough.  It’s still easy for me to trivialize what I’m up against.

The work with Erica has brought me enormous pain and despair.  I know we are working at the core and the foundation of my being.  When the work is so painful I wish I hadn’t started it, I am forced to acknowledge that there is no way I could stop trying to get down to the truth.  But I am not at all sure it’s possible for me to heal enough to be able to have a life.  On the other hand, with enough support, who knows what I might be able to do?

“Drumpf” is not a misprint.  I refuse to call that jerk by a name.  I call him “thump” and “tweet” and the best is “Drumpf” from Daily Kos.

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The “Tough Little Drip” Revisited

Friday, September 29

Woke with headache and heart burning.

Yesterday was actually pretty good.  I felt OK when I woke up and had a great talk with Elizabeth.  I was telling her about the painful session with Erica and she said she heard a core of strength in my voice.  I told her about refusing to do anything to help myself, she said that was the real me asserting herself.  It really surprised me.  I thought I was bad for refusing — “weakling and coward” — but Lynelle, Erica, and Elizabeth have all praised me for my courage.

The painful session with Erica was last Tuesday, when I felt that I could not rescue myself, I had to be rescued by someone from outside.  Erica did not say “I will rescue you,” or “You have to rescue yourself,” but she validated how I was feeling as “at the end of my resources.”  She also made suggestions for things I could do to comfort myself, and I just refused to do them, feeling like a bad student who was refusing to do the assignment.  I was imagining that I could do them and was just stubbornly refusing.  The truth is that I was not able to do them, but I’m in denial of that because I can’t bear seeing that I’m truly helpless.

“Weakling and coward” were judgements I made of myself, mostly when I was disabled by depression, for a large part of my life.

I saw and told Elizabeth, that staying with the feeling of “at the end of my resources,” sitting down stubbornly, and refusing to move — no, I’m not refusing to move, not refusing to do something I could do, I’m acknowledging the truth, that I don’t have what it takes to go on, instead of saying “I’m fine.”  In the past, when I’ve been defeated like that, I spend one or two days flat out on the bottom, and then something in me picks herself up and moves on.  What I saw very clearly this time was that it’s a choice, but it’s not a conscious choice, it’s “something in me.”  I realized it’s the “tough little drip that just won’t quit,”  God bless her!  She’s not the one that pushes me, she’s the one who keeps me going in the direction of healing.  In The Feminine of History I say “there is an inner, dynamic thrust toward healing the split.” p85.  It amazes me that the scientist in me didn’t ask for my evidence for that statement.  I had learned from dream work and Jung’s ideas about how opposites can be reconciled.  I haven’t thought of that in terms of myself, though I can see it in what happens to others.  How hurt and damaged people, when offered needed information and an opportunity to heal, will do it.  I see it in how Jack turned his life around with AA, I see it in the homies in LA, who take what Father Greg has to offer and run with it.  Yesterday I realized that I have that thrust toward healing inside me and I can trust it.  I don’t have to keep my nose to the grindstone.

One of the things I’ve been working on recently is the recognition that when I think or say “I’m fine,” I’m really in denial of how badly off I am.

“Keeping my nose to the grindstone.”  The push I’ve felt all my life was to “prove that I deserve to live.”  The times when I don’t feel that are when I’m unselfconscious because I’m teaching something I’m excited about like Astronomy or Circle Dance, or I’m engaged in a passionate conversation.  I feel it most strongly when I’m just sitting, not doing anything at all.  The times when I have been able to do that, sit quietly and just rest, are so rare that I can remember them.

I can trust that there’s someone in me who keeps going toward healing, love, compassion, greater consciousness.  I can relax and let it happen.  I can see that there are synchronicities that help me.  I think of Elizabeth Goudge saying when you think you can’t go on, something or someone else steps in and gives you a burst of new strength.  She says or means God is the one who steps in, but what I’m seeing now is that the Divine Force within me is the Tough Little Drip.  I laugh and start to feel warm inside.  The Tough Little Drip and God in a Sheet are God.  Not some white bearded male sitting up on his thrown (sic!) above us running everything like a puppeteer.  God is within us and constantly growing, reaching for health, love, peace, justice, all those good things.

What a huge relief!  I can trust something in me.  I don’t have to trust anything outside of me.  I don’t have to wait for someone outside to rescue me.  I may have to wait, patiently, for the correct action to appear.

I can trust myself.  I can trust myself to know who is trustworthy and who isn’t, to wait for right action until I see it and then to do it.  I can trust myself to recognize help when it comes.

The truth is that help can come both from outside and from inside.  But when I was a baby I was truly helpless.  Now, I may have to wait patiently, but help does come, either from inside or outside.

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