Lost, Discouraged, without Resources or Support

I have been having a very hard time because I haven’t been able to sleep unless I take a drug, which I’ve now taken for almost a month, and shouldn’t take for very long.  But if I don’t take it, I don’t sleep at all, and that leaves me with a brain barely functioning and too tired than to do more than get food for myself and the dog, and walk the dog.  Even taking the medication, I do fall asleep, but I wake up still tired and find it hard to get going in the morning. Even with this much sleep, I still can’t do much more, though I have managed to get some practical things done.

Notes from my journal for Friday, May 10

I have been feeling so sad.  Part of it is reading Green Dolphin Street — Marianne is in pain because William loves Marguerite, Marguerite in pain because Marianne helps when his father dies, William seduced in China, loses his place in the Navy, has to stay in New Zealand.  My heart hurts.

Also hurts because I’m too tired to do anything meaningful, my mind simply can’t connect with Spirit, I feel cast out.

Saturday, May 11

So tired.  So discouraged.  Realizing that I can’t think well enough to deal with the cell phone even though I’m paying something like $60 a month for it.  The song in my head is the Lower Lights — “some poor fainting struggling seaman, you may rescue you may save.”

I got the cell phone several months back, but my friend who was going to help me has a husband with Parkinson’s and she’s needed to spend a lot of time with him. The phone does not work properly, and I simply haven’t been able to deal with it.  First because of having breast cancer, and then this sleeplessness.

The Lower Lights is a hymn that we sing when we do the informal Hymn Sing on Tuesday nights. Often asked for by a man who was in the Navy.

I guess I’m the “fainting struggling seaman.”

I started reading Marcelle Martin’s book at bedtime.  The book talks about getting in touch with Spirit, allowing Spirit to guide you, etc.  I’m having such a hard time right now even feeling the presence of spirit.  I try to pray but it’s difficult and painful.  There was a time, not that long ago, when I felt in touch with both Jesus and Julian of Norwich.  But now, I can’t feel either of them, and when I pray “May I beheld in lovingkindness” I don’t feel anything.  So it’s back to “I choose to trust that the Universe is alive and intelligent and holds us all in compassion.”  I can say it, but I don’t feel anything.  back to the Lower Lights…

Part of my difficult praying or getting in touch with Spirit is my brain not working properly because of too little sleep. I am feeling very lost, and despairing, and totally without support.

If this post is a confusing jumble, it’s a perfect reflection of my life at this moment. In fact I feel like I don’t have a life. I’d rather be dead, but I can’t do that to Mocha.

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Teaching Astronomy and Sacred Circle Dance

This was originally written in writing group on Monday, October 2, 2023. Then I did a lot of editing and adding material since I hadn’t had time to finish.

Today is Beltane, it seems an appropriate time to publish this.

I was talking with some friends about our work and vocation, and one of them asked me if I taught folk dance and astronomy to prove that I was a good person, or intelligent.  I realized that the truth was my motivation was because I loved folk dance and astronomy, and loved sharing them with people who wanted to learn. 

I have a degree in Astronomy, and was asked to teach a course for the School for Lifelong Learning back in the 80’s. SLL offered a degree program for adults who had finished High School, but never gone to college. When they hired me, my boss said I could teach the class as it was described in the University of New Hampshire Catalog, or I could make up my own. They wanted a science without math. I said I would make up my own, and it would be Astronomical Observation from the Sun Dagger to Newton.

The most important assignment was the observing notebook: to go out every day, morning and evening, and write down what you see. The notebook was 50% of the grade, but some people’s notebooks were enough better to get extra points. There was the woman who counted sunspots, that’s a very useful task that amateurs can do and send their results to an agency that can use them.  The man who started tracking the Galilean satellites of Jupiter, there are four and they can be seen through a good pair of binoculars.  The dyslexic who couldn’t write much in his observing notebook but when I asked questions to see what he understood, he had clearly done the work.  The cop who would write 0200 hours and then wax poetic about the night sky.  I gave extra points for special projects like the sunspots and the Moons of Jupiter. In fact, what would usually happen is one third of the class would get B’s, one-third would get A’s, and then there was the third who got more than 100 points.  What do you give them?  So I bought little gold star Christmas tree ornaments to give them and called them my gold star students.  I remember one of  them wrote me a note saying “Thank you for an interest that I will enjoy for the rest of my life.”

Then there was teaching Sacred Circle Dance at Neskaya.  Sacred Circle Dance is based on the recognition that the traditional folk dances have a spiritual dimension.  I had already been doing folk dance in Brunswick, Maine, loved it, and took a tape of my favorites when I moved to Franconia and started teaching a small group there.  I remember thinking in Brunswick that I went to Wednesday  folk dance the way other people went to church.  Then someone told me they were doing Sacred Circle Dance on the green in Danville as part of the Dowsers Convention at the time of the equinox.  What’s that, I said and went.  They were doing dances I already knew around a centerpiece with a candle and some flowers.  Well, I thought, I already knew that.  What had happened was that Bernard Wosien had a collection of folk dances that he said had esoteric meaning.  He was looking for a community to give them to.  He went to a conference at Findhorn, and people there thought it was a great idea, took the dances, and started making up new ones.  I went and did the first training with Peter Vallance from Findhorn in this country.  I was lucky that I already knew how to teach folk dance.

It’s so clear that Astronomy and Sacred Dance are my vocation.  I love teaching, I teach with enthusiasm, my whole concern is not to look smart, but to get the material across. I know that I have inspired a lot of people to love these things that I love.

I even managed to get them together in a workshop called “Dancing the Sacred Calendar.”  The Cross-Quarter Days: Beltane, Lammas, Samhain, and Imbolc, occur when the sun arrives at the moon’s standstill, an event that is easily indicated at Stonehenge, by the relationship between the Trilithons in a horseshoe in the center, and the outer ring of stones connected by lintels. It’s because of this alignment at Stonehenge that I believe the Cross-Quarter days are not halfway between Equinox and solstice, but are in fact when the sun arrived at the moon’s standstill, although no one else talks about this. Dancing the Sacred Calendar involved a twenty-four hour period, during which we danced three dances for each holiday every three hours. We started with Summer Solstice at noon on Saturday, and ended with Beltane at 9AM on Sunday. It involved getting up at midnight to dance Winter Solstice, and 3AM to dance Imbolc. I also talked about the background during times in between dancing. I really enjoyed teaching it because it brought the two important parts of my life together.

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“I Gave my Life Energy to Sacred Meaning”

From the Center for Action and Contemplation, the Daily Meditation for April 28, 2024. Written by Richard Rohr:

Like Jesus, my spiritual father Francis of Assisi (1182–1226) was connected to the Source. He truly experienced radical participation in God’s very life. Such practical knowing of his value and true identity allowed Francis to let go of status, privilege, and wealth. Francis knew he was part of God’s plan, connected to creation and other beings, inherently in communion and in love. Francis taught his followers to own nothing so they would not be owned by their possessions. 

Richard Rohr talks about the Franciscans, how they weren’t interested in money or status, how they lived in poverty, owning nothing.  I was lucky to have some money of my own, enough to live simply, and I could use my time for what I wanted to do.  I never bought things for status, I bought them because I loved them, because they were beautiful or meaningful, or else utilitarian and necessary.  I spent a lot of money building Neskaya, but that wasn’t about status, it was about having sacred space in which to do sacred dance.

I do have too many things.  I’ve given a lot away when I could find someone who wanted them.  My big problem with throwing things away is that I felt “thrown away” in my family of origin, and always felt that I had to find a good home for things.

I don’t feel “connected to the Source,” but it was true that status, privilege and wealth were never important to me. I see that what was important was meaning and beauty and truth. And what are “meaning, beauty and truth” if not the same thing as “sacred.”  At least that was true for me. I didn’t believe in “God” but that was because I thought “God” was judgmental and punitive. I choose to trust that God is infinitely compassionate, though because of my life experience, alcoholic parents, early trauma, it’s still hard for me to trust that that’s true.

When Erica told me I “gave my life energy to sacred meaning,” it felt true to me, but it was hard for me to see how. Now I see the truth of it. This morning I told God that I wanted to do Their Will, and asked what it was, and God said “Take care of yourself.” I see a face with a very loving, compassionate smile. Thank You.

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1995: Positive Feedback

I did the first draft of this back in October 2023.  Never finished it. Looking again at it, I see that it fits with my previous post about Vocation.  How amazing!

From my journal for November 23, 1995

I wake to terror.  My husband said yesterday that we will owe the IRS over $100,000 for this year’s capital gains taxes, and that sets off a round of fear.

I come up to my desk and find a note to myself:  “CLARIFYING: Does this belong to the social-political world? or to the path with heart?” and that reminds me that Neskaya is a path with heart.  And that starts a warmth inside and drives the fear away.

November 24

Christie said something the other day about me teaching her that it was good to cry.  Then Lydia and Ed and Asa showed up.  They prowled around here for a while, Lydia showed me a video of the short ski-skates she’s been dancing on — I think I’ll get a pair.  Then we went over to Neskaya.  While we were there, Lydia said something about how I had been the one who had first given her a glimpse of a different way of living.  (O yes, I remember lying on rubber rafts in her cove and talking about my book)  She said I had always been on “the cutting edge” and that was a hard and lonely place to be.  That kind of validation and support means a lot to me right now, as I continue to struggle with the hopelessness.  I told her how I felt like I was “exploring the bottom,” she said she had done something like that herself, described a vision of a past life in which she was killed by priests who wanted to steal her light, and she understood that they couldn’t do it.  She said that since then she hasn’t felt afraid to be herself in the world.  That gives me hope.

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Questions about Vocation

I’ve been reading Parker Palmer: Let Your Life Speak.  In some ways it’s a continuation of what I did with Stephen Cope’s book.  Parker Palmer talks about vocation.  How do you know what your vocation is?  Not from ego, not to be important or famous or make a lot of money.  Something your have to listen for, a calling from the soul.  

My book, The Feminine of History is Mystery, developed out of a dream class, taught by Charles Poncé.  He was a Jungian and looked at our dreams in terms of archetypes.  I began to see a polarity: Sun-Moon, Male-Female, Righthand-Lefthand, the two hemispheres of the brain — so I decided to write a book with left-hand pages and right-hand pages.  

I also developed a fade-dissolve slide show which involved two projectors and a device that allowed me to fade from one to the other.  The pictures were mostly ones I had taken on several trips to England and France to see megalithic monuments.  Later I found someone who had the expertise to turn it into a video on a DVD which made the presentation much easier.  I had imagined I would get opportunities to do the show for audiences and could sell books at the same time.  But, alas, this clever idea was derailed by depression rooted in trauma.

Journey Into Courage.  Remembering how Beverly & I said we would do street theater around childhood sexual abuse.  And then I saw we weren’t doing it, so I said to God “If you want this to happen, somebody else has to do it.”  Only a few weeks later Lynelle told me there was a drama class for victims of domestic violence at Umbrella in St. J.  So I went, and that became Journey Into Courage.  Telling the truth about my life on stage.  Changing, expanding, people’s understanding of domestic violence.

It changed people’s lives.  Perhaps my vocation is to change people’s lives.

I discovered folk dance on New Year’s Eve 1964-65.  I was in Paris with some Greek friends, and we went to a party where they were doing Greek folk dance.  When I moved to Brunswick Maine, I started going to a regular folk dance class.  When I moved to Franconia, I brought a tape of my favorites and taught a small group.  Then I heard about Sacred Circle Dance, based in the old folk dances but with the understanding that they had a sacred dimension. The man I was married to at the time was teaching Aikido, a martial art that has a spiritual dimension. Eventually we decided to build a building for sacred movement arts, and that was Neskaya Movement Arts Center.

But now what?  Having moved away from Franconia I no longer teach dance at Neskaya. Does Jenny still have a vocation?  If I don’t have a vocation, what’s the point?  Having a vocation gives meaning to my life.  I’ve been looking at some things I have done with my life, wondering if there is a common thread that could be my vocation.

What if your life has meaning just as it is?

I got this far on April 6, and haven’t written anything since.  In work with Erica, what happened was I remembered all the people who told me “When you said …. it changed my life.”  What I said was something ordinary for me, not an attempt to educate.  I think of one story.  I was at Kripalu, returning from a walk with a friend.  I saw a wasp walking across the sidewalk.  It was too cold for him to fly.  I was afraid he would get stepped on, so I picked him up by one leg and put him on the base of a statue that stood by the door.  My friend was astonished to see me do this, and said something like “WOW!  How can you do that!”  I said “I’m a member in good standing of the insect rescue league.”  “Well, you just changed my life.”

I think of Angela saying, after I talked about Neskaya to a therapy group she was holding in the building itself “You are way outside the boxes those women live in.”  She’s the one who thought that the building was a “healing sanctuary.”  I remember thinking, maybe even setting an intention, that Neskaya should affect everyone who came in by lifting their consciousness one level above where it was when they came in.

I think it may very well be true that my vocation is just to be myself, and just being myself I change people’s lives.

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“All Shall Be Well”

The combination of early trauma and the possibility of cancer has been totally disruptive. I have been having a very hard time sleeping.  At least three nights when I didn’t sleep at all, and most nights waking at 2 or 3 and not sleeping after that. I am exhausted and finding it very hard to function. This has been going on since the beginning of March.

After another night of no sleep at all, I gave in and took some Melatonin two nights ago. I did manage to sleep most of the night. Last night I did the same thing, but was awake before 3:00. So I am barely functional.

This morning the song in my head was Meg Barnhouse’s song about Julian of Norwich, All Shall Be Well.

This was the best version I could find of the original quote. Go down to the last day. Something I didn’t realize until now is that the words aren’t Julian’s, they are what she heard God say.

From my journal for April 11:

Walking Mocha outside, light rain, looking at grass and trees.  I thought briefly about the political idiocy and the wars, and then I saw very clearly that that wasn’t reality and reality was good.  I can’t explain it better than that, but it still feels clear.

From my journal for April 12:

Then there was that odd realization while walking the dog.  I think it was a variation of the goodness beyond goodness.  Unable to put it into words.  I suspect it was my True Self acting.  I have been calling on True Self to be with me.  Maybe it worked.

From my journal for April 13:

The song in my head all morning has been Meg Barnhouse’s All Shall Be Well.  While walking Mocha I again had the sense that despite all that’s gone wrong for me, all is still well.  I am safely in the hands of God.

This is so different from what I’ve experienced for most of my life. I am just amazed. I think it must be my effort to get True Self to be with me, and True Self knows that all is well.

And I am still utterly exhausted and finding it hard to function.

 

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Today

I’m having a really bad time this week. Last night I didn’t sleep at all. I’ve been sleeping very badly, but not sleeping at all is a disaster. Erica is away this week, so I don’t have her help. I’ve been alone too much, haven’t been able to find ways to be with people. I’m sure my early trauma has been triggered, and I’m also stressed out about the possibility of further cancer.

I’m so tired I can’t think. I’ve been reading murder mysteries by Ellis Peters. Mocha is barking and I can’t stop her. Almost crying, I went into the bedroom and shut the door. She stopped barking so I came out. She did it again, I did it again.

Recently I read a post where I describe a bad time. It’s comforting to me that I’m not that bad now. But I think I will continue to have a hard time until I know about whether or not there’s further cancer.

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Eclipses

Because of the upcoming solar eclipse next month there’s been a lot of interest.  Two friends sent me the link to Maria Popova’s Marginalian on Annie Dillard’s description of an eclipse.  Annie Dillard is one of my favorite authors, but this is one I had missed.  O my!  She even notices the metallic color of the grass!  She sees more than I did. 

My experience of a solar eclipse is the combination of two eclipses.  The first one, July 20, 1963, crossed the state of Maine.  The zone of totality was on the far side of Penobscot Bay.  We parked the car up on a hillside where we had a beautiful view.  I had welder’s glass for safely looking at the sun.  I watched the sun shrink to a crescent — and then the clouds came and covered it.  I began to cry.  And then — the light went out of the clouds.  Suddenly where we were standing was dark as night.  The birds all got quiet, the streetlights went on.  Where we were was night, but across the bay we could see the sun rays still coming down on the town of Camden.  Then, in the northwest, I could see the light coming again as the shadow went on its journey, and daylight returned.  It was like some huge prehistoric creature had flown over the clouds.

The second eclipse was in 1972, on July 10, and the zone of totality went over Prince Edward Island.  I was living in Portland, Maine.  I drove to Bar Harbor to take the ferry to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.  The ferry left before dawn, and I could see the waning crescent moon above where the sun would rise.  Drove the length of Nova Scotia to the strait between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.  There’s a bridge now, but then there was only the ferry.  I camped out for one night, don’t remember whether in PEI or Nova Scotia.  The next day I went to the beach on the north side of the island.  Every dune was sprouting with telescopes.  I had my welder’s glass.  There were no clouds in the sky.  Again I watched the sun shrink to a crescent.  With an almost audible POP! there was suddenly a black circle with a glowing halo around it where the sun had been.  A chorus of OOOOHHHS! sounded from the beach.  Again we were in night.  Again I could see the shadow moving across the water towards us. Suddenly, there was the sun again and we were back from night to daytime.

For the eclipse next month, Hanover is just outside the zone of totality.  I have signed up for a bus to take a group of us to St. Johnsbury.  The probability that it will be cloudy is 70%, but knowing that unless the clouds are very thick we will still see the shadow convinced me to sign up.  It’s worth seeing.

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Amazing Conclusion from Horrendous Experience

I’ve just been rereading a blog post containing a long passage from 1996. It comes from the journal volumes that I wrote but stopped typing in 1995, because I realized that the book I was putting together from journal entries, was in fact an effort to “prove that I deserved to live.” I was horrified to see that that was my motivation.  I contrast it with my motivation for building Neskaya, which had nothing to do with “justifying my life,” but which was to create a place where I could teach sacred dance, an activity of spiritual importance to me. It interests me to see that that fits with what Stephen Cope says: to work hard at your vocation, but let go of the outcome, of any need to “succeed” or be praised. That is the difference between “Written in Blood” and Neskaya.

This piece was written in June of 1996. It was the summer from Hell, when I was reacting to the horrible experience I’d had on Paxil in February. I couldn’t sleep, I kept waking up terrified, I lost weight…  This was before I realized I had been traumatized, before I got on medication that worked. I was writing something to help me hold on.

I am amazed that, struggling with traumatic terror, I still managed to see that what I was doing with my life was something powerful and spiritual, what Erica meant when she said “You have given your life energy to sacred meaning.”

June 3, 1996
I tried praying again last night, even though I have no sense of any beings out there to pray to.  I keep calling, but no one appears.  Mostly attempts at prayer feel like desperate pleas for help to an unhearing Void.  I keep praying because I don’t know what else to do.

My difficulties around getting in touch with the sacred have to do with trauma from my childhood, being left alone with no answer to my pleas for help.

I’ve been trying to not focus on feeling better, but on asking myself what is worth doing even if I don’t feel better.  I think Neskaya is worth doing, even if I am building for a future that may never happen, it’s still worth doing.  And certainly it’s an action toward creating the sort of world I want to live in.  As for myself, if the soul is immortal, then I hope I’m building in some character traits that will be useful to the next person who emerges out of this particular soul.  Otherwise, all this suffering will be really meaningless.

Then I get angry at myself for referring to this life as “all this suffering”.  Other people envy me, would like to have my life.  Yes, but they see only the externals, they certainly wouldn’t want to have my insides.  What good is it to have a loving husband and a lot of money and a beautiful house if I can’t enjoy them?  I don’t know how to answer that question.

It’s so interesting that I have trouble validating how much I have suffered in my life. So much of it wasn’t visible, it was in my feelings and my inner experience of what was happening, not in what actually was happening.

I remind myself of what Eleanor said the other day.  She was terrified about her therapist and I was having my usual hard time.  I took her back to her apartment, and when it was time to go I could hardly bear to leave her.  I hugged her again, with tears in my eyes, saying “I don’t understand why we keep on going, when it’s so hard and painful — what’s the point?”  She said “I keep going by thinking that God needs our help.  When we don’t give up, and don’t kill ourselves, then that’s refusing to allow the darkness to take over.” I haven’t got her words quite right, but it was something like that.  I got the sense that even when we fail to win any kind of victory, just refusing to be defeated is some help in the battle — assuming that there really is a battle of the forces of light against the forces of darkness.

What Eleanor said is similar to what EttyHillesum said.

I had an insight, a while back, that consciousness, consciously holding a vision, was a kind of strange attractor that could — not control the chaotic forces of life — but direct them in some way, or at least move them closer to the desired outcome.  So therefore, holding on to a vision is important, even if there aren’t any “good feelings” or any hope that the desired outcome could manifest.  I’d feel better if I were more in touch with my own vision. What do I want?  I want to feel connected to my life, engaged in it, involved with it.  I want to have some sense that my daily activities are meaningful even if I don’t know what that meaning is.  I want to feel my rootedness in the divine, so I can move from a place of peace and wisdom instead of fear.  I want to feel connected to my friends, and to be able to support them to the best of my ability.  What about my creativity, the books I was going to write?  I guess what I want is to offer my creative gifts to the Great Powers of the Universe to be used as and when they see fit.  And I would also like to have some sense that those Great Powers are — what? I hate to say “good” or “beneficent”, that seems too limiting, as though the Great Powers were concerned with my material security and happiness, as though the Great Powers were constrained by human ideas of “good” — when I know they can be wild and unpredictable and demanding of larger visions, bigger efforts than would be consistent with “security” or “happiness”.  I think I want to be reassured that the Great Powers are not blind, unintelligent, malicious, mean, but that they are tending toward some vision of greatness, wholeness, divinity, some dazzling truth or beauty or compassion that would call forth my reverence and willingness to sacrifice my health or happiness or life for such a cause.  When have I ever had that sense, of a Universe big enough, spiritual enough, to enlarge my soul and lift me out of my petty concerns?  I can’t think of anything recent, but I know there are times written in my journal.  I think of thunder and wind and fire, and the hands of God, at the time of Fiona’s death.  I think of the “blazing and storm-shattered” maples at Kripalu and my sense of wanting it all, wanting a whole life, both the glory and the pain.  But mostly my experience of the universe is that it’s at best unhelpful, at worst malicious, that it’s set me some hard and difficult assignment, refused to give me help with it or even make it clear what the assignment is, it has some expectation of me that I keep failing to fulfill, it’s just waiting to punish me badly for every mistake and sneer at my attempts to do something “good”, to make something “beautiful”.  Well, I see that I’m not describing the Universe at all, but my childhood experience of Mom & Dad, where I kept failing to satisfy their expectation, and got no help or guidance at all, just sneers and invalidation when I ran into trouble.  I can’t believe that the Universe is like this.  Surely the One who made daffodils is capable of more compassion and support than that.  It seems like I’ve got so entirely caught in the world conditioned by my parents that I’ve completely lost my sense of some bigger wider universe, where compassion and support and abundance are available, and especially support for being one’s “big self”, living one’s big life, really using and living out of one’s creative power and strength.  I see how afraid I am of being punished and abandoned if I dare to live out of my real power.  Gosh that makes me mad!  I see why my advice to Alice showed up in my dream — I too am being restricted by my parents’ “post-hypnotic” suggestion to live the kind of life that would have made them comfortable, not the kind of life my soul is capable of.

Fiona was our first dog, killed on the road.

It makes me mad that I have to keep coming to this insight over and over.  I stopped thinking of the fear states as being related to infancy with my mother because a) if that was really it, they should have stopped with the realization, b) I’m wrong to blame my spiritual failures on Mom, c) I’m tired and bored with the whole thing, d) Valerie Hunt says the fear comes from soul problems stemming from past lifetimes not from childhood trauma in this one.  But the truth is, going over the whole thing in detail again again, writing down exactly what the fear feels like and then seeing how it matches my childhood, results in me feeling much less fearful, much more stable, seeing beyond the shoulders of my parents’ shadows to the possibility of a real Universe, big enough, wild enough, creative enough, compassionate enough, to meet my Soul’s need.

In 2019, I looked at this piece and saw how wrong my ideas were and did a post in which I say:
This is a story that keeps me stuck.  “I stopped thinking of the fear states as being related to infancy with my mother because… a) “if that was really it, they should have stopped with the realization.”  Intellectual understanding doesn’t end a belief unless it’s very recent.
b) “I’m wrong to blame my spiritual failures on Mom.”  I never blamed Mom for my difficulties, I always saw that it was my job to heal the damage.
c) “I’m tired and bored with the whole thing.”  Because I can’t see how to go on.
d) “Valerie Hunt says the fear comes from soul problems stemming from past lifetimes not from childhood trauma in this one.”  What made her the expert?  I think my acceptance of her statement is me being willing to trivialize my experience.  It will be about 5 years before I understand that I was traumatized.  The story that I was traumatized in infancy makes sense of my life and gives me a way to work on healing.

I suppose it’s possible that the fear and the disorientation right now are so great because I’m refusing to do anything at all any more to placate those angry childhood gods.  I think the full collapse came when I stopped typing up my journals, when I gave up the hope that I would one day publish a book that would “justify my life.”  If I ever had published “Written in Blood” it would have made my parents very unhappy, so I was unable to see that it still represented an achievement that is acceptable in their world.  For some reason I don’t see building Neskaya as an “achievement” or a “justification for my life”, though I am sure, to many people looking from the outside, it would be just as much that as publishing a book.  But it’s not, I think because the motivation had nothing to do with “justifying my life”, but rather with needing the right sort of place to do these activities that are of spiritual importance to me, so much importance that I am willing to sacrifice some amount of comfort in living and my future security in order to build it.  (Added later) YES, DAMMIT, and isn’t that courage?  Instead I put myself down (my father’s internalized voice) for being foolish.

It amazes me that, right in the middle of a perfectly horrible experience, I’m still able to come to a powerful and spiritual conclusion. I am astonished at myself. Such a different person from who I think I am. This is deduction, not experience, I don’t feel that I am courageous, powerful, and spiritual, but I can see that I was.

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Intense Work with Parts

Intense therapy session with Erica.  We did some parts work which I found very complex and confusing at the time, and I was upset when it ended.  But reading back over my notes, I was able to make a lot more sense out of it.  I’ve been feeling a lot better today, not so lost, more grounded, back to my “real” self.

The important piece had to do with what IFS calls “polarization,” where two parts are pulling against each other.  The external circumstance was a dinner table conversation the night before.  At the table were two men I know somewhat as friends, and a woman in her nineties who has some memory loss and comes on very strongly.  My feelings about Molly were exactly what Erica was talking about, pulling in two directions, but it took us a while to get to them.  We needed to be able to identify my reactions correctly, with a certain amount of subtlety.  Simplistically, there was a part that didn’t like Molly and a part that envied her vivaciousness.  It took a while for me to understand that I didn’t like her because her vivaciousness felt false in some way, it wasn’t about connecting, it was about overwhelming us with her energy.  I didn’t in fact want to be like her.  My enthusiasm is not about me, but about the topic, and I want to have a real conversation, a discussion, not a speech.  I want there to be connection and relationship.

Last night, as I left the dining room, I was feeling like everyone saw me as a very boring person.  What I realized in the session with Erica was that I didn’t at all want to be like Molly, I wanted to be vivacious in my own way, with real enthusiasm for the topic but no wish to coerce someone into agreeing with me.  As I was leaving the dining room, though, all I had was the part who envied Molly and saw me as boring.

Oddly, I felt the presence of my introjected mother, criticizing me, but if my real mother had been there, she would have said of Molly “She thinks she’s so great.”  It looks like my introjected mother is not like my real mother, but a part who would only attack me, whereas I remember hearing Mother say of someone else “She thinks she’s so great.”  I realize that Molly really does “think she’s so great,” whereas I never do, I think astronomy or folk dance or somatic experiencing is great. Understanding that what I really want is the Truth ended the polarization.

But I can see, while the polarization was going on, it was very damaging.  As long as I had the two parts pulling me in opposite directions, I couldn’t see what was really going on, but got stuck in the place in between. No wonder I was confused and feeling hopeless. One thing that helped a lot was the presence of the two men, who didn’t buy into Molly’s intensity, but were more interested in conversation and relationship than figuring out what was “right.”

Posted in Present Day, Work with parts, Writing | Comments Off on Intense Work with Parts