From post for October 2003:

The pain in my heart is so great — there’s something about this deep level that’s so difficult.  I suppose because I’m so practiced at making myself wrong and turning away from this kind of pain.
Did my best to sit and breathe with it for 20 minutes.  It’s very painful.  I understand better why people will do anything — keep busy, drink, abuse children — to avoid feeling this kind of pain.  I think this is the “soft spot” that Pema Chodron talks about.  It’s like an unhealed wound.  Part of the pain is the vulnerability — too open and sensitive, feeling only cold hostility or indifference — desperately wanting to be safe and warm and comforted and not seeing any possibility of that.

“It’s like an unhealed wound.  Part of the pain is the vulnerability — too open and sensitive, feeling only cold hostility or indifference — desperately wanting to be safe and warm and comforted and not seeing any possibility of that.”

One thing I’ve been finding very helpful is to go back and read old blog entries. I can finally see is how far I have come, how much healing I have done.  This particular description, “too open and sensitive, feeling only cold hostility or indifference,” I realize now, is exactly how sensitive Baby Jenny felt when cold narcissistic Mom left her alone.

The last time I felt any vestige of that was in December 2019, when I went to sit with Little Jenny in the Pit, and the Pit began to crumble.

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Wisdom from my Younger Self

Reading my journal from decades ago, I am sometimes astounded at things I realized, that somehow got lost — I suppose because they didn’t fit my “worldview.”  Here’s an example:

June 24, 1992
I never wrote that yesterday, after the work with clay, I decided that it was time to face the mirrors.  I wore the walkman with the “mouth music” tape in it.  I just listened to the music, danced as I usually do, and then sneaked a look in the mirrors.  I was astonished!  I see now what the Journey women mean when they describe me as “boneless.”  And I see that my self-image is way out of date, or perhaps was never accurate.  I think of myself as skinny, angular, and tense, with all the energy in her head and shoulders, and no real connection between my upper body and my legs.  What I saw was a person who is very sensual and organic and fluid, whose body is full of energy and expressiveness.  I did some of the movements that I do when I want to dance lightly, thinking of them as subtle and not very obvious.  I discovered that they are highly visible and very beautiful.  Somehow I thought I had to make big movements for my gestures to be seen — that’s not true at all, my big movements are in some ways less successful.  I also really like having the mirrors give me feedback, I could see when my rear end is sticking out and remember to tuck it in which not only looks better but feels better too, more supportive.  What an amazing experience!

June 25, 1992
I shared with Daphne my experience in front of the mirrors.  She was touched, and she said that my dancing was powerful, vivid, sinuous, and muscular.  What wonderful words.  “Vivid” especially, and I can own it after seeing what my “subtle” movements look like.  And all this time I’ve been imagining myself as angular, bony, and invisible.

This was written during a time at a 5-day Contemplative Dance Retreat at Hampshire College.  Contemplative Dance is a different name for what is also called “Authentic Movement,” partly to honor the understanding that ALL movement is authentic.  It is very hard to lie with the body.  This version is taught by Alton Wasson and Daphne Lowell.  I think of my surprise at seeing myself in the mirror, very different from my idea of myself as “angular, bony, invisible.”  Usually when I see myself in the mirror, I don’t like what I see.  This is true even now.  I think of the 97 pound anorexic who looks in the mirror and says “I’m so fat.”  What we see is not what we “really” look like, if there is such a thing.  Maybe we look different to every person who sees us.

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What can I do with what’s left?

Today I had a really hard time.  Because of COVID, there are a number of offerings on the internet, talks, webinars, ongoing classes, all of which are of potential interest to me.  I start to feel overwhelmed, and then a sort of “false urgency” — that I’ve got to DO SOMETHING!  I don’t have any sense of which thing might be appropriate — O gosh I notice my language — “appropriate”  — according to whom!  Do I feel any desire of the “I want that one” kind?

I also have a practical issue, I should have some insurance that will cover me where Medicare doesn’t.  Since my health is pretty good, I don’t want something with a high premium, I’d rather have something with a low premium and a high deductible.  I talked to someone who recommended a particular plan, but also sent me a number of different plans.  But looking at them, I just got overwhelmed and confused.  It was like my brain just couldn’t think.  Part of it is that there are so many variables, and I don’t know what half of them are.  I feel a sort of frozen panic, and recognize “false urgency.”  I HAVE to pick the “right” one.  

I was in such a hyper-vigilant state that I couldn’t figure out what to do.  It might be a good idea to go outside, walk the dog, but I couldn’t move.  Find a way to CALM DOWN!!!!   Frantically trying to calm down.  But no energy.  Finally I lay down with the dog for comfort, and concentrated on breathing slowly.  Eventually I calmed down enough to take the dog for a walk in the rain, just the right thing to do.

What’s really horrible about this time of COVID, climate emergency, political idiocy, is the strong sense of MUST DO SOMETHING, and nothing I can do at the moment.  If I could do anything at all?  I’d be back at Neskaya, with energy to change the decorations, and to put together a series of dances that celebrate diversity, and the life-support system of the earth.  That would feel like the right thing to be doing, to be enacting the world we want to see right now.  But that’s not an option.  I’m too old, don’t have the energy, can’t take care of myself, need help just to survive.  And we can’t have dances at Neskaya right now anyway, unless with masks and social distancing.  Can’t imagine what that would be like.

So my other choice is to grieve.  Grieve the life that I never had enough energy to really live, grieve the suffering of so many people, creatures, and our planet.  But grieving properly needs the support of community.

What can I do with what I have left?  Thank the trees for taking my carbon dioxide and giving back oxygen.  Take care of my little dog.  Support my friends when I have the opportunity.  Use resources as carefully as possible.  Try not to become despairing that, because of COVID, my community is generating an enormous amount of waste that can’t be recycled.

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Pressure to “Prove that I Deserve to Live”

I’ve been reading through my journal from the beginning.  These two entries really impressed me as describing a dynamic which I have been coming to know well.  I have called it “keeping going through a blizzard” and “false urgency.”  It will be several years before I recognize that this push is related to the need to “prove that I deserve to live.”

My therapist at that time was Karen Collins, whose work focuses on the body, actually important for someone dealing with trauma, though I had no idea at that time.

From my journal for May 28, 1992

Therapy session.  Got to the necessity of creating safety for myself, and creating supportive structures, so I don’t get pushed into things faster than I want to go — so I don’t spend lots of energy resisting the pushing.  Supportive structures: discovered that using the timer to break my momentum/addiction at the computer (which isn’t good for my health not to mention my life) by allowing myself to work on Ritual Year for 30 minutes and then doing housework for 30 minutes is a supportive structure.  I do in fact enjoy choosing entries and editing them, I love it that editing is so easy on the computer, but I don’t get to enjoy it when I’m pushing myself to finish so fast.  And why do I push myself so hard?  Karen said it’s because I never felt safe enough to explore the whole process.

O. the tree that they tore up and left lying there with its roots exposed [enlarging the main crossroad of town].  I guess it’s dead now, I hope it’s dead.  It makes me so angry that they did that, a nice little maple, it could have been planted somewhere else, or they could have at least dug up a decent sized root ball — such a shame.  And I feel such pain thinking about it so it’s clear that I identify with it.  Uprooted just as the leaves were starting to come out — leaves just unfolding and roots grasping for soil, gasping for water.  Lying there exposed at the public cross road, people walk by and don’t notice, don’t care, don’t help, and it’s helpless to do anything, can’t walk to the river for water, can’t hide its roots in the cool dark soil but must lie there exposed to the merciless heat.  I feel so bad, so sad, I want to help but what can I do?  I have no place to put it, it’s a lot of work to dig a hole that big.  No tree rescue possible.  I’m helpless.  Step one.  I’m helpless and I’m so sad and sorry.  Give it up, let it go, give it back into the hands of the tree deva, it’s just a hair on the head of the total organism, let it go.

Safety, safety for myself.  This journal, this writing is a place of safety that I created for myself.  Keep the roots hidden, in the dark, near the springs of water.  Do not expose it too soon.  Need to let safety be the priority, everything else will come of itself.  Safety is the soil in which psyche can grow.  How do I keep this journal safe?  By editing appropriately, not giving it to people to read too soon, taking out parts I’m not comfortable with etc.  Also things like setting the timer for helping Alice, so I could still have time for yoga.

How can I create safety when the airplanes come?  That’s the hardest.  Music, fans, computer work.  And admitting that I’m powerless.  That’s all I have.  Not much.  A candle in a war zone.

May 29, 1992

Dana & Greg ripped out the cupola yesterday.  I was sitting at the computer trying to finish the corrections to Ritual Year so I could take the printed copy to Jan to read.  When a big piece of board all covered with roofing tar came crashing through and left black stains on the carpet, I realized it was too much and shut down the computer.  I was having too many feelings to be clear about them.  Part of me was really enjoying the destruction, the ripping apart, the opening up, starting to see the trees through the roof, then the sky and clouds, then feeling the rush of fresh air through the house.  Part of me was very upset at the invasion of my house, the dirt falling down inside, the boards sliding down the roof and landing in the perennial bed.  Part of me was denying that there was anything to be upset about and part of me was hard at work on the computer project.  So it felt like a real committee inside, a real jumble of feelings.

I told Karen about all this, and cried for a little.  I also felt angry that I couldn’t just enjoy the little boy glee of destruction.  Then I said I was having trouble with that intense push to finish the book, it was like it was pushing me faster than I want to go.  Sitting at the computer all day is not good for my body, it’s not good for my house, it’s not good for my life, and I don’t even get to enjoy the choosing and editing because I’m in such a hurry to finish.

I said I experienced the pressure as an intense wind, blowing endlessly in one direction, that I could resist it, and spend all my energy resisting, or lie down and spend the rest of my life flattened out.  Karen said something about trying to get to the flowering part of the cycle and forgetting all the rest.  Yes, there’s dormancy underground, and then the seed starts to grow, makes roots, makes stalk, makes leaves, then a bud, and finally a flower.  Then the flower droops and dries, seeds form and fall, and we’re back to dormancy again.  Karen said I had never felt safe enough to experience the whole cycle.  I was surprised that “safety” would be the critical factor, but she’s right.  The pressure to produce something that everyone can see as a valuable accomplishment must be an effort to ward off… what? criticism?  (now I see that it’s really an effort to get to the place where there’s nourishment in the form of positive feedback from outside.  As a child there wasn’t any support for daydreaming, fooling around, playing, woolgathering, doing nothing, etc, yet an artist must spend a long time in these dormant or low key states in order to gather enough energy to push out a work.  I think of that poor tree dying at the crossroads with its roots exposed, a sacrifice to efficiency.)

Comment from March 1993: Actually, I disagree now, it’s not gathering energy so much as allowing the work to form itself that requires a period of “dormancy”.

We worked on the feeling of being pushed by the wind.  Even if it’s pushing me where I want to go (because I do want to complete the book or books) how do I keep it from pushing me faster than I want to go.  I thought about flags: attached to a pole, it can play with the wind, and sails: a boat can use the wind to go in any direction, even tacking upwind is possible.  Then Karen suggested I take up a crawling position, facing the way I wanted to go, feeling the wind at my back.  My rear end felt incredibly vulnerable, I sat right down saying “No, I won’t.”  Then Karen leaned a big pillow against my back and leaned on it a little.  I was surprised that it felt very comfortable.  It felt supportive, not like the wind which could push me off my feet.  I said I needed to change the image, that it was more like a rule book, and I could take the parts I wanted and throw away the rest.  Karen started personifying my parents’ rules, saying things like “who do you think you are”  “you have to produce” etc.  I answered back: “I’m myself — I live by my own rules.”  She said “these are the rules, the way it’s supposed to be.”  I said “No, they are only your rules.”  Finally she said “You’re bad.”  I laughed and said “You can’t use that one to manipulate me any more — I’m bad, and it’s OK to be bad.”  Then she said “I’ll just take my book and leave,” and removed the pressure from the pillow.  I felt bereft, and realized that I needed some positive rules, a supportive structure.  So we discussed how I could create rules and structure that would promote safety in my life.  I suggested rules like: “It’s OK to have fun” each with its counter-rule like: “It’s OK not to have fun.”  Also I realized that using the timer to do 30 minutes at the computer and then 30 minutes of housework, to slow the momentum, was a very wise and clever thing I had done for myself.

Karen suggested I try the crawling position again, with the pillow representing structure that supported/protected my backside.  That felt good.  I realized that I felt safe to explore, to go sideways, to follow a meandering route toward that distant goal, to choose at any time to go somewhere else.

Thinking about it afterward, I realized that by discussing strategies for slowing momentum and creating safety, we had broken up the power of the wind.  It no longer seemed so continuous, blowing forever, but rather something that comes in gusts.  (Karen said something about waiting til the wind died down.  I said this wind is not the wind of nature, it will never die down.  Well of course the feeling of my childhood was always this enormous unending pressure to be somewhere, or someone, other than I was.)  I saw that when I tried to resist it, it was like holding up a sail and then that held the wind in place and I got stuck in a battle of resistance.  (Karen said that resistance was how I survived my childhood.)  But if I saw the wind as coming in gusts, then I could just lie down flat and let it bowl over me, and then get up and go about my business when it was gone.

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“Dead” Bulbs Come Back to Life

From my journal:

Thursday, September 17
The most amazing thing has happened!  I went to water the plants while my second cup of tea is brewing, and the two narcissus bulbs that never sprouted have put out green shoots! Resurrection can happen, even when you have given up.  Maybe only when you have given up.
They were talking in grief group about getting up and going on, and I remembered — but didn’t say — that it always feels like it’s a non-conscious part of me that picks me up after collapse.  That’s the importance of AA’s first step.  “Acknowledged that I was powerless.”  Accepting that you’re not in control.  That allows the larger process to move you.  That’s when it gets easy.

Thursday, October 1
I went down to the window to look for the pink clouds, and saw the strong green leaves that the “dead” narcissus bulbs are putting out.  Did I love them back into life?  I feel redeemed, and forgiven, and showered with grace.

When I went back and checked, the first time I saw them was the day after I had been to grief group in person for the first time in six months.  Allowing myself to recognize how badly triggered I was, and what a relief it was to be with people who were real, may have been what encouraged the bulbs.  Watered with the tears of grief.  They belong with the poem about rewriting my life.  Rebirth happens!

I suspect these bulbs didn’t flower because they had been forgotten for at least a year.  They were for sale in a box in “The Attic” where things residents don’t want get sold for small prices.  The previous owner may even have died.

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Rewriting My Life

From my journal for yesterday:

WholeHeart:    poem is Making Peace by Denise Levertov

“If we restructured the sentence our lives are making.”
The sentence my life is making.  It definitely needs to be restructured.
Trauma becomes initiation.
Abuse becomes siding with the underdog.
“Don’t think you’re so great” becomes I share what I love with enthusiasm.
Lost in outer darkness becomes…   I don’t know.  Maybe a song about grief.
Grief is the everlasting flow of a never-ending river,
grief allowed, shared, listened to becomes a
bigger space to live,
a community in which one can be real,
share what hurts, be vulnerable and creative and silly.

What I wrote this morning;

I feel completely different.  I feel solid, grounded, legitimate.  I have rewritten the sentence my life is making.

I think I must be trusting the larger process, that there is something much bigger going on, that people are waking up.  I can’t believe for a moment that Thump will win the election.  I know that COVID is happening, that people are suffering, and I hold out my arms in a welcoming hug.  I know that we are poisoning the planet — maybe I have a sense that the forces that are reweaving health are bigger.  I was thinking yesterday that I have faith that nothing is meaningless, even tho it can look that way, that there is meaning in the bigger picture that’s too big for us to see.

Little pink clouds are appearing in blue sky behind trees that are full of big holes where leaves have fallen.

What events in my life have contributed to this?  Grief group on Zoom.  WholeHeart.  Reading Accidental Saints and how God uses and forgives and redeems our mistakes and cruelties.  Reading the book about energy healing and changing beliefs.  Reading the book Beverly recommended — Sand Talk — by a Native Australian about Indigenous Land-based ways of looking at the world: such a vastly different way of seeing.  And there was a daily good, that I can’t remember right now, that I posted on facebook — I’ve hardly looked at facebook in the last week —   this complete inability to remember happened about Bob’s talk, tho I did remember when I started to write.  It’s very disconcerting, this inability to remember.  I’m only a little worried about it, because I suspect it’s part of a restructuring of my operating system, and I’m surrendering to that process.

There was a whole thing in the energy healing book about creating what you want in your life.  Creating a detailed intention and holding to it.  But I think of how I got to Stonehenge the second time — “I’ll have to get back to Stonehenge” was the sum total of my “intention.”  And the time that Conrad and Julia showed up when I thought “I want something.  If I were still living in Arlington, I’d go into Harvard Square…”  when I saw C and J I thought “Intellectual conversation! That’s what I want!”

I cheated and looked up the Daily Good: Krista Tippett interviewing angel Kyodo williams, a Black female Zen master.  She is talking about the huge movement toward human wholeness.  Reminds me that Nkem Ndefo, another Black woman, has been a huge part of me being able to accept numbness as a legitimate way to protect myself.

My god!  I’ve done a good job with the tough hand I was dealt!

I went down to the window to look for the pink clouds, which were gone, and the sun is up, and saw the strong green leaves that the “dead” narcissus bulbs are putting out.  Did I love them back into life?  I feel redeemed, and forgiven, and showered with grace.

O yes I also went back and read about my weekend with Teresa, how rich it was, and followed the link to Nadia at ELCA.  “God will use your mistakes and failures…”

Back to the issue of creating what I want — but the only thing I’ve wanted is more engagement with people who are being real — and to do god’s will.  MLK: “and He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain, and I’ve seen the Promised Land…”

… to do whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing here at Kendal.  “You’re already doing it.”

I imagine I won’t lose this place.  I think of all the other times I’ve “arrived” and thought “I’ve done it!” and then fell back down.  But those times were when I felt like I had come out on top of the cliff I’d been climbing, or gotten out of the Pit.  Now I feel more like I’m down inside, solid and strong, supported by the earth that holds me.  Getting out the “Pieces of Iona” for Grief group reminded me of the time, sitting in Findhorn’s retreat house on Iona, I sent a root down to find bedrock, and the rock opened and welcomed me in.

I can do something completely new!”  I tried two little things that I’ve been scared to do.

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The Meaning of My Life, 1976

from my journal for February 22, 1976

very black mood last night.  feeling like my life was like a sketch that has gone wrong and should be abandoned, torn up, so that a new start could be made.  So I went to Trudi, and talked about it, and about ‘religion’ and self-actualizing and the necessity for faith in the ultimate workings of the universe, in the meaning of one’s own life.

Because of course, the meaning of my life is most likely not at all what I would think it is.  My problem all along has been pride: its a very arrogant and egotistical attitude to demand immediate tangible rewards, to want to see the good that one has done, instead of just accepting, humbly, the good that one does just by being there, the good that one does without ever knowing about it, and that requires a sort of humble faith in the universe instead of an arrogant demand that one’s questions be answered.  Which is why I have to start doing zazen again, and discipline myself to some kind of schedule.  Not because I really understand why I’m doing it, or why it works, but because my life falls apart without it, without some discipline performed in the light of ‘religious’ or devotional necessity.  (necessity? was that the word?  I got distracted and lost it)

Comment while typing 1976 in 1989
It amazes me now that I thought it was “pride” that wanted immediate tangible results, that could not accept “the good that one does just by being there”.  That’s not “pride”, that’s the result of growing up in an alcoholic family where I was given no support or praise for being myself: how could I possibly relax into understanding that all by myself, without any accomplishments, I’m OK.  I’m still struggling to get that one now.  And how does one develop faith in the workings of the universe, when it appears to resemble an alcoholic parent — capricious, malicious, and willful.   Jan 89.

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From 1988: Fantasy? Prophesy?

When I read this in my journal, as we struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, I wonder How did I know?  Even the association of failure to honor the Earth Spirits causing climate disruption.  This is the shaman I was designed to be but never got there.  Didn’t believe that my ideas for “science fiction” might refer to some reality.  At the time I was suffering from the noise of airplanes.  The building referred to is the house I built with my husband when we were still married, not Neskaya, which hadn’t even been thought of yet.

But I do sometimes think that, far in the future, the roof of Neskaya will still be standing.  People who come will know the space is sacred, and maybe even the area of the Notch will be sacred again.

from my journal for August 3, 1988

I had an idea for a book I might write using these journals.  I could pretend to be an historian of the future, commenting on these journals which record the troublesome and fascinating twentieth century, from the time just before the great plagues that killed off half the population and left the rest with new psychic capacities and sensitivities.  The books would have been found buried near one of the few buildings left standing after the earthquakes closed Franconia Notch, a building that had become a shrine for pilgrims because it had clearly been built using geomantic principles.  “The author was one of those burdened with awareness that would become common fifty years later.  When most of the population began to suffer from the noise of machines, the kinds of machinery we use were changed radically to the sort of quiet, unobtrusive servants we all use today.  Now of course we know that the Franconia Notch area is a very sacred place, the abode of nature spirits, and people only enter it on foot at certain times of year for periods of retreat and ceremonies.  The abuse of such sacred places is one of the reasons why the climate was so bad at the end of the twentieth century.”  And so on.

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Alone in an Empty Universe

From my journal for Thursday, September 24

3rd cup. coffee.  WholeHeart questions.
The poem was about a lighthouse
1. Who are your light keepers?
2. What keeps you afloat?
3. How are you “keeping a light for those left out”?

I found them very difficult.  I feel like there’s no source of light in my life right now  —— first, I am aware of the sunlight falling in my room, then of the moon last night.  Then of Sebastian, totally unaware of his strength, of the light he is carrying ——     As for “keeping a light for those left out,” I’m in outer darkness myself.  No, I’m not in outer darkness, Baby Jenny is in outer darkness and I am the Witness.  I see her there and I sit down next to her.  I don’t know if that can be called “keeping a light.”

I’ve been thinking that, a baby, who’s before the age of object constancy, is absolutely alone when mother is out of sight.  If mother is out of sight for too long the baby is traumatized.  What does that baby feel?  An utter aloneness.  In the dark, no light, no warmth, an empty universe, there aren’t even any people in it.  It’s not like I’m all alone, maybe even feeling horribly lonely, but I know there are other people in the world.  I know that now, as an adult.  But a baby without object constancy does not know that, cannot experience that.  What she experiences is an utter aloneness, so overwhelmingly painful to feel  —— what would you feel if you were the last person left alive on the Earth? —— that the baby’s reptilian brainstem goes into freeze, and the baby will suffer from PTSD for the rest of her life.

I realize that the importance of “3rd cup” writings is they give my subconscious a chance to process the information.  I find that there are often questions that I simply don’t know the answer to right away.  Sometimes, a day later, or after a walk with the dog, I find myself coming to an answer.

WholeHeart” is an organization in Burlington VT.  They have weekly “Wellness Circles” on Zoom.  We are read a poem, given prompts, allowed 5 minutes to write.  Then we are put into breakout groups of two or three, and given 5 minutes apiece to read what we wrote, or just talk about what it brought up.  The two people who are not reading are asked to “listen generously,” to not offer advice or criticism.  I have found it very helpful in this time of pandemic.  Especially now, as Kendal has 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the staff, and is in lockdown mode.

Sebastian is a character from Elizabeth Goudge‘s novel, The Heart of the Family.  He is a survivor of bombing and concentration camps.  He’s obviously dealing with PTSD, though it’s not named.  He is described as grey, dry, and dusty, but also as having great strength that he doesn’t seem to know about.

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Not Feeling at Home in My Own Body

From The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk, MD: “Traumatized people do not recognize their bodies as a source of pleasure and comfort or even as part of themselves that needs care and nurturance. When we cannot rely on our body to signal safety or warning and instead feel chronically overwhelmed by physical stirrings we lose the capacity to feel at home in our own skin and, by extension, the whole world. As long as their map of the world is based on trauma, abuse and neglect people are likely to seek shortcuts to oblivion anticipating rejection, ridicule and deprivation they are reluctant to try out new options certain these will lead to failure. This lack of experimentation traps people in a matrix of fear, isolation and scarcity where it is impossible to welcome the very experiences that might change their basic world view.”      

From my journal for October 3, 1976  Visit to an old friend

o dear. cramps this morning, now headache and tension. It helped a lot to talk to B, perhaps cramps are related to the effort to keep things in. I really am an uptight person in spite of all my efforts to hang loose (effort creating tension?) Feeling especially that way now — why? Old feelings of being criticized by B, which I recognize now as projections of my critical parent on to her. Also the experience last night, with marijuana brownies, major freak-out-unable-to-speak, old feelings of paranoia and fear. Beginning to see that thats just an intensification of how I feel anyway in a social situation: tense, paranoid, unable to express myself for fear of what? indifference, rejection, criticism? Also perhaps a feeling of wanting to be my best self with her family, wanting them to see how I’ve grown and changed, and this creates a tension, a pressure. unable to relax and be myself. Old feelings of being an unsophisticated and mannerless child.

By this time, I’ve had a major breakdown, been in therapy off & on, but I still think this is who I am, not the result of how my parents treated me as a child.

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