Working with “Stuck Heart”

from my journal for Friday, July 30

Woke at 5.  Intense heat.  Some fear, but mostly stuck heart.  Feeling desperately discouraged, unable to tune in or figure out what is going on with my heart.  Unable to get any compassion for it, stuck in this painful place.  Trying to be “good” so whatever is punishing me will stop?

“Stuck heart” is very hard to explain.  It’s not fear, but as uncomfortable as fear.  My heart feels squeezed and defended instead of relaxed and open.

Tutu talks about the fear of not being good enough.  “Our perfection is the price we imagine we must pay for the love of God.  So we strive endlessly to ‘be good’ or to ‘do good’ instead of realizing that we are good.” p23  “We need to simply live out of the joy and generosity of our own goodness.    It doesn’t matter if we fall short, because it has no effect on God’s love for us.”  p24

Desmond Tutu, Made for Goodness

So much of my life was spent trying to “prove that I deserve to live despite the fact that my parents were disappointed in me.”  But when I built Neskaya, I wasn’t thinking about deserving to live.  And when I teach the dances and create ceremony I do it because I love the dances and want to share them.  When I go to Grief Group, I can share my pain safely, and I can witness another’s pain and feel honored by the gift.

I think I must be imagining, as I struggle with the fear, and the blocked heart, that if I could do it “right” the fear would stop, my heart would ease.  Can I forgive myself for not being able to do it “right”?

Tutu’s book has a chapter called Stop “Being Good”

The belief that I am somehow making myself miserable, but I don’t know how to stop doing it.  Is it the trying so hard to “get it right” that’s making me miserable?  I realize that I am beginning to trust myself to know when to do something.  I did manage to cancel Ferry Beach.  I haven’t ordered the substitutes Vreeland suggested from Wellevate because it hasn’t “felt right,” not because I am scared.  I realize that despite being scared, I did continue writing big checks while Neskaya was being built.  Despite being terrified, I did make the travel arrangements and go to the West Coast for the Francis Weller workshop.

I think what I need to do is “take a big step back” and look at the Jenny with the stuck heart.  I see a child desperately trying to make her mother happy and failing and feeling desperately discouraged and wrong and bad.  Like someone in Grief Group.  What did I feel for her?  Enormous compassion.  I put my arms around Little Jenny, and tell her that nothing she does will ever please her mother, not because she is wrong and bad, but because her mother is not capable of being make happy.  It’s not little Jenny’s fault.  I remember hugging Mom when she said “I’m not feeling good about myself right now.”  But most of the time she was not willing to be vulnerable.

I’m vaguely remembering a time when I treated her very gently — could it have been after Dad’s funeral — and she said “That terrible person won’t be around any more.”  But I didn’t see that my being kind had anything to do with it.  Now I wonder, if I could have managed to be kind might she have been able to stop drinking?  But I realize she would have needed the support of the AA community to be able to stop drinking.  And at the same time I sent out to Mom a plea for forgiveness that I didn’t see that continuing to be kind would have been a worthwhile thing to do, even if it never got mother to stop drinking.

See previous post for journal entry relating this time with Mom

Sending a plea to Mom for forgiveness was the first time I felt a positive connection to Mom since she died.

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