I’ve been having a pretty bad time. I’ve started two drafts of blog posts, but haven’t been able to complete and post them. I’ve been having trouble concentrating and am easily distracted. This is the result of social distancing, simply not being with enough real physical people to regulate my nervous system. I started a project of hunting through my journals for 1991 – 1993 to find references to how we decided to build Neskaya, and what it took to actually do it. I found this piece in July 1992, written in a writers’ group that I facilitated. We started with an exercise of listing 10 chapters, and then writing them, that’s what the numbers in the following referred to. I was impressed with it as a very condensed story of my life.
I was born when my father was away fighting a war. I was the eldest of five, and too much responsibility for the younger ones fell on my shoulders as my parents wandered deeper into the morass of alcoholism. (1) As an adolescent, I felt myself to be rebel, beatnik, poet, but my rebellion spent itself in writing, on the surface I was debutant, honor student. My one attempt to break out, as apprentice in a summer theater, was ended the very first day by a collapsing ladder and a broken ankle. And by that time I had already settled for staying hidden backstage, and all my dreams of being onstage and speaking out in my own voice, those dreams dissolved without me even being aware that I had let them go. I graduated from Wellesley with a degree in astronomy, and my life tried again to break out of those confining conventions. I had no idea what to do with myself, so I went to Europe with Bettie. Astronomy, Stonehenge, the White Goddess, folkdance, they were all there in that year, like seeds planted underground to sprout later into strange, flamboyant plants.
2) I went to California to learn to be a science teacher, and to get as far as possible from my parents. There my outer life of denial and convention collided with my inner life of pain and protest. I tried to stop the war in Vietnam, I cut myself with razor blades and wrote with the blood, I was hospitalized for nervous breakdown, I came back east to lick my wounds and descended into a suicidal depression. 3) Jack said “Buddha said life is suffering” and I hit bottom with an audible thump. I went to the Rochester Zen Center and learned to meditate, cleaned up my diet, entered on the way of spiritual practice. 4) Struggling with questions of ego and self, I dreamed of lesbians, and catapulted out of the Zen Center on a rising tide of feminism.
5) I bought myself a house in Brunswick and settled down to make a good life for myself as a single woman. I began to study my dreams, and that opened to me the whole world of the lefthand way. 6) I began to write The Feminine of History, found the Center for Archaic Studies, met Dana. 7) Dana became partner in the work, friend, lover and husband. Marriage provided me with a kind of safety I had never had in my life which first allowed me to finish writing my book, and then to enter into a Dark night of the Soul.
8) I went into the depths of the candida swamp, and emerged by understanding the physical roots of my condition in chronic illness and the emotional roots in growing up in an alcoholic family. 9) The pain of the airplane phobia pushed me into the further understanding of how I had been damaged by sexual abuse in my childhood, and that led to my joining Journey into Courage and the tremendously healing act of speaking out. Back on stage at last — “This production marks the beginning of the artist in me coming out of the closet” — and a round of delighted applause. 10) And the artist keeps coming out, stretching beautiful red wings, supported and nurtured by Kripalu yoga and contemplative dance. And soon — in the future — Neskaya!!