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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