Sometimes when I struggle with my identity I make choices that will connect me to the familiar, though exceedingly painful, false self.
In terms of practice, my authentic self is an amateur. He is less practiced at running the show. I wake up late and he is full of doubt, “Was waking up late a form of taking care of myself? Yes. Good job–you needed the rest. No! Waking was avoidance–now you can’t exercise! Hey, you’re doing it–you’re being hard on yourself. No need to do that.” He is full of doubt. He is doing his best but loses his way a bit. He knows that the things it takes to get back on track require…patience and self-compassion: turning towards myself rather than away. But instead of taking a short walk (some exercise is better than no exercise) or doing a meditation…he hands over the reins…
I reach out to someone from my past who I know will provide a minor rejection. Why? Did I really feel like communicating with them? No. Did I really want to see them? No. So why bother? Because I was looking for an excuse to fall; an excuse to justify my old familiar stories about myself as a lonely, dejected and unwanted being. It only took minutes to realize I was merely engaging in a self-sabotaging strategy. I was not reaching out from love, I was reaching out from a place of self-hatred.
And yet nothing much has changed from when I woke up this morning. Only a minor setback. At the end of the day all I did was make a tiny additional mess right before it was time to do the washing up. I am a bit embarrassed about it but in the great scheme of self-sabotaging actions it was nothing more than a small spill on the kitchen floor. A request to meet denied. A denial that is actually a good thing for me.
So here I sit at a crossroads: I can use what happened to point me in the right direction, or I can use it to return to tired, old stories that I’m, quite frankly, getting really sick of. I feel so lonely but I know that I feel this way because I lost myself Thursday. I wobbled off course and I need to gently walk back to the road I was on.
I was going to end the entry there but I want to create an alternative narrative before I begin my day. Thursday I woke up exceedingly early to help a friend. While helping this friend I was jarred by a minor accident (I was rear-ended but nobody was physically hurt). My sleep and eating schedule got thrown off. My closest friends were not as available as they usually are over the weekend and I missed them. I am facing a move of office that I realize is bringing up grief (the office I am leaving is one that contains many fond memories). The logistics of the move (due to the complicated nature of the people involved in allowing the move to go forward) are challenging. That is all that is happening. I’m not a different person to the one I was on Wednesday. The person who loves with a full heart; who enjoys helping; who enjoys his own company; who lets in the love that is around him–he is the real me. He’s right around here somewhere. I’ll find him.
There are days on which my unconscious is too fatigued to execute the strategies intrinsic to my character structure: days when I am not quite up to the challenge of being my authentically false self.
the dying green foliage wraps the mountain like a torn and tattered blanket. beneath–dry dusty earth. above–a sky so utterly bright and blue that it looks as phony as those catchpenny paintings sold to suckers on the boardwalk. another day in paradise. sameness and soullessness masquerading as niceness.
Helios’ beggarly voice (can you not hear him begging for your gratitude?!) does not drown out the whispers of extinction. i will not pray to you. shameless thief–this is not your season! i will hunt you down, plunge this pen into your belly and drag it up toward your throat. i will take the hot sticky mess that spills out of you, lay it on a stone and pray for rain. a humble rain that will not shame me. a rain to which i will grant my gratitude freely.
look away for a second (I know how badly you wish to gaze at your worshipers) and i will murder you while wearing a smile. i will be here waiting…
I feel a sweet drowsy sadness. The kind that wants a hug but also space for thoughtfulness.
I said goodbye to my therapist today. Perhaps not forever, but for now. We were in agreement that I had taken a lot in over a relatively short period and that I was integrating it into my life.
We talked a bit about the changes we saw in me. He told me I was a beautiful human and I expressed my appreciation for him. Then we watched hummingbirds through the window and talked about them and the branches and the flowers. Somehow this seemed like a perfect ending—a metaphor for how we were together: quiet, wise, observant, sensitive, soulful.
I know this is the right thing for me but it’s never easy to say goodbye. The kid in me is saying that I need to cling to him; he believes that the therapist fills his emptiness. The kid is too young to realize that he was but a loving guide who helped me do it myself. Oh yes, the kid is having an anxious cry now. He’s afraid. He’ll be okay—I’ll tend to him.
All grief deserves time and sweetness even if life doesn’t always allow for it. I think of all the clients, therapists and friends and lovers I have said goodbye to over my life and my heart expands. Unfortunately this is all the time I have to grieve today. Responsibility calls and I need to set the grief aside for a while.
To think is to stray from the truth.
Solitude is real. Loneliness is something I think my way into.
Anger is real. Thoughts turn it to hatred.
Love is real. Thoughts convince me I should cling to it.
This emptiness I feel is a flimsy lie built by thought. I will not allow it to stand between me and a strong beating heart.
It hurts to write this because it is taking me away from gazing at the world.
Reasons are exhausting and I am weary of being weary.
Sometimes I feel compelled to write even when I have nothing to say. It has become a way of conversing with myself and not allowing my solitude to transform into loneliness.
I am slightly less interested in what people have to say about me even when I am open and full of love. I don’t feel like being dug into; I want to dig here on this blog or while I look out the window. I currently resent therapy for the way it forces me to explore at a designated time and hour. The healing power of being witnessed currently means less to me.
I used to dream of finding a good interpersonal therapy group where now that sounds like a nightmare. I do not wish to receive feedback by anyone other than my small handful of loved ones.
In my history I have used retreat, avoidance and collapse as a way of coping. But I know that my current desire to flee therapy and to speak less is not avoidance because my heart sees beauty everywhere. I feel so much love. That is not collapse—those are signs of being fully alive.
Some would say I am not really living if I’m not traveling or in a partnership or if I don’t have children or attend social gatherings (or at least the voices I have internalized would). But I get more out of a walk to a bad restaurant than many do after a weekend in Paris. And I have more sensuality and romance in my “lonely” life than many couples have in theirs.
I realize now that the flip side of my trauma is that it forced me to learn to be with myself. And I’m tired of fighting that. My heart remains open to change but for now I would like to look out my window or have quiet coffee time with a friend who knows me even when I do not speak.
This desire for quiet retreat and quiet company is not a way of avoiding life: it’s a way of feeling alive.
If I am to be alone then I would like to be so with grace. I do not wish to be bitter and angry. I want my heart to get bigger; to grow increasingly attuned to beauty.
My romance will be with The Mundane. I will fall in love with dandelions peaking through cracked sidewalks; warm expressions that soften hardened faces; the steady sound of passing cars; shadows that dance on hardwood floors…
I will find beauty in the everydayness that many find boring. And my attraction will be all the more precious to me for that reason.