Tonight my eyes were opened, something that seems so simple…how did I miss this?
Twice in the past few weeks, I found myself in positions that threatened my perception of being in control of my body and my space. I found myself in positions that instantaneously blind-sided me with frightening sensations I experienced in my teens, when someone I respected and trusted, looked up to, adored even, violated that very respect and trust. I found my feet again a couple of days after the first time. After the second time I went from functioning well enough to feeling paralyzed, barely functioning at all. Pretty damn close to just not functioning. I am not much for drinking or engaging in any behavior that is too self-destructive. And I didn’t, but I really, really, really wanted to.
I think what I’m finally beginning to see tonight is how desperately I’ve fought against, stuffed, compartmentalized, avoided. In order to keep functioning, I thought. So I could get back to work, to this meeting, that meeting, this training, that appointment. Sometimes crying quietly in a public bathroom stall, sometimes sobbing in the car between sites, then stuffing it in this pocket or that pocket and getting myself back out there. And it has worked, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over ….and … sigh. Until it didn’t. Kinda like spraying perfume on shit, but never actually cleaning up the shit, then wondering why the smell keeps coming back.
I have to laugh right now. I am, really, hard-headed.
I have a really good therapist. A very patient therapist. It’s not like she hasn’t tried to tell me. I’ve been pushing back because I have not been able to see any value in talking about or re-living this experience. All it has ever done for me is to trigger anguish all over again.
The fighting against, the stuffing, the compartmentalizing, the avoiding…all the quick fix strategies/survival skills I’ve employed…they do work, for a long or a little while. But she guided me through a meditation today that showed me a different way. A more effective way, I now think. It seems so simple: Allowing the discomfort, the sensations, and staying with them. The meditation used words like, “noticing it…letting it be…making room for it…inviting it in ….allowing …acknowledging …staying with … breathing with …opening up a space for the discomfort in your heart, feeling it, with compassion and kindness toward yourself and your experience.”
“Opening up a space for the discomfort in my heart?” You mean, it belongs in my heart? I mean, I’ve been scrambling like HELL to keep it OUT of my heart. OUT of my mind. OUT of my soul. I mean, that’s logical, right? If you KNOW that thinking about, remembering, feeling something again has caused you deep distress in the past, then logically, you are going to make every effort to prevent continued distress that could be brought on by having to think about or experience it again. Letting it in is kind of like drinking poison, right?
“Feeling it, with compassion and kindness toward myself and my experience?” What? Whoa.
But, you know what? That’s what I did. And it didn’t kill me. It didn’t make things worse. It didn’t trigger me and it didn’t leave me with a wide-open gaping wound, which is what I’ve been most afraid of. It was very hard for me to do, to stay with the shit, then to open up space in my heart for it, with kindness toward myself and my experience of it. And I wasn’t sure right away that I’d done the best thing by agreeing to participate in this guided meditation. I could barely even speak when it was done. But I became conscious on my hour-long drive home of feeling very oddly peaceful. Not wanna-be peaceful, but real peaceful. Real.
This changes things.