A Flood of Loneliness

Loneliness has replaced the depression and anxiety that filled me when I was still enmeshed in that most recent abusive relationship. Depression and anxiety are sharp and dangerous pains that make my body feel ill. Right now, loneliness is a dull ache that hovers around me and seeps inside when I am completely unaware. Loneliness doesn’t crowd out all other emotion and thought as depression and anxiety do. It is soft and pliable, moving aside to make room for wonder at nature or sudden bursts of joy. For me loneliness, like a gray cloudy day, walks hand in hand with creativity. It takes an easy pace, remaining soft and open, maintaining a willingness to settle into itself, resistance free. Loneliness doesn’t feel like a disease.

The depression and anxiety that come of loosing one’s sense of self is a cancer that will grow without notice until it suddenly takes your life away. I saw my mother, who was so full of light and love grow weary, lost, and heavy with depression; by the end of her life she had literally turned gray. I watched my father suck the life out of her, bit-by-bit, day-by-day. That was my perception of a “relationship” as I grew up.  On some level this became my normal and so I’ve mimicked my mother’s choices without consciousness by creating such experiences as: having my sense of self and power stolen at penis point or having it quietly pick pocketed away, but this last time I’ve just handed it over on a silver platter, with a flourish, while I groveled upon my knees. What kind of self respecting feminist dyke does that?!?!?

Earlier this week I had typed up a long diatribe about the many fucked up reasons I did such a “crazy” thing, complete with thoughtful justifications and deep regrets. Today however I picked up a book I have been intending to read, “Parami-Ways to Cross Life’s Floods”*. What I found in those pages lead me to a more constructive way to look at the past actions I’ve been pondering and the consequences they’ve brought upon what I hesitantly call “me”.

First, from the book:
“The term ‘floods’ speaks for itself; the overwhelmed, swept-along feeling that comes as we get plunged into stress and suffering. In the Buddhist texts, the word is sometimes used in the broad sense of…being overwhelmed by sorrow, lamentation and despair…  In their most specific use…the floods refer to four currents, also called ‘outflows’, that run underneath the bubbling stream of mental activity. There they remain unseen yet direct the flow of the stream.”

That wily creature known as the subconscious mind, rather than excuses about what is already done, is the important concept to examine.

The floods are the constant babble that go on in my mind; the assumptions, regrets, worries and general gnashing of teeth. Why did my mother put up with my dad? Why in the HELL have I subsequently put up with the assholes I’ve put up with? Why did I say yes? Why did I say no? What should I have done differently? Am I going to do it again and again? If you have ever made the effort to sit quiet in “meditation” you too will have heard this flood of thought turned up to volume 11 on your internal amplifier.
“We have little, if any, control over it and the stream is so usual that it’s difficult to imagine how we would sense ourselves without it.”
Again, the idea again that my “usual or normal” could have such a profound and lasting effect on me grabbed my attention. Now- I’ve been aware of the evil deeds of my “wile e subconscious” for decades but I’ve been stuck on that first step of awareness for a loonngg time. The great thing about this line of discussion is that it does not lead to pointless self-flagellation (which is fine if you like that kind of thing) but to action that creates change.

The Buddha apparently pointed out four specific floods (or currents of subconscious thought) that we need to watch out for: 1. the flood of sensuality 2. the flood of becoming 3. the flood of views and 4. the flood of ignorance. It is immediately clear to me that as I beat myself up about things I have done or the choices I’ve made, as I feel hopeless about who I am and who I might be, as I am overcome with the fear of depression, anxiety or eternal loneliness I am being swept away by the flood of becoming“The flood that carries time and identity.”

The concept of time and identity is a familiar one for me. I struggle to “remain present” to “accept what is”, “who I am” and all those new age clichés; I’ve done that for years. What is comforting to me is that, according to these teachings, I don’t have to fight this or any other flood. I am a human being and this rambling stream of consciousness is part of who I am; nothing is going to make that go away in a *poof* of smoke. I can only practice more productive ways of being. All I have to do is gently remind myself on a regular basis that my memories are happening right now, my thoughts and worries about the future are happening now, even my current actions, whose results I will see in the future, are happening right now. The past me, the future me, she’s not real. It’s all happening right now, the past doesn’t exist; the future doesn’t exist. Nothing I can do will change the past or see into the future.

Yet I must continue to gently remind myself of this “now” concept for the rest of my life because within the ‘flood of becoming’ is this current of ‘wile e subconscious’ thought that tells me that: thoughts about who I was and might be are real. Therefore, I am terrorized by brooding conceits such as “I made another stupid mistake, got in another abusive relationship and so at 52 I’m destined to repeat this pattern again and again or just be lonely for the rest of my life. What’s more, I deserve it.” That- is not a helpful thing to say to myself. Yet if I can remember that there is only “now” I can step out of the ‘flood of becoming’. When I can do that, I am sidestepping my wile e subconscious and avoiding that anvil coming straight for my head.

One more quote:
“There’s a lot of drama and suffering and stress in this flood (of becoming)– so much so that we fail to question, ‘who is this character?’ Since I have only pictures of what I was and stories of what I might or will be, can I be clear about who I am now?”

If I do pull my head out of the muck, ask that question and really think before answering then I find myself feeling rather foolish as a made up image of “me” crumbles in my hands. Who I am now is all I’ve got in this moment and all the mental anguish about the past or future will not change that. If I stop wasting energy on berating myself then, in this moment, I have the energy and where-with-all to ask the really important questions that the Big B has encouraged us to ask: ‘Does this behavior cause me and/or others long-term harm, suffering, indignity or stress? Does it lead to my welfare, the welfare of others and to peace?’ 

Gosh- I wonder how things would be different if I had thought to stop and ask myself those important questions 30, 20, or even 7 short years ago?
Crap! There I go again…

* The book can be downloaded here, for free!  http://ajahnsucitto.org/books/

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WHAT DOES YOUR SPIKE SAY?

(I said I would be on the road last week and I think the operative words were “out in the wilderness”. I had no internet connection at all. Not a bad thing but I apologize for the missing post.)

From July 6th through July 13th I drove towards a healing haven into which I will burrow for a few weeks. I took the back roads and camped along the way. The old highways were riddled with zigzagging asphalt scars, growths like my grandmother’s barnacles, corns, callouses and wrinkles; the very same marks that are beginning to appear on me. I did not listen to books on tape or play music to distract my mind. I forced myself to be present as I stared at the hours and miles of travel ahead. If I could not keep my thoughts focused on each moment as it passed I would begin to talk out loud to myself, describing the scenery, animals or people I was quickly brushing past. In and out, front of the pack, first or last, falling behind; the dance of the highway is endless and soothing. Sinking into boredom rather than fighting it back I found that emotions and thoughts flowed freely through my mind. Whether they were profound revelations or hilarious inside jokes with myself I remained completely entertained and discovered once again what good company I could be.
As the distance between “us” grew I felt tight anxiety that had been boiling inside my chest for seven years slowly drain away. I shifted into a state of lightness that ranged from fluffy down feathers floating beside me to the manic giddiness of helium soaring out of control inside me.

The healing has begun and over the next months or years I will work diligently to examine how and why I allowed abuse to enter my life again. Eight years ago I experienced the very darkest of times; my kind uncle and then my mother died, I lost a ten year relationship, a business which had existed equally long and the use of my body from the neck down. Over that short 6 month period, I experienced a terrifying loss of control over every aspect of my being; nothing walked away unscathed from that biblical plague. I didn’t know who I was anymore, I didn’t know what was real. Did I then call out to be controlled or did my vulnerable state act as a psychological pheromone to attract the first abuser that wandered by?  In pondering that question I realized that my “scent of vulnerability” began to hover around me long before then. As I look back from a distance with aging eyes opened wide I ask myself, “How could I possibly be any different than I am?” That simple question eases my mind.  If the pain and confusion in life comes with a dose of reason or explanation it seems to settle inside my gut with less guilt and shame. There is hope that I will have the power to jam the cycle if it ever enters my life again.

The subtle messages from the beginning of my life started with a father wishing I hadn’t been born, then a grandfather’s groping (never acknowledged), a dreamy memory of an uncle just back from Vietnam crawling into bed with me in the middle of the night then taking me out to a brightly lit pancake house before dawn. It didn’t feel right but I wasn’t sure. As always the world around me said that “it” was normal, or that “it” didn’t exist. So I didn’t know what was real. I’m not sure what happened to me that night but what that same Uncle did to my older sister is clear. She finally shared her secret shame with me when she was half a century old. All of these experiences groomed me for Allen who ripped my hymen and my world apart then told me forcefully that I “had nothing to cry about”, I “asked for it”, I “wanted it”. I didn’t think it was so, but who was I to know? Like all the others before, he defined me, so I didn’t know what was real.  Blended in gently with all of those experiences were the words my mother used to bolster my self esteem; words that told me that I was strong, creative and beautiful but when I walked through heavy doors into the man made world, that wasn’t what I heard. So I didn’t know what was real.

All those messages from the time I was a little girl have been pounded into my head by the patriarchal chain gang that presumptively lays down the tracks of my life. Definitions that are hammered into my brain like a railroad spike, over and over and over again. While on the road last week an image came to me of women, all over the world, walking through life with a bloody railroad spike through their head. I wondered, “What do other women’s rail road spikes say?”

Mine screams,
You aren’t real, you don’t exist and so you are worth nothing at all.”

The affirmation for the week of my road trip was:
“I am part of all. I belong.”
Miraculously last week, driving cross the country all alone, I was part of all and I did belong.
Those Vision Quest lessons and enlightenments coming up next week.
___________________________________________________

      Impostor Song (1999)

Each moment’s reality
has always evaded me
lite evaporation
in the crisp spring wind

What you think you see before you
a happy red haired child
is really just a shell of a
magic girl that died
struggling so bravely
moving so carefully
lest any one discover
the impostor kid

Each moment’s reality
has always evaded me
slipping past my shoulder
in the crisp spring wind

The curse of the impostor
it never goes away
impostors are impostors
to their dying day
impostor child, impostor teen
pretend hetero, impostor queer
impostor mother, impostor artist
with a pretend career!
impostor thoughts, pretend serenity
impostor laughter, impostor tears.
eventual unveiling is an all consuming fear!

Each moment’s reality
has always evaded me
dancing away
in the crisp spring air

What you think you see before you
it’s just

        never

                 really

                         there

Slap Me Please

I did the MOSAIC Threat Assessment today- got a 7, but that’s not the point of this post. If you or anyone you know suspects you are in an abusive or dangerous relationship you can go to this site for a free and confidential evaluation.  https://www.mosaicmethod.com/

What gave me a jolt was this sentence in the evaluation feedback:
“Being struck and forced not to resist is a particularly damaging form of abuse because it trains out of the victim the instinctive reaction to protect the self. To override that most natural and central instinct, a person must come to believe that he or she is not worth protecting.”

That reminded me of a particularly jarring realization that I had the other day. First, a fact before I tell the story; I am a masochist.
A particular kind of well negotiated pain gives me great pleasure and offers relief from stress and anxiety. My body’s ability to produce awesome endorphins is very efficient.
My partner and I engaged in negotiated S/M scenes from the beginning of our relationship about 7 years ago. (We were both in that scene before we met) That’s all good and I have no guilt or weird feelings about enjoying that kind of thing any more.

Let me be clear; the emotional abuse I did not consent to and the physical abuse that happened when he was angry I did not consent to. He stopped the physical abuse several years ago. One day as he was slapping me and pinning me to the ground in a rage, the goddess within me suddenly rushed out of my mouth to face him in a cold, calm, fierce surge of power. I stared into his soul and said, “Look at my eyes. I am DONE.” One of only two times I have seen fear in his eyes.

What he did continue to do and with increasing frequency over the last year is set me up to give him permission to slap me.
Bear with me…

Over the years, just out of the blue while we were in a good place he would occasionally slide up to me, hold me tight, tell me how much he loved me, how sexy I was and growl into my ear that he just needed to slap me. Slapping can be sexy but it  is “edge play” because of the emotional impact attached to it. On our better days we had positive and very sexy energy together in scenes. We are both relatively “heavy players” and it was a delightful aspect to our relationship. That’s all good. We both enjoyed it.

However, the past year while in the midst of a discussion that was tense, if he felt that I wasn’t “dropping my attitude”, he would walk right up to me, hold my face in his hands, peer into my eyes and say, “I’m going to slap you. Okay?” He would say it in a way that made it sound like it was a question. But there was something so weird about it; it didn’t seem like a question to me.
So. I. Would. Say. Yes.
I would stand there shaking, crying, feeling ashamed of myself and hating him. Overflowing with intense emotions while at the very same moment all of my favorite endorphins were surging through my blood,  rushing into my brain and bringing blessed calm. This was mental and physiological sorcery.

Until the other day I had never put all of that together. I had never stepped back to see the whole picture. When that realization washed over me I began to sob so intensely that my chest and head felt as though they might explode with pain.
It struck me like a slap across the face; this was the most evil thing I could imagine him doing.

So that section of the evaluation brought all of that up for me again. Horrible, shameful, sinister, malicious; adjectives I could never have imagined applying to my lover.
Coming to peace with my needs in that arena of my sexuality took many years of hard work. It was empowering to embrace that aspect of my desires. That was Great Positive Good I did for MYSELF!!
He painstakingly gained my trust and then ripped that hard earned strength away.

Broken Door Vision Quest

VQ-52

This is my quickly written starter post. I will start my Blog on this day* for three reasons:

  1. It is my youngest child’s birthday. It is a momentous day for us both. He begins his journey into “adulthood” and faces a tremendously exciting ride!  On this day I have completed a magical circle of some kind. This circle stops the cycle that has mutated every molecule I have inhaled, from my first gasping breath until now.
  2. Yesterday was the historic day giving my partner and I the right to marry.
  3. Ironically, today I knew that it was time to end the current cycle of abuse that has imprisoned me for the last seven years. Today is another great beginning and I take a painful, gasping breath of my own.

June 27th 1994, the day my last child was born. In 21 years I have re-created abusive cycles in my life…let me see…three more times. How many were there before that? Plenty. That’s all the mental energy I will put into that question for now.

June 27th 2015, I am feeling a deep ache in my chest again, yet this ache has a generous portion of joy and lightness blended in. I am sad. I am grieving the loss of many things but I am not heartbroken this time, which is a tragic and profound fact. S/he was an experience I had, but what will I have learned when it is over? I say “when” because I need to be careful not to think that the worst has passed. Everyone says things will get much worse before they get better unless s/he has already chosen and begun the courting of the next “female body”. If s/he has not, then this next week and the first few weeks after I get back from “Vision Quest 52” will be the most dangerous. Both Patricia Evans and my therapist Lisa have warned me. Lisa told me today, “this will get worse before it gets better”. Her caution continued, “Because these methods have worked before, s/he will ramp up efforts to make it work again”. S/he has been physically violent in the past so I need to be aware that it is a possibility again now. I won’t assume it is so, but I will be conscious and careful.

Vision Quest 52 begins. It is my hope that clarity comes to us all as we travel together.

*Midnight passed me by. The first post was supposed to be the 27th.  Perfect really, this is classic me. “Classic me” is a great way to begin this journey.