It’s been a bit of an odd weekend.
For some reason, I’ve been having a hard time keeping track of when my last MNM class started. I thought it started a couple of weeks ago, initially, and found out when I tried to log in that–nope–I was jumping the gun. Then, as the days went by, I thought it was next Friday. Only it was this Friday, and on Friday, I just happened to doublecheck. I think my intuition saved me this time.
I wasn’t prepared, though. Going back to school, after a few weeks off, requires preparation. I’ve been mostly in work mode lately, with much needed self-care thrown in. But this week, I felt particularly depleted. So I was frustrated, to say the least, that I didn’t plan better. And I was getting a cold. Or something. In any case, by Saturday, I was pretty tired.
My roommate has been going back and forth to Boulder this week/weekend for a Buddhist Geek conference, so that also brought with it some chaos and new routines–and having more household responsibilities and more time alone (well, in theory). In truth, I ended up working a lot more without him here because I tend to forget what time it is when I’m quietly puttering away.
I had planned on doing some self-work this weekend. I’ve been obsessively acquiring e-books recently. I miss reading for myself, and I realized that I often have ten minutes here and there where I could read instead of tweeting or checking FB. My big plan for the weekend was to come up with a game plan for changing my life. I was feeling stronger after this last week’s therapy session. Last weekend, I had a revelation of sorts…that, basically, every internal battle I have involves two versions of myself: six year old me and 26 year old me. Six year old me wants to take care of everyone, to her own detriment. She is a perfectionist and control freak. But–really–she just wants to be loved. She wants to be worthy. Twenty six year old me is all about self-care, but in a self-punishing way. She’s really pissed off. They’re both part of me–different aspects of me–but they are as distinct as separate people. I realized, this weekend, that I check out a lot when things get hard. If I feel overwhelmed by anything, my healthy, rational, functioning self shuts down. And these two take over. When they run the show, I pretty much live within my shadows. I’m not being the me I want to be, and self-care–true self-care–goes out the window.
I’ve glimpsed myself doing the shut-down thing a few times in therapy. But last weekend, I figured out the cues that indicate it’s happening. It was a big breakthrough for me because I was able to stop it from happening. Instead–sorta like that witnessing thing I felt during my cleanse–I was able to let the feeling of shutting down pass. I was able to come back quickly and process it. What brought it on? I was feeling uncomfortable–because…feelings. To me, feeling things I can’t control feels a lot like dying. When I don’t know what to do, I shut down and the parts of me that allowed me to survive swoop in to save me. Only they don’t. Mostly, they numb me to the feelings. They use food or people or anger or exercise or television–whatever–good, bad, indifferent–to stop the pain. Pain I actually WANT to feel.
So, in therapy, I had some conversations with those parts of myself. Basically, I told them I was in control now. That I was going to take care of me–and them. That this ends. I think I must’ve disassociated a bit during therapy because it didn’t feel as healing as it normally does. But I did feel stronger and lighter afterwards. But since then, I’ve felt a little lost. I found myself absentmindedly missing meals and not doing things I normally need to do. I wouldn’t eat until I got hungry–not based on a time on the clock. So, one day, I didn’t eat till 8 pm. I slept when I was tired. So, some days, I didn’t get to bed till 4 am. It was almost as if, without these two telling me what to do, I had no sense of self motivation or discipline. It was hard to organize myself and to stick to plans. I was much more easily angered and more emotional. And other strange things happened that I won’t get into–because yea—I dunno.
Yesterday was kind of a cluster. I didn’t get anything done. I slept far too long. I felt like crap from the cold I’ve been fighting. I felt unlike myself, and I kept allowing myself to get riled up about things that really don’t matter. I kept choosing to do things I didn’t want to do because I felt like I had to. Each time I did that, I didn’t choose to do what I wanted. So, by the end of the day, I gave up and numbed out in front of the TV.
When my roommate got home, we talked some about his conference. We were talking about enlightenment and the various things that have happened in our lives.
Backstory…I was raised Lutheran/Christian. I never felt comfortable in the church. But I was always searching and found myself at a Jesuit college–which opened up some stuff for me. I’ve been mostly free of religious labels for most of my life. I always felt an affinity for Buddhism, but I didn’t know much about it. But, the weird thing? At some point, a lot of people started asking me if I was Buddhist because of things I wrote about my life. They assumed I’d read something or other–and I hadn’t. Then, I’d read whatever it was and understood why. While I’d never studied it, the explanations I had for my life and how I handled it were very Buddhist. So, I decided to read what I could. I still feel like an idiot, but Buddhism has become more important to me, and I self-identify as a Beginner Buddhist. I have the training wheels and everything. 🙂
In any case, I feel like I’ve been on the road to enlightenment for a long time. I think it started when my father died. I feel like each step has involved me shedding things or discovering new tools that prepared me to experience the next step. Right now, I feel like I’m shedding self-abuse and loathing. And while I’ve already shed tremendous amounts of sadness, fear, and rage, this step might be the hardest one yet. But I do feel like–as lost as I feel right now–there is a center inside myself–that witness that is sure-footed and wise. That the confusion and frustration is temporary, and that something really beautiful is on its way. I’m also starting to recognize how I’m resisting. For me, the biggest resistance is choosing others–and that shows I’m still very attached to six year old me…that maybe what I most need to get through this step is support and love. Because that’s all she’s ever wanted. And I can’t get that from anyone but me. So, I’m trying to be compassionate and give myself a break/space to figure it out. At the same time, I’m learning how to work with my own self-sabotage–figuring out what helps and what hurts. I’m seeing that–before I ever even know it–my brain is preparing me to do what I need by making choices I wouldn’t have connected to this before.
It’s seems weird, but just giving myself permission to mess up and giving myself options is helping me do better. It’s also helping the emotions that are locked inside all of it come out. Instead of planning out everything and trying to be perfect–only to postpone or give up when something doesn’t go according to plan–I’m choosing simple things that I know work for me. I’m setting a no-judgment or shame intention with ridiculously easy goals to keep me going. I actually have faith that I can do all of this and maybe, for once, I’ll be who I want to be.