Sunday, August 10, 2008

High Centered

My two day hiatus from blog writing hasn't been to being away from the computer all weekend. It has been a long, hard weekend in relationship building and I was trying to not interrupt time with CK with writing. The time we were apart I was too agitated to write, didn't even think about trying, and worked on sorting out things in the house.

I have experienced distance physically and emotionally in my relationship since returning from Vancouver. I have been able to observe on an intellectual level that my withdrawal is triggered by old trauma, not the relationship, same as the terrible shame I have felt come up. Regardless of the mind understanding I have felt stuck with the way my body holds onto painful events from the past.

And stuck I have been. We had one morning during OSCON where there was a momentary break in tension and there was space to explore intimacy. We never really got it worked out as to what was causing the problem so it has continued to grow, pushing us further apart and into our own pain. It felt like the relationship is a vehicle high centered on something. Maybe only one wheel able to touch ground at a time while the rest just spin futilely in the air. Stuck.

I've felt the wind knocked out of me over it all. Unable to breath and overwhelmed by how deep the shame is buried in my whole self. I've not really worked with it at all, just trying to focus on processing the tremendous amount of grief and anger at how unfair it all was. But now seems to be the time for it to be acknowledged.

I thought I had touched upon it. This relationship has helped me feel the complete falseness of some of the terrible messages I got as a young child. I'm able to really explore my sexuality with another person and it is safe, nurturing. Then it was gone, only I was sleeping next to her several times a week but no connection was there. We had reached a point we were barely touching once we got to bed, I'd curl into a ball and stay awake while she went to sleep.

At first I was just feeling abandonment, feeling like things were ending. Which wouldn't match up with lunchtime conversations about having a baby, building a home together. Then the shame started to seep in with the fear of being left. I felt wrong for wanting her to touch me, ashamed of the want and like I should be able to control it, make it go away. I felt wrong from wanting to touch her, ashamed of myself for that want and feeling that if something went wrong I'd be punished somehow. I was locked in fear and shame around asking for touch, to touch. I began to settle into my own silence. The "safety" of saying nothing at all.

Today, after a very tough night -- she had unsettled dreams and I kept waking hearing people outside (turned out we'd forgotten to turn off the radio and NPR had come on) -- I had to leave for my class. She told me she wasn't going to the class and I felt hurt, rejected. She said she also wouldn't go to a class today at the dharma center, which I understood but was not happy with. I felt like she snapped at me and my irritation flared to life. It was so hard leaving to teach and I left angry. By the time I got to Dishman I sent a note apologizing for getting angry.

I know that all of the Buddhist precepts are practice, things I have to keep doing over and over again. I've been working really hard at the idea of anger. Not that I can get rid of anger, but to control it, to not give rise to my anger when I feel it. Whenever I fail at anything I feel it so sharply. To fail to control my anger, to snap at CK, leaves me feeling so graceless and inconsiderate. I also know it is unreasonable to expect that I'll always do things the best way possible, I'm trying to let go of that, but to fall down on something and see shock & hurt on her face just feels so much more a failure.

I went back over to her flat after teaching so we could continue to talk. I had spoken with AM to let him know what was up and gave up on the class at the dharma center even though it is on NVC, something I think will help us talk. I said I thought that if we tried to just lay down together and talk about what came up when we did it was just as valid lesson in communicating as going to the class. We had looked at some books on how to heal intimacy -- books that were Jessa's that GK thought I should end up with since I'd finally shared with her that I'd been sexually abused -- and thought about trying some of the sharing activities.

It was so hard. I told her what scared me, what was coming up for me. We talked about how a fear not being in control comes up for her. We talked about how to work on it, offered just compassion to some things, understanding the pain we each feel. We worked on trying to touch each other with lots of communication. I find it so hard to talk aloud and directly, feeling the pull of the shame, but she stuck with me. She would bend close when I felt like I couldn't talk so I could whisper to her instead.

In the past I'd just have not pursued this. I'd have consoled myself with food or distractions and not addressed any of the pain I kept buried. It was considerably easier than this hard, painful work. Only I was miserable, 150 pounds heaver and never distracted enough by that fact.

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