It has been a full week. I have been reflecting upon the past several years a lot this week, which is only to be expected. The 24th was my seventh marriage anniversary and we celebrated it by hanging out at home and discussing our impending divorce. AM has been so open, understanding and supporting of wanting me to be who I really am. It has provided space for him to be honest about his feelings of disappointment, dissatisfaction in our relationship. It has been sad in that regard, mostly because it is painful to change even when it is for the better.
I have been nursing a persistent ache in my left shoulder. It occurred to CK and I last weekend that it is the arm I injured last spring, playing on the swings. I'd went to jump off and caught a finger in the chain, wrenching the entire arm and shoulder. I've taken most of the week off of doing yoga, especially anything weight bearing on my arms. I'm icing the shoulder, which helps it. After teaching my beginning asana class today I find my lower back and hips ache; they have not appreciated the break.
I've been able to spend the past two days with CK, reconnecting after her being visiting home for the week. While she was away I was aware of the ways in which she has become part of my life; the ways in which I felt her absence from the space in my life. I found myself feeling anxious about my age, about my physical pain. I've been aware the past week how often I feel so young, but I'm aware of the aging of my body and afraid I won't be able to be a good partner to CK. Last night this fear bubbled out of me as I lay next to her. Through her feeling ill from a terrible headache she offered reassurance and understanding.
She's across the room from me reading right now. We've spent the day in close company. It is easier to feel open around her now. I'm starting to feel like I can relax into the spaciousness, the connection between us. It is this constant back and forth still -- I feel myself pull away, resist trusting this love, and then remind myself again and again that it is OK.
CB asked us all at dinner at Great Vow Zen Monastery on Thursday what we were grateful for. I first noted how much Great Vow means to me, what a refuge it is in my life and how cared for I feel when I am there. I also said how grateful I am for the people in my life who are open and compassionate to me, who encourage my growth and support me.
AM who is supporting me by wanting us to get divorced so we can both more wholeheartedly pursue who we really are. It is strange in a way to call this support, but it feels that way. He isn't calling me names or bad mouthing me, like my ex-husband of nearly 9 years ago does. Instead he is trying to find a way to make sure everyone knows that we're doing this because we need to, that it will improve our friendship ultimately.
CK who wants to support my teaching yoga, being a freelance project manager and analyst so I have the time to do workshops. Who likes to snuggle up with me and talk about raising children together; something that moves me to tears and fills me with such abiding wonder. She expends energy on being observant, very thoughtful, and encouraging me to be silly. With her I feel as though several truths have finally been revealed and I understand myself more deeply.
Tonight I am up late. I've been cooking quite a lot and picked up one of my dearest friends from the airport at 9:45PM, in from San Francisco. Then cooked some more.
CK is down in Sacramento and I miss her. I know I've written something like this before. I remember being aware of missing her when she was home in July, but this feels different. She has commented noticing the same thing. How she didn't feel this way even just a couple of weeks ago.
Over the past few weeks our relationship has moved into a new place. In trying to put my mind to it the place it seems as though we have lost some of the urgency that is felt during a new relationship. In the place of the insistent sensations of want and uncertainty there is a feeling like moving into a deep, open space.
Another memory of swimming, this came to mind while thinking about the more open place my relationship with CK is now --
Before my third year of college I was teaching swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and synchronized swimming at a girls camp in central Oregon. On a day off I hiked over the ridge from the camp to a small lake a couple of miles away. The day was tremendously hot and the sun bright in a dark blue sky. There was no one else at the lake, I walked all the way around it and there was not another person to be seen. The water was still, dark and clear.
In the quiet I slid out of my clothing and slipped, naked into the cool water of the lake. Not my usual behavior, but I felt entirely at ease. My inspection of the shore, the other trails leading to the lake, had left me feeling safe to just enjoy the water alone.
I did breaststroke out several feet from shore, using a very causal, quiet form as to not break the silence. Then I floated, gazing up at the sky, pine trees at the edges. It was so quiet. Nothing but a slight breeze, an occasional bird, and the sound of lake water against my ears.
I remember RC saying to me that he felt that anniversaries are more important in our lives than birthdays. We weren't party to the choice of our birthday, we just arrived for it. But anniversaries often mark an event we choose or an event significant to the lives we're a part of. I reflect upon the years I've been teaching yoga, the times my Father and my Dad each died, the first few times CK and I went out together, and the time when AM and I got married.
Compared to each of these times I can reflect back on the years that have passed. What has changed (much) and what has stayed constant (little) and how I still relate to the anniversaries. Those dates remain fixed in time but I am remain in movement. This autumn and winter marks the 8th year since my Dad died, the 7th year since my Father died (just a little over a week ago), the 7th year since AM & I got married, the 3rd year I've been teaching yoga, the 3rd year I've been practicing at Zen Community of Oregon, and one year I've been seeing CK.
The next year will be full of changes. All of these anniversaries will remain, perhaps a couple of new ones added, however the way I relate to each of them will have changed. Next year I will not be taking CK to the airport to share the holiday with her family -- either I will be with her or she will remain here and will creating new anniversaries and traditions. I find myself really excited at this thought and that helps offset the undercurrent of crankiness that has been there since I kissed her good-bye at the terminal.
Last night it felt like the words were still percolating down through the layers to be able to write about them. Tonight it seems like there is more space between them and writing.
Shossan was done last night after zazen. Like sanzen, it is a chance to get to ask the teacher a question about your practice. Unlike sanzen, which is done in a room, privately with only your teacher and you, shossan is done in the zendo, standing, in front of the entire sangha. It provides the opportunity for everyone to share in the teaching being given.
First of all, I tried very hard to not practice questions in my head while sitting zazen. "Just be in the body, feeling the breath in the body.", I reminded myself when I found myself rehearsing. And it didn't go too bad. I felt some of the stillness of zazen settle around me like a blanket.
When shossan started I tried to be attentive to the sangha members, the questions they asked, Hogen's responses. When the row I was sitting in was given the indication that anyone with questions could get in line, I got up with a question in mind.
Even now it is gone. I stood a few steps behind the teacher's bowing mat, tried to be attentive to the person in front of me. That's gone now too. I moved forward when it was my turn, bowed to Hogen and went blank. The nice, safe, un-revealing question I had in mind was gone.
So I went back to a question I've had for a few weeks. I've not asked it in the past two sanzens I've had because I've been focused on the immediate change occurring in my life, but this question is what came out of the quiet anxiety I felt at realizing my question was gone.
When I talked to Hogen about the shame I felt coming up, what to do with it when I had checked out and knew I was making an ethical choice. This shame feels like some awful echo again. When it and some of the fear come up I tell myself again and again that it is nothing but old emotions, feelings that were unsafe for me to experience during the events that created them, ghosts. I try to send myself compassion, loving-kindness, and stay in the present.
These things feel like they get between myself. Last year's Ango was around the theme from a Teisho from Maezumi, "Close the gap between yourself and yourself." Hogen also had me practice with learning to have more pride for my achievements.
This Ango arrived and I felt like I was still working on the gaps. I try to assimilate what happened during my childhood, acknowledge that I had been so afraid and hurt. When I try to think of some of the things as part of who I am my mind just stops. It doesn't want to move into those spaces. It stops cold at the precipice and says, "Everything but this."
Hogen told me to be patient with myself. To stop expecting myself to be done with this already and feeling like I'm not making progress. There isn't a time line for my way on the path. He focused on one of the other of the Paramitas for me, shaki which translates to peace, patience.
It isn't that I'm judging these things unfairly. There's no way they can be looked at without expressing sorrow that I experienced them. I try to picture myself as that child and recall as much love for her as I can. It is reasonable that I judge what hurt me as a child as bad.
To be patient with letting the scope of my childhood fear surface and be acknowledged, that feels like the practice Hogen was talking about. To not rush these emotions off and want to be done with them already. To treat them with loving-kindness, again and again if necessary, until those emotions feel comforted and quiet down.
This morning CK and I were walking to MAX to ride into downtown to our respective offices. We had fallen asleep the night before talking about the anxiety felt around all the changes going on. How close we are now and how there is fear that living together full time might compromise that. As we walked the topic resurfaced and CK noted that I wasn't participating.
In part I was just trying to listen, be present and open to her feelings. However, I was also very mindful of the fear I felt rising up inside of me. I was feeling unable to respond to her anxiety without the voice of my fear rising to the top. I didn't want to respond to fear with fear so I was silent.
Finally I just told CK what I was feeling. That I felt afraid of the changes hurting our relationship and was trying to keep silent until I could respond from love and compassion instead of that fear. As I spoke to her I was aware that I wasn't sure it was the best thing to say. I felt relieved at her positive response and that she appreciated knowing why I was silent.
I am sure at times my silence must feel like withdrawal and at times it is, when I pull myself around my pain and shut down to the world. At times, most times now I am just trying to run through all the routines I've developed to keep my anxiety in check, being mindful of the precepts, and trying to find words, hopefully skillful ones.
Since this mental activity is a new tool I'm trying to use for my PTSD I never gave any thought to it being worth sharing with someone what was going on inside my silence.
More than anything I feel entirely off balance. I feel anxious but not entirely connected to anything other than the sudden, large changes coming. Although I was surprised at AM's quick decision to move us both into a new life, separate, he's not wrong.
I remember swimming off the coast near Newport, at Beverly Beach or South Beach maybe. I was 14, maybe 15 -- one of those moments where I can't quite place the actual year. We were camping nearby with family from Washington. My cousins, both scuba divers and strong swimmers, and I were out past the first line of swells so we could catch waves forming to body surf in. The surf was huge and pounding that summer's day.
I had turned to look back at shore for a moment when a wave caught me in the back of my neck and shoulders. The force of it pushed me into the sand and rocks a few feet below the surface. I could feel the riptide grab on to me and I tumbled backwards across the ocean floor.
Salt water burns the eyes and I didn't have goggles on that day. We were just body surfing and goofing off. I kept my eyes pressed tightly closed as I staggered and fell, tumbled and was pulled along. It was impossible to get my bearings, to actually know which way was really up.
So I opened my eyes and looked for bubbles, where the sand was, turned my body around until my feet were below me, and pushed up off of the sand. Breaking the surface I could see how far I'd been pulled out. My eyes ached and burned, I was crying as I breathed in huge gulps of air.
After a few minutes of treading water I swam back to shore. As I stood to walk to my stuff I felt heavy and flopped down onto my towel exhausted. I lay on my belly breathing hard, feeling my heard pounding against my ribs, listening to the roar of the ocean.
I never told any of them, especially my Mother. I feared that, having confirmed my swimming out so far was dangerous, I'd have that pleasure forbidden me.
Since Sunday I've had some memory of that, being pulled along, buffeted by the tide, and at a loss to where my balance is. I am trying to keep my eyes open for the truth.
I was unprepared for things to go they way they've gone. At first I thought I was merely asking for space, acknowledging that I didn't think I would change back into someone who felt the same level of passion.
AM is checking into housing. He spoke to the manager at our bank today and got advice on the steps we'll have to take disconnect our finances, our shared accounts. He feels excited, nervous, worried, and glad we are taking this step. He talks about what things he would like to keep when he moves, where he would like to move.
I still feel stunned at the sudden nature of the change. I thought we might keep the relationship going longer, but I really didn't feel like things would get better. I didn't expect AM to fully agree and set things in motion quickly. Part of me was so busy bracing for anger that I didn't expect harmony in situation known for acrimony.
Tonight I was sitting by the fireplace knitting a scarf for CK's mom. I had a moment of thinking of her there, sitting near me reading aloud to us by a fire. It was a good thought, I noted it and just enjoyed it without the worry and guilt swirling around it.
For a while now AM has been telling me I'm a lesbian. And I got it, mostly. Some things started to make a little sense -- all of adolescence being nothing but mostly feeling like I just didn't get what everyone was going on about. I tried to figure out the whole dating boys thing, but it never felt like anything other than hanging out with some guy and all this strange tension around him looking at me funny. Ugh.
A couple of days ago he commented that it has been the elephant in the house with us for a few years. It has been a quiet elephant. Keeping to itself, generally neat and tidy, unobtrusive. Still an elephant, taking of space and required that we work around it. But since things have been relatively comfortable, companionable and safe neither of us has really wanted to address the issue of the elephant.
Now that we've looked at the elephant, talked about it, we're both able to see, acknowledge the depth of the disconnect. Both of us pretending we were the exception, my sexuality had a "grandfather" clause in it that meant I wouldn't have to change. AM and I could stay together, best friends who happened to be passionate about the other despite the fact that our sexuality did not align in such a way.
The level of change is pretty damn big. AM at this point in time is still sad things have changed and will continue to do so, but happy we are both moving towards who we really are. We're both missing what we were, what we thought we had. Things change, relationships change, people change and here we are acknowledging that they changed a while ago and we just ignored it.
I'm mostly feeling overwhelmed at details. It will make more sense to do the legal things more quickly than I thought. It will help AM get things arranged from himself more easily and quickly. He won't leave quickly, taking most of the next year, but he's figuring out what he can do now. It feels strange. I'm debating when I should tell my Mother. We'll have to start telling friends soon and have already told SJ who is coming up next week.
It isn't grim and angry, not like when I fled out of the house after telling AP I wanted a divorce while cringing in the shower, where he had followed me, yelling. No packing up some things and fleeing to a friend's house until AP had gone to Los Angeles. We enjoyed dinner together and are watching episodes of Top Gear online; a pretty ordinary Monday.
When CK and I were hanging out yesterday we talked about some furniture issues. Making this house some place she will be happy in for a few years while we figure out what to do. I realized when I assured her it was fine to think about such things, to be excited about them, that I was happy about the same things.
After talking with AM today I felt more of the sadness of acknowledging the disappointment we've both felt for some time now. It also felt good knowing we were both going to be OK, it will have some challenges, but we're both moving towards what right. That knowledge took me back to the happiness I felt hearing CK's excitement on sharing a home with me, how I can finally just enjoy it.
HB told me last night not to feel any emotion just because anyone or situation seems to dictate that I should feel any particular way. It finally occurred to me today that I was feeling guilty for my sexuality, feeling guilty that who I am is causing everyone to change. Regardless that it is "just biology", as HB also said, and we all have the chance to change for the better, I felt guilty.
Most of all I felt guilty for being happy about CK. Not because I behaved unethically, but because I assumed I should feel guilty for shaking up everyone's comfort zone. I assume everyone is going to think I'm doing something wrong, inappropriate, and unfair. I need to keep focused on the fact that I'm choosing to live as authentically and ethically as possible. Lying to myself that it didn't matter because I didn't want to upset the calm was not ethical.
I'm going to try to start allowing myself to feel the happiness that is there through the work and pain. Just as much as I need to honor the friendship AM and I are rebuilding, I need to honor the happiness at CK & I fostering a life together. It will be work telling people, but the people most important in all of our lives honor the truth and will be able to share our happiness too.
I was too tired to write last night. I know when trying to approach writing as a practice one must do it daily, just like zazen. I also forgot to sit Friday night... and it is ango, when I am meant to intensify practice. Not to mention my commitment to taking Jukai next October. I am trying to let go of the inner task master, espeically given the intensity of last week.
My hands tell the truth of my anxiety this past week. The cuticles red and tender. I feel guilty looking at them today. I've been trying to catch myself when worrying them, but haven't been that good at it. The increasingly chilly autumn weather only adds to the tendency of my hands to be dry, peeling at the nail beds.
I'm in this strange space where shock and sadness co-exists with growing closeness, honesty and love. HB shrugged when I said this, "That's life." was his response.
The next year will be challenging and interesting, joyful and sad. I find myself not looking forward to sharing the planned changes with friends. The same conversation, assurances, and explanations over-and-over again. Time we need to spend reassuring everyone that this is not an end so much as a change allowing several people to live more authentically.
As for my hands... clearly I need to go back to the practice of constantly putting lotion on them. Whenever I feel the urge to, or notice that I am already picking at the dry skin and making things worse I need to run lotion into them. This helped before -- both in helping with the skin being dry in the first place and giving me something to do with my hands that is less destructive to them.
My hips ache from mostly sitting for six hours today at teacher training. I can easily see how people train for 500, 800 hours. Even the over 200 hours I'm doing means some things are done quickly. Part of an afternoon to discuss the limbs of yoga when each limb could easily be taught in over 6 hours apiece.
I know that I will be studying all of this for the rest of my life. Reading more translations of Patanjali'ssutras. I look forward to reading from the teachings of PattabhisJois. I've been so deeply steeped in the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar and I look forward to studying the works of the other students of Krishnamacharya.
It is through this practice that I think I may be of most help to others. Today, while studying additional pranayama methods, I felt more ideas come together around a workshop for working with trauma. The time broken up between deep, supported poses, pranayama to balance the mind, time for writing in a journal, and meditation.
Last night I got to watch CK come up into half handstand. The teacher in me watched the assistance my teacher offered CK; learning how to help a student in this pose myself. The rest of me just watched with absolute pleasure to be sharing this moment with CK, being there for it and the joy of seeing her smiling at meeting this challenge. I barely did the pose myself because I wanted to watch.
I don't think I've ever shared a practice with someone. I was the only one in my family who really swam or bicycled. I had some cousins who hiked, but I often felt like a hindrance than really a part since I would struggle with my asthma while hiking. It feels very special to share practices with someone.
This past Sunday CB noted that in the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism there are many guideposts, ways to let you know you're on the right track. In Zen you're sat down on a cushion, encouraged to be still and all the other rails are taken off.
In the past few days it feels like I've gone about dismantling and taking down some of the few remaining rails on my life. I have a great weight of mourning, of feeling pain at disappointing people and leaving the comfortable safety of routine. I also feel a humming undercurrent of excitement on the changes that will be in my future. I told HB last night that I believed I was making the right choice for myself, what was true, however, that didn't lessen the difficulty of it, the pain of it. So pain, mourning, excitement, and love all at once.
Since I've taken the rails off, pulling down all my roles, make-believe ideas about myself, everything feels as intense as it really is. All I can do, again and again, is be present for it. I'm aware of all the ways in which I wish I wasn't, the times I'd like to just crawl in bed and hide, sleep the time away. Practice and love brings me back.
This first Dharma talk during Ango was given by CB on the topic of generosity, the Paramitadana.
She talked to two main points: the ways in which we can manifest generosity and how we must cultivate a peace that we carry within us. Towards the end of the second period of zazen she asked to consider what we could do to project generosity there, upon the cushion, without speech or movement.
Metta came to my mind immediately, projecting loving-kindness and opening the heart. This called to mind to me the difficulty I have offering that back to myself. I thought about my pain, how I just work around it, let it be this dull, background noise accompanying the humming and drumming of my daily life. The physical pain particularly, but the emotional pain as well.
It had been a long day. The chair made me ache at the restaurant where we met to discuss the fund raising dinner around CB's new book, Mindful Eating. My stomach was a little upset and my back and hips ached, a spot in my right quadratus lumborum particularly so. Really, I just hoped the bell would ring soon so I could stretch out.
I took a moment and just thought about compassion for that spot that ached. I offered some sympathy to myself for the constant pain-noise, always somewhere in the back or hips. I acknowledged that it is tiring and hard to manage chronic pain. I didn't feel sorry for myself, just recognized the effort. Just focused on trying to be generous to myself.
Last night, while writing, I became aware of the the fatigue and eye strain I was feeling. I was seeing rainbow tracers across my vision, a whole arcing line of them. I went to bed feeling the effort of my yoga practice and heavy with the size of the change in my life.
This morning I woke up and my head ached from the sinuses, to my jaw, and wrapping around the base of the cranium. I got up, showered and headed in regardless. Under the fluorescent lights of the office it began to feel as though I'd been both hit in the face with shovel and as if the skin of my scalp was too small. Some ibuprofen at 11AM helped for about 30 minutes but by 12:10 I was about as bad as I'd been when I first got there. Finally I just went home and attempted writing some documentation instead of the code I'd been working on.
I am feeling a bit more scared today. Have had time to consider the enormity of the tasks at hand. I'm grateful to not have to try and get them all done in the next few weeks, but even working on them over the next months seems a little overwhelming. It is trying to figure out the details that feels like too much to manage.
I found myself considering a quote from AnaisNin today, "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
Today I do not feel like I'm blossoming. I can certainly see that I was feeling the irritation at remaining with what is comfortable, safe, and has the trappings of societal approval -- in the bud, as it were. I don't know, perhaps all the pain of change, the pain of knowing, seeing, and admitting the truth, that is all the pain of blossoming.
I've not been known for my risk-taking. Even in my daring I was a cautious child. I would only sink into the thrill of something only after I'd assured myself that I'd be safe doing so, at least when it came to the physical world. I can recall not being so cautious with my emotional body, throwing myself into trying to be popular, talented and smart, but not ever really fitting in with those groups in school.
I don't feel safe in these changes right now, like I've not tested the route, checked for the safety features or anything. It feels like nothing but risk and very uncomfortable. Part of me would like to just check out, not be present for these changes, distract myself somehow.
What keeps me present, aside from abiding Love, is the direct knowledge from my combined practices that distraction doesn't work. In asana the mind tries to take off, abandon the effort of the body. That very effort, and the direct experience of it, draws the mind back to be present to the discomfort. The understanding I had found that all the distractions of my 20s could not alleviate the fear and sorrow I felt inside is what brought me to Zen, that and knowing I needed help in knowing what to do while being present.
So here I am, I don't feel like a blossom but at least I'm present for the changes.
Really it hasn't stopped changing in years. In a way it is always changing, of course, but big changes. It seems like I really just started by wanting to improve my cholesterol level. At some point I became aware of not liking the way I interacted with people and just started being mindful of each person I interacted with.
Yoga practice started in 2003. Zen practice started in 2005. Big changes that have always felt subtle. I guess doing things the right way leaves a feeling of effortlessness. Life just moves along and I with it.
More pieces of who I thought I was are falling away again. Not bad, good really, but still hard work. I'm aware of the feeling of being exposed. Guess I'm getting used to it, slowly, as each bit of me is revealed. Consistent input that I'm accepted and safe helps, but it is just shaky. The "rails off" way of doing things, as CB would say.
Finally met CK's mother and step-father -- feeling hugely relieved that the anxiety of that first meeting is over and pleased to have had the chance to spend time with them. I felt a little more comfortable after spending the whole day to them. It also helped to have reassurance from CK that I was doing great, especially at those times when I felt like I was babbling.
It also wakes up a little of that awareness of just how much I do not fit in with, feel connected to, my own family. That awareness was still with me this morning when I read news from my Mom that she'd had an infection from her eye surgery and on Halloween slipped, falling on her back. I was aware of feeling both worried about her and weary of the constancy of her ill health.
On Sunday CK and I discussed sanzen, if it were to be offered while we were at Sunday service at Great Vow Zen Monastery. She had made an ango commitment to go to sanzen with HB at least once. I noted that at the monastery she would literally sit behind me in line and would be able to watch all the things to do that way.
So I found myself sitting before HB in the more formal sanzen room at GVZM. He blinked in surprise at me and I mentioned CK's visiting family. I talked to him about the shakiness right now, how my practice was leaving me aware of the ways in which I've not been fully honest with myself. At the same time I have feeling as though more and more of who I thought I was just falls away.
He asked who I am. At first I responded that I don't know. That is part of the anxiety I'm feeling right now, the shifting of who I thought I was. After a moment I looked up and said, "I am my practice." and he nodded at me.
Today was kind of tough, some painful truth. On top of a busy weekend with not enough sleep I find myself very tired tonight. All day while working on some Perl code my mind has pulled away reactions and moved closer to what hurt was not being addressed. As tough as it was I feel like I am working towards the truth again.
Last night was the first time HB told me I did a good job chanting for service after zazen. No reminder that I'm doing fine, to slow down. It wasn't the usual service I've been chanting either and HB had commented several times to me several times I needed to be stately in my chanting for the ango opening ceremony. He sent me to practice while people sat zazen!
I really never sat last night. During kinhin I let LM know I needed to chat with her to discuss the ringing of the bells. While I was going over that with her HB told us we had just a couple of minutes before he wanted to give a talk about ango at the end of zazen. As soon as I settled onto a seiza bench HB was talking. I tried to let his voice fade into the background so I could settle into my body, let my breath move around the knot of anxiety in my chest over chanting.
Afterwards HB gave me a thumbs up, a smile, and said, "Perfect".
I am just trying to stay with everything I'm feeling right now. There are these great moments -- the election, HB telling me I'd done a good job, Barry telling me twice how much he like my article, reading for SMART this morning -- all of these bright, positive things and the deep uncertainty I'm feeling right now.
Tonight in asana practice I was mindful of JW telling us as we started the teacher training program how for everyone that's done it stuff has come up. Every time she teaches things come up for her -- I can't imagine doing that! In the intensity of working, studying, teaching, taking asana practices, and going to teacher training classes I feel like I've pulled out thin again. Thin and taut enough that more falls away, things I kept saying I was comfortable with.
There is a part of me that is tired of this work, this endless unpacking of the great trunk of junk that makes up my coping mechanisms and PTSD. Disliking that learning how to help others, to teach better, to deepen my understanding of the Dhamra always seems to feel as though parts of me are pulled apart. I know that being sick the work is another form of resistence, although I think it is understandable that I will feel weary from the effort from time to time.
I started to check returns at 3:30 (pacific) this afternoon, in earnest at 4:01. At 5:20 I was at home and had to stop checking to go teach my yoga class. At that time Obama had 77 electoral votes.
When I got home at 7:30PM, after teaching a class where I felt a little bit distracted, Obama had 207 electoral votes.
Sat watching returns steaming from CNN, checking NYTimes, CNN, and local news websites. AM and I just sat watching, forgetting to make dinner for a while. Getting up at one point to put a bottle of champagne in the freeze to get cold, fast.
When Obama gave his speech AM, DW and I opened the champagne out on the front porch. Around the neighborhood we could hear fireworks, champagne, and honking horns! Later I would read reports that over 150 people were in Pioneer Courthouse Square celebrating returns and the same number had taken over SE 39th and Hawthorne, banging pots and pans! The city is in celebration mode and is likely to remain so for days.
The champagne turned out to be a terrible. Wretched really. It required the addition of some frozen mango to get even near drinkable. I believe now that the bottle arrived in a floral arrangement that was a housewarming gift from my Mother.
The senate race is too close to call and I am too tired to keep checking results. I'll check first thing in the morning and see where we are at. It may take a day to really sort through all of the ballots.
I'm very saddened to see Proposition 8 passing in California. Not to mention other ballot measures passing to limit marriage and, in the case of Arkansas, adoption because of sexual orientation. Obama's win gives me hope that an administration that promotes tolerance, not to mention the Supreme Court appointments, will really change things in this country.
My article came out today in the Sangha newsletter, Ink on the Cat. It seemed a little strange to me to see myself there, printed, in black & white, looking out from something I could hold in my hands. I'm not sure if I've ever had my photograph next to something I wrote. When I think about it, the only time my photograph has been printed is in things like year books. Once or twice in small, local papers when I was a kid participating in a school or civic event.
In high school and college I had things I wrote show up in the school papers or literary zines. Mostly poetry, I wrote so much poetry throughout my teens and twenties. I moved onto just having a website and putting up my own poetry there when I was in my twenties. The poetry seemed to just stop showing up, years ago. It feels strange sometimes to not have poetry swimming around my head all the time. Once in a while something occurs to me, just in a flash and mostly whole. Haiku shows up in those flashes.
At times it feels like the PTSD burned through that language. When the anxiety caused by it is at a peak it feels like I am entirely cut off from any ability to think coherently, much less communicate. Being able to get any words out is a physical fight. In finally naming what left me feeling like I was broken and trying to work on it, the words no longer arrive in the spare beauty of poetry.
And yet on all sides I am being encouraged to write. My Zen teachers and community, my Hatha yoga teacher, my loved-ones, and co-workers. Tell the story of my weight loss, my realizations about myself as I study yoga, coming to a place of peace. All of is why I write a blog, trying to come up with some practice that would help me figure out how to tell whatever story decides to come up.
I feel a little at a loss as to where to start. Really all of those stories are the whole story. The free-fall of personality I experienced, was because of my weight loss. That loss of my carefully constructed personae that I defined as me left behind the stark reality of my PTSD. Peeling back the layers of the trauma leads me inexorably back to my childhood. The way out of all of these things has been the yoga and Zen practice.
I feel a sick fear at my Mother finding out what I've written and still managing to punish, humiliate, or at the very least make me feel guilty for embarrassing the family. There's a voice that says that I should wait until she is dead to write about her. I guess I feel like I don't know how to write this story because I'm still living it and most of the time lately I feel like I have no voice of accomplishment to speak from.
Yet here is my picture, printed in the newsletter next to my words. Someone from the Sangha has already emailed a compliment to me on my words, adding their voice to both CK and AM's.
I'm craving sweet things tonight. Chocolate, cookies.... Even the ads for sweet, non-vegan, overly processed things on the television look good! I had some more yams and broccoli with some slightly sweet, Thai-style peanut sauce (thin kind), which addressed the craving a little. I'm guessing I'm still feeling the major sugar-fest of Halloween and Diwali. So many yummy treats from Sweet Pea, so much sugar!
I am more aware now of the cravings, more mindful about them. Before I just indulged them when ever they came up. Really I know the cravings were more emotional based, just wanting satisfying things to eat because I was unsatisfied with my life. It isn't that I don't feel that kind of craving from time to time, I just am more aware of it, much more able to say to myself what my body needs as opposed to what my mind is clamoring for.
One thing that has changed about it is the ability to notice how the body does crave sugar, above and beyond the mind wanting to be satisfied with something sweet. Whenever there's a few days in a row where I have sweets I find myself feeling my body craving them.
I'm feeling really tired out tonight. It has been a couple of big emotional talks, both with AM and CK, sandwiched around a very full day of yoga teacher training and my teaching Sunday. Also ended up getting my new mobile phone sorted out (about 90 minutes inside of Lloyd Center... ick). I feel pretty drained now, but not awful.
With AM and I it was really one too many "little things" the past week. Stuff just not being taken care of, feeling like my requests are set aside again and again. It all just came to a point where, in response to his enthusiastic input to an idea I'm working on for a yoga website, I found myself telling him that I felt as though he had many other priorities to attend to rather than get distracted by my project ideas. After we had talked a little more I finally said that more than anything my trust in our relationship had eroded over the past few years, to the point I was feeling rather hopeless.
Today I finally admitted to CK just how shaky I've been feeling about my relationship with AM. I also shared how I'd talked with AM on Friday, letting him know how tenuous I felt. How tight things are financially, which felt terrifying to share. How scared and upset, on top of all the icky shame stuff, I've been feeling.
I had been trying to tell her small bits, but afraid to share the whole with her. By the time the weekend rolled around I really had started to feel like both relationships were crumbling away. She talked more with me too and it was helpful to really learn from her what she was feeling rather than always trying to make it out via the underlying tension. We both agreed that although these truths are difficult, that we still need to reveal them together.
AM and I spoke further back at the house later. I commented that I still felt like he was my best friend, but that I also just felt like all my tricks for coping with being unhappy with how things have been are used up. He commented back that he felt like he had, worst of all, disrespected a friend in how he's treated me. He wants to show me that he can actually be the person he says he is.
I was trying to keep in the back of my mind something HB said this past week during a dharma talk. That our only way is to do the skillful, ethical thing in each situation as it arises. We cannot predict what we'll do next year, we can only approach each choice that is presented to us as it comes and in that moment make the choice that best embodies the precepts.
In this exact moment it feels right to continue talking to AM and giving him some time. He has noted that he knows he has to start showing me he really is intent on changing, doing what I need to feel more supported. I feel like it honors the relationship we have shared, the regard & love we have for one another. To honestly acknowledge what I need and provide space to see if those needs can be met. That's this moment.
I honestly don't know if there will be a change. I'd like there to be one. I'd like to believe my best friend can be who he says he is, especially in being a real partner to me. It would make my whole path more clear if changes did occur and it entirely fits with my real deep feeling for the precept that guides us to see the good in others. But I honestly cannot predict that changes will happen or not.
I feel profoundly grateful that CK reminds me of her love for me, that she doesn't plan to leave me. It kicks up the shameful feelings, the need to hear her say it leaves me feeling weak. This is scary, big stuff and sometimes I feel cut off from her by it. I can feel my body, my tense breath, but I cannot sense her sometimes.
Sherri is a geek living in Portland, Oregon with her wife. She spends her non-work time practicing Zen & Yoga, hiking when she can, gardening, learning the deep mysteries of composting, herding four cats, and cooking awesome vegan food.