************************************Denial covers the pain of the past * A blanket over the world * Lift a corner * Don't be afraid * Your life awaits you*************************************

Monday, July 18, 2011

Profound Thoughts of the Day

My brother sent me a link to this video and as I watched it, I got the same feeling I had when I did a labyrinth meditation with about twenty others, last Summer.

In a labyrinth (unlike a maze) there's only one entrance, which is also the exit. We took turns entering the labyrinth, waiting about five seconds between each person. At first, I was aware I was following and being followed by someone on the path. It became less clear as I made turns at different times from the people in front and behind me. At times, others seemed to be going to the wrong way - it felt as if they were moving in the wrong direction because they were in the next aisle going the opposite way I was.

The slow pace and the left/right movement of my feet induced an interesting meditative state. It's a sensation like the world suddenly becoming very small, but also clear and sharp. Asudden profound sense of revelation came over me.

We are all on the same path. Some seem to be ahead and behind me or going in different directions, but, really, we are all moving on a predestined path. We started and will end in the same place.

Watching the pendulum, the same sensation came over me. It seemed as if this pendulum might illustrate the feelings I could not adequitely describe fromthe labyrinth experience. 

All the balls were given the same push into life. They are all moving according to the same predetermined rules. They are going the same way within their own set track, but in so doing they create an illusion of fascinating patterns and rhythms.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Risks and Gains

For me, this has been a week of risk-taking.

Driving out to meet a friend, on Tuesday, was really scary, for me. I knew I had to make amends. I knew I needed to go into the meeting without expectations. I knew I could lose the relationship if things didn't go well.

In the past, I would not have set up a meeting like this. I would have walked away from the relationship; given up without trying. I was so constantly overwhelmed, in the past, that it was impossible to consider adding anything more to the enormous, invisible load I carried.
Tuesday’s risk was well-worth it. I went into it with the thought that even if things didn’t go as I’d like, I would have done what I could to salvage the relationship. As it happened, things went as well as they possibly could. I didn't lose a friend, but instead I gained a new kind of closeness – one which comes when two people work together to get beyond an obstacle.

With that under my belt, I felt as if I could say yes to an invitation I’d received for Thursday evening. I wrote about this in my last post. It might not sound like much of a risk - going to someone's house, but my first inclination was to say no.

In the past, I never looked at why I said no. I just automatically assumed this kind of interaction was not for me. It’s a little hard to explain why, but I thought of this analogy:
If you lived in the water all the time, you wouldn't know you were wet. If someone offered you a towel, you’d probably say no. What would be the point? You live in the water! You couldn’t even know what it was to be dry because wet is always there.

You have to be dry once in a while to even know what wet is… and I would have to be comfortable with others once in a while to know how uncomfortable I was. It was so constant before - this feeling of being overwhelmed, of having to watch everything so carefully, of judging every thought and word and action so critically - I couldn't even see it.
So, in the past, the idea of spending the evening with women who were nearly strangers would have been impossible to consider without a lot of anxiety. Those feelings were so intense, it would override any possible positive outcome. This time, I was able to stay with the boundaries I've learned in CoDA – don’t put up a wall, but also don’t spill everything that’s ever happened to me. At the same time, I wasn't overly self-conscious. By the time I’d been there a few hours, I was laughing and talking openly without having to think about it much at all.

I felt comfortable. Another risk. Another gain.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Writing Exercise Submissions: A Future Free of Fear

The writing exercise I posted on Sunday came from Day Three of the Twenty-one Day Consciousness Cleanse. I've been working through this book for about a week, now.

When I was telling someone about the book, recently, she asked , jokingly, if it was like the Twenty-one Day Colon Cleanse.

I replied, “Yes, but without the diarrhea.”

Actually, it wouldn’t be hard to compare the two concepts. In both instances, the idea is to clean out the old in order to more easily absorb what’s coming in. Debbie Ford describes the purpose of the consciousness cleanse as emptying the vessel we bring to God. Spirit can only fill the space we bring. If we only have a thimble-sized gap to fill, that’s all the God we get. Purging the resentments and unresolved conflicts and emotions inside us is the way to create that space.

All of the old emotions and experiences we have refused to acknowledge and work through are debris which fill up the container we each carry with us. By looking at our feelings – identifying them, allowing them, and then turning them over to our higher power to hold for us – we not only gain the wisdom and lessons of each experience, we also make more room for God and connection in our lives.

The writing exercise was:

Write a short story about your life free from the toxicity of your past. Allow yourself to dream an easy, carefree future filled with fun and frolic. Be creative as you describe you walk, your sense of well-being, and your deep gratitude for life. Give yourself the gift of dreaming a new future.
I received one submission, this week, from Gail at “Know Your Its”

Here is Gail’s entry:

As I look back over my life I can honestly say that each experience is part of the fabric of my design. For years I tried to deny parts of my tapestry, going to great lengths to rid myself of myself. Over time I came to realize that each square of my life's tapestry has purpose, meaning, and value despite its, at times, harsh, very harsh truth. I no longer see any of my past as toxic because to do so would mean I am toxic and I am not. In order to love ALL of myself I had to accept my past as part of me, not all of me, but part. Blended with so many other life-giving experiences. Today, I can honestly say I have arrived. I am at a time in my life where I am preserving all of my world as it is - I have no great goals or projects to complete. That is not to say that I am not open to learning new things and experiencing more of life, but rather I am content in my place,my space, my world which includes all of my past, all of me. I have surrendered to my truth, embraced my past, and I am in charge now, not it. There is nothing to run from or hide from or deny - and no desire to separate myself from myself. I am whole. Amen.

Thank you Gail! I can see the hope and peace of your future. I know you are already finding it, in the present. I especially love the line "trying to rid myself of myself". That's a great way to describe the impossible task we set out for ourselves when we deny our experiences and emotions.
Here is what I wrote:

My past is a gift. Every experience I’ve had has made me who I am, right now, and I feel like a gift: to the world; to God; to those I love; and to myself.

I’m a gift waiting to be opened by those people I’ve yet to know – and they are gifts to me. Knowing this, I can walk confidently into new relationships, waiting to see what we bring to each other. Every relationship will bring me something. Those that bring love enrich my spirit. Those that bring conflict teach me about myself and the nature of all things. Those that bring me both are the greatest teachers of all.

I’ve expressed, acknowledged and walked through all of the old experiences and feelings. I’ve surrendered to them and then surrendered them to God. In so doing, I’ve gained the wisdom I was meant to gain and now I have room for so much more to come my way. Because I no longer judge fear as cowardly, tears as childish or anger as wrong, I can feel each emotion as it comes up. Because there is nothing left inside to be triggered, I am not overwhelmed by my feelings and pass through them easily, confident that I will come out the other side with more understanding and new growth. Because I allow myself to know sadness, fear and anger I can easily find the other side of each of these emotions – Joy, peace, and gratitude.

There is so much room inside me, that I am open to each experience in a new way. I am present to the moment, taking in the sights and smells and other physical sensations right along with the feelings they bring with them. The more connected I am to life experiences, the more connected I feel to who I really am. My true nature - the spiritual being inside this body – is consistently awake and connected to the great power of the universe.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Who I Really Am

Nothing Can Touch Who I Really Am

Image created to illustrate one of the two "desires" I chose to focus on, in my twenty-one-day consciousness cleanse (book by Debbie Ford). I want to consistently know that what happens around me is not that important because it can't touch who I really am.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Co-Consciousness and Integration: New Thoughts

It's Day Two of the Consciousness Cleanse. I did my morning routine and read the exercises, which I will do this afternoon. For anyone who’s been in a twelve-step program, you can understand the Day Two exercises as a mini-fourth-step. My only concern with this is that I need to be able to do it in a reasonable amount of time. My fourth step took months. Debbie Ford suggests thirty minutes for the exercises. I’m going to try for an hour and make myself give up the thoroughness that I am sometimes obsessive about. (sometimes?)

I’m excited to be doing this process, and already feel shifts taking place inside me, just from reading the book and remembering to connect first thing in the morning. That said, I have something else, which is pressing on my mind.

I’m talking about the eight-year-old.

In my obsessive way, I've been exploring co-consciousness and integration for the last several weeks. I have been looking all around the internet and re-reading old message board comments I remembered seeing years ago, and writing long journal entries about these concepts.

This morning, I'm a guest blogger at author/therapist/blogger Mary Armstrong website. an excerpt from one of my blogs about the eight-year-old, on her website. The post is about the concepts of co-consciousness and integration.

Over the past few years, I’ve gradually been integrating lost pieces of myself, into the whole which I think of as “me”. This is not an easy process. It’s stressful and confusing, time-consuming and disorienting. It’s also well worth it. To have access to these parts-of-self which were previously closed off to me, is amazing. To be able to function from a place of wholeness instead of from only a fraction of who I really am, brings me a kind of peace I didn’t know was possible. It is allowing me to be more active and less reactive.

In any given situation, our actions and reactions are not only based on the current circumstances. In an instant, without effort, our minds take in our situation, categorize it based on past experiences, and then offer possible courses of action. If this didin't happen, each experience would stand alone, there would be no connection between what happened yesterday and what's happening today. It's necessary for us to exist in a time-line to have stored memories and use them in our decisions about what to do now.

For the most part, we aren’t aware of the process. In fact, it takes a great deal of effort to become conscious of this process, and even more effort to look at the suggested courses of action before moving into action. Moving forward without making a conscious decision is living reactively. Looking conwsciously at the situation and then deciding whether the messages from the past are warranted or should be ignored and then moving forward is living actively.

The more emotioanally charged your past situations are, the stronger your mind’s "suggestions" of action will be when they are triggered. If your mind categorizes your current situation as the same as something traumatic from your past, the “suggested” course of action may feel more like a demand.

For instance, if you are aware that there is something extremely hot in front of you, your mind is going to say, “don’t touch that.” If you move closer to the fire, your mind may begin screaming at you to move away. It may take a great deal of will and self-talk to override this message. If it was necessary to touch the flame – say to rescue someone else, or to keep something important from burning – you could override the message, but it would cause you a great deal of inner turmoil.

If you’ve experienced trauma, there may be unusual links inside you which trigger this same kind of turmoil. Personally, I am uncomfortable thinking of sunflowers, or dolls with eyes that open and close, and I panic if I think of something covering my face. (I actually drew in a deep breath just writing that sentance.) These may seem irrational on the surface, but because my mind has linked them to danger, it feels the same as the 'don’t touch it – it’s hot' message.

Before I began integration, I stayed in one aspect of myself most of the time. This aspect was unaware of a lot of the trauma and the links my mind had set up. I knew I didn’t like dolls or sunflowers or having my face covered, but I didn’t know why.

Because denying my past was a survival strategy I'd become used to, I didn’t look too closely at the why. I sometimes wondered about it, but the memories were not available to me and I moved quickly into another strategies. It is not possible to override the messages without looking at them closely, and that seemed impossible, so instead I would go into panic-mode. It left me feeling out-of-control, as if the world and my experiences had power over me and I had no power of my own.

As I’ve integrated the pieces of me which carried the memories attached to sunflowers and dolls and the hand over my face, I understand where the messages are coming from, I’m not afraid to look at them, and I can take that moment to decide how reactive I need to be. I calm myself down. I think, This isn’t really hot, at all. Eventually, I am able to put my finger right on that imaginary flame, and when I do I find that it can’t burn me, anymore.

So integration is the answer. Right? Well... it has been the answer that's worked for me, thus far, but then, we come to the eight-year-old.

I’ve lost count of how many pieces of my past have integrated into the person I think of as me. I thought I understood what integration looked like, for me. Although each one has been different, there were certain givens I’d come to expect.

The eight-year-old has been different from the beginning. She is much more complex; more complete. The other parts I’ve integrated were connected to specific memories, or specific ages. Despite her name, the eight-year-old is really not just eight. She seems to be made up of all the ages up until eight.

I think she is who I was before I became “me”. I’ve been trying to integrate her into me, when in reality I may have to integrate into her… and I’m not even sure what the distinction is. It feels very different in my head, but when I try to explain it, it doesn't sound different at all.

I feel a bit like I’m the infecting virus.
She seems to be the one who was here first… doesn’t that make her more worthy than me?

The things which are triggering for her are the exact things I still can’t look at closely, and consequently the messages they bring up for me are very hard to override. When she is angry, I feel angry and the anger doesn’t easily subside even when I know it is about something from the past and not about what is happening right now.

When she feels slighted, I feel an intense sense of failure but at the same time, I feel very defiant. Her message may be, I need. Mine is, I have to meet that need but I don’t want to.

I know this eight-year-old part and I have to be completely open with each other if we are ever to get past these old trauma-based triggers - and I'm not the only defiant one. She is fighting this as much as I am, even though she is pretending that it's all my fault.

I haven’t really been discussing my obsession with co-consciousness versus integration with my therapist, until today. It may seem like a surprising oversight. So much other stuff is going on and I send her so many emails but sometimes I just don’t seem to get the right pieces out there and she will say, in the kindest way possible, "you should have brought this up sooner." Unfortunately  I don't always know what is most important, and that’s probably because I am reacting to the messages being triggered by current situations.

You see why I need a consciousness cleanse?
I see that I’ve been reconsidering my position on co-consciousness, but I am aware that I am doing it out of fear – which is exactly what I’ve seen in others. I’ve felt as if integration was the more functional choice and avoiding it in favor of some kind of agreement between parts-of-self was going to be confusing and distracting. It’s interesting, to me, that now that it feels like I am the one who may be lost in the mix, I am much less willing to move into a full integration. And this feeling - this fear of being lost - is not based in reality because as I've gone through this process nothing has been lost!

The idea that she is the "real me" is bringing up a lot of stuff from the past, and so I am aware I am being reactive in not moving forward with integration. Logically, I understand that we are both real. I know that we need each other and that we are truly two sides of the same coin.

Emotionally, I feel as if my sense of being real or valid is being threatened, and this is something that's come up again and again, in therapy. Although I've worked with old messages of "I'm not real" or "I'm not important" quite a lot, it still seems to be screaming in my head, right now.

So, I am trying to override this particular “don’t touch-it's hot” message. I’m trying to get myself to walk into the fire, and accept integration with the eight-year-old, whatever that takes. I am also allowing myself to hold back until I feel more comfortable. I've had many years of separateness. I am still here, and so is the eight-year-old. I can give it time to unfold.

Holding back rather than pushing my way through is a huge step for me. It shows that I am looking closely at what's happening and so when I do proceed it will be actively and not reactively. Patience is what I need right now - for myself, for the eight-year-old - for the “us” which I'm hoping will one day simply be me.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fall From Trust's Tower

Butterfly bestowed
Upon a Shining Scarab
A lovely gift
A deserved gift

A gift I wanted for my own

Deplorable and useless
Brings a stormy dream in which
Butterfly and Shining Scarab
Laugh at me behind my back

With great difficulty
I turn away from the delusion
Spoiled leftovers of the distant past

I come to understand
The issue is only with myself
And I think Now, I can confess

But before that
Shining Scarab
Loved and gentle one
Happened upon my anger

From envy’s nightmare
My wounded child screamed,
Why does Butterfly choose you?
Does she love you more?
Does she see something in you that is lacking in me?
Does she only pretend when she tells me I’m worthy?

I claimed disappointment while knowing I was disappointment

Hope’s companion
Without it, I existed safely inside my barren cage
So familiar
So empty
I ventured to hold it's extended hand
And let it carry me high

How far I fell

Still, I held hope
That at least Butterfly was spared

But Scarab
Shining Scarab
You told Butterfly all about
My fury
My ugly envy
And my claimed disappointment

And Butterfly, in turn,
unleashed on me
Her own angry child
A torrent of projections
And unrelenting preconceptions
Sending me
Into the abyss once more

Co Creation

Co Creation
We create the life we live

Love your inner child...

...for she holds the key...

...to your personal power.
A lesson is woven into each day.
Together they make up the tapestries of our lives.