This has been a hell of few years…and the time has come for me to make a tumble forward. Because change is bumpy, even if it is an opening into something warm and kind, I feel strong resistance. If this isn’t what you are accustomed to, the possibility of happiness, of things being calm and not chaotic seems just as overwhelming for its strangeness as painful challenges. I can only speak for myself, but the feelings of pleasure and pain are so fluid that much of the pleasure I have felt has triggered pain, to the point where sometimes, I don’t even want to feel much of anything. I know it’s not healthy, but I haven’t known how to make sense of it, how to unlearn the things my body and mind seemingly do at will, detached from logic or true emotion.
I have been in a state of duress for quite some time…some grand moments and days have certainly occurred…the highlight being The Southbank Writer’s Program, naturally.
Other special moments have been with the new people who have come into my life, and the lessons they have brought with them. Even when those lessons are painful, and maybe especially because they’ve been provocative, I have been forced to confront everything all at once in what seems like an insane life mash-up of past and present and the unknown future.
This is all very vague, but essentially I’m referring to the old and the new issues of dealing with physical/sexual abuse in childhood and adulthood and what has spawned from that. The reality seems to be, at this moment in time, that my way of handling things is completely unworkable anymore. I have felt stuck for a long time, but it seems I can’t run and hide; being unemployed has forced me into such a tight spot that I literally have no choice but to make big changes. I haven’t had the energy or even the desire to really commit to what I need to and I’ve been spinning around and around like a record baby, and it’s the same old song. The time has come to face things head on and confront stuff in a serious way and look at what is holding me back, to understand its power, and to shift that energy into a productive and loving way of living.
It is hard to know what came from where, but it’s become more and more apparent to me that I don’t know how to make peace within my mind or my body. And that I sincerely can’t keep trying to do it on my own. And by on my own, I mean without guidance, wisdom and consistency. My pride has kept me from really reaching out, seeking people and situations that can really help me get my life in balance.
None of my coping techniques have truly worked in the past…the overeating, the reclusive hiding away, the people pleasing, the eternal apologizing for my entire existence, and so on. However, it’s been enough to keep me in denial and to reduce tension just barely enough, stifle it and get that quick fix of good feeling without getting beyond that.
This week I was out for coffee with a new and good friend, talking about the job situation. I’ve been at my wit’s end, and just broke down talking about how I just get so worked up from making phone call’s, and even just e-mailing out resumes.
After listening to my rambles and seeing my spouting tears, she said, “Leanna, it seems like you really need to take time and take care of yourself before you get back into work.” (I am barely able to contain crying at the drop of a hat…this has been witnessed by quite a number of people in the past year in particular).
Of course, my reaction was multi-leveled. One the one hand, I felt like, “Oh, this is great, someone really gets it and isn’t pushing me to just get it together.” On the other hand I couldn’t help but think of all of the time and money I’ve squandered when I could have been taking care of myself. And this resulted in the thought, “I screwed up and there just isn’t anymore time to do that first. I have to get a job like, yesterday, and I have to keep hammering away no matter what I feel like. And then, then I’ll get to taking care of myself.”
But, that is the same old same old. Just like with my writing. How long do I want to keep delaying getting down to the most important work of all? How many more times do I need to get employed doing things I don’t want to do just for the money? I only have one person to take care of and that’s me. When is it ever going to be my time to shine? How much longer will I keep shunting my responsibilities to myself and the world beyond that? This can’t keep being about other people’s ideas for me. Even when those ideas may seem the most logical, they don’t work because they aren’t coming from within myself. And it’s been wearing away at me until I just don’t trust anyone to have my best interests at heart, including myself.
I can only really care for people, fully, with balance and compassion, if I have that for myself, in a lasting and more complete way. It’s not automatic and it goes against my learned behaviours and mindset to do this, and so the door to a better approach has remained closed to me. Or rather, it’s been slightly ajar.
I haven’t known what to do. I haven’t understood how to move forward, how to lay it down, and really question who I am, where I am, and what I want. And honestly, it’s been hard to really care. When I can’t get a handle on things, my emotions run wildly, I cry, I have temporary bursts of hypomania and I crash back into apathy. There seems to be very little middle ground.
But here is where the leap comes in.
After having this conversation with my friend, I came home and tried to think of what to do. “How do I make this happen? How do I get off this hamster wheel? How do I keep myself from ending up in a homeless shelter? What do I do?”
Hours later, unable to sleep I thought of my friend Forest. And I thought of Buddhist retreats.
And I knew that this might be the only way I can get the real time and space I need. Even for just a few weeks, to get my self into a functional frame of mind.
The long and the short of it is once that was in my head, I messaged Forest. He happened to be coming to town this weekend, and so we met up for brunch today.
He used to live in one of the Buddhist centres in town and still has a room there that he rents because he hasn’t decided what he wants to do, and so he offered me the room after consulting with the people there.
And that is that. With very little effort, a possibility unfolded and presented itself to me. And I’m taking it.
I have much to get sorted, but for the next couple of weeks, I am going to stay there at the centre, meditate, and let whatever comes from that lead me to where I need to go next. I will need to move my stuff, and do all of these sorts of mundane tasks to make this transition. I don’t know what this is leading to, but it’s a clear decision.
I have also made up my mind about China…I’m not going to go. I don’t want to, I really don’t, and it would be ill-advised to return to the scene of the crime at this point. Maybe there is the possibility of redeeming my time there and healing the Georges part of my life by journeying there, but now isn’t the time. It was a thought of financial desperation, and I had pretty much convinced myself that there were no other options.
Now, I understand the faulty nature of my thinking. It was panic and a misplaced sense of “doing it right this time because I fucked it up so badly on my first go-around.” I just didn’t know where else to go, what else to do.
But now, here is this choice and chance. I am frightened and nervous. I am facing the situation of creating scenarios of why this could go very wrong, why I won’t be able to handle living in a community, why they won’t accept me, and I am hearing those things throughout my body…I can feel it in my veins, in the tension of my muscles, in the queasiness and the pressure behind my eyes.
But, I know that it is right and so I, will leap forward clumsily, but onward I will go nonetheless.