Category Archives: Spirituality

Thoughts on last year, this year, and why I’m just like Jesus.

I don’t particularly make New Year’s Resolutions.  My personal experience has been that if I want to fail at something, I should pick a day that everyone in the world is aware of and announce my intentions for all to hear.  Any time I do that, some inner-5-year-old REBELS like crazy.  I find myself enmeshed in this weird attitude that hollers, “Who do they think they are to have expectations of me?  How dare they tell me what to do?  I’LL SHOW THEM!!!”  And then I quit doing whatever it was I was doing.

It’s just as highly productive as you’re imagining right now.

But last year I’d spent several months thinking about Geneen Roth, and Intuitive Eating and all that jazz.  It had been rolling around in my head for a while, and sinking into my brain in bits and pieces.  (I call this process “percolating.”  Any time I have a new idea, a new theory, a new decision to make, it has to percolate for a while.  I have to roll it around in my thoughts, like a shiny new marble, getting to know its shape, its texture, its weight.  It has to seep into my brain and my emotions until it feels like it’s coming from inside me, instead of like some external thing I’ve put on.)  (I know that sounds weird.  Just go with it, ok?)

And last year, it just so happened that right about the time I finished percolating  about all the Intuitive Eating stuff, it was my birthday.  To be precise, it was the day before my birthday on the morning that I woke up and said, “Yes.  Yes, I definitely do want to do this.”  So I started on my birthday, which happened to be my 33rd – which was a significant birthday for me.

See, when I was little, we weren’t a particularly religious family, but I was FASCINATED by religion (still am, to be honest).  I read various stories from various religions, but Christianity was the most accessible, just based on my extended family.  I remember the year my mom was 33, realizing that she was the same age as Jesus when he died.  That stuck with me, because even though 33 seemed far away as a kid, I knew that it wasn’t really OLD in the relative sense: I knew it was actually really YOUNG.  (I breathed a secret sigh of relief when my mom turned 34.  Why, YES, I WAS a dramatic child; why do you ask??)  (True story: on my birthday, I called my (formerly Catholic) dad and announced, “Hey, guess what!!  I’m the same age as Jesus when he died!”  Dead silence on the other end, followed by incredulous laughter and his pronouncement, “God, you’re so weird, Marste.”  :D)

ANYWAY.  All that to say that 33 had some MEANING for me, ok?  So, what the heck, I figured.  I’d change my entire way of looking at food: I’d stop dieting, I’d eat what I wanted, I’d probably gain weight while doing so (*gulp*, but all the books said it was likely in the beginning).  It was time for my old, neurotic self to die, and for a healthier mind to be resurrected.  Being the same age as one of religion’s Big Kahunas just seemed like a freakin’ sign, ok?

(I  swear, lightning will strike me dead any minute for comparing myself to a godhead!  Dear Mom, I leave you everything I own.)

Hm.  That actually got a lot more religious-y than I meant it to, especially considering that I’m not religious at all.  But I DO still find myself fascinated and enthralled by the scope of the stories, and drawn in to the metaphors and metaphysics of the whole thing.  (I actually do believe in god.  I just don’t necessarily think any one god story is better or worse – or truer or falser – than any other.)  (Yes, “truer” and “falser” are TOTALLY words.)  (At least they are NOW.  The English language evolves, people!)

ANYWAY, AGAIN.

I did really well last year.  And this year I percolated some more, rolled around a new thought (more or less since January), examined a new idea, and tried to decide if I was ready for that next step, or if it was too soon and would just make me crazy (again).  But I decided I was ready: last year I worked on a healthier MIND. This year I have 2 goals: a healthier BODY, and to finish a book.  The latter is something I won’t talk about a lot here (I don’t think), but the former is the one I was the most concerned about.

And this is getting WAAAAAAY too freakin’ long, so more later.  In a Part 2!!!!  (Maybe Friday.  Or Saturday.)  (Or maybe Monday.  Heck if I know.)

Advertisements

House Hunting and Energy Woo-Woo

Sometimes I just know things.  Actually I think we all just know some things.  Sometimes you get that feeling of certainty in the pit of your stomach, and you just know.  It’s like your whole spirit goes, “Yes. This.” I put a lot of store in that feeling of just knowing.  I make a lot of decisions based on that feeling, and when I’ve really listened to it closely, it’s never been wrong. 

I’ve known for a while that it’s time for me to move.  I’ve been sort of ignoring it because I like my current apartment.  I like the area I live in, I like the surrounding communities.  I like that it’s really suburban.  But now there are bugs in my room.  A lot of times that (“that” = “unpleasant experience”) is my peeps* way of trying to tell me to GET OFF MY ASS AND GET MOVING.  And the thing that makes me sure that this is an energetic/peeps/Law of Attraction thing is that the bugs (I can’t keep calling them roaches because that FREAKS ME RIGHT THE FUCK OUT) are coming from a WEIRD place: a closed window, in my bedroom.  They’re not in my dresser, they’re not in the bathroom, they’re not in the kitchen.  They’re not coming through the WIDE OPEN windows on the other side of my apartment.  No, just in that one spot.  Next to a window – next to a way out, an exit, an escape.  And in my bedroom – the place I go to hide, to run from my problems, to shut out the world and ignore my peeps.  THAT’S where those bugs are: disrupting my peace, my denial, my sleep (both literal and figurative).

So I’ve been house-hunting.  House-hunting in LA is kind of weird, because while in other parts of the country you can buy a house for pennies on the dollar, here it’s more like 80 cents or 90 cents on the dollar.  The deals are still really good, but that’s relatively speaking.  I was looking at a place listed for $220,000: 2 bd, 2 bath, 942 square feet, good neighborhood, etc.  And that was CHEAP.  But I just found out that there are 6 bids on that condo, and the highest is $260,000 (which is actually still pretty cheap, believe it or not).  There’s another with fewer square feet, newly remodeled, asking $250,000, bidding already up to $275,000.  See where I’m going with this?  It’s nuts. 

But I think I found my place.  It’s over in the Arts District in North Hollywood (which is in the process of gentrification).  They’re asking $225,000, and I think they’ll take a little less.  It’s a condo conversion, which means that the building used to be apartments, but they’ve renovated, and now it’s all condos.  The insides are all new, the heating and AC are new, the roof is new.  I’ve been by to see the unit twice, and the agent just emailed me to basically tell me that if I want one, he can get me a “good price,” which means I can probably get it for 5 or 10 thousand under asking.  EVEN BETTER.  You can see them here (scroll down to see the insides).  So I’ll probably make an offer this weekend. 

Weird.  Exciting and stressful all at the same time. 

 

*Peeps: also called guardian angels, guides and teachers, spirit guides, whatever.  I believe in them – I had dreams about mine when I was little (I have 3), and I’ve had some, er, ODD experiences involving them and other people – but I always thought that all the “usual” terms for those beings were more than a little pretentious.  Hence, “peeps.”

Getting Past the “Monkey Mind”

I’ve been trying to meditate more often.  Or at least more consistently.  And I find myself falling into one of several methods of meditation, all of them quite specific.  I was emailing a friend of mine last week, and she asked me something like, “What exactly do you DO to meditate?” and I was off and running.  When it was all said and done, it was the LONGEST EMAIL EVER. 

But I can’t be the only one (well, one of the only 2 if you count my friend) who can’t make my mind SHUT UP long enough to sit still for even 10 minutes.  I actually took a class in meditation a couple of years ago, and found that it really helped.  So the specific things that helped me are the ones I’m posting. 

The instructor I took from was the first meditation teacher I’d listened to (because I’d listened to some CDs) that didn’t annoy the hell out of me with breathy talk of puppies and kittens and Feeling the Love.  Her name is Michele Meiche and she has a website.  My favorite CD is called “Meditation for Everyday Living” (at the bottom of that page) – it’s not annoying, and I think the longest meditation is something like 7 minutes.  Most are around 4 minutes, so that’s EVEN BETTER.  😉  So you should definitely check her out if you’d like to start meditating.

Now.

The first thing I learned was to slow my breath down.  Literally,  I think that to myself: “Slooooow your breath down.  Sloooooow your breath down.”  That has an immediate effect on my mind, my heart rate, my anxiety levels, etc.

Once you’ve done that a few times, try to make one breath longer than another.  Inhale for 3 counts, exhale for 4.  Repeat that a few times, then switch so the inhale is longer than the exhale.  (FYI, the former will relax you; the latter will energize you.)

Now make your breaths even: the same number of counts in and out.

Now hold your breath LIGHTLY between the inhale and the exhale for the same counts.  So, 3 counts in, lightly hold for 3 counts, 3 counts out. 

If you find your mind wandering, just mark it – “put a pin in it,” as they say – and say to yourself, “thought.”  If any feelings come up, mark those, too: “feelings.”  Then bring your attention back to your breath.  If something itches, scratch it.  (Don’t think you can ignore it; it will just take over your mind, as you probably already know.)  If you hear something outside, just acknowledge it, and then bring your attention back to your breath.

Some days, none of that is enough to shut my mind up.  On those days, I use this trick: find the fleeting moment between your inhale and exhale, between your exhale and inhale, where you’re NOT BREATHING.  Don’t HOLD your breath; just look for that microspace between the inhale/exhale or exhale/inhale. 

That last one works for me 99.9% of the time, when nothing else will.  Partly it’s because it keeps my brain TOTALLY FOCUSED.  Partly it works because in a effort to find that moment, my breathing slows naturally.  Partly it’s because whatever part of my brain that might wander from TOTAL FOCUS gets wrapped up in reminding me not to hold my breath.  (“There!  You’re holding!  Just breathe!  OK . . . here we go . . . . get ready to look for it . . . THERE!  RIGHTTHERERIGHTHERE! . . . Oh, wait . . . I think I was holding again . . . slow down the breathing . . . get reeeeeeaaaaadyyyyyyy . . . THERE!  Was that it?  I couldn’t tell, it was too fast . . . . try again . . .  ”  And so forth.  ;))

Finally?  Set a timer.  It’s not really the “right” way to come out of meditation, with a timer going off in your ear – you’re supposed to come out lightly and peacefully and all that, but I figure with a timer, I actually MEDITATE (or at least try) for 10 minutes.  Without a timer, I keep checking the clock to see if my time is up.  I don’t really have time to make an effort at meditating because I’m too busy wondering if I’m done yet.  Know what I mean?

So there you go.  That’s how I do it.  Um.  WHEN I do it, that’s how I do it.  😉

Sacred Contracts, Archetypal Patterns and other New Age Stuff/Crap that Informs How I Deal With My (Sometimes) Warped Brain

Hey, did I win for the longest post title ever?  Did I?  Did I?  LOL

I have purposely NOT written about this stuff, because I know a lot of people don’t buy it (and I don’t blame them), and I didn’t want to lose ALL my credibility – ha!  But after the last couple of posts, I found myself trying to explain things about the way I thought without ACTUALLY having to explain them.  Harumph.  So I’m posting this.  Honestly, I don’t care if you believe it or not; that’s not really relevant to the posts.  But I think it explains some of my mindset and the way that I deal with things, so for clarity’s sake, I’m posting it. 

Having said that?  This is SUPER-LONG.  But I wanted to cram it all into one place so that I didn’t have to keep writing about it or address it (much) again.

So here goes.

Gulp.

First you should know that I pretty much think Carolyn Myss is spot-on about everything (well, for the purposes of this post, anyway).   She writes about spirituality and energetic medicine, and is of the opinion that all illness comes from a spiritual and/or energetic imbalance.  Most of the time (we’ll get to the exceptions later).   So all this stuff comes from her books, lectures, classes, etc.  You can check her out over there in the sidebar if you want more info.  🙂

Since *I* believe in this stuff, I’m going to write about it as though it were empirically true, mostly because I’m too lazy to qualify every statement with “in my opinion,” “according to my beliefs,” etc.  So take it all with a grain of salt, ok?  I KNOW it’s not empirically true; it’s just easier to write that way.

So let’s start with Archetypes.  There are an infinite number of them, and we all embody all of them at various moments in our lives.  They all have light/good sides and shadow/dark sides.  Each of us has 12 that are dominant: they are the lenses through which we view our lives.  Of those 12, 4 are universal: the Victim, the Child, the Prostitute and the Saboteur.  Everyone has those 4 – they are referred to as the Survival Archetypes.

The Child is easy to see: pretty much everyone who’s ever been in therapy has heard of the Inner Child.  Same thing.  Anytime you say something’s not fair, or eat (or drink or buy) something because you’ve been “good” and you “deserve” it, you are living through the Child.  The good side of the Child is the part of you that sees fresh starts and new beginnings.  That part of you is the part that wonders at a beautiful sunset or laughs with delight at a rainbow.

The Victim comes out anytime you blame anyone else for anything in your life.  No, really.  Anything.  I’ll come back to that.  The light side of the Victim though, is the Victor.  When you have succeeded at something hard, when you have stood up to someone you felt vicitmized by, when you’re simply aware of a situation that has the potential to turn harmful in some way, and you get out.  Ok?

The Prostitute asks: what will you give up in order to attain your goal?  Specifically, how much of your integrity will you trade?  I engage in the Prostitute when I binge or drink.  I am willing to pay with my health in order to hide from something that I should deal with.  If you stay in a job you hate because the money is good, that’s the Prostitute.  If you stay in a marriage you hate because you’re afraid of being alone, that’s the Prostitute.  The light side of the Prostitute is the side that sends up the warning flares when you’re in danger of compromising something important to you.  It’s that knot you get in your stomach that makes you think, “I don’t know if this is really worth it to me.”  It helps you be aware of what situations/people will compromise you, or take more from you than you can give, and it sounds the warning bells.

The Saboteur is pretty self-explanatory.  It’s the part of you that would rather stay in bed than go to the gym.  It’s the part of me that decides to stop drinking/bingeing and then buys vodka/ice cream.  The light side, like the Prostitute, is the side that sounds the alarm.  It’s the part of me that stands in the grocery store and says, “Don’t buy that ice cream.  You feel like hell, and you will EAT IT ALL TONIGHT.”  This one is kind of hard for me to wrap my OWN brain around, frankly.  The light and shadow sides are so closely intertwined for me that I sometimes have trouble differentiating them (even after all my studying).

Whew.  Ok.  Those are the Big 4 (so to speak).  Everyone then has 8 more on top of those.  I have the Addict (shocking, I know), the Warrior, the Hedonist, the Athlete, and a few more, but they’re not really all that relevant here. 

The light side of the Warrior, for instance, is the ability to defend oneself and one’s loved ones against pretty much any onslaught.  It’s also (ironically) the quality of mercy (think about how the hero in a movie never kills the opponent – that’s the quality I’m talking about).  It’s also the ability to do what you have to do, even when it hurts or frightens you.  The shadow side is the Warrior without an ethical code: that side will do what benefits it, whether or not it hurts OTHERS.

So.  Let’s jump right into the Addict, and then we’ll get to energetic medicine and Sacred Contracts, ok?

The dark side of the Addict is pretty obvious.  The light side of the Addict embodies balance and perseverance.  Balance is also semi-self-explanatory (though I’ll elaborate in the next paragraph), but perseverance is in there, because kicking an addiction requires TONS of perseverance.  And once kicked, we are able to reclaim that power: we know what we are truly capable of.  In the words of one former alcoholic, “If I can quit drinking, I can do anything.”

Re: balance – an addicition happens when you spend too much time in either your head or your heart.  (Usually, though not always, addicts spend too much time in their heads; the other is pretty rare.)  And in energetic medicine, your heart is your 4th chakra, and your head is your 6th.  Your 5th chakra sits in your throat, and it’s the energetic home of your will and your ability to make choices. 

When the head and heart are not in alignment – when either you are spending too much time in one and not the other, or when you are deeply conflicted about something – it’s like two divorced parents fighting.  The will is the child: it goes where it’s told, and if the “parents” can’t agree, the will goes looking for an authority figure, and you have yourself an addiction.  Even at its worst, bingeing gave an odd but undeniable structure to my day.  I knew what would happen when I went home.  I had something to think about all day, even if I was dreading it, and that meant I didn’t have to think about whatever else was upsetting me.  I didn’t have to listen to the battle between my head and my heart, because I had a different “parent” – one who was always there for me, even if the “parent” was abusive.  See what I mean?

Finally, I want to touch briefly on Sacred Contracts.  Back when I mentioned the Victim, and asserted that no one has ever victimized you, even though it might feel like it, I was talking about Sacred Contracts.  That is the belief that every person we meet is meant to teach us a lesson about ourselves.  And the people who hurt us the most are the people who have agreed (on a spiritual level) to teach us the biggest lessons.  So to be angry at those people is as silly as being angry at a teacher when you don’t understand the lesson.  There’s no point in it.

As an example, my dad was never around when I was growing up.  He would come home from work and lock himself in his office.  I would go in to kiss him goodnight, but other than that, I rarely saw him.  By the time I was a teenager, he was a little better, but the damage was done.  For a good portion of my life, I struggled with feelings of abandonment.  I searched out men who were unavailable, the whole nine yards.  And one day, after reading about Sacred Contracts, I decided to really look for the lesson.  To really look for what good could come out of the situation I was in, because my dad will never really be any different, and I had to learn to be ok with that.  And I learned that when I felt abandoned, I felt unloved.  I felt like he didn’t love me ENOUGH.  And THEN I realized that no one ever could.  That even people who love us in just the right way eventually grow old and die.  That in the end, we are all alone, and that’s the way it’s SUPPOSED to be.  And I learned that if that’s the case, I have to love MYSELF enough.  *I* have to be enough.

Yeah, it’s a super-cliche, but it was still true.  And when I realized that, I was suddenly no longer angry.  I was free to appreciate the person my dad IS, without wanting him to be someone ELSE.

Put another way: my dad’s spirit agreed to be my spirit’s teacher in this life.  He agreed to love me INADEQUATELY, to the best of his ability, even though it would cause us both pain, and we wouldn’t really know why.  He agreed to do that so that I could learn a profound spiritual lesson.  That is really a tremendous gift, and I’m grateful to him.

NOW.  There is of course, one more thing to address.  I am NOT ADVOCATING that if someone does you harm, you should write it off.  If someone rapes you, don’t go on your way and figure that it’s your thing to deal with, and that person shouldn’t face the consequences of their actions.  Because we also live in the human world, and we have to abide by human laws.  So if you were raped, and have the strength to go through prosecution, then absolutely you should.  The rapist should go to jail.  But also recognize that the EMOTIONAL fallout is where that Sacred Contract perspective comes in.  You sort of have to operate on both planes simultaneously.  (And who knows, maybe the rapist has something to learn in jail, and he SHOULD be there.  Don’t discount that, either.)

SO.

When I talk about my Warrior rooting a rat out of a house, it’s not that I’m usually overly compliant.  And if the rat is the shadow side of my Addict, then no, it won’t ever go away.  But as I read the comments, then re-read the posts, then re-read the comments, I started to realize that it’s really the fear that I’m afraid of.  I’m afraid of the False Evidence Appearing Real.  I’m guessing I’m afraid to really “hear” the argument raging between my head and my heart.  Or maybe I’ve lived so long in my head that I’m afraid of hearing my heart.  I don’t know.  I’m afraid of the journey, but only because sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see the difference between transformation and annihilation, you know?  So maybe the rat won’t go away.  But maybe it will transform.  Maybe the rat is the shadow side of the Addict, and the light side will be a guard dog to make sure I maintain balance.  Or a phoenix to help me persevere.  Or something.  Beats me.  LOL.

Anyway.  Now you have more of an insight into my weirdness than I ever intended. 

OH, WELL.  Ha!

Leaving “Home,” Part 1

Extrapolating from yesterday’s post about not trying to fit into other people’s labels . . .

Sometimes my brain needs to percolate for a while about things before I really know what I think.  It’s strange, and often inconvenient, but I have a tendency to take everything at face value, and only later does it occur to me to think, “Waaaaaaait a minute . . . ”  So based on various things I’ve been reading lately, I’ve been thinking about gratitude, compulsion, addiction, how I present myself to others vs. how I feel about myself, loving myself vs. not loving myself, etc.  LOTS of stuff, people.  All percolating into one mess that’s only now becoming coherent. 

So I’m sorry in advance for the meandering.  And the length.  Because this post is LONG, people.

Over in the sidebar there is a link to a post called “The Fantasy of being Thin.”  Go read it if you haven’t.  It’s an interesting thing to think about: that I have this idea (which I do) that when I am thin, I will not only be thin, but I will be inherently DIFFERENT.  Except I won’t be.  I’ll still be me, just thinner.  I won’t be someone who hikes Runyon Canyon every night and surfs on Saturdays and is a must-invite-type of guest to every party.  I won’t be more confident or less self-conscious.  I won’t be someone who suddenly can’t get enough salad and is disgusted by alfredo sauce (seriously, is that even POSSIBLE?).  Lounging on the couch watching Alias reruns and chowing down on macaroni and cheese will still seem like a GREAT way to spend a Saturday, especially a cold and rainy one.  Exercising will not be something I eagerly look forward to every morning.  I won’t leap out of bed at 5am “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” as my grandma would have said; I’ll still want to hit snooze and snuggle down into the comforter for an extra hour and skip the exercise “just today, just this once.”  I won’t magically have more hours in the day to do all the things I want to do, and I won’t go out every night with friends and laugh and party into the wee hours (and then get up feeling great the next morning).

I just won’t.  Because THAT’S NOT WHO I AM.  But it’s funny, because there is a part of me that really BELIEVES that it will work that way; that if I lose weight, I won’t just get a body makeover – I’ll get a whole-SELF makeover.  And THAT leads me to the next question: why do I want a whole-self makeover?  What am I trying to leave behind?  What part of me isn’t good enough?

I read another post over at Shapely Prose about how many women live in the future “when [they’ll] be thinner.”  We are somehow disconnected from our bodies, thinking that “there is a thin person in me trying to get out.”  We dissociate from our bodies, thinking, “This isn’t really who I am.”  But if it’s not really us, then who is it?  Who are WE?  I mean, I might be different tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.  I might be thinner or fatter, I’ll definitely be older.  I’ll be different.  But does that negate the fact that right now, this IS who I am?  Just because it’s not my idea of the “best” me doesn’t mean it’s not me RIGHT NOW.  Just because I have a  different idea of the “real” me, that doesn’t make THIS me, right here and now, any less “real.” 

And then that loops back to living in the moment and being grateful for the here and now IN the here and now.  I commented over at MizFit’s blog today about how whatever you put your attention on is what you get.  It’s the “advanced” version of the Law of Attraction.  If you parrot gratefulness without ever FEELING grateful, and at the same time worry obssessively over what you are afraid will REALLY happen, then what you’re worried about is what you’ll get.  Not because the Law of Attraction doesn’t work, but because it DOES.  You got what you were emotionally invested in: you got what you worried about. 

By the same token, if I’m trying to lose weight because I’m afraid of staying at the weight I’m at – if I’m trying to lose weight because I’m desperate to be a DIFFERENT version of myself – if I’m trying to lose not just the weight, but in some unexplainable, ineffable way I’m also trying to lose the parts of myself that I DON’T LIKE, then guess what I get?  More of what I’m afraid of.  Diets don’t work.  I really believe that, but I think they don’t work because when most people diet, we’re running from something.  And anyone who’s ever encountered a strange dog in the street knows that when you run from something, it chases you.

And then THAT leads me to the bingeing and (sometimes) the drinking.  I drank too much this weekend and ate too many chips.  And I remember a couple of times actually thinking, “Ok, if you’re doing this, you’re burying something or you’re upset about something.  What is it?  Right now, here in this moment, what is it?”  And I got . . . nothing.  I didn’t feel upset or anxious about anything.  The wine and the chips were just . . . there.  So I ate/drank them.  It was more a compulsive behavior than an addictive one, and it was WEIRD.  But now, based on the above, I’m wondering if my time in therapy working out the hows and the whys of the drinking and the bingeing really worked.  Maybe what’s going on now isn’t so much related to emotional turmoil.

Maybe what’s going on now is that I’m getting what I’m emotionally invested in: I’m afraid of being fat.  I’m afraid of being someone with an Eating Disorder, ESPECIALLY Binge Eating Disorder because it makes me feel like an uncontrollable pig, and it’s not “glamorous” in the outside world.  (For the record, NO eating disorder is glamorous, but some are perceived that way by outsiders.)  Some days I hate my body.  I have more dislike of myself than like of myself, if that makes sense.  THAT’S WHERE MY ATTENTION IS.  And maybe, just maybe, the food-related behaviors are my psyche’s way of giving me EXACTLY what I’m invested in/afraid of: weight gain, an eating disorder, and to a lesser extent, ill health at some point in the future.  All the things that make my gut seize up in raw, unadulterated PANIC.  Panic is a very powerful emotion, and we get what we’re emotionally invested in.  Maybe I’m getting EXACTLY what I’m afraid of, because that’s how I know how to function.  It is, in its own way, even with all the self-loathing, SAFE.  It’s familiar.  I know how to navigate these waters.  They are, in a sense, my home.

But eventually, we all have to leave home in order to find our way in the world. 

(And you thought I’d never get to the point of the post title, didn’t you?  ;))

Part 2, tomorrow.

Growth, Change and Grief

*Disclaimer: I wrote this whole thing and then realized that maybe I should have titled it, “Metaphysical Monday” or something like that.  It doesn’t have anything to do with my body image or anything else along the usual lines.  Today’s post is basically just some emtional upheaval that needed a place to be purged.  And hey, coincidentally, I have this blog!  LOL*

I don’t know what’s going on in my head lately.  Or rather, maybe it’s that I DO know what’s going on, and there’s just so much of it.  The events of the last year or so have caused me to really reevaluate what I want out of life, how I feel about things, what I like and don’t like.

It turns out that I might not be the person I always thought I was.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  It’s not like I thought I was a good person, but oops, I was wrong, I’m really a serial killer.  It’s more like I thought I knew what I wanted and what I didn’t want, and have suddenly realized that I don’t want what I thought I did, and hey, I might want some of the stuff I thought I DIDN’T want. 

I’ve always wanted to act.  I wanted a career in film, and everything else (love, kids, house, etc.) was ancillary.  Maybe if I’d started when I was younger I would have gotten that film career, but at this point, I’m not willing to live the kind of unsettled life that starting a film career requires.  (“Hey, let’s go away for the weekend!”  “Ok, but if I get an audition call, I have to cancel.”  Happens more often than you’d think.)  So the film career went by the wayside this year.  It’s not something I regret, but it was a big change.

Last year I dated a man with kids.  In some ways it was a great relationship, in others not so much.  But I’d never EVER wanted to get married or have kids, and because of that relationship, it’s something I’d consider now.  So that was a big change.

That same relationship made me realize that there is a big ol’ part of me that LIKES all the stereotypically “female” activities in life.  In some ways I’d probably be a really good stay-at-home-mom.  I also like cooking and decorating and sewing and even cleaning, to a certain extent.  If I’d grown up in a Baptist family, I’d fit in just fine, LOL.  I’m not Baptist, or even conservative, and I don’t plan on converting: I don’t have any of the religious or political beliefs that accompany that lifestyle, and I’m not really sure I’d want to stay home in reality.  But it was a shock to realize how much of that kind of stuff I LIKE, when I never thought I’d like any of it.  So that was a big change.

And going hand-in-hand with the “girly” stuff was the realization that when my actions and beliefs come from a rebellion against something, I’m still being controlled by whatever I’m rebelling against.  In other words, I have HUGE issues with the “traditional” roles of men and women in our society and religions (which in this country, are primarily Judeo-Christian).  So I moved as far away as I could from those things, swearing that I’d never get married, never have kids.  But a reactionary movement is still a movement in response to something.  It’s like reverse psychology: I’m still allowing myself to be controlled by those expectations, because I’m rebelling against them, without any thought for what I really want (on the fence about marriage, don’t want to birth any babies, but might really like to adopt).  I don’t even know if I’m saying that right, so I hope it makes sense. 

I think a lot of this is coming up because I’m supposed to go have coffee with the above-mentioned ex this week.  It’s a long story, but basically we’re hoping there might be a friendship in there somewhere. 

But there has been so much internal upheaval, so many changes and about-faces, and fast starts and full stops that I’ve become a little bit of a wreck.  I find myself looking forward toward a future that holds things that 2 years or even 1 year ago I would have said I never wanted, and leaving behind and outgrowing things that I have wanted ever since I can remember.  I don’t want those things anymore, but somehow I’m grieving their passing. 

So I find myself crying randomly because I’m grieving the death of an old me, even though I know there’s a new me that will emerge from the experience.  It seems sort of silly when I stop to think about it: I mean, what am I grieving, exactly?  I’m still the same person.  The stuff I’m letting go of is stuff that doesn’t fit anymore, like old clothes.  What am I mourning?  I don’t know, exactly.  I can’t put my finger on it, and even as I write this, the tears have dried on my face. 

We are creatures of habit.  Letting go of old things means letting go of a certain sense of security, of knowing who I am.  But then again, was that really WHO I was?  Did I really know myself, or did I just know ABOUT myself?  I know a lot of things about myself: how I respond to crises, what makes me happy, where my “issues” come from.  But that isn’t really knowing my SELF.  That’s just knowing about the external constructs I have created around myself in order to define myself according to the tenets of this society.  But “myself” is different from “my Self.”  One is a descriptor of my little life: my external life, my constructs.  The other is a word for the part of me that never changes – my soul, my Higher Self, my Buddha-consciousness, whatever.

So what am I grieving?  I’m grieving something transitory, something that, as part of my “little life” wasn’t ever anything more than an illusion to being with.  I guess it seems a little silly, when I think of it like that.  It seems a little silly when I know from experience that I’ll be ok, even if I don’t see the whole picture yet.  (There’s a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that says something to the effect of, “You don’t need enough light to see the whole staircase.  You just need enough light to see your next step.”)

(But I still reserve the right to completely forget this moment of enlightenment and have another good cry should the need arise.)  😉

Eating Disorders, Religion and Spirituality

Well, yesterday I wrote a post inspired by Rachel’s post and the comments to it, but frankly when I was all done with my post, it was just really annoying navel-gazing.  And I figured if *I* thought that, I probably didn’t want to publish it!  Ha!  So go read Rachel’s post and the comments.  It was really good stuff.