Monday, 7 March 2016

Viruses, Verses, Versus...


The fire, reactions, reflections;

Last Sunday at around 4 in the morning there was a fire next to the place where Sophie and I live.
We were lucky that Sophie heard the commotion because nobody knew there was a flat above the shop and, judging by the amount of smoke we returned to, we may well have been smoked to unconsciousness and a forever-sleep. 

We are alive.

In the aftermath, when communicating with the concerned queries of others, I wrote some versions of the italicised text;

It's weird, yesterday morning we thought all our possessions were burned, that we didn't have a home to return to...
When we were told that we were allowed back in I thought my perspective would have changed, would have radically altered (when I thought all my books were dust it was oddly liberating), but when we got back in it just disappeared, we were the same old people.

I thought an experience like that would change me, but changes seem to be smaller and less visible when they happen in me...

It was a very fleeting but very powerful sensation.

A lovely soul that I met on the Armenian odyssey remarked on this phenomenon, he happens to be in India right now, where he is in the company of a spiritual teacher who sometimes shares a version of the following story.
Hi Helen,
wow, you are very observant to notice this feeling of despair change into a feeling of liberation when you thought your books burned.
There was an old man who was a passionate collector of all kinds of antiques. He was collecting antiques for all his life, almost 50 years. And was also selling them and had his shop right in his house in a small city where he lived alone. 

Once he was cooking some tomato sauce for pasta but he realized he doesn’t have enough pasta. So because the shop was around the corner he left the sauce on the stove and went quickly to buy some. In the shop he bought what he needed but he met an old school friend. Such a surprise, they were talking and he forgot about the stove.

When he was coming back to the house he saw a big big fire. Everything was burning, roaring fire and full house of smoke. He was shocked
. All his treasures were there and burning. Such a despair. So desperate that he broke one of the windows in the basement, jumped into the smoke and though blinded by smoke was trying to save some of his antiques. He saved 3 pieces, threw them out... crawled out and fainted.

... he woke up in a hospital. First thing he asked "where are my antiques?". They were in the room. Small 3 pieces. Everything else burned down. Again such a despair and tragedy overwhelmed him but at least he was having those 3 pieces. He was looking at them and crying and crying.

When he could leave the hospital, he went back to see the ruin of his house. What he found was just a black dirty burning ground.
Such a tragedy he felt, so much pain in his heart...

...but after being there for an hour or so, and crying... his feelings started to change. He wasn’t crying anymore. He started feeling more free and light... and now he could realize how much he was bound by his attachment to his antiques and carrying it everywhere he went. All his life. And now it was all burned, not only his attachments but everything. And he felt a strange freedom. So much so he started smiling... and later on, he made a small fire and put even those last 3 pieces to burn.

That was a very timely story to have shared with me! I’m so grateful that he took the time to write it all out for me when he couldn’t find a summary online, what a load of care and kindness that went in to that.
At the end of the exchange he said “I think things are gonna work out for you fine”
Another lovely human also remarked on that feeling we felt.
(The sky was so orange! It was terrifyingly beautiful.)

That liberating feeling you had when you thought you stuff was nothing but ash... that feeling is one of the most elusive yet important feelings of all.
I think we all yearn for it almost subconsciously. I believe it's the reason so many people love the idea of a zombie apocalypse
or why the idea of obliterating your brain with alcohol the moment Friday rolls around is so common.

It’s so much help when you’re trying to organise your thoughts and try to compose yourself, assess your position and path, it’s so great to have these insights shared with you from the minds of people who care.

I had a major dip last week.
I could feel regression…
I talked with a friend about trying to fight such a powerful feeling, trying to shake off something that actually always has its claws in me.
I just feel like I have so many lists, suggestions, tips, solutions, so many things I know I should be doing, putting into practice... It's overwhelming
So yeah I should pick one and stick to that, but which one?
Then there's that panic, I should eat to a proper routine maybe, sensibly, healthfully, but I'm scared I'll become obsessed and joyless again
And that I'll lose a little weight, feel weak all the time and have my periods bloody stop again even though I've NEVER been remotely underweight!

That good friend asked me (he helped me a lot one morning when I needed to calm down and get to work but was at home shaking and crying instead), if he had a magic wand and I could change just one thing, what would I?
I answered that my attitude is the hardest thing to change because it's been shaped by 26years of warped negativity
I asked if to change it would mean I have to remove my memories, my history?

I just want to remember what it feels like to be curious and loving and hopeful, to be healthy and thankful that my body can do what I want it to do, instead of stifling curiosity for productivity, being suspicious and cynical, needy and without unconditional love, detached from my body. I want to stop wanting, too.

He replied that this was common, normal, that everybody wants a version of this.
"We're all in the dance"I said.

"Yes, we're all in the dance. That's why we need to work together. Not enough people realise this; they focus more on individual success at the expense of fellow dancers."

"I think that's true (I also apologise if I've stepped on your toes or abandoned you and taken up with another waltzer)."

"The dance is far from over. X"

"I don't know, sometime I think, "Jones, you have no energy for the spectacle, no love for the costumes and have sat too many out, is it time to depart the dancehall?""

"I'm no doctor are depressed."

"I believe I come under the heading "the worried well""

"Please elaborate upon this heading."

"(Just-about) "Functioning member of society with occasional bouts of depression, anxiety and panic"

I don't get help until I get worse and I don't want to get worse so I'll have to help myself to get better, it's just that I've been in this helping myself improve limbo for 10 years..."

God it really was a hard week.
Sunday night was hard, crying profusely hard, but I decided to start watching a 3 hour long video on non violent communication at midnight, and it helped me so much.
Eventually I fell asleep and caught up with the rest in the bath Monday morning.

That night and day I thanked the person who shared the video with me, because it was that good and it was so very needed and eagerly received.

I'm trying not to feel like a bad person, to keep remembering to give more.. Expressing gratitude is an important part of experiencing value, of appreciating love.

Thank you all for sharing these things with me.
I'm very grateful.

"Needs are the unexpressed life inside you".

Eventually I fell asleep listening to it, and I picked it up again the following morning; "Never misinterpret 'rejected' as a feeling, it's a suicidal expression of an un-communicated unmet need".
I'm feeling and learning so much.

It was a very cleansing bath, tried to wash away the scent of smoke and purify my mind at the same time
I remember listening to the part about "giving from self-fullness or giving from self-emptiness" I feel like in the past I've tended to do the latter, and the former is where love really lives.

Does that amount to change? I have since acquired a non violent communication handbook and accompanying workbook, will that signal change? What's it going to take to change?

I was shocked by my lack of shock.

After an abortion I told myself a tale of "living life to the fullest", to correct a nonexistent sin.
To make up for the fact that I chose "myself" because that person wasn't ready to choose anyone else, and, "myself" didn't think being forced to make space for others would help improve anyone's quality of life, at all.

Here "we" are, a year after that aborted mass would have come to full term, still waiting to "start living".
Still waiting for "myself" to up the stakes and start actively contributing to a fulfilled existence.

I thought an experience like that would truly change me.

I thought the fire would change me.

It might?

I thought the other break-ups, getaways and dramatic episodes of the last few years would have changed me.

As though, afterwards, I would have attained a radically new (hard won!) perspective, a profundity that I'm perennially skirting but rarely experiencing (is it, now?).

Immediately after we were allowed back into the flat, after checking the damage and relieving myself of some waste products (if only there was something I could take to speedily cleanse myself of all the mental wastage!), I doused my feelings in complex carbohydrates, sugar and fat, and took a nap afterwards.

Sometimes behaviour is acceptable and excusable, sometimes it isn't and shouldn't be.

Binge eating is not enjoyment, maybe for some people they cross over, the latter leads to the former or one is a common feature of the other, but they are by no means mutually exclusive.
If you're binge eating because you're already not facing your feelings and are dissatisfied, adding guilt, discomfort and shame into the mix only makes things worse and the seemingly inevitable and ensuing mental remonstrations only ever lead to further episodes of disordered eating or other forms of self-harm and substance abuse.

I have a great fear, though, that my letting myself "off the hook" in this respect, has lead to a lapse in other aspects of my health.
It's a CONSTANT struggle between trying to be kinder to myself and a sort of quasi kindness, which, actually involves not caring at all whether I get better or worse.

And I'm on my own in this struggle.

There's another battle between accepting people are typically the centres of their own lives and will never fully appreciate what others experience, and using that as a reason not to open up about problems.

Unburdening yourself vs over-burdening a loved one.

I have tried in the past to reach out and discuss issues related to using food as a crutch and wanting to move past this, explore potential deeper reasons for such behaviour, and, well, you realise you're alone and you have to help you.

You need fucking reserves of strength and determination.
People who don't "get it", well, they don't get it, and, should they have to?

But there's a time and a place for such internal pep-talks and I STRUGGLE to know when I should persist and when I should relent.

So, Instead of accepting that I needed that afternoon sleep after being awoken in the early hours and enduring an extraordinary morning of fire, flashing lights and the kindness of strangers, I mentally castigated myself for "wasting" a day and not being grateful "enough".

What the hell even is enough?! Aren't I deciding? I sure as hell should be because I'll never fit anyone else's ideas because it's impossible to match that which you don't know or understand, how can I please you when I don't know who you are or what pleasure is?!

Why am I trying to? What's the deal with enough?! Trying is enough, knowing your shortcomings is already enough, learn to know when you've had enough food, drink, sleep!

You know what I've had enough of?
Treating myself like shit, and excusing it, because I have this screwed up notion that it's ok; someone will come along and magically right a lifetime's wrongs, on my behalf, so I don't have to!

Recovery? What is recovery? I always seem to be "getting over" something but not getting noticeably stronger.

Constant imbalance, constant internal squabbling, an internal dialogue that turns on the host like an overgrown parasite, a virus.

Do I actually want to get better? What does better look like? Am I selling myself a story of wellness that nobody has ever attained? A peace nobody finds? Or are these more excuses not to try for something better, a new quality of life.
There are so many conflicts within me...

Celebrating Neurodiversity vs wallowing and releasing myself from the responsibility to change, improve and thrive.

Casting aside toxic beauty standards and damaging superficial ideals vs allowing myself to cease taking care of myself. (Body positivity vs encouragement of unhealthy habits!)

Not having the energy to fight vs knowing when it's appropriate to bow out. Compassionately challenging negative behaviour vs "knowing my place". Apathy vs "I didn't say anything because that person has yet to learn how to listen".

Making a concerted effort to speak someone's language vs knowing that you'll never please everyone.

Accusing yourself of having high standards vs being deserving of the care you're so full of.

Telling yourself "everyone is different" and trying not to expect "too much" vs having REAL needs that aren't afforded communication space.

Accepting myself vs excusing my weaknesses and not exploring potential strengths.

Abandoning the need to conform to common ideas of success vs giving up and never trying.

Trying to learn better rules of engagement vs "I can't fucking say anything without offending someone".

Adding your voice to a discourse vs fear of drowning out or replacing someone else's.

Accepting life is a steep and sometimes seemingly Sisyphean learning curve vs absolving myself of the responsibility to try and be the best human I possibly can be.

Telling myself "they just weren't the one" vs "FOR THE LOVE OF PETE GIVE UP THE IDEA OF THE ONE!"

Everyone and no one is the one, I need to be my own one.

How many more of these posts will I have written before any of this actually hits home?!

It was mother's day yesterday, and I think it coincided with weekend celebrations for tomorrow's International Women's Day, too.

Here is a small celebration of some of the amazing women in my life, as a beautiful prize for having reached the end of a rather unpolished and negative post.