I’m beginning to think that our trailer is not just a trailer. And more of a rolling trauma treatment center. Where people go to leave what’s seen as the “regular” world behind and focus on what matters most. The two current inhabitants of this treatment center happen to be me and Jeff. What matters most for us, or for me I’ll just speak for myself going forward, is healing and focusing on our true purpose. I don’t know exactly what my true purpose is but I know what it is and isn’t, in a way. Or I could say, I know when I’m on the path and when I’ve veered off. I’ve been on this path, well probably my whole life. I think that’s our soul’s purpose and we all have varying degrees of success finding it in our time on earth. But I can mark it as intentionally starting when I was 27 and started Al-Anon. When I started my recovery, as they call it. Which is a word I still use because I like it and it fits.
I’ve had this story percolating for awhile too, just like my last one. I think there’s been some avoidance in writing but also that it wasn’t fully realized today. I couldn’t quite find words for it until this morning and that’s why I’m writing.
I’ve found myself pushing up against my routines for the last month maybe. I became really aware of it when we got out of Big Sur. Not by choice, had our traveling been at this breakneck pace. Due to our inexperience, and maybe circumstances beyond our control, we kept finding ourselves in places that weren’t quite right or we weren’t able to stay the amount of time we needed to fully decompress. Things like weather, heat, summer time, natural disasters, and EVERYONE is on vacation with their family (duh). Big lessons learned (goddamnit! I wanted to avoid any mistakes with obsessive preparation!). I WAS WEARY. And I don’t think I’ve ever used that word to explain myself before. Because I don’t do anything anymore that will lead to weariness. The last time I pushed myself like that would be soccer. Once I finished soccer, age 6-24ish, I was never willing to work that hard again. So I realize now that the physical, mental, emotional weariness was leading to a break or disruption to my routine. My sleep is usually the first to go. Staying up later and later trying to reach something that I don’t know what. Then I wake up tired. Then I don’t want to get out of bed. Don’t want to do my meditation or drag it out getting there. Then I have more of taste for sugar to try to keep myself awake. This never works. I will get a buzz for 5 minutes and then still be tired. But now(!) I have a stimulant on board so I will be exhausted but sleep shitty! Yay! With all my inner child work I’ve become much more nurturing to myself and much more curious. So in my most recent episode of this thing, I found myself being curious. First of all, its my teenager that will rebel against conditions that are unsuitable. Demands too high, expectations too much, too critical too cold. She will say, “Fuck you, here’s what’s gonna happen now. You won’t give me what I need and want? I will take it from you.” Typically I would respond to this tipping of the seesaw by trying to tip it in the other direction. But this was not conscious. I wasn’t trying to whip myself back into shape. Uggggghhhhh, but I was. Sigh. After all the years of trying to undo that unkindness to myself it was still here.
I have relied on, counted on, my ability to discipline myself. To control myself. Now, you may have not seen this on the outside when I was younger but know that it was there. The 20 year old used alcohol and love addiction. Up until that time, these were the best she had at dealing with what was inside her. She wasn’t ready to face, she was just trying to survive. Then I hit 27 and it had become so painfully obvious to me that these tools were failing that I became willing to face. Then I found discipline, courage, drive, and ambition. The 12-steps helped me wield previously troublesome characteristics into things that helped me thrive.
Now I’m here. And I’m getting the sense that I’m in for another re-tooling. I’ve known that I can rule myself with an iron fist. I’ve been working on that too, the past few years. Becoming softer. More flexible. I guess I’ve reached a new layer. Because I sat in bed today and felt the familiar anxiety pushed down upon me from above. Right as I open my eyes: ‘You’ve got to meditate. You’ve got to do it first thing in the morning. You want to start off right. That’s the way you’re supposed to do it. If you don’t start off right the whole day will veer off course and you’ve worked so hard to get your mediation practice to what it is. Don’t fuck this up for us. If you slack on this it could turn into 2 weeks and no mediation! What if you become a person that doesn’t mediate?! You would be bad then. So bad.’ And this is what I’m chaffing against. And my teenager. This right and wrong thing. And this is where I’m really starting to respect my teenager and what she has to share with me. She doesn’t stay in bed because she’s lazy, she stays in bed because she’s tired! I just spent all of yesterday driving to a place I’ve never been with every single thing being new. I already start the trip with high anxiety anticipating everything that can go wrong and it’s a social engagement and that always means things to me. I find out I need gas and I’m already late. And here’s the iron fist again: ‘Goddmannit, Emily, you’re already fucking late. You know who’s late to things? Fucking losers. People that don’t care. You’re a bad person. You should have left earlier, you are the only reason that you’re late.’ Luckily I have other voices too that aren’t so nasty that sound like this, ‘Yes, that’s true. Its our fault for being late. But its out of avoidance. This is not about being a bad person, this is our adaptive strategy for dealing with stress. Avoidance. We are working at it. We are not late to everything. But sometimes we are late. This doesn’t mean we are bad.’
(Can I just say that out of so many of the posts I’ve written, this is one for which I worry people will think I am crazy)
So that trip was all day. And I had a lovely time with my friend Gloria. She was very supportive and interested in what was happening in my life and she very much validated that I was in a rolling trauma treatment center. Confirming that, “yes, your main focus is healing right now”. And I was exhausted. Everything exhausts me. I have decidedly limited energy resources for each day because so much of the resources are going to the healing process.
So this morning I wanted to try out what I’ve been quietly trying out with myself for the last week or so. What if I didn’t try and discipline my self with fear? Well some part of me breathed a sigh of relief. It also responded with this:
Emily, you stand on firm footing now. There is not a need to rule yourself with an iron fist. Your true self is 100% committed to its purpose and nothing can take it/you from that. Everyhting you are experiencing has purpose and will need to run its course. You are still in bed because you’re tired. When you’re not tired anymore, you will get up. It’s okay to relax on your meditation, not because you are alright not to do it but because you are internally motivated for it. You want to do it. And that’s why it will persist.
I first saw validation for this in Conversations with God. The voice of god speaking about there being no right and no wrong. Literally. Even murder. That there were just natural consequences within the world. Everything being a choice. God only wanting for us what we deeply desired; and provided that which we deeply desired. This made so much sense to me! It was the Truth that resonated to the deepest part of me. That part that always recognizes Truth and needs no proof beyond that. I heard the author, Neale Donald Walsh, speak to this in an interview at the end of the first book, on the audio version. He was speaking about himself and his life. Speaking with all the humility and kindness that I would hope to hear from him. He talked about not living by discipline. He said something like this:
“I have certain things that are important to me that I do every day, unless I don’t. I meditate daily, unless I don’t. I have certain foods I eat, unless I don’t.”
I really got that! I understood how a person could arrive at that. I was starting to arrive at that conclusion. Here’s the barrier: the other voice. The iron fist voice. Goes a little something like this:
‘Emily, what will become of us if we just let this go. You know you just have to institute these things so you don’t question it then it just becomes rote. It becomes embedded and you don’t question it. That’s what keeps things going, not this willy-nilly, hippie bullshit. This will lead you nowhere. This will lead to ruin. You don’t keep up with regular yoga and could possibly get fat. If you got fat you may have to restrict your food and WE’VE JUST CAN’T DO THAT. You’ll lose your fitness and get lazy and never get that momentum back again. Same with meditation.’
It was in talking with Jeff that this started to get a little clearer. As I saw him questioning my reasoning and whether or not this was the right way for me. Because it would likely not be the right way for him. We are so the same in so many ways and then there are ways we are different. Truly. I found that in the face of his doubt I found a calm, quiet voice speaking to me, like the one above (the nice one, not the mean one) and knew that this was a voice that could be trusted. I could trust it and I could try this out. And screw it! It will be an experiment, if I go careening off the tracks that will just be the consequence of my choices and I’m ready to face that. BECAUSE, I can’t keep doing it the way I’m doing it. I can’t keep driving myself with force and anxiety. My meandering path often doesn’t make sense to others.
For now, I’m sticking with this: I can trust myself. I am actively in a healing process. All of this has purpose.
Okay, see ya, bye.