The Untethered Soul – part I

I’m reading a book called The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer.

With Eastern spirituality at its core, he tells us we all have parts that are often in conflict with each other and we are torn hither and yon by our emotions and our thoughts.  If we can get off the rollercoaster ride of our own reactions, life unfolds effortlessly and we aren’t pulled in by what happens.  Our energy isn’t lost through these pointless exertions of our will, trying to control ourselves and others.  He went on to say something about being sensitive.

“Ever since you were a child, you had energies going on inside.  Wake up and realize that you are in there and you have a sensitive person in there with you.  Simply watch that sensitive part of you feel disturbance.  See it feel jealousy, need, and fear.  These feelings are just part of the nature of a human being.  If you pay attention, you will see that they are not you; they are just something you are feeling and experiencing.  You are the in-dwelling being that is aware of all of this.  If you maintain your center, you can learn to appreciate and respect even the difficult experiences.”

I’m finding it an interesting read, particularly in light of the fact that I am, along with my children and probably my husband too, highly sensitive and we tend to react to things that trigger our sensitivities.  Two of my daughters and I are also very intense individuals as well.   And my middle daughter and I also seem to love to argue because we do it a lot.  I’ve made it no secret that I and my husband have come from dysfunctional families.

I’d like to say I’ve grown enough to get beyond that tendency to get hooked by my emotions, but I can’t, and I respond the best I can.

[As an aside…because it’s come up today…it has been pointed out or implied to me I tend to ‘react’ rather than ‘respond’.  Um…well, I’d like to point out that reacting IS a response.  Those in the helping profession imply reacting is worse than responding.  I don’t think it’s worse.  It’s a valid choice.

In point 14 of the Laundry List of ACA (adult children of alcoholics):

14.  Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.

Argh.

I get fed up with people using the nuances in language to argue how much I’m doing LIFE wrong.  I’ve read that ACTING is horrible too.  It means you aren’t being real or authentic, but ACTING a part.

Is that what I want to do, ACT?  Read the definition of act and acting here

See, I can use language to argue my points too.]

I know I struggle with healing because of the way people are telling me, directly or indirectly, I’m doing it wrong.

And I’m doing the very best I can with it.  And I read a LOT of psychology books on dysfunctions…which were not very helpful to me at all.  Many of them just did not work for me.  They made me feel MORE defensive sometimes, not less so.  I know why.  Most of it just did not fit my situation and I resented that.  I like the Buddhist/Eastern spirituality, that doesn’t categorize ME into a particular kind of dysfunction, but rather explain that this happens to EVERYONE who is not aware.  Just because people were from a functional family does NOT mean they are aware individuals – they don’t get a free pass to enlightenment.  Just damn lucky to have a great start in life.  It does not say this book is for dysfunctional people, for only those children who were from dysfunctional families.  No.  It’s for EVERYONE.  We are ALL prone to being scared and fragmented.  Not just the ones from abusive family systems.

“Real spiritual growth happens when there is only one of you inside.  There’s not a part of you that’s scared and another part that’s protecting the part that’s scared.   All parts are unified.  Because there is no part of you that you’re not willing to see, the mind is no longer divided into the conscious and subconscious.  Everything you see in side is just something you see inside.  There is simply the pure energy pouring inside of you that creates the ripples of thoughts and emotions, and there is the consciousness aware of it.  There is simply you watching the dance of the psyche.

In order to reach this state of awareness, you must let your entire psyche surface. Every little separated piece of it must be permitted to pass through.  Right now, many fragmented parts of your psyche are held within you.  If you want to be free, it all has to be equally exposed to your awareness and released.  But it will never get exposed if you’re closing yourself.  After all, the purpose of closing was to make sure the sensitive parts of your psyche don’t get exposed.  So you catch on that no matter how much pain the exposure creates, you are willing to pay that price for freedom.  When you are no longer willing to identify with the part of you that is separating itself into a million pieces, you are ready for real growth.

Begin by seeing the tendency to protect and defend yourself.  There is a very deep, innate, tendency to close, especially around your soft spots.  But eventually you will notice that closing creates tremendous work.  Once you close, you have to make sure that what you protected doesn’t get disturbed.  You then carry this task for the rest of your life.  The alternative is to become conscious enough to simply watch the part of your being that is constantly trying to protect itself.  You can then give yourself the ultimate gift by deciding not to do that anymore.”

I wonder if sometimes I’m not a very good candidate for spiritual growth.  I keep thinking being at peace would be nice, but in the more intense moments, I’m kind of carried away by the energy.  I’m not scared usually.  Angry?  Yes.  Quite a bit, still.

I understand anger enough to know there is fear behind it, usually.  And I’m working on it.  Two steps forward, one step back…you know…the dance of the psyche.

There is a defiant one in me that is pissed off and that anger needs expression.  Sometimes it’s very explosive and destructive.  I…um…like breaking things (I could list a number of objects I’d broken…but I won’t).  And sometimes…a lot of times…it feels good.   I don’t know why.  It just does.  No, it doesn’t make sense.  That energy needs to go somewhere, and when something gets broken, the anger dissipates.

Yes, I need to find better/safer means of expressing anger.  I get that.  But what could feel as good as smashing glass?   Hmmm…even Hermann Hesse could relate:

A wild longing for strong emotions and sensations seethes in me, a rage against this toneless, flat, normal and sterile life. I have a mad impulse to smash something, a warehouse perhaps, or a cathedral, or myself, to committ outrages…

Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

One of the quotes from Singer’s book reads:

“Billions of things could happen that you haven’t even thought of  yet. The question is not whether they will happen. Things are going to happen. The real question is whether you want to be happy regardless of what happens. The purpose of your life is to enjoy and learn from your experiences. You were not put on Earth to suffer. You’re not helping anybody by being miserable. Regardless of your philosophical beliefs, the fact remains that you were born and you are going to die. During the time in between, you get to choose whether or not you want to enjoy the experience. Events don’t determine whether or not you’re going to be happy. You can be happy to just be alive. You can be happy having all these things happen to you, and then be happy to die. If you can live this way, your heart will be so open and your Spirit will be so free, that you will soar up to the heavens.”

But if I were completely honest, I’d have to say that I don’t know if I can be happy.  There’s something in me that just has always had a hard time with happiness.

It’s hard to be happy when my husband spent $425 on a new smart phone I don’t think he needs (he says he’ll use it for work), knowing we have outstanding medical bills on a payment plan and have to spend $120 a month on youngest daughters’ steroid-based asthma inhaler.

[Oh, yea, wait a minute, he came to find out its a PHONY Samsung…and spent another 418 for the real deal.  Hopefully he’ll get his money back from that eBay seller.]

But hey, he’s got unlimited texting now, so he can text whomever he wants now.  He’s a bigger texter than I am because he’s got clients and fellow massage therapist/friends.

I text nobody because I don’t have any friends to text.

It’s hard to be happy and accepting when you pay $7oo on insurance each month for the family because neither one of us has work that has an insurance plan.  It’s hard to be happy when husband’s not even insured because of his DUI in 2011.

It’s very difficult to not be angry.

And another:

“You truly can reach a state in which you never have any more stress, tension or problems for the rest of your life. You just have to realize that life is giving you a gift, and that gift is the flow of events that takes place between your birth and your death. These events are exciting, challenging, and create tremendous growth. To comfortably handle this flow of life, your heart and mind must be open and expansive enough to encompass reality. The only reason they’re not is because you resist. Learn to stop resisting reality, and what used to look like stressful problems will begin to look like the stepping-stones of your spiritual journey.”

I find this hard sometimes.  I don’t think life is giving me a gift.  I never signed up for the abuse I got as a kid (who does?).  I never signed up to be married to a husband with a drinking problem who got laid off twice.   I never signed up for having the respectable science career I built for myself slip through my fingers and never to return, because I thought I was doing the right thing for my husband and daughters by staying home to raise my daughters myself.  I never signed up for having NO close in real life friends. But that’s EXACTLY the truth.  Being able to talk to someone for 20 minutes in their foyer about kid stuff does NOT constitute a close friendship.  It just doesn’t.

When I’m not feeling sorry for myself, I know I OUGHT to feel grateful.  I know there are so many ways things could be much worse.

And sometimes I just can’t be better than I can be.

I just wrote this to the only person I really talk to about my ‘stuff’ today (whether or not he really wants me to is difficult to say):

I’m working as hard as I can on my pain.  I do not have enough support.  I’m doing my best to transcend my wounded ego.  It’s slow going because I mostly only have books.  I have not been able to talk to ANY of my therapists about suicidal ideation for very long.  They see me as SO functional and the topic gets moved away from quickly.  No healing of those deep wounds occurs.   I simply let myself get talked right out of going to those places…because no one wants to hear it.  They want to hear about my relationship with my husband, or my kids, or family of origin.  NOT about the relationship I have with myself or the inner abuser I carry with me.  They don’t want to know how much pain I really carry.  No one does.

It’s not that I even want to die…but that I want the pain to end.  I wrote about why suicidal ideation is traumatic in itself, yet, I’ve continued to ‘indulge’ a bit in it.   One of my therapists suggested to me that it wasn’t I that needed to die…but there was a part of me that did need to die, metaphorically, so that the real me could live.  Or something like that.

And so if I need to go there…I let myself go there.  I just don’t let myself linger too long.

And as traumatic as it is, I am actually moving through that dark place faster every time I come to that point.

Why?  Because I am working VERY hard on my stuff.  Mostly alone.  Because no one wants to hear how hard it is for me sometimes and I don’t want to burden anyone with it how it really is.  If it scares me to go through it, it is going to scare someone else, too.

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About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in Anger, Being Genuine, Compassion, Complex-PTSD, consciousness, depression, Disconnection, Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Self-Regulation, Hermann Hesse, Highly Sensitive Person, Michael Singer, Moods, The Untethered Soul and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Untethered Soul – part I

  1. Mom Gail says:

    Casey, As much as I love you, and always will I need to tell you this. You have to go through the grieving process for the childhood that you lived through. Go through th steps of grief,. the denial, the anger, the bargaining, the acceptance, that this is the way things were and go on from there. Let that life back then die and build from this new day. Don’t waste your life holding on to the hurts from the past, it hurts not only you, but your children, to be carried on to theirs. The people (your mom, & sisters) aren’t losing any sleep over what they did or didn’t do to help make your journey any easier. It’s up to you to say your good-bye’s , let that life die, Start a brand new life fresh for yourself, and for your family. As you know, I have had a lot in my life that is horrible, I lost my childhood, my innocence, but I realized I am not my past. I am who I choose to be. I choose to be a strong, independant woman, that loves my family more than I can say. It’s time for you to make the choice. Do you choose to let yourself drown in things from the past that have already happened that you can’t change or live in the here and now and make the absolute most out of the life you have? Only you can decide. I love you my beautiful daughter.
    Mom Gail

    • Casey says:

      Mom Gail,

      I love you too, and I know you’ve been through some terrible things. I’m glad you are in my life, but I wish we were closer so it didn’t have to be just through writing and phone calls.

      It’s hard for me to explain this. It’s not specifically what the family did to me that troubles me today. I don’t spend any time dwelling on what specifically happened to me as a child any more.

      I don’t spend time thinking about them, unless there is some sort of family function and my families’ presence is requested. I want my daughters to know their cousins, more than anything. They love their younger cousins to bits and one of their older cousins who is closest in age to them. The stuff they put me through generally doesn’t affect me as much. With the exception of the problems generated by my younger sister’s elopement, I generally am not troubled to any great degree around them.

      I tend to have difficulty with my emotions in other areas of my life, though. I’m not a joyful person. I struggle with anger and sadness. My children are a handful sometimes. The two younger ones pretty much hate each other. They instigate trouble with each other, then scream when their feelings get hurt. Then I get angry at them and yell. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “I hate you” by the two younger ones. They don’t clean up after themselves and when I tell them to, my middle daughter gives me excuses as to why she can’t. And I don’t spank. I used to, but I have had to stop. I can’t tell you what it does to me

      I have to be exceptionally careful how I discipline them. It’s not their fault they have emotional regulation problems, since me and their dad have problems with that. They’re mean to each other because they’ve seen me have meltdowns.

      I don’t know what’s unhealthy anger, and what’s appropriate anger. I cry too much. I criticize too much. I am judgmental and a perfectionist and it affects my relationships. I make my husband feel like he’s stupid sometimes in his choices, because some of them have had long-lasting repercussions.

      I have a terrible time communicating with him and I have hurt some of my email friends with my very strong opinions. He has shut down and shuts me out. So they all have told me I am hurtful.

      I fail, all the time, to establish warm, deep, meaningful, mutually gratifying friendships. The common denominator? Me.

      The reason? I am not sure.

      And the longer I go screwing up my daughters and friendships, the less confidence I have that I am a good person at all. I take all this feedback that I’m failing at life.

      So…yes.

      I am considering attending Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families meetings. I don’t know. I’m afraid to go. I’m afraid of being triggered there. I’m afraid of being sad there, I’m afraid of being angry there – angered by something I’ll judge as “dumb” or trying to control me.

      I have a ‘difficult’ personality. And because I don’t have girlfriends or sisters to confide in about the really big stuff or simply have fun with, I have NO female emotional support here in my real life.

      So all I am is just locked up inside myself most of the time. I’m not isolated by choice, there’s just no way to make friends. They took away my bookstore and replaced it with a big box electronic store (like we really needed one more of those around here).

      I can leave the childhood behind me. But whereever I go, there I am.

      I wish I could say, well, I have Asperger’s, and THAT’s why I am a social misfit.

      I don’t think that’s it. I’m just too hard on people.

      So, I’m working on changing my personality from the inside out. It’s very hard work because there is a lot of resistance in me. I don’t want to have to change. It’s not my fault how I got this way. But I’m not happy with the problems I’m faced with, and the only thing I can change, is me. And the biggest obstacle standing in my way? Is the defiant child in me that says, “I don’t WANT to change, I just want everybody to leave me alone”. Which is why the adult part of me says, “but if you ever want to get healing, and improve your relationships, you HAVE to change”.

      I’ll talk about this in the next post I plan…but in the book I’m reading, there is a purification process he describes. It may be similar to the grieving process you are talking about.

      Have you tried to change your personality completely? Yeah…not easy. And because I’ve been surrounded by narcissistic personalities, passive aggression, and a generous dose of mind-fucking (excuse my language), I’m thinking I must be constantly scared because this process is MUCH harder than I think it should be.

      Intellectually I know this shouldn’t be so tough. Emotionally, it’s terrifying.

      I had to be strong to deal with my husband going to the gun cabinet and threatening suicide a few times. I had to be strong when I wrestled a gun from his hands, once. I am pretty sure it was unloaded…but still…in the back of your mind, you know that there’s a tiny chance maybe it’s NOT unloaded.

      There’s a lot of armor to go through.

      So…yeah.

      I know. Too much information for a blog reply…

  2. Mom Gail says:

    Honey, believe it or not, all of this comes from your upbringing. You may not think that what your family does or doesn’t do, troubles you, but it does. The anger and sadness comes from there also. I remember a little girl with a wide smile and bright eyes, until it was time to take her back to her mother’s house. I remember 3 little girls like that. Unfortunately they have all disappeared. Your two youngest are no different than you and your sisters. They don’t really hate each other, they just don’t know how to communicate with each other. All kids fight, that’s normal sibling behavior unless it becomes bloody & physical.
    Is there stuctured time at home after school? such as homework, pick up your room, then you can go out to play until dinner? Then some family time, then bedtime? All kids need structure.. Stop accepting excuses!! You don’t have to spank, but there have to be consequenses for bad behavior. As far as the communication with hubby, you criticize because you were criticized, you’re judgemental, because you were always judged, and you want control because you had none. Your oninions are probably stong, maybe too much so, at times, but you’re still trying to be heard. I know that things are rough, but when Hubby doesn’t consult you before buying a $400 phone when you have bills that have to be paid, that is reckless. Why does he have to text? what is wrong with talking on the phone? Before you know it, no one is going to know what the human voice sounds like.. Why so much money? I would be plenty pissed off at that. There is NO excuse for that.
    If you were a perfectionist, your house would be immaculate at all times, not a hair out of place, and you would not be with your hubby. Honey you are Human. and I love you, warts and all

    • Casey says:

      The kids have structure…just that their homework takes so long. K’s in the merit program which has a more difficult curriculum, AND she’s got attention problems, so she takes a LONG time to do homework. She also has low frustration tolerance, which means she can have a meltdown over homework difficulties. She either gets pissed off or collapses into a puddle of tears. She used to have the 20-30 meltdowns galore when I disciplined her. I could never send her to her room. That was torture for her to be separated from the family.

      On the upside, she did help me yesterday with drying the dishes while I washed, and wanted to clean her room with me. Still have a ways to go, but it’s better.

      E now too, has emotional difficulties. She has nightmares…every night. Every objection she has is at a volume of a yell. If she’s really angry or scared, she screams. I’m pretty sure her behavioral difficulties stem from her allergy and asthma medications. Her personality started changing when she went on Singulair. After a month, she was screaming at the top of her lungs and sometimes saying she wanted for us to kill her whenever we got the slightest bit angry with her. We switched antihistamines, and now she’s on Zyrtec. She’s on a low dose steroid inhaler as well. John tried to get her to help clean her side of the room last night…she flipped out. Had a 20 minute screaming meltdown. I have video footage of it, which enraged her. She is seen screaming at me “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you so much until I die”.

      When I have video footage of K when she was younger and I disciplined her, with similar tantrums on it.

      I’m codependent and I have tried to fix everything that is wrong in my family of origin. I have tried to fix everything that is wrong in my own family.

      I agree that children need structure. I have read a great deal of parenting books. I’ve ALSO read a great deal about bipolar and borderline personality disorders and you know what? the emotional difficulties I and my girls face are not unlike .those conditions.

      J has a way of terrorizing the kids in the language he uses. Even though he never beat them, he boomed at them, sometimes threatening, “I’m going to beat your ass” and the girls would react with abject terror. So…how did I respond to that? Well, badly. I would attack him to get him off their backs.

      My girls’ behavior problems are NOT due to a lack of attempt to discipline them. but a combination of their own emotional temperaments and the challenges inherent to each one of them, AND, their parents’ emotional instability.

      I can’t fix this family problem. I don’t know how. Simple structure is not going to do it.

      If E’s behavior difficulties are not even under her control…then we are all at the mercy of this damn medication. She doesn’t take the medication…she could get sick.

      M is very good…but she’s being affected by all this too.

      So…yeah. I have no answers right now.

      I do know that it’s easy for an outsider looking in to my problems to determine what should be done…but it’s not easy on the inside.

      Mom, you work with mental health patients. I know you’ve worked with bipolar patients and personality disordered patients and maybe patients with PTSD too.

      I have complex-PTSD from living with a narcissistic personality disordered birth mother. I have lived with a husband who had a Mr Jekyll when sober, Mr Hyde when intoxicated husband, who, when depressed, would run to the gun cabinet to blow his brains out. But he didn’t want to die. He just wanted to show how bad it had gotten.

      Sure, I feel the pain of being isolated from my family of origin, but for MY personal and psychological safety, I have to frequently go “no contact” with them. I need plenty of psychological distance from those people who thrive on conflict and drama. It took me a LONG time to realize that. And…sometimes…I still forget and get hooked again.

      I honestly do not have time nor energy to mourn the loss of relationship to my birth mother and siblings. I do not have time to get involved in their deep dysfunctions. I have plenty of my own I’m wading through.

      I am quite ‘shell-shocked’ from living in deep dysfunction. I’m either over-reacting or under-reacting. Over-controlling or under-controlling. My boundaries between my self and others swing between too loose, and too rigid.

      I have not found adequate help in this regard. My own tendencies to fear and reject help are not serving me well.

      I have ONE friend who is trying to help me…and I keep getting triggered. It’s MY fears and protections coming up. And I feel I’m going to be ripped apart if I press forward too hard on my recovery.

      I want healing. I do. But I do not want to end up in the mental health ward because I’m pushing too hard too soon.

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