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.
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.
“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.