One of the coolest things about getting older is that things that used to piss me off so much either don't anymore, or I can let them go easier. What I've realized is that my brain has to work so hard to remember things and learn stuff that used to come easy to me, that I am more unwilling to use valuable brain power to obsess over something I'm upset over that is usually none of my business anyway. When I think about when I was in my 20's my mind (& consequently, my life) were like that ball in a pinball machine, just tossed from one place to another without any sort of control over myself. I was highly responsible & competent in work, etc, but my emotional life was a war zone. I was so unaware that my thoughts ran my life that I was consumed with changing everything on the outside in an attempt to have some sort of sanity. I thought it was my job or my boyfriend or my family that was upsetting me, and it has taken me about 20 years of hard work to get to a point where I actually can pause after an "upset" and make a choice about how, or even if, I'll respond. This is miraculous. I don't have this ability in every area, but to have it at all is something I am deeply greatful for - and something I worked very hard for. I did not work for it out of pride or fear of looking bad or external approval - I worked for it because I as in so much fucking pain. And this time instead of treating that pain with my usual tools of self destruction (which had stopped working,) I turned, or was rather forced, onto a new path.
It all stared when I was 27 years old. The beginning of the End that is. I had just moved back from Nebraska, where I'd spent a wild & glorious 3 months living with my friend J____, making plans to earn some money, sell our posessions & cars & then move to Ireland, our big dream. Well, I got cold feet about it & moved back to Austin, & she went ahead with the plan & moved to Ireland. I immediately got hired at my first job at the University, and for the first time I had financial security, health insurance, paid holidays, and & cool audio-visual related job. But deep in my heart I knew I had taken the safe way out...& knowing that J___ had followed her dream while I sat in sheer boredom in a basement audtiorium on campus was starting to get knaw at me. I also was dating a man who was off for 10 weeks vacationing in Ireland & then Paris, and I was insanely jealous. I couldn't just quit my cushy state job! So my dear friend was off pursuing her dream & my boyfreind (who I was completely emotionally dependent on) was off having fun, and I started to fall apart. I started crying. I cried all night, I cried at work, I had to pull over in my car becasue I was crying so hard I couldn't see to drive. I was terrified of this because I'd never experienced it before. I was so unaware that my poor soul was needing to cry a river of tears for the years of damage & abuse I'd done to it, and I'd never experienced being comforted as a child so this vulnerability brought on by the tears made me think I was going to die. Sure I'd cried in histrionics over boys & while drunk or hungover but this was different...this was deep grief like sobbing (and I was terrified of these feelings as I'd had to stuff my feelings while I was growing up) which was cracking through my steel defensive wall I'd built since I was, well since forever I guess. The survival part of me knew I could never "fall apart" because then I might fall into a black hole of utter aloneness. So now my soul decided it was time to take down the wall and what happened was amazing. For days I cried, and everytime I would stop I would breathe a sigh of relief that this was the last time. But I would lay down at night & feel a hot ball of burning something in my gut that was more powerful than anything I could do to stop it start to move up towards my throat and it was forcing the sadness up again. My mind would freak out & scream at this powerful thing & try to force it down and the battle made me crazy until one time, one night I decided to surrender to this terrifying "thing" that was happening to me. I decided I would let it kill me, as this is what I believed giving over to this pain would do to me. I was lying in bed (I don't remember how many nights this went on) and these emotions that I was so afraid of were starting to grip me again (at the time, I didn't see them simply as emotions but as some alien unknown horror trying to take me over) and this time I just let go. I stopped fighting it & decided to surrender to whatever it was. I was certain that I would not live through this, but the fighting & controlling of it was not working. I let the wave wash over me & instead of just crying I was howling like a wild animal who'd just had her baby ripped away from her & murdered in front of her own eyes. I was deeply sobbing and not resisting this time and amazingly enough, something I had never experienced before happened: I felt supported. I felt a presence there with me that was holding me (not physically) and supporting me, and something else even more keenly: it loved me. I felt this in my bones. It was my first experience of feeling truly loved and cared for. And not only that, but I knew I was not alone. The presence started to recede after a few hours but I woke up in the morning a different person. I was transformed. I felt euphoric for the first time without chemicals. And now 22 years later I know that I can surrender, indeed must surrender to these waves that want to pass through me. In the next few postings I will transcribe the journey I made from that fearful time to slightly more centered one I am currently inhabiting.