But I did some Shiva Nata first.
Shivanautical epiphany of the morning: there’s no right way to run away from the pain.
(I love it when this sort of thing just pops into my brain when I’m done flailing around. Ding! Your toast epiphany is ready!)
This could be interpreted in a number of ways (you can run away like a chicken! you can run away like a lizard!) but the important part for me was realizing that there is no way to run away at all. Not completely.
There is no ritual, no perfect meditation, no sequence of movements, that is going to make this afternoon’s medical procedure not hurt. That’s just what it is.
Of course, I can manage around the edges: how do I feel about pain? What is anticipation like and how can it be full of self-care and not fear and blind panic?
But it’s okay to dwell in the house of anticipation (this afternoon is going to arrive, no matter what) and not be able to fix the essential scary fact of injection = pain.
So today I am releasing the imaginary obligation to somehow find a way to not feel the pain at all because that is just not going to happen. And that’s okay — mourn it, honor it, know it. That’s it.
But here’s what I really want to tell you
I haven’t really posted less this week, but my brain sure has been feeling less posty, if you know what I mean.
Big stuff has been happening. Epic mental shifts in how I view my world. Stuff that would be great to write about! If only there wasn’t this big stuck mess of sadness blocking my way.
So I sat down to ask myself some questions about it.
Curious Me, meet Stuck Me!
Curious Me: Pleased to meet you!
Stuck Me: (Shyly) Um, hi.
Curious: So why are we feeling so quiet and stuck about this?
Stuck: It’s really, really hard to talk about the body.
Curious: The body…oh, you mean our body?
Stuck: (Embarrassed) Yeah. I’m reluctant to reveal anything about it. To talk or write about it. Gah, lame and embarrassing and…don’t wanna talk about it. At all.
Curious: Did something cause this mental retreat?
Stuck: (Hesitant) Well, after last week’s stealth rally we were suddenly no longer talking about balance anymore, we were talking about appetite. And the appetite thing is so….icky.
Curious: Wait, but…it’s icky even though it’s so very important to us?
Curious: Ahh…I think it’s especially icky because it’s so important to us.
Stuck: Exactly. It’s like the innermost part, the secret thing. What if people know me?
Curious: Let me echo that back atcha because I thought we actually did want people to know us…so tell me, what happens if people know you?
Stuck: They won’t like me!
Curious: Oh. This is an old, old fear of ours. I’m sorry you’re in so much pain about this right now. Fear of judgment, inferiority, not being enough. It’s big and it’s hard.
Stuck. Exactly. Revealing is hard!
Curious: But what is the other side of that fear?
Stuck: Well…they might like us instead. But that’s scary, too!
Curious: Why is it scary that someone might like us instead?
Stuck: Because they might like us more for dealing with the appetite thing instead of liking us for who we are.
Curious: This “appetite thing” is kind of bigger than “appetite” though, and it’s connected to so many other things. Tell me what it’s associated with.
Stuck: Weight, strength, balance. Exercise, appetite, happiness. Body, self-image. Boundaries, identity, selfhood. Self-understanding, healing, less pain.
Curious: But aren’t all those things part of us?
Curious: So then why are we so focused on needing other people to love the Jesse from before all this stuff came along? Unhealed Jesse?
Stuck: (tearing up) Because I can’t love her. Or sometimes I can’t. I don’t know how. It makes me so, so sad.
Grounding in love
Curious: Let’s think about love instead for a minute: name love for me.
Stuck: Kirk. Penny. Jennie. Liz. Katie. Josh. Flavia. CeCe, even though she’s gone. Mom and Dad, even though they’re divorcing. Kathleen. Dorothy. Anita. Cos in his senility, Bev in hers. Bill. All the others.
Curious: All of these people love you and loved unhealed Jesse just as much. Locate love.
Stuck: Our room. Our house. Swings. The red bike. By the vineyards. The sunset hill. The park under the summer trees. Ann’s hammocks! The big table. The cotton fields in Texas. The Park Street subway where we kissed. All of Boston. All of Northampton. All of Portland. All of Oregon City. Anywhere we hug. The ocean.
Curious: All these places hold love whether or not we are healed or unhealed. And phew, it sounds like we’re feeling a little more grounded now. But back to the main issue…can you tell me more about Unhealed Jesse?
Stuck: She’s…in the past now. She’s in the past! (Awed.) I didn’t realize that before! Maybe because I wasn’t ready to let her go.
Curious: Wow, that is a big deal. Can we send her a message to help her feel better?
Stuck: (Thinks for a moment.) Hope. I want her to know that healing comes; the pain recedes. It’s coming sooner than she thinks!
Curious: And what do we want to say about why her existence is so hard to deal with?
Stuck: Well…it’s hard to treat her as truly “past” because she’s such a recent self. We could go back to pain again, I don’t know for sure.
Curious: I hear that you’re scared that we could go back to being unhealed…the pain could return, the stuckness could return. These are both true. But I think there are a lot of key differences between us Before and us Now. So tell me, what this week feels most separate from the Unhealed Jesse we remember from before?
Stuck: So much! So much is different. I took the baby to daycare on my bike almost every day. I’ve never done that before! And there were unexpected long walks. Feeling all kinds of strong leg muscles. Fast Shiva Nata, and slow deliberate Shiva Nata. Strong shoulders from all of that, too. Oh, and! So many epiphanies! Big, tiny, all over the place!
Curious: Tell me more!
Stuck: They were like brain fireworks! No, more like…tiny bridges forming. Synapses! New bridges forming instantaneously, joyfully, in sheer delight and beauty. And they have changed how I look at everything.
Curious: Beautiful. I don’t want to scare you, but I really think we should post about this.
Stuck: (Chuckles) How could we not? All the clarity and the thoughts and the balance and the different ways of thinking…it’s all part of me now. It’s just…integrated. I can’t not post about it if I’m writing about…me.
Curious: So we’re done with this stuckness of not being able to talk about the real stuff that’s going on?
This talking-to-myself stuff has been so key to getting through hard stuff to the good realizations on the other side. I hope it’s something you’ve tried, too. I love it! It is such an excellent way to externalize the curious, compassionate me who wants to help the me that is so mired in the muck of things. Naming touchstones of love, of what-is-here versus what-is-there is another brilliant Havi technique. Very, very useful when you have pulled so far out of your body and your nowness that you can barely see — it brings you right back into your self, your now, and your safety.
And maybe I haven’t brought a whole lot of clarity to the essential thing I wanted to talk about. But this is at least an introduction. A softening of the fear and a better understanding of how I want to approach it.
When I finish one of these dialogues I always feel a profound sense of homeness. Of lightness, as the murky confusion lifts. This is a very good feeling and I can’t wait to bring it with me into the rest of today. (Even right into the exam room and snuggled right up close with that needle. I’m gonna do it! Just you wait and see.)