The Click on the Couch (2)

This post is a continuation of a series on what occurred during my personal awakening process.

April 2014

I am light.

I mean this as a physical sensation: It is as if a flock of iron birds has flown from my being. I didn’t even know I was carrying this weight until now, in the contrast of letting it go.

There is little else to report about the click itself except to say that it feels like a clear “eureka!” kind of moment, except that this “eureka!” is about something I cannot define. It’s not like I know the solution to a complex mathematical problem. It is not like I’ve been hit with the right ending to a novel I’ve been writing. I know something, but I don’t know what I know. It cannot be put into words. Something has changed; I have been made aware of something. However, if asked to explain it, I couldn’t.

In some regard, it is like I’m looking down at the self-recriminating, self-loathing, self-abusing one from all those years and smiling. She feels far away, but not in a bad way. It is almost like she is my own child. All this time she had made a big deal about life and felt so awful for everything she’d ever done. She believed her badness into existence and held onto that badness for dear life because she believed that’s who she was. It is clear that she (I) just didn’t know any better. All the pain I’ve ever felt has simply been a mistake in my perception of life and who I am in relationship to it.

I laugh and cry simultaneously for nearly an hour, feeling relieved, unburdened: Oh, of course! Oh, of course! This is what it feels like. It is something very obvious I cannot articulate. It is laughable, how serious I have been taking everything.

How is it possible that I have been missing what was right here all along?

I even try to bring in thoughts that once caused crippling emotional pain. I want to see what their effect is. I am remembering the one I refer to as “my Big Ex,” a guy I fell in love with at age 19. He was a musician (oh how they used to all be musicians), and when we met, I felt very happy and childlike in his presence. Even still I think of our first meeting and that summer fondly; I recall the sweetness we were both capable of.

In our immaturity, we clung to one another, which is generally a recipe for disaster in a relationship. I mistreated him and we broke up more than once. I had never really forgiven myself, even though I dated others. I held onto him psychologically for entirely too long, mistaking “him” and “our relationship” for a state of innocence I desperately wanted back.

Throughout my early 20s I thought of this guy, and a deep sense of loss accompanied the thought. Sometimes while drunk I’d contact him, and always I’d wake up with a black-pit-of-shame in my stomach. I did not want him knowing how intensely I “carried a torch” for him. A deep nostalgia for the way our relationship felt remained within my mind for a very long time.

In short, I mistook that relationship for the joy of my own Self, as many of us do when we have not recognized the Self.

Now this feels important to say: No lover you ever have will be The Reason for your happiness. If you believe this, you are on wobbly ground. In such a state, they can leave anytimeeven if by death—and take your happiness with them. To believe this is an error in perception, though I know it is extremely compelling. By the time you read these words, I’d guess you’ve suffered a great deal over what you imagined to be “love.”

But the truth is that whatever we feel in the presence of another was first present within ourselves. The energy of some others may be refreshing, or (even better) help pull you deeper in towards your true self. The right teacher will do this naturally. When we find another human being who resonates with us on many levels, it is natural to want to be with them. But it is very important to remember that the happiness you feel in these cases actually pre-exists the person you love.

In an amorous new relationship, you are each falling in love with your own selves, remembering what it is like to just be pure and alive. If we don’t keep this in mind and learn to abide in our knowing of it, codependency can arise. When we are in the true mind, we enjoy one another in the play, but we do not become emotionally dependent. All of these pop-culture tropes“I cannot live without you;” “I need you” and so forth—reflect a collective insecurity it is time we grew out of.

Crediting your happiness to another person is to renounce your own power. It is rare to see two people “in love” who understand this deeply and truly.

Meanwhile, back on the couch: The mind, as if to test me, presents the thought of the “Big Ex.”

Something miraculous occurs: There is no sting accompanying the thought of him. It is obvious that the one who mistreated him at age 20 was doing so unconsciously; she didn’t know who she was or why she even did anything at all.

When you see your true face, you will also forgive yourself of your wrongs. The things that haunt you from your past you will not have sharp teeth. Your mind will not cut you up, because you will see that what you are simply cannot be cut up. When you are no longer identified as this person with these sordid memories about what “you” have done, there is no one inside to be harmed. There is such peace in this space.

I wish that for you so much: That you will see all of your mistakes as the simple result of ignorance, thereby ceasing to beat yourself up over them. “Beating yourself up” is not only unhelpful, but delusional as well. We in the West seem to be very good at beating ourselves up, perhaps because we receive (and internalize) the message from a very young age that we are not enough, not enough, not enough.

There is a real and true sensation that accompanies self-forgiveness. It occurs when you see that who you are is not that little person. That little person, if it has been “behaving badly” was doing so because of unconsciousness—we are born wired with latent darkness, and the wider culture can add to this. 

Yes, we can tap into our higher minds and rewire ourselves, but that is not what I am getting at here. Even the best person in the world is still nothing in the end. Truer to my point: We can dissolve the psychological wiring altogether, and let go of this striving to be “better people” with what we imagine are “better lives.” We can let go of all these little ideaswhich are almost always rooted in the egoic view and smack of the illusion of controland allow awakening to do its work.

We can see who we are and end all this silliness now, today.

I’d like to say that this moment on the couch marks the end of my preoccupations and “bad” behavior, but that would be a lie. If that were the case, it would be a very short awakening story indeed.

But, for as beautiful as the click is, its blissfulness does not last. Bliss is not permanent, but Truth is. This click pushes me into myself to find that which is everlasting. It marks the beginning of a new life that is ever-unfolding.

What we discover is that there actually is no end to Me or to You.

The Click on the Couch

This post is a continuation of a series on what occurred during my personal awakening process.

It feels important to say that from where I am now, there is little belief in the person who once seemed to exist, the one who felt so isolated and shameful. When the occasional shame-pangs hit me now, there is a steadiness and ability to watch them pass. Who “I used to be” is really not the point. No one’s individual “story” is the point, nor do I find my own or others’ to be particularly interesting.

And yet it can be helpful to see how one goes from tremendous self-abuse and ignorance to deep peace, because this is the story of humanity at large. In a way, our entire species is recovering from a nightmare we have unwittingly created for ourselves.

I am often caught in an inner dialogue about whether it is beneficial or not to share the details of my awakening. I wonder, am I energizing something that does not need to be chewed on any longer? Each day I think I will delete everything I have ever written, because it is so paltry compared to This Thing, because countless others have come before me (Lish) to say such things far more eloquently, and because sometimes I sense my lingering ego hoping for some kind of attention from it. I guess I’m saying, don’t be surprised if all this disappears one day.

However, something in me still feels pulled to share this for now, and so I will.

April 2014

I am on the couch writing about what I think I want out of intimate relationships. The funniest part is that I am already married.

You’d think we would give due consideration to such matters before making our commitments, but I do not think this is very common. More often, we find someone we love and just hope for the best. Or someone gets pregnant. Or someone feels obligated. Or both. Of course there is also genuine happiness in the relationship and I don’t mean to dismiss this. I do not have a cynical view of relationships, but a sober one: Usually, on some level, we are clinging to one another for some kind of safety, emotionally or financially (or both, because they are related). Then we do neat tricks with our minds to convince ourselves this thing is really, truly what we want, what “makes us” happy.

Yes there are rare, conscious relationships in which both individuals understand what the whole point of life is, if it is even fair to call it a point. That “point” is to wake up from the egoic dream and live in the peace of God. If you are both aligned on this level, healthy and challenging companionship can result. If one of you desires this and the other doesn’t—or if one of you suddenly wakes up—the relationship will naturally change into something less intimate.

As of this journaling moment, I haven’t even really dove deep enough into myself to see if I want a relationship. (I still don’t know the answer to this question, and am leaving it up to Life to provide me with the all the right external situations. So far, this has not failed me in the slightest.)

As I journal, I think maybe I want an open marriage. Pro tip: This is never the solution if you are confused about what you want. Really, I want something that allows me (what I imagine to be) greater freedom. Something about being partnered has always given me a sense of dependency and attachment; I suspect that you know what I mean.

There is a nagging thing in me that has always pulled me from kind lovers who mean me no harm. I have since learned that that thing is called a wild heart and it is not a bad thing unless you are stuck listening to a mind that says you are supposed to be in a singular lifetime relationship only forever. It is only a bad thing when we lack the awareness to say to our lovers “hey, I’m not looking for anything in particular.” It is only a bad thing when we think getting married will somehow fix the wild-heartedness which, again, is not even really a problem.

This “one lifetime relationship” conditioning makes many of us very ill at ease in the relationships we believe we are “supposed to be in.” We hang on desperately even though our hearts are pulling us elsewhere, to someone else (in my eyes, another teacher), or, ideally into our own selves. Usually when we are hopping around from lover to lover we are only seeking our true selves anyway. Sometimes this habit needs to be exhausted until we finally catch on to the silly game we are playing. There is no need to label it as “bad.” Others will do that for you, but pay them no mind either. Just do as the heart commands.

Also: Yes, I am aware this restlessness is partly due to abandonment issues, my addict father, blah blah blah. That is not the story I want to focus on today. The point is that I need to know myself desperately and yet I keep thinking I will find myself in “the right love.”

No matter what our compulsions, the underlying root is the same: We have no idea who we are. We believe this answer lies outside of us, in the configurations of our lives and in our achievements. We are terribly mistaken.

As I was saying: I think perhaps an open marriage is the solution to the fact that I am preoccupied with other men and that I desire more freedom. Oh how the egoic mind seeks to have its cake and eat it, too! It wants to preserve what it thinks it “has” and also collect more and more. So blind, this mind.

My ticking mind then starts to imagine what kind of life this would be, what others would think of me if I were to pursue this. Also, this is so not what my husband agreed to. There is something of a storm of fear about what others will think, and I am trying to sort out what I think I want. So much useless thinking, so much wasted energy.

And further, there is the underlying, humming question I have been asking myself since childhood: What the hell is wrong with me? This is a question I think many addicts can relate to, as well as those of us with mental illness labels: What is wrong with me; what is wrong with me?

And I cannot help but write again that the thing is always the same: Ignorance of the True Self. Psychologically speaking, that is all that is ever really wrong, and yes it is that simple.

The thought-stream continues: Well, so what if people think negatively of me? This is my life. This is the thought that does it for me: This is my life. Oh! This is my life! It’s like I’ve never fully realized it until just now!

The thought swirls a couple more times, and I experience a vague sensation of being sucked into a hole, a space in my mind that feels further inside than I normally go. I am looking into something; it is pulling me inward. Then, what truly feels like a light-switch is flicked in my mind: Click! An epiphany. I am fine.

A wash of relief overcomes me. I feel very light, and very happy. There is such peace in this moment. Somehow I know nothing will ever be the same, and I cannot undo whatever has just been done.

Inner State, April 2014 (2)

This post is a continuation of a series on what happened during my awakening process.

April 2014

So. There is a significant discrepancy between what my life appears to be, and what my inner life is like. Externally: Bright, warm, normal, contented. Internally: Lost, hurt, addicted, ashamed.

I am so blessed I can’t believe it, and yet I am made of poison and Hell on the inside. I have been diagnosed with depression, yet something about this “diagnosis” feels partial, and I’m not sure I believe it myself. Something about the diagnosis feels fraudulent.

Very few people in my life know how I suffer. I put on a decent-enough show to those who are not very close to me (also, not many people are very close to me because I do not want them to see how Bad I am). There is little congruity to my personality: I can be scathing with my words in one minute and extremely sweet in the next. If pressed to justify this, I cannot, except to say I have no idea; I don’t know how to connect; I feel very far away from everyone all the time; I don’t know what is wrong with me.

My God, we feel so alone in the world when we don’t know who we are! It is the work of the egoic mind to convince us of this separation in the first place, and then to be dramatic about said separation because “connection” feels impossible when we are brash, discomfiting people who kinda want to destroy ourselves—except for with our own ilk, of course. This is the spell I am under.

Anyway, apparently everyone else can do stability and make stability for themselves somehow. I am incapable. I am shaky and hurt, trying super hard not to let anyone see how I’m pretty much in a constant state of crumbling.

Being in such pain and feeling so isolated, I’ve developed a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms. I know I am an addict; that is no question. If something is pleasurable I want all of it, forever, in as huge of quantities as possible. Ultimately I want to be destroyed by the things I take pleasure in. I want things that are very bitter, very smoky and caustic. I want things that are heavy and intense. I want all of them right now.

I’m not out for oblivion, which sounds like a state of floaty half-consciousness. No, I want to be going a million miles an hour towards a cliff with the sunroof open and the music on full-blast. I want to be on the edge of death but not quite there. This is how I would live my whole life if it didn’t guarantee societal/familial disapproval: I would teeter on a very fine line of self-destruction until at last I did self-destruct, and that would be totally okay with me. (Here’s a thing non-addicts don’t usually realize about addicts: In the clutches of addiction, we are 100% accepting of our fates and sorta just wish you’d leave us be. We do not want to be cared for or worried about.)

All day, this is the kind of intensity I want. Unfortunately real life does not have this flavor, and some other (higher) part of me knows it is immature to desire it anyway. I deal with real life okay (not very well, but okay) but honestly I just want to be in a hole with my indulgences.

In my addictions, sometimes I’m out to numb (food and television are great for this), but more often I’m out to feel excruciatingly alive (drinking way too much whisky, smoking, and listening to nostalgic music are great for this). I can only thank God that I was born with the intuitive power to avoid things like cocaine and amphetamines, which would have definitely ruined my life.

I also suspect that everyone around me has something figured out that I don’t. Do you know this feeling? Like somehow, all the adults in the world were given some kind of script or playbook that taught them how to Be A Person, and you missed it?

Anyway, it is obvious that there is definitely something wrong with me. I know this for sure.

Addiction is a tangled web rooted in generations of trauma, and very few addicts manage relationships well. We don’t have harmonious human interactions and just so happen to gravitate towards self-imposed obliteration. I am no exception to this rule. I’ve had intimacy issues for as long as I can remember.

On top of the alcohol thing, I am always preoccupied with some man (other than the one I am dating and/or married to) and suffer from the delusion that one will “save” me. Subconsciously I think the right relationship will stop me from hating myself. I think the right man will solve my problems. I think the “right love” will make life easy, I won’t have to fight with myself everyday; he will make me normal and happy. If asked outright, I would be clever enough to deny this. I know how delusional and weak it sounds. I don’t want anyone knowing how delusional and weak I am.

My chief addiction goes way back before whisky and cigarettes. This addiction is to men and male attention. Honestly, I remember being 12 or 14 or some horrifyingly young age and feeling the rush of knowing a man was attracted to me. It shames me now to write that sentence, but, it is true. If I didn’t feel called to write all this, I definitely wouldn’t, because it’s embarrassing, you know? But that is the first time I remember getting a noticeable emotional high, and I can’t be the only person who knows this feeling and its draw.

Getting male attention felt like some kind of power. It felt like I had something, and most importantly, it served as a nice substitution for a love I needed but did not receive at a very young age. My father, for as sharp and fun and handsome as I’m told he once was, slipped into his own addictions and he did not recover. I have very few memories of him. It hurts.

Of course, I’m nowhere near the point of accepting how much pain I am in over this, even 25 years later. To face that level of longstanding pain would be unimaginable; it would shatter me. Also, something about being intelligent (I graduated summa cum laude!) and introspective (people say I’m deep!) has made me believe I am more clever than, you know, basic human needs. Arrogantly I believe my big brain can out-think the absence of paternal love.

I am blind, so blind.

I believe I can logic my way out of this hole, so I have been journaling about these issues for as long as I can remember: How do I get fixed? How do I be one of those normal-seeming folks? How do I be wholesome and sweet and put-together? They seem to have some gene I was not born with. I have been looking into all this since I was 14 or 15, right when my childhood wounds began to metastasize into widespread angst.

I have no answers. So here I am, on the couch, 11 years later, still journaling about all my problems. I am writing about the current dude-I-am-unreasonably-obsessed with (not my loving husband) and trying to sort this out: What do I really want out of my relationships? More importantly, what the fuck is wrong with me?

I am also under the illusion that if I just think hard enough about my stupid life and all of my dysfunctions, they will somehow get ironed out.

This is also false, but I don’t know it yet. I don’t know anything, and I don’t even know that I don’t know anything.

I am just writing about why I can’t stop thinking about this dude-I-am-unreasonably-obsessed with, and feeling ashamed. This is somewhat of a standard practice for me. I am writing, writing, looking into this core issue, trying to put the pieces together at last.

Inner State, April 2014

This post is the first in an intended series detailing how I got from the intense “click” of awakening to where I am right now. And where exactly am I right now? Well, I am just right here, in peace, living a simple life where I write, meditate, and connect with others. I step into the sunlight with music in my ears and dance-walk wherever I go. This joy, this peace… it cannot be taken. If it could, it would not be the real thing.

Sometimes my mind offers up loneliness and I am not aware enough to leave that loneliness be. I grab onto it and contact men from my past, even though it could not be clearer that I am supposed to be by myself at this time in my life. I go to bed alone, thinking I’d marry the next fool who asks, if only we could do what needs to be done in this world together. (This point—about men and my compulsions towards them—is relevant, as you will see.) Still, on the whole, I am deliriously happy.

This is not meant to come across as braggy. I try to be mindful about sounding proud, in part because pride is a function of an egoic mind that likes to fancy itself as something So Great. Also, it’s no fun to listen to someone talk about how great their life is when we aren’t in the same place. I gather, from looking around, that most of us are not in a similar position of peace. We humans are still greatly deluded, fearful, dramatic, internally split, and confused… all synonyms for “suffering.”

The significance of my joy now is that it hasn’t always been this way—not by a long shot: Two and a half years ago, on December 1st, 2015, I was released from the mental hospital into the absolute darkest time of my life. As I tried to carry on, my entire being felt saturated in shame and despair. I was emotionally fragile, insecure, and very defensive as a result. I had no idea what had happened to make the fabric of reality fall to shreds before me.

Trying to assimilate the experience of psychosis into a rational worldview feels, in a word, impossible.

So, how did I move from one end of the spectrum to the other, especially if my financial/relational circumstances have actually deteriorated? What happened?

I will tell you, though my ego-identity is hesitant to do so. I am choosing to ignore that ashamed voice in my head, because I know it is only interested in preserving its small self. My ego-identity believes that if it is seen fully, no one will ever love it. That is a powerful bargaining chip for my mind to have, and it is one I suspect many of you can relate to. Luckily, I know that that little “person” is not the true Me.

So, I am just going to try and stay grounded in my Being and do what I have been sent to do: Write.

April 2014

I’m 26 years old. It is mid-afternoon, sunny outside, and I am alone in the house. My countryside home is beautiful yet humble, and was built by my great-grandfather. My husband and I were married in the backyard nine months ago by a family friend of his. It was a truly blessed event. We love each other, and are slowly trying to make this house our home.

On the surface, in all regards, I am The Luckiest Woman Alive. Look at all I’ve got: A marriage to a good man, a handsome yet dopey long-haired black cat, a yard with the perfect garden patch my own grandfather tended to into his 80s, a shop for my husband to make music and/or build skate ramps in, and a healthy body. Right across the street, there is a whole field of tulips in bloom.

Sounds pretty good on paper, right?

Except that inside, I am deeply angry and negative. I judge people incessantly, finding them at fault for all kinds of things. I drink a lot—as in, I black out at least once a month, and am drunk at least three times a week. I smoke cigarettes, especially when drunk. I smoke weed and make horrible food choices when I am hungover. I say thoughtless things that hurt people’s feelings. None of these are my worst most shameful habit, which I will discuss in later posts, after I’ve had time to cope with the fact that I have been called to write about it.

I go in and out of hating myself on a regular basis. There is no logical reason for this self-hatred other than that I know, somewhere inside, that I am not acting like the human I know I can be. I am not creating enough; I’m not doing enough for others; I’m missing something. Through the (totally inaccurate) lens of pain, I interpret this to mean I’m so defective I cannot even begin to pull myself into a higher echelon of thought and behavior.

It’s not that I am without my bright points. Historically I have been loved by some for speaking my mind, being brash, being a (mostly) fun drunk and not giving a fuck. I am capable of being somewhat charming when occasions require it. I like making homemade gifts for my family, and there have surely been times when I’ve been deeply heartful and compassionate.

I am smart, and being smart is The Most Important thing to me. Having beer after beer (and smoke after smoke) while engaging in rigorous philosophical discourse is my absolute favorite thing to do. My dearest friends appreciate this in me. My favorite people are all deep and brooding and addicted, and to my monkey-mind, it is fun.

Overall, I see myself as maladaptive, and probably actually evil somewhere inside. I am convinced that if anyone saw this evil, they would have nothing to do with me. They would vanish in a heartbeat, and they would be right to do so.

So much for the husband, the cat, the tulips. I am a Dark Thing, a Bad Thing, and when you believe this about yourself sincerely (as I did), there is no outward configuration that can bring you any joy.