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.
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.