Sunday, February 13, 2011
**Warning: this post contains some honest discussion of adult topics. Out of respect for those who might find this offensive, I ask you to simply stop reading here. Thanks.**
I'm not sure how to start a blog that necessarily confesses that I didn't keep my commitment to write weekly, login daily, or continue to exercise and eat well. How do I follow my Victory declaration six weeks ago with the news that I am back at my starting weight?
Fortunately, despite these facts, I have lots of good news to report as well - developments that are bigger than my waist. Nonetheless, a productive reckoning is in order. I thought the successful completion of my first 40 days was essentially guaranteed to mean that my habits would stick, my progress would continue. Turns out, not so. Not even a little bit. So I've learned some valuable lessons. Key among these is that until my larger life situation is better, any initiative to take good care of myself will be vulnerable to being blown off course. In short, the start is only the start, and the moment I let down my guard, I will find the battle for the ground I've fought so hard to win renewed. If you'll forgive the military analogy, I have been underestimating the importance of "secure and *hold*."
I am not, however, by any means at square one. There are real changes, true inner transformation that continues. Yesterday, for example, I spent the entire day laying on my couch. But it was an entirely different experience from the day before I started Sparking. I wasn't laying there in despair, my chest wasn't pervaded by dark smoke of lonesomeness and hurt. I cried on my couch yesterday, but the tears were a choice to face, to name, the ugly obstacles within myself that have haunted me for years. I cried as I sat with the truth, but then I asked myself the important questions to *do* something about it. Whereas in November I was still hiding on my couch trying to numb my mind from the agony of just being, yesterday I was wading with courage into the uncomfortable work that is required to grow into my unhindered Self.
If you were reading before my sudden absence, you may recall that I had scheduled a Making Whole ceremony for this weekend. My intention was to reclaim the pieces of me that others have walked away with throughout my life, leaving me as a swiss cheese stencil of a person. I started a list Friday night and I quickly had a page covered in names. I started with my first crush - a 5-year-old boy who probably grew into an adult since I last saw him despite persisting in childhood in my memory - and traced my steps to my most recent ex. Then I decided that it was silly to distinguish between boys I played (or wanted to play) kissy face with and "friends" who turned out not to give a darn about me. Finally, I gave up all distinction and wrote down the names of every person who I would have liked to care but didn't and every person I have given something of myself to. I fell asleep before I could finish, but yesterday morning I rounded off my list at 160 people from my Mother to boys whose names I may have never known.
When I started, I thought I would complete this Making Whole process with some sort of poetic ritual, like burning the list and "starting fresh". But as I looked over the list and cringed, I realized there is no "fresh" - my only real options were denial or serious self-analysis. In complete privacy, where no one could see the truth, I was awash in shame as I remembered baffling choices...and horrified to see, in black and white, that these "moments" accounted for nearly my entire history with the opposite sex. For example, in the middle of the pack, is a boyfriend who wasn't good looking, wasn't good company -who, frankly, I didn't even like - and who I slept next to for four months even though every time we had sex, my body quite literally had a painful allergic reaction. Sex was painful each and every time (let's be clear - not because of anything he was doing) and I responded by trying to fix the problem with different condoms and lube. I remember this and it's all I can do to keep from putting permanent dents in my forehead.
It felt like my heart was being shredded as I sat and stared an a list of dozens of stories no better than that one. Then came the crack of clarity as I realized that all of these names truly did belong on the same list. "What the hell was I doing?!?! What did I think I would get out of that?!?! What was I searching for?!?!?!" The answer is in the other half of the list....and illustrated with a complementary example: the week before college graduation, "Senior Week," was filled with trips to the amusement park and other fun activities meant to be a last chance to enjoy the company of the lifelong friends you've made over the preceding four years. I listened to my college friends talk about how much fun they had, what a special week it was for them...but not one of them asked me to join them for a single activity planned. Nobody asked if they'd see me there. I spent the week packing my stuff up alone. Yes, the other half of my list of names is made up of people who I've been friendly with, who have told me about their road trips and fun nights out with others, and who never think to include me. People who have never care about how I spend my birthday but who will merrily proclaim, "Everybody loves Vajra!"
One side of my list were people who didn't think of me, the other side were people who thought of me in limited terms for a limited time.....and yet, now I recall quite well. That boyfriend was the only reason I ever had plans. That boy whose name I don't recall saw something in me he wanted, which was worth something when I felt surrounded by people who could have cared less if I was there or not. The only reason my phone ever rang was because I was attractive, and I was so starved for attention, it didn't occur to me to be offended or to be picky about whose attention I accepted. I even played the aggressor to mask how entirely at the mercy of others I was.
So here I am. Three years ago, I thought I had finally made real friends and was so thrilled to have a social network to call my own. But then they stopped calling, we stopped making plans, other things became more important. It's natural, I suppose. But it didn't hurt any less when my life caved in and I found myself all alone again. My old friends had moved on to other friends, but I was just stuck in the past. Now again, the only person who makes my phone ring is a boy who is attracted to me. Now again, dates are the only plans I ever have. So I can burn my list ...but I will almost certainly just begin building a new one unless I figure out why people don't care about me, why people who don't want my body don't find other things about me they'd like to have in their lives. It's time to use the strength I've been building to ask these questions sincerely, without self-pity, and with the complete surety that *I will always feel riddled with holes until I find a better way.*
I believe there is an inalienable wisdom that lives within us. We might have to work to ignite it, to learn to hear its voice, to build a relationship with this wisdom...but it's always there. Perhaps it is this wisdom that led me to write an email to Friend, who has become more than a friend in the past 2 weeks or so, and tell him I didn't want to date. Before I understood the story told by my list, long before I started sobbing over it, I wrote to Friend and told him that even though I couldn't explain it, I had a desperate feeling in my gut that I should just be alone - no matter how wonderful the opportunity might seem. I didn't know what I needed to do, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was a half-baked cake, and that it was absolutely critical that I keep the heat on without distraction. I like to think that it was this wisdom I was sensing, and that it responded to my placing my faith in it by cutting things short with Friend by revealing more of what I need to figure out. What I'm describing, in fact, is the healing of the relationship with my self, isn't it?
"You come first, Vajra. Nothing else is more important. No more distractions - I'm listening intently to each and every gut gurgle, I'm hanging in as long as it takes, and I will face the truth head on no matter how uncomfortable."
And that, Sparklers, is how I signed back in today after a long hiatus.
I cannot ask this question of people I have to actually face, but I would very much appreciate the best input you can offer as people who have never actually met me: what could I be missing between friends enjoying my company and them actually wanting to form a meaningful relationship? What could it be about me that keeps me in the outer rings of ambient friendship (good to see you!) to the inner ring of close friendship (I haven't seen you in weeks! Let's get brunch, I can't wait to tell you about what's going on in my life!)? I always assume it must be that I'm self-absorbed, or that I come off this way -talking about myself too much or not expressing enough interest in others. I'm not entirely sure this is true, but if it is...how do I change? I mean, how do I *really* change? Pretending to be different, going against my natural ways doesn't seem like a real solution. Anyhow...this is the awkward, painful task at hand, and I am thankful for any guidance you can offer.
In the meantime, I've reset back to the beginning of Stage 2 and I'm looking forward to my first workout in over a month. It's frustrating to see my belly as big as it was when I first started, but I can appreciate that these set backs really have been part of my process, and I'm in the midst of the kind of progress that will serve me for the rest of my life - by comparison, dropping a few pounds is just details.