There seems to be a rhythm to my writing; the more contemplative posts are balanced by the need to get more real and visceral. Both kinds of writing serve a purpose, and I’m learning that I need to listen to signals about when it’s time to get gritty! I’m also amused by how often sharing my thoughts about a principle related to recovery is followed by an opportunity to practice that principle whether I wish to or not.
For example, last night I shared some thoughts about Water. Minutes after hitting the “publish” button, I got news that I didn’t want to hear–my family is searching for a new place to live, and we found out we got rejected from renting the place we really, really loved. Nothing else we’ve seen compares, and I’m disappointed. I lost something I wanted. I’m in Water.
Now I get to practice what I preached. I get to sift through my worry, my future-tripping, and my frustration to get to the sadness. Reach it and feel it so it can’t hang around and poison me later. So how do I do this? Just knowing it needs to be done is the first part. I can see the things that want to block me from feeling sad: my fear, my anxiety, my resentments and a thousand old patterns that tell me not to be conscious of grief.
The second part is shutting up for a while. Words are my ally and even my lover sometimes, but like anything powerful they can be misused, and when it comes to Water they can get in the way. Usually I listen to music and let my mind wander until it’s free-associating, not composing. Shutting up also lets me feel where the emotion is showing up in my body. When I’m ready, I ask myself how I’m feeling, and I try to dig gently through the layers.
When I reply to my own questions, I try to keep my words and sentences very simple. This is not the time to wax eloquent; I don’t need fancy ways of saying that this sucks. Sometimes I have to force my brain to pare it down to simple sentences. I use the “fill in the blank” method: asking myself to complete sentences like: I’m sad because… I want… I wish… It hurts that... No compound sentences allowed, and none of my beloved semicolons!
I’m sad because I don’t get to live in that place.
I wish I could live there.
I want to live in a nice place.
It hurts to think I won’t find another place I like.
Okay, that’s progress. My mind may be trying to reassert itself now, taking each of these sentences and spinning out insights from them. Linking the feeling to other feelings, the experience to other experiences, coming up with patterns that explain why this hurts. Talking myself into thinking it’s not so bad. But it’s not time for that yet, and I silence my intellect with the next step.
I go back to the sentences and I say them again, out loud or in my head. But I have to say them like a child. Like a three-year-old who’s sad or scared. Can you hear it? That thin, kind of shaky, holding-back-tears voice of the little child who’s trying to be brave?
There it is. For me, that’s the moment when I own my sadness, or disappointment, or loneliness, because I can’t hear that voice and do anything but respond with compassion. There’s no more attempt to deny that the feeling is there. It exists, and I am experiencing it. Tension goes out of my body. My shoulders come down, my jaw loosens from its unconscious clenching, and my breathing deepens. Whether I cry or not, I feel the sensation of weeping sweep over me…and it’s all right.