Letting Go and Moving On

Sometimes rituals can help us let go and move on. So, I decided to take advantage of the supermoon this weekend. Even though I don’t really believe that there is anything magical about it, it seemed like an appropriate event for letting go. Because sunshine tends to disappear as quickly as it appears during this time of year where I live, I decided to go to the beach when the sun was out, which meant, of course, I would miss the moon. The warmth of the sun was more important to me.

Walking to the beach, I listened to Tara Brach’s latest talk “Awakening from Trance – Embracing Unlived Life” (link to audio file), which included a brief check-in meditation that set the tone for my ritual (my words, hers are slightly different):

Breathing in,
I make contact with what is going on in my body.
Breathing out,
I make space for it.

Then around 5 pm, I started my ritual. I had walked to the beach, taken my shoes & socks off, rolled up my jeans, and stepped into the water with my bare feet. I also had brought along two pieces of paper: A reminder of the relationship I want to let go of and a letter from sexism to me, which was a rather viscous outpouring of what my inner critic tends to tell me. I also had matches on me in case I felt like burning either. As I read the letter from sexism, I curled up the paper with the relationship reminder into my right fist. When I finished reading the letter, I curled that up into my left fist – finally balling up all those lies that my inner critic keeps hurling at me! I took a few breaths holding the bunched up papers in my fists.

First, I threw the bunched up picture, the relationship reminder, into the water. It bobbed in the ocean, slowly floating away from me (as I had visualized a few times before). Then a wave picked it up, broke over it, and – it was gone! I watched to see if it reappeared. It didn’t. I was free!

Then, I threw the bunched up letter from sexism into the ocean with my left hand, watching satisfied as it flew into the water, proud that I could throw pretty well with my left, too. It then bobbed a bit in the water, was picked up by a wave, turned over, and was gone, too! Freedom!

I decided to walk on the beach for a little bit with my feet in the water whenever a wave would come close. I found a sand dollar I liked and decided to take it with me as a memento of this important occasion. After a short walk, I sat down into the sand and just looked into the ocean as its water glistened in the sun, remembering what it just had taken from me. Somehow the ritual didn’t feel complete. I wanted to somehow seal the freedom into my being. So I touched the soles of my bare feet, put the sand dollar on top of my heals (because I couldn’t figure out where else to put it 😉 ) and did three seated sun-breaths, stretching my arms out to the side, lifting them up over my head as I breathed in, and then touching my palms and lowering my hands & arms as I breathed out.

Breathing in freedom.
Breathing out – let it go.
Breathing in freedom.
Breathing out – let it go.
Breathing in freedom.
Breathing out letting the sense of freedom settle into my body.

On my way home, I listened to three songs by Dikanda dancing mostly in my mind to the music: The Rachenitsa Lazito, the Čoček De Le Lej, and the Yiddish song Sha Stil.

Because the sun was setting as I wrote this, the fog was rolling in again, I was pleased that I decided not to wait until sunset!

What Happened?

You might’ve wondered what happened reading a line in my last post. Yes, I was in a coupled relationship over the past year or so, a non-traditional one trying out solo-poly (and my troubles had little, if anything, to do with that!), though it was also filled with couplemanic hopes of having found The One. And that was partly why I hadn’t reached out to anyone locally: As a singles activist, I told myself, I wasn’t allowed to have a relationship like that. Even when it was part-time. We spent most weekends together, after all. Then when it became obvious that he was believing in all sorts of conspiracy theories, I was pulling away even further because someone subscribing to skepticism and science-based, rational thinking should not be with someone who so clearly came to some rather irrational conclusions. Yet, I stayed. There was something that drew me into the relationship. I don’t know if that was all his charm and thus not real or whether it was the hope of healing from past trauma in a new, loving relationship. Probably a mix of it all.

It took me quite a while to realize that there wasn’t only past trauma bubbling up. There was new stuff: Not being treated with care and respect; not being included in decisions that impact me; receiving empathy only in certain contexts when it seemed to be expected. I slowly started to see how the same type of fallacious thinking that leads a person to believing in conspiracy theories – false dichotomies, lack of humility, cherry-picking, appeals to emotion, and faulty generalizations – also impacts how they interact with other people. And it was hurting me in that relationship. There was also a weird certainty around what the future would hold – based on lack of understanding of probability – and that future was dire (though not based on climate disruption and even that future might not turn out as catastrophic as some of us think). When he declared to be proud of that future focus, it was instantly clear to me that I would not succeed in arguing (as in philosophical argument) him out of his irrational beliefs. They were too ingrained, mutually reinforcing each other, and based on lots of unquestioned faulty thinking and unprocessed trauma. That’s when I ended the relationship.

And, yet, its after effects are lingering: There is isolation, some of it at least self-imposed in part because I crave solitude and in other part because I struggle with shame and depression (again…). It’s amazing what my mind can come up with to hurl at me… And it seems that this relationship has reopened some wounds that I had thought I had healed: The doubt around my lovability, doubt of my ability to achieve anything in this life. Yes, it’s time for some deep healing work, which actually already started while I was still in the relationship: Trauma-sensitive yoga, generative somatics, other yoga and mindfulness meditation. Yes, I know, all not supported by science… I am exploring adding cognitive-behavioral therapy to the mix as well, though for me horizontal integration might be particularly helpful since I tend to not notice the signals my body sends that could help me realize that I am telling myself crap, I mean, thoughts that lead to shame and wanting to isolate. It’s hard to refute something I am not even aware of telling myself!

Catch-22 of Depression

I don’t know if I have the clinical version of depression but I certainly have some of its symptoms. And it seems like they’ve been lurking in the background since at least my teenage years, always coming hand-in-hand with loneliness and shame, coming into the foreground whenever something happens to throw off my fragile inner balance.

This morning, I realized that I know a lot of people (my Facebook connections, for example, are over 400 and I’d guess that I’ve met at least half of these folks in person). Yet, nobody has checked in with me to find out how I am doing even though I very publicly announced my recent break-up (on Facebook, too) and how much it was impacting me. People send e-hugs and “likes” (which I presume were signs to let me know they know… not that they really liked I wasn’t feeling well). Since then, I haven’t gotten any notes or emails to say “hey, just wanted to check in.” I have only one friend and she of course knows since we talk ever day via phone.

Maybe this then is what made me vulnerable to be swept off my feet by a man with lots of narcissistic traits: Social isolation. And that’s a catch-22 with the low-grade depression I tend to fall into: Caring connections would probably help keep me out of the hole and it’s incredibly challenging to care about connections when I am in the hole. As I look back over the past few years, I can see all the times where I could’ve reached out to someone with that “hey, just wanted to check in” email to check in with them after they had lost someone (whether in a break-up or through a death). I didn’t. I don’t know why I didn’t. Maybe because it would have taken more energy than I had after holding myself together. And, yes, there’s some shame around that, though maybe not enough to push me into the hole because I have already reached out this morning, purposely counteracting the pull of the shame. So, out of all these insights came a vow to be more open about my struggles, my loneliness, and also to reach out to others in support in the way I would like to be supported. After all that’s how friendships are built, I think…

Update about 12 hours after I wrote the above: Several people quietly reached out to me, reminding me that I am not really as alone as I think in these moments of loneliness! A big bow of gratitude to all of you!

And I also found it funny to realize that I am still craving solitude for my healing. It is interesting how close loneliness and solitude are – and I am going to explore if I can turn the next experience of loneliness into solitude, which is actually something I treasure!

My Past

I will always be
the one who got raped
the one whose marriage
turned into a nightmare
the one who moved
half-way across the country
to be with another jerk
the one who seems
to have attracted
too many weirdos
men who
try to make me
believe
that the sky is purple
even though I know
it’s not.

My past will never
change because
I cannot change
my past
nobody can
I can accept
that this is part of who
I am
just like I am
a mother
have written a thesis
I am very proud of
I blog
I write poetry.

All of this is who
I am
and out of all of this
I will create my future
with stuff added
from outside of
my control.
That’s just how life is.

(August 13, 2015)

Sunshine! (With some rainclouds)

I seem to be coming back slowly, recovering from the shock to my system by the realization that I’ve been here before. I am still crying a lot but the clouds that contributed to the poems I posted recently seem to be parting to let through some sunshine! And thanks to that sun, new ideas are sprouting. I am working on something I’ll be calling Project 3Ts, which I hope to unveil on Monday. (Right now, the link will take you to a holding page… Once the project is live, you’ll get there!)

Longing

I don’t understand
why it is so hard
to let go
to move on
when the love
turned into pain
when the dream
became a nightmare.

It is like I am all tied up
inside
and can only cry
to mourn
what could have been
but wasn’t.

It is like an unacknowledged
longing
has been reawakened
inside of me
for a different way to live
full of love
full of joy
full of hope.

Instead I woke up
to see my pain
to see my blood
all over the place.

For a moment
I thought I could fly
not realizing it was
part of a storm
that would drop me
in a whirlwind
where I have been before
the deep dark hole
of desperation
with no way out
and so far removed
from everyone else
they don’t hear me cry.