Breaking Free

This morning, i woke up with a familiar sense of wanting to stay in bed – as my mind often puts it: “Stay in bed because it’s so comfortable here!” I turned the alarm off to enjoy the bed, though quickly realized there was more to this: I wanted to hide. Somehow i remembered that i could sit with this. Maybe it was because i had listened to a talk by Gil Fronsdal the day before in which he suggested just that. And i had read how Tara Brach had stayed with her body instead of angrily storming into her teenage son’s room. I could try this! I also knew somewhere that i could use some loving-kindness, especially because i sensed a lot of self-hatred in me.

So, i sat down on my cushion with the loving-kindness card in front of me. I started by sensing into the turmoil i was feeling. It was pretty intense. The shame was choking me. I noticed that the sensations shifted whenever i would straighten up. Shame can’t continue without hunched shoulders. I read the loving-kindness sentences. They felt so hallow. I kept going nonetheless. After a few times going through them, i sensed back into my body. Turmoil. I tried to figure out what i wanted to do. I knew that the turmoil had something to do with an event i planned to go to later today – and somewhere didn’t really want to go. My mind started problem solving – only to increase the turmoil. Suddenly, i heard an inner voice “you only have to breathe!” Oh! That’s right: Nothing to figure out. Nothing to decide. Just breathing. I ended the 45-minute meditation with focusing (mostly) on my breath.

Then i went on a speed walk and did some yoga. While doing yoga, i admitted that i didn’t really want to go anywhere, so i changed my rvsp. Trouble was: I had announced that i would go to this event on Facebook yesterday and some people had responded to that enthusiastically. Now i had to tell them that i wasn’t going if i wanted to stay in integrity… I left a comment with the update – and a wave of shame hit me. So, i wrote down what i was observing:

Amazing how much shame & self-doubt is coming up in me whenever i change plans… I want to be seen as reliable. And the unwanted identity is unreliable and thus unlovable. Wow! What a deep stab into the heart… Funny really. All i did is decide that i didn’t want to spend $30 plus 2 hours on Muni & BART – and somehow that makes me unlovable?!? Ay! Those voices!

The wanted/unwanted identity stuff is based on an exercise by Brené Brown. And Cheri Huber talks about our inner unsupportive dialog as “the voices.”

Realizing that it was “just” my voices, i was able to let go of this episode. Though it tapped into a longing: I am tired of being a good girl! How can i break free?!?

I’ve been surprised before that “good girl” seemed to have an entirely sexual interpretation. It doesn’t for me. So, i started pondering what i actually mean by “good girl.” I want freedom! I remembered a conversation i had with a friend on Friday about the influence my parents, especially my mother, seems to still be having. As a mother myself, i always find a claim like that uncomfortable. Plus, at almost 45 can i really still be blaming my mother for my stuckness, for my lack of courage to live fully authentically? And, yet, there’s something there. That’s when it hit me: I want to stop being so worried about and obsessed with what others might think! Including – and not limited to – my mother! How can i do that?

The promise, as i understand it, of mindfulness meditation is to help us attain freedom. Including, i guess, the freedom from what others think of us and our actions. Again i had a vague sense that there was something true here – and didn’t quite know how to manifest it. Does this mean i enroll in a monastery?

As i started to put on a necklace, i decided i didn’t want to wear an OM today. Rather, i felt like wearing a little witch with her right hand in a fist, ready for a revolution. A pendant i bought as a teenager. My glance fell onto all the other pendants i had bought around that time: The Cretan Snakegoddess, a double axe, and a pentagram. What had happened to that young woman? Oy, yes, she had been raped and ended up in an abusive relationship! She got scared… And why had that happened? That’s when i had the big realization that this long post is trying to capture: I had been trying to find love by getting it from the outside when the only way i can love myself is from the inside out! Wow. Deep breath!

I had tumbled into the date rape and the abusive relationship because these men seemed to love me and i was desperate for some proof of my worthiness and lovability. So desperate that i didn’t realize that the hole inside of me cannot be filled from the outside (even though i had heard and read about that… i didn’t know it then with every cell in my body as i do now).

And, although with less painful consequences, i am still doing this: I act in ways i think i should, don’t take the big steps a big part of me is longing to take. And ultimately, i am confused about what to do because there doesn’t seem to be a way to please others and challenge cultural norms – and i am getting stuck because i am still letting my self-worth depend on what others think. So, to attain freedom, i want to learn to let go of what others think and work on accepting and loving myself.

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Breaking Free — 5 Comments

  1. Ahh, I agree with you. I thought by finding a boyfriend I would be complete .. instead I was as insecure as ever. Eventually he dumped me and I was a mess. I probably was worse off than before I was in the relationship. I don’t care about being coupled now, I want to learn how to love myself and make my life complete on my own.

  2. Rachel,

    I just wanted you to know that I appreciate you, all of the inner work that you are doing, as well as your willingness to openly share this with all of us in the digital world. :-)

    - Ian

  3. here’s where this comment box cut me off, so i’m continuing it here…….workable solution (though somewhat annoying and mysterious….)

    i just wanted to add one more thought: so many teachers and methods, belief systems and ideologies; analyses and meditations…….and like tara said somewhere……I FEEL ENLIGHTENED, THEN GO BACK TO MY DAY….AND LOSE IT!

    i’m so glad that was remembered……because this process we can call cultural healing; unlearning past failed methods and beginning a whole new personal adventure in life……….it’s central to our lives, it is MONUMENTAL, and it is long and difficult…..

  4. Powerful message……powerful topic…..there’s so much i edentify with here…..

    this comes under the heading of a cultural rebirth process that so many of us want and need and struggle with for so long. i realize how much change we all have to go through and you are expressing it powerfully……that sometimes it’s a very steep rock climb with only a dim view of the top of the rock or the resting place ahead….

    i clicked on your links, first, fronsdal, since he’s new to me and i was curious. didn’t have patience to sit through it, i needed something more compelling to me. tara brach’s link REALLY WORKED for me! great talk!

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