Shenpa

Shenpa is a Buddhist concept  that I’ve been spending a lot of time studying and contemplating recently.  I study mostly Pema Chodron’s teachings and this is a big construct for her.  Shenpa really causes us great pain and makes us continue to reach for ground.  The Tibetan translation is “attachment”, but the construct is much more.  It is about the sticky, clinging, distracting reactions that we are so hardwired to have to both external and internal thoughts, feelings, and actions.  I felt this was a good analogy of what shenpa is:

Here is an everyday example of shenpa. Somebody says a mean word to you and then something in you tightens— that’s the shenpa. Then it starts to spiral into low self-esteem, or blaming them, or anger at them, denigrating yourself.

I struggle with this a great deal… the experience of someone (even myself) saying/doing something mean or hurtful and the following spiraling down of low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness that happen after.

One of the interesting things is shenpa’s relationship to meditation.  One of the goals of meditation is to learn to stay with feelings that we normally pull away from and to work to see our true minds and self.  Quite often during meditation we will have to face insights into ourselves and these insights are often of things that we might label “bad” or “wrong” even though it is never a good practice to label things as “good” or “bad” in general.  They just are.  So, ironically, the more insight we have into ourselves, the greater potential for shenpa to take hold and to bring us down.  It is a balancing act…awareness and acceptance without judgment.  Very difficult.

~AA

Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo…A day that once celebrated Mexico’s defeat of French troops and that has subsequently  been bastardized into a day of drinking and food!  Oh well, I’ll take it.  My girlfriend B is on her way over and we’re going to head to the pool to do a little lounging, drinking, and eating.  I have to say that I am so very blessed to have some really amazing friends.  I don’t know what I’d do without them or where I’d be, honestly!  I think it very likely that I would have been committed without B’s care of me.

The last few months have been very difficult for me.  I feel like I’ve lost, lost, and lost some more and was threatened with the potential loss of one of the most important people in my life… my mom.  While I don’t believe in organized religion or the power of “God” with the capital “G”, I am so very, very thankful that my mom is doing well and I’m thankful for the pain and insight this journey has provided me.

Life, as we all know, is a journey with a lot of twists and turns.  Sometimes there are more and sometimes there are less, but they will always be there.  Life is not intended to be easy.   I believe it is intended to be a journey that transcends our physical bodies.  There is a religious saying that says something to the effect of, “God never gives you more than you can handle”.  I feel that this sentiment is true.  I have been put through the ringer these last few months, but I am stronger for it.  And I know that the next few months will be similarly difficult, but I have greater insight into my needs and myself to get me through this… insight that would not have happened without all the pain, fear, and loss.  One of my favorite sentiments from Buddhism:

Only to the extent that we expose ourselves to annihilation over and over
do we find that within us that is indestructible. 

And now it is time to go celebrate my little life by soaking up the warmth of the sun with a good friend.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

~AA

Reality

J will be home in two weeks.  He’s been in Europe since early February.  I told him I wanted a divorce in December, but so much has happened since then that I sort of came to a place where I felt that perhaps we can get back on track.  But I just don’t know.  I’m so scared about him coming back and things just going back to the way they were and my life just going on with me in a supporting role, not as my own leading lady.  I hate this.

People keep asking me if I miss him and if I’m excited that he’s coming back.  This is one of the hardest things to answer…because in all honesty, I’m nervous about him coming back, I’m nervous that I may have shut off so much that there isn’t a way to “get us back on track”, I don’t “miss” him in the sense that I feel like my life is missing something without him.  In fact, I feel more like myself now that he has been gone than I have in years.  I don’t feel self-conscious.  I’m not lonely.  I don’t feel inadequate.  I feel like me and like I don’t have to be ashamed of my desires, my demons, my needs.

What does that mean?  Does it mean anything?

I’m trying to stay open to this entire thing that is about to happen when he gets back.  There is a part of me that feels like I really need to make the effort, but I also feel like I’ve made a significant effort in the past that didn’t work.  Is it really necessary for me to give it another go?  But I guess he really needed to hear that I was willing to leave him because of how unhappy I was.  So, perhaps he needed that reality check before any progress could really be made.   I just hope that I can be open minded.  If I have the divorce papers in front of me, I will want to have that piece of mind that I did do my best, even if I may have already shut down more than I realize.

I guess it all really doesn’t matter in the end… this contemplation.  It will come, it will happen and it will have a result that no amount of pondering will provide until it happens.

~AA

Little Girl

Tonight I went to my individual therapy session.   It was good and good timing considering what happened at group last night.  You know, one of the things that we talked about toward the end was how we have the adult us and the little girl (or boy).  The little girl part of us is the part that is wounded and scared.  So, my reaction to M and the fact that I need to “please” comes from my little girl.  The little girl I was when I was reliant on others for survival.  The little girl who wanted approval from my dad.  The little girl that was scared her brother might kill her.  The little girl who trusted, was used, and discarded by a man.

We talked about how I am no longer “that little girl”, but that she still is part of me and I give her power in certain situations like with J and with other personal relationships.  So when I feel rejected or invalidated, that little girl is the one that is fearful.  She’s the one with the anxiety and fear of not surviving.  This is opposite to me, my adult self, that knows I can take care of myself and I do not need anyone for survival.  But my adult self and my little girl live together in me.  She is the part of me that helps me to never lose my childlike enthusiasm for life.

The important thing to remember is that I am not trying to get rid of my little girl, merely learning how to live with her….how to coexist.  This makes sense to me.  So, my little girl and I need to learn how to play together.  And I need to make more time to really get to know her.

Who is your little girl (or boy)?

~AA

Broken

I feel like there are so many parts of me that are broken and that, perhaps, they may never heal.  I am hopeful that they will.  That I will be stronger from all of  this.  This is more difficult than I ever thought imaginable.  I could not imagine doing this if there were children in the picture.  I feel like I’ve made so many mistakes, but that is part of life, right?  Mistakes are part of what makes life worth living.  They teach us things.  They force us to expand our hearts, to expand our ability to forgive.  Probably the most difficult thing is to forgive ourselves for our imperfections.  I have so much compassion for others, but the person I have the most difficult time forgiving is myself.  Why is that?

There are so many conflicting emotions.  I’m longing, alone, hopeful, strong, wishing to hold onto the past, wishing to move forward.  I went to my counselor today.  It was helpful.  I so needed to speak to someone.  To help me continue to move forward when all I want to do is give up.

Thank God for music.  It so resonates with me.  It helps me process the emotions that I cannot vocalize or put into writing.  Right now the song that is really sticking with me is Demi Lovato’s Skyscraper.  Some may think it too “pop”, but she’s been through so much and completely gets the underlying point of the song.  I love it.  It inspires me.  Gives me hope.  I feel like a Phoenix, but my ashes are still burning.  I haven’t risen yet.

Destroyed

I have been destroyed.  This weekend was horrific.  The only positive thing is that I think I’ve hit bottom.  I like to think of myself as a strong person, but I’m weak, I’m tired, I’m overwhelmed, I’m destroyed.   I keep reminding myself of that saying, “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves to annihilation over and over, can we find that within us that is indestructible.”  I’ll get through this eventually, but right now I’m barely keeping it together.

This weekend J came home.  He is on a work assignment in a different state.  I was too exhausted to put energy into finding a place to stay for the weekend, plus it is my home too.  I didn’t leave.  So we were there for the weekend from Friday through Sunday.  It was hard.  It was confusing.  Saturday I went out with some friends.  I’ve come to realize that I simply don’t need to have a drink at all during this period of time.  I thought a few drinks couldn’t hurt.  Boy was I wrong.

Soon, everything started just welling up in me.  I excused myself from my friends and told them I was tired and going home.  I went to my car and just broke down.  In an effort to get out of there, I was able to drive my car a whopping 30 feet to a parking lot across the street and proceeded to fall apart.  I was so destroyed.  I couldn’t drive.  All I wanted to do was to run my car into a median or a large pole in an effort to end my life.  I was stuck in downtown, crying and completely losing it.  I didn’t know what to do, so I called the suicide hotline.  Which, by the way, was not helpful at all!

The lady told me to stop crying.  Asked why I was upset.  I told her.  She said, “well, if you’re the one who wanted the divorce, why are you crying?”  I hung up on her.  Eventually I got enough of my shit together to start making the drive home, although I shouldn’t have been driving in my state.  I wasn’t drunk, I was simply at the beginning of a nervous breakdown.  I was completely disoriented.

I made it home with great difficulty.  Started what seemed like an endless walk to my home (where J was).  I could barely get myself to walk, much less climb stairs.  I had to take breaks on the way up to the 3rd floor.  It wasn’t pretty.  Sobbing, shoes and purse clung to my chest like a doll.  When I got into the apartment, J was on the couch.  I continued to just lose it.  Wailing.  That is what I was doing.  Wailing.  My soul was so ripped apart, there was nothing to do but give in.  It was horrific.  It was terrifying.

He hugged me and held me while I collapsed on the floor.  Eventually I told him I needed to get into the shower–I find it soothing to be in a shower when I feel really terrible.  I got in the shower, but it didn’t provide me with the relief I needed.  I got a razor blade from my bathroom drawer.  I was in so much pain and distress and it wouldn’t subside.  I was so done.  I wanted it to end.

I started to try.  To let my lifeblood run free.  I pushed the razor against my skin.  It hurt.  I wanted to do it so bad.  To get it over with.  I kept trying, kept not being able to press hard enough.  J came in and took it from me.  He got in the shower and simply held me while I cried and broke down further.  He got me out of the shower and put me in bed.  I couldn’t move.  I couldn’t speak.  I couldn’t do anything.  Eventually even the tears wouldn’t come.  He stayed with me all night.  I’m glad he was there.

Sunday was difficult.  Waking up and feeling completely empty, foggy.  I play on a soccer league and in a wind ensemble.  And I had practices for both on Sunday.  I went to soccer practice, but J is on my team.  He was there.  I was physically ill.  I left early, but he walked me to my car.  He had to go back to his work assignment, so we said goodbye at the car.  He tried to kiss me.  He told me to let him kiss me.  He started telling me that he wanted me to tell him there was hope for us.  I was dumbfounded.  After all that had transpired in 24 hours he thought it was a good idea to ask me for more (earlier in the day, he told me that “sex makes you feel better”–I think he was joking, but I wasn’t really in the mood).  I proceeded to break down again, got in my car and left.

My girlfriend B came over and we went to dinner.  I’m so grateful for her.  She has been my savior through this.  I told her everything.  It is so hard to reach out to others when you are suffering so horribly b/c you don’t want to burden them and you are ashamed of the things going through your mind.  I lover her so much.  I also emailed a bit with C on Sunday.  He is so accepting of me in my most horrible form.  I’m blessed to have two people who truly love and care for me no matter what.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.  My family loves me, but they aren’t helping me.  My mom is trying.  She’s amazing, but I haven’t talked to my dad in weeks.  My brother doesn’t really know how to help, but he checks in with me from time to time.

This morning is a little better.  I’m working, so that helps me move forward. I know it will be difficult when I’m back home and I can let my guard down, but I need to let myself feel the pain and to work through the pain.  I’ve taken a leave of absence from my soccer league and the band that I play with.  I cannot deal with any additional responsibility right now.  I just need to focus on getting healthy and refocused.

Be kind to one another.

~AA

Relationships

I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage/partnerships.  A friend asked me on Tuesday what the purpose of my marriage was.  I told him I didn’t know.  For him, he said, it was the chase.  The endless chase of his wife.  He told me that he was a romantic, but that she wasn’t and that he just had to change… be less romantic.  This posed a quandary for me.  How come only one party in the relationship is responsible for changing to meet the needs of the other?  It seems like a punishment for being self aware enough to take note of the different needs between you and your partner.  Perhaps my expectations are set to high.  Perhaps it is just my personality type: INFJ.

I epitomize the INFJ.  There is nothing in the descriptions that is not spot-on.  I enjoy showing love and want affirmation from my partner.  I am not getting that right now and I haven’t for some time.  It is difficult to think about these things objectively when I first get home.  I walk in and it seems like everything is as it should be… that perhaps I’m making too much of something.  Here’s this great person with hopes and dreams, what would make me believe that it is time to end our relationship?  But, intuitively, I know.

Today I thought about what I would say to the inevitable question from a counselor about “do you want to save your marriage?”  Conceptually, yes.  Realistically, no.  What, exactly, is the point of merely trying to create a bearable situation?  We have no children.  We don’t own a home.  But we’ve been talking about doing these things.  Is it enough to create a manageable situation simply to have a child and a home?  I just don’t think so.  What do you think?

For all of you dealing with pain, loss, sadness, change, redemption… here’s a lovely video for you.  Find those who will stand by you.  And if you have no one, I’ll be happy to.  Have an inspired day!

AA