Post Retreat Pendulum
Write write write…write how I feel. Write my thoughts…
I feel tired today, physically, and mentally. Probably spiritually and emotionally as well. Tomorrow is a week out from leaving the retreat. And to say it has been a weird week is an understatement. Maybe it’s the eclipse energies or Mercury in retrograde but I feel as if I am between worlds, maybe even falling in and out of different timelines. My spirit is not settled and is having trouble finding itself in a comfortable place. The ripple effects of the things I felt, experienced, thought and processed continue to come to me in different waves and intensities. One of the big energies that is taking up residence in my mind is the war around decentralizing romantic relationships. I have distracted myself and numbed with thoughts about men my whole adult life. Some say it is programming from the media. Rom-coms and capitalism keeping women small and stuck. Some say it is attachment styles and inconsistent caregiver attention from both parents. A need to get attention (subconsciously) from a parent that showed little interest, so we are doomed to feel butterflies around the emotionally unavailable potential partner. Many talk about the confluence of all of this (much more eloquently than I, especially today.) The idea of decentralizing a relationship from one's life is not new. It seems that even in talking about pushing it away, it is still hovering just overhead. I catch myself with my friends making it a large part of how I relate to the women in my life. For better or for worse. I am not sure which.
Our retreat leader cautioned us to protect our energies coming out of the retreat and I feel I have mostly done that. But there is a lingering grief. Grief about coming out of perfect community and back into the “real world,” full of imperfection. Grief about the parts of myself I have long ignored that got drawn into the light during the retreat. I brought forth many younger and current versions of myself during the retreat. Many of whom still live in intense pain and sorrow about the things we endured. The things we allowed to be done to us. The things we actively participated in that hurt us. Specifically, around sex. Well sex and relationships.
I tell myself to focus on myself. I think about what I want and what steps I need to take to get there. I actively pursue things I love. I also find myself in thoughts daily about who I may meet next. I friend and follow attractive (seeming) people. I try to curb my excitement when I meet someone new. I am at war in my mind at times with whether I am too open, too free, or whether I should continue to barrel into wildness and uncertainty. I want so desperately to be myself but also to be liked and these concepts too are often at war. Getting used to people not liking me or not choosing me should be old hat at this point, but as a master manipulator, it has been all I’ve known to do. And that is something that is coming up as my touchstone. Manipulation. What am I doing out of pure joy, and what am I doing for the gaze of others? It is of course not black and white. Maybe more of a spectrum...
I am aware enough to know that just because I struggle with manipulation, I will not cancel my spiritual efforts and growth. I am both deeply spiritual and often times sick with programming. I rest on my laurels and give in to my reactive nature, character defects and self-serving actions. I also spend time every day in meditation, reflection, prayer and ceremony directed toward growth and love.
Being in “the work,” and actively working toward health can feel a bit like being a hamster on a wheel. Like maybe I’ve been sold a bill of goods. Catching up to where? For whom? Getting ahead? Hopefully before I die (haha?). Ultimately, I think the goal is to have the pendulum swings be not as drastic. Maybe my nervous system can relinquish its adrenaline drops in favor of more frequent moments of presence and joy.
During the retreat it was said on several occasions that we are all stuck in the “freeze” response more than we know. That we live in places of comfort and distraction so we don’t have to deal with the iceberg of untangled trauma below the surface of our everyday life. I will say that when I stop moving, I mean really stop. No phone, no TV, no book, no cleaning, no doing, no caring for others. When I stop and get present, I usually start to cry. Some things that I have been avoiding come to me. A truth I don’t want to see or a chaotic feeling that needs attention. Sometimes it is that life is so beautiful, and I am sad I am missing it. Mostly it is feelings of loneliness and fear. Usually there is something I want to do, but I am afraid I’ll fail, or even more scary, that I’ll be seen. A lot of crying comes from my memories and thoughts about failed relationships. I miss them sometimes, the people I spent so much time with. Sometimes I let the narrative that there is something inherently wrong with me run amok. I cry out of the fear that I am damaged beyond repair. That even if someone thinks they like me, they will find out the truth in time. That I will never be found or discovered again. That I will not be allowed to discover someone else ever again. The desire and the craving to be met fully has ruled my life for a long time but maybe rightly so? Maybe my longing is my friend. I hope so because I am attempting to love this longing. Even though it has led me to people who were not ready for the intensity I was bringing. I was looking for water in wells that were closed or not nearly as full as I needed them to be. But I will carry this damn bucket around. I will fill as much as I can from my own well. If I could stop looking for a full well I would, but so far I have not willed myself away from the search. What else can I do? It is a beautiful bucket. It wants to be filled.
Okay, I don’t want to take the bucket thing too far. You get it. I have always been a pretty emotional person. I have always had a lot to say about a lot of things. I am not for everyone. I am sexual (I am human), I am overt, I externally process almost everything, I love communication and technology. I love a great love story. I love a great coming-of-age story. I love romance fiction. Maybe someday I won’t love all of these things. Maybe they are unhealthy. For today though, I am loving them. I love travel, hearing about travel and travel food. I love hearing and seeing people dressed well and going places. I love people who romanticize life and who aren’t afraid to show it. I love the bold, and I also love the humble. I love cozy shit. I love flowers and candles and thinking about skinny dipping. Maybe someday I will learn to be more practical. Maybe someday I’ll be a stoic or at least simpler. Sometimes that sounds nice. Only sometimes. Once upon a time I had an Al-anon sponsor who told me that everyday I woke up Superman but went to bed Clark Kent. That I needed to be a little more tempered or realistic. That I needed to quit trying to be so big in favor of being something more reasonable and “normal.” I tried, I really did. At the time I thought the advice was spot on. And now I hate it. It just isn’t me. It is probably wonderful advice really. Maybe I’ll come back to it. The pendulum will continue it course and so will I.