Although I am an anti-fan of Mike Tyson, he was quoted saying: "Everyone has a plan until they get hit," referring to boxing strategy. In looking at ways to cope with challenges, this statement really struck me (literary device: pun). I make plans to deal with stress and have tools for emotional resilience and self-compassion; but what if I can't use them? What if I get knocked down ("I've fallen and I can't get up!" LOL), and for whatever reason, revert to old habits instead of healthy self-compassion? Sometimes, circumstances are so overwhelming, even non-traumatized humans are unable to react with perfect well-adjustment (breathe deep, pause, don't take things personally, take a break, take a bath, practice self-care, blah, blah, blah ad nauseum infinitum!).
With perspicacity, I realize I need to plan for the KO, because it's going to come, just like the get-back-up will come. Not to live in dread with a Go Bag (literary device: hyperbole), but to have a plan for that day when I can't immediately get back up, instead of thinking--mistakenly--that I can always deal. As per usual, it starts with being mindfully aware and accepting the pain of the knock down, then just sitting with it, knowing it will pass at some point--not necessarily on my timeline. Then from there...
There are still a couple of people in my life, one related and one not, who I have to seek out to keep in touch--otherwise, I'd probably never hear from them again. I am at a turning point and wonder if I want to continue investing in the relationships? People always show you who they are and what they value through their actions. It's like the film "He's Just Not That Into You", if someone loves you and cares for you and wants you in their life, they will act on those feelings...right? I want to be valued. I want to receive at least a fraction of what I give out, especially in a family or friend relationship.
Do I accept that this is how they are and how things will be (it's nothing new)? That if I want them in my life, I do the work? I do I just stop attempting to reach out to them? The bottom line is the pain, abandonment, and rejection I feel as a result. I know that my feelings are my responsibility, and that my reaction to their lack of effort (lack of true care and love?) is mine to own. Am I selling myself short and allowing dysfunction and toxicity? I know I'm worth more and that my friendship is valuable--it's not a self-worth issue. I do tend to be over-loyal, especially when it comes to long-term relationships and giving and love-- I will always give as much as I can, until I realize the well is dry where I keep dipping a bucket. Then I stop. I believe the effort is worth it because you never know what someone else is going through, even if you are their best friend or close relative.
I wonder when it becomes unhealthy to continue trying? I suppose I have my answer already: when the relationship is causing this much pain and the behavior is a repeated pattern over a long period of time. Sigh. It's interesting how -- as time passes and I mature -- relationships thin out because my emotional intelligence increases and my willingness to put up with relationship drama, aka bullshit, diminishes. I've let go of several close family members and long-term friends in the past few decades. I suppose this is a process that will continue.
I don't need to be affirmed all the time, but relationships require action to be sustained, just as a plant requires sunlight, water, and nutrients. I feel malnourished in these relationships and I'd rather grow toward the sunlight.
Yesterday, I completed the 12 hour (12 CEU) course hosted by Greater Good Science Center:
Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) Core Skills Training
The course was incredibly informative and helpful, mildly intense, and greatly transformative! The last year, I have been working to incorporate the practices of Mindfulness and Self-Compassion back into my daily thought and habit routine. It has not been easy! This course basically guided participants through Neff and Germer’s workbook on MSC, which felt emotionally easier while demanding more consistency than moving through the book on my own. Even working through the book on my own, I began to implement changes, and adding to the practices of Qigong/Taiji/Shaolin Kung fu, Metta Meditation, and fasting, my efforts have been life-changing! I see my life with a fresh perspective when I practice self-kindness and MSC! Or rather, I see myself and my actions (and others) through a lens of compassion, a lens inward I have been trying to clean since I was a teen growing up in a hyper-critical and abusive household. The dirtied lens of my self-image was layered in self-hate, self-criticism, feelings of lack and fear and shame, and concern focused on what others thought me. Most especially have the practices of Metta Meditation and Mindful Self-Compassion cleared that distorted and false vision of my Self. Fasting has given me space and time to practice. The Chinese martial arts practices have restored my energy, strength, and health.
Past the toxic childhood, as an adult who learned to take responsibility for my emotions and actions, I have been my own slavemaster: I have held myself down and held myself back, mirroring in action Marianne Williamson’s famous quote from her book, A Return to Love.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us... Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do...”
But now, with tools at hand, I am once again rising from darkness into my own Brilliance. During the session on shame, where Dr. Germer spoke of self-image, shame and MSC, I began to see light. I knew that finally, after 40 years of fear -- fear of what other people thought of me -- I could finally be free of the chains of my concern for other’s opinion of me! I sat with that feeling, that thought, and imagined what my life would be like when I was wrapped in that freedom because I treated myself with kindness and self-compassion...
Imagine what my life will be like when I'm ALWAYS kind and self-compassionate to myself!!!!
Now, how do I create this life??!!
I am feeling over-stressed, under-timed, and mentally exhausted from all that needs to be done in such a short time! I leave 7 days from now, in exactly 31 minutes! I have not started to pack much yet (besides donation items). I am way behind WAY WAY WAY!
I stopped to make my bed...because I needed a break --LMAO-- and the quote came to mind: "The journey of one thousand miles begins with one step", or whatever it is. I laughed aloud as I thought: "The journey to China begins by packing...I feel so overwhelmed... I'll never get it all done!!..." those type of thoughts fleeing through my mind as I am fleeing the constraints of time!
The following thought was an epiphany -- LMAO again!!! -- of breaking down the tasks into smaller and smaller tasks; more and more manageable spurts of effort.
Then I realized: The journey to China begins by packing ONE -- and ONLY one -- box!!
Aaaah, sigh of relief! (dork!)
"Problems cannot be
Resolved at once.
Slowly untie knots
Divide to conquer."
The more I read and self-circumspect, the more realization I have that everything changes and even I change (in ways I was not planning on) and I need to accept those changes. My biggest struggle is being tired physically, emotionally, energetically (really, a universal fatigue) and feeling too much "ennui" as a result, to do anything either to align with the fatigue (positive: acceptance) or fight it (negative response: refusal of reality). So while I know exercise will make me feel better on all levels and increase my physical energy levels, I'm too damn tired to follow through on my intention to start running...bikram...cycling...walking to work...all of the above. And while I acknowledge that drinking increases the fatigue the next day and only brings temporary satisfaction, I feel at a loss for what else to do to numb the misery. Which leads to an understanding that when I numb the bad feelings, I also numb my ability to feel the good feelings and therefore I only speed up the vicious cycle. The downward spiral of energetic fatigue becomes a maelstrom of bad feelings, hence, depression. And there I am at the black bottom again, no light visible. I can't see a way out and don't have the energy to pull myself up from the depths even if I could see some light. So now what?
Once again, I return to the realization that if I am tired, I need to rest more. But without the numbing avoidant behaviors...how? I don't have the answer. If I am going through this phase of fatigue, how can I accept it and use it in a way that would be beneficial to my overall life and long-term health and happiness? I've always had an over-abundance of energy, and I was the Force of Change. I Acted On Things, not the opposite. I have not been at the receiving end before--so helpless. My Will and Determination seem to have left me as well. Maybe they were just too damn tired of being used to exhaustion.
We'll see. I'm not sure what will happen. At this point, I still have enough conscious Me left to Try Again. Or Continue Trying. I'll read some more Brene Brown, who's message is currently speaking to me; I'll keep getting up early with the intention to exercise...yoga, Qi Gong, pranayama, walk, run, ride, Bikram, whether I do it or not; I'll keep writing and debating these thought that bring me down; I'll go to school everyday and do my best to give my best to my precious little people; and I'll get up determined to have a good day whether it ends with me as a heap on my bed dismembering my psyche and heart by tuning out and off with KDrama and some choco... or not.
The Whirlpool, Quicksand, Gravity...and other things that suck you down with a slurping sound or end with SPLAT!
Once caught in the cycle of negativity, it's sooooo terrifically difficult to get out of that pattern. Taoism instructs me to master change; i.e., expect it, accept it, flow with it. Therefore I should be able to leap gracefully over the depressive suckage of quicksand, innately knowing "this too shall pass", because nothing remains the same. Yet, I feel blinded by these repeated dark spells and frequently find myself losing any hint of that godsdamn "light at the end of the tunnel". I am supposed to face these repeated challenges with my "essential nature intact", though somehow, like Pan's shadow moving independently, I seem to have lost that nature or the ability to hang on to it. Perhaps because I was hanging on to life so tightly to just survive, I had to let that go, or fall. Life finally seems to have had its fill with toying with Gina, and then No! Let's punch her in the face again and see if she can take another hit! Seriously, that's what the last 3 years have felt like. How many times can I get punched in the face before I am permanently disfigured though?! I pull myself up once again from the K.O. Punch, heal, recover, and start to think --foolishly--that life isn't so bad, everything's gonna be alright, and then BAM! Sucker Punched again! Am I on a pity pot sometimes? Well, hell yes! And is this missive full of pithy statements; bromides old over usage a thousand times? Yes, but I'm feeling pithy... pith...pit. Yes, so the words are perfectly coincidental to the Current Life of Gina. I have been torn down to the core (pith), my essential nature stripped and re-worked, I have been to the bottom (pit), and I am very literally working through WHO I AM again. The essential nature is there, but I can't find her, or I'd rely on her for strength. Now I'm seeing the direct results of stress, rather, I am feeling the direct results of stress. Like waking up to multiple texts about care issues related to my Dad. Now my chest is tight and it's difficult to breathe. The depression I felt 2015-16 almost killed me, but I survived. But now this. I can definitely and clearly see how stress and anxiety can kill a person. It is exhausting, as in, I wake up exhausted even after good sleep (and thank goddess a few good dreams lately). How does one live when they are continuously exhausted and anxious. Kava Extract has become my new BFF and Support System. Yes, I need more support, this is true. But how? Where? Who can I find to listen to my blather and throw me a pity-party or just LISTEN without judgement or advice-giving? Yes, I need the reminders of TAO, that the whirlpool eventually spits you out, quicksand can be avoided, and gravity doesn't always end in splat. I need reminders that my "inherent nature" CAN stay intact through these sucker punches. That if I allow everything to go on in life without struggle or resisting or fighting, my chest won't tighten and I can breath for one thing, and I'll survive and be okay.
Why aren't things different?
Why can't I change?
Why won't I do the things I know I need to do for self-care?
Why am I resisting?
I want reality to be other than it is.
I want to exercise daily.
I want to lose weight.
I want to have more energy.
I want to stop eating sugar.
I want to get out of the house more often.
I want to walk to school every day.
I want to ride my bike, run, climb, go to Bikram, and hike every day.
I want to feel energetic, "normal", and "lovin' life".
I want to accomplish all the things I put off because I just don't have the physical or psychic energy to complete them!
I want to do all these things that help me feel well, healthy, normal, and happy, but I can't seem to find the motivation or strength or energy or time to do them. Why? What's wrong with me?
The converse of this vicious circular coin:
I am doing what I need to do right now. I am working on energy centers and grounding techniques, I am practicing yoga and prana and meditation a bit more consistently, I am seeing an acupuncturist and TCM and also in conversation with a holistic MD. Slowly I will heal and return to a state of energetic enthusiasm. I know I can.
How is the question I should be asking:
(to be continued)
I should be thin, not fat
I should be out socializing, not at home alone.
My room should be organized, not the opposite.
I should be exercising, not inert.
I should be strong, not weak.
I should work more than I do.
The painting that I've been meaning to hang for months should be up...
Shall I go on with the myriad ways I struggle against What Is?
These should be different than they are.
Reality should not be as it is.
It should be better.
When things change, life will improve.
Struggle. Fight against the current.
Now should be different than it is.
I swim in one direction as the current flows the other way.
Who fights more? The current or me? Me.
Who suffers more? The current or me? Definitely, Me.
When I think all of these thoughts, that "it should be different than it is", I suffer. When I fight against what is Reality in the Now, I suffer. When I judge as "wrong" my Self, events, circumstances, Life... I suffer. Instead of embracing how Life is at This Very Moment and seeking the lesson or just floating downstream, I fight and struggle... and lose. What if it all is serving a grander purpose? What if it all brings me closer to my Highest Self? What if it all will help me manifest the change I seek? What if it all just IS?
I am uncomfortable with this new person; she is the opposite of what I have been all my life. The evolution to something newer, quieter, introspective, still, withdrawn, is not what I am used to. I am attached to the shell and what I thought I was. I am attached to labels I have spent a lifetime creating. The gross majority of my identities are no longer applicable and it is terrifying. I fear that I will l remain this way, rather than return to my former self, or create a new, better self. But why can't I accept what I am right now. I hold to truth that all changes, so wouldn't it stand to reason that this self I am experiencing now will also change into some other self? How can it not? In all my power, even I am not immune to change and transformation and circumstances that ebb and flow.
How can I focus on enjoying now and allowing? There is the answer, silly girl, focus on Now and Allow the rest to unfold. Allow who I Am now, enjoy this time of solitude, shrinking, stillness. Soon enough the bombast, expansiveness, and never-ending activity will return.
CONFIDENCE WITHIN AND SMALL CROSSINGS by Deng Ming-Dao
"Usually, a pairing of hexagrams in the I Ching is seen as one being the “opposite” of the other. Or perhaps another way to think of it is that one is the “reverse” of the other. In this case, I believe these two particular hexagrams to be the inverse of one another.
What is confidence? It’s the knowledge that you can cope with change—and that only comes with experience. So a book of divination is referring to your own inner divination. Confidence means that you can “predict the future” in that you know you can do what you say you’ll do. When a person can control their destiny to that degree, that is good fortune indeed.
The inverse of that is when we cannot control where our lives go. Then only small crossings are possible. For the I Ching, a crossing, as in crossing a body of water, is the symbol of a great venture. Sometimes, we can only cross small streams rather than ford wide rivers or sail great seas. If you think about it, we can step across small streams because they fit our scale—but we are not always able to embark on great ventures. Then confidence doesn’t matter, because outer circumstance doesn’t favor us.
That leaves us with this dilemma: how do we keep our confidence when conditions are unfavorable? That takes faith, and the patience to wait for cycles to turn our way again."
I don't recall being taught that life would have ups and downs; that the upturns always lead to downturns, and v.v. I learned, through direct parental teaching or modeling or observation or cultural/social pressures, that "Life's a bitch and then you die" or everything in my life should always "be good" and I should always "be happy" or I have failed. Resultingly, I have always tried to be "on", and be "successful" and "up" in every area. If I wasn't happy, something was wrong. If I made a lot of money but didn't like my job, (which on one hand defined success, so unhappiness was okay), there was "something wrong" with me or my attitude. The "shoulds" continue: I should always have lots of energy, plenty of money, be a leader, have a large social circle, be very spiritual, meditate an hour per day, exercise daily, eat very little, be pretty, be thin, be happy whether I was broke (in heart, wallet, mind, or body) or prosperous ...
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