Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Shaking off the Dust...
It's funny. Strange: funny, not hilarious: funny - when something bad happens, I think the best of us temporarily gain slightly bad habits to make ourselves feel as though we are in control. I tentatively suggest that even the most foll-of-zen Buddhist Monk might err on the side of something less than perfect for a while if his monastery were burned to the ground by violent guerrillas.
It is one thing to feel these negative emotions inside oneself, though, and another to spread vile hatred and bitterness across the world as a reaction. Now, the aforementioned Monk probably would not start beating other Monks up as a result (very unlikely) but would instead spend some time in very deep meditation to deal with the emotions raised by the monastery burning. He would get back in touch with himself - bring himself back together in the quiet.
That's something, though, that we lack as a mainstream culture though, isn't it? There is something profoundly different about taking sober, thoughtful time to reconnect with one's soul, and going out for a "relaxing" drink at the end of the work week.
The former is healing; the latter is a medication. The former demands that we take the time to face our fears like other beings, sitting in front of us, feeling the fear we feel, but sitting there face to face anyway, because it is the only way we can truly purge them from ourselves.
The latter does not demand that we face our fears, though we do sometimes think we face them, at the height of a drunken argument with our friend or spouse or partner. But becoming inebriated on any substance does not require us to create reasonable thought, or a reasonable chain of thought. Therefore, trying to sort out fears that grip us while sober, when drunk, is not an option. It might feel good to be completely without a care and in the tender proverbial arms of a bottle of wine, but at the end of it all, you sober up and find your fears have become larger, and started growing mold during your night out...
Smoking pot can be a terribly enlightening experience when you don't have any worries - sure, it can open up doors in your mind that lead to beautiful conversations and greater understanding. But when straight, it can be almost impossible to remember with clarity the conversations had. When straight, the fears return. Pot is not a good way of coping. Pot hides the hurt - hides it in a very pretty disguise, yes, but when it's time to put the joint down, the pain comes crashing in like the rising tide. Rest assured that if you've smoked before, the door opening effects of the plant never do go away - but if you're smoking to cope, you're not doing yourself any favors.
I've seen both of the above so many times in people I have been very close to. Some of them I am still close to - but others fell into the grip of something even worse than the problems they had to begin with, and they just didn't come back. Ever.
How scary - facing your fears in soberness. It IS scary. Yes, it is. Keeping my heartbeat under control when I pick up another piece of maternity clothing I forgot to put away is near impossible, because picking up the fabric comes with the sober thought "my baby - she was my baby and I loved her, and I love her". Finding the pair of baby socks I put in my underwear drawer deliberately always comes hand in hand with the memory of the texture of Josie's little feet, identical to mine in every way except size. Sometimes, remembering some of the memories I made while pregnant with Josie - the ones I forgot to remember before - feels like pushing my hands through lava. The next time I remember them though, they just make my eyes well up. In ways such as these, things get better.
Some of the best times - the best things I have done for my own soul recently, have been in silence, by myself, with perhaps a candle lit and some music on. Immersing myself in the soul of Josie, I suppose you could say. It's so large and so tangible, her soul. She lives in the space between Harry and I still, but has become this beautiful decorated, embroidered Indian shawl that is wrapped around the waist of both of us. An adornment of beauty now.
I miss her, and sometimes I break down. But I don't take percocet or alcohol or anything like that, ever. I wrap myself up in a blanket and fight the depression with a sword and armor, like my namesake, Jeanne d'Arc. I'm not her. But I can put on her armor and weild her sword in my mind and tell the sadness that I simply will not surrender to it.
I take herbs and vitamins, and try to eat healthily; I am strong because I choose to be. Anyone can be strong. You very rarely get killed by your own fears, so why not choose to dive into them and cast them off you like a mantle of ice? Life is like this: it's messy, it's very real; it's about what is going on now, not later - if you spend all your present time not facing anything, putting all the stuff away and being intoxicated in any way, there's no guarantee you will even have a "later" to bring it back out again. Stop hating yourself so much. Start spending time with yourself; taking care of yourself.
So, breathe, and get out your walking boots, and just start walking up the hill.