Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Feelings...nothing more than feelings

I've been sick over the last three days, and as my friend E. confirmed, "I don't do sick well." It's kind of a long story, but my experience of my bad cold (it's a really bad cold) also involves feelings of guilt, resistance to the care of others, and fears that I'm really not that sick, and I'm just a wimp for, you know, acting sick.

Whatever. It's just another FGO (f^&*ing growth opportunity), as we say here at Pendle Hill. And I've been doing an ok job taking care of myself (I watched four episodes of "Ugly Betty" on the web yesterday) and I've been gratefully accepting soup and refills of my big glass of oj/water/ice from the kitchen across the quad.

Sara said she was praying for me to get better. What do you do with that? And all the "hope you feel betters" and "is there anything I can do to helps" You mean they love me, they really love me? For goodness sakes. Hmm, then where is all this judgment coming from? Could it be...moi?

Anyways, me "not doing sick all that well" also has something to do with how physical illness (at least of the snotty, voice-losing, nose blowing kind) is more obvious than sickness of the brain, meaning depression, bipolar, etc. This is in no way to say that one is harder than the other, or that there isn't also lots of cultural baggage around physical illness. But for most people, a cold or serious menstrual cramps are easier to relate to than depression -- especially since many people equate depression with having a bad day. It is a bad day, a very very bad day. But not quite the same.

I got away from the original reason I started writing this post -- I hope you're still with me. One of the gifts (it's a gift, it's a gift, no really, it's a gift) of my time at Pendle Hill is the time to more fully experience feelings that kind of got shoved down PPH (pre-Pendle Hill), due to lack of time, or courage, or the possessing the skill set to survive the said experience. It's hard work.

One of my cues that hard stuff is coming up is that I start to hear -- feel -- "I'm dying. I'm actually dying. Wow. This is what dying feels like." The "dying" feeling comes when my being becomes aware ("realizes" is too much of a head thing -- this is a full body experience) that a very big part of my identity is about to let go. Some deeply held belief about myself is about to rise up above the surface, crack, and float away (I'm working with an iceberg visual).

The first time this happened I was in a class on non-violent communication (NVC). There was a lot of talk about self-compassion, and part of me was listening and participating, and part of me was going, "I'm dying. Wow, this is what dying feels like. I'm dying. Hmm. Dying." During a break, I spoke with my friend E, who conveniently, is also a Shaman. I looked straight at her and said, "I think I might be dying. You're sitting behind me (sort of next to me) and I need to know that if any Chinese stars come through the window, you've got my back."

Without asking for any further explanation, she said, "No problem. I'll stay next to you."

This is why I love Pendle Hill.

I've gotten the dying feeling a few times since then, and I know now that it signifies a painful transition, a letting go, and ultimately, a new space is created for something new to emerge. I can't help think of the "Alien" monster bursting out of Sigourney Weaver's belly -- nothing about this process feels pretty. Necessary, yes. I'm grateful, yes. Anyway (and I'm not complaining), it's hard work.

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