Days 4-8: No Bat Belt

There’s a scene in Dark Knight Rises where Batman is trying to climb out of a prison. The climb could mean death if he falls- so he has a safety rope tied around his waist. He works out, gets stronger, makes the leap, and falls. The only person to make this leap and survive was a child, with nothing but desperation and fear to spur him.

Bat man’s prison mate says:

“make the climb as the child did. Without the rope.”

He doesn’t need more strength; he needs to let go of his last tether to safety. He needs to know that there is nothing to break his fall, and he’s truly risking everything when he leaps.

This weekend was a time of removing my bat belt, my safety, my rope. Strand by strand, I unraveled and dissolved it, thanking it deeply for all the times it had saved me, but also recognizing that I hadn’t yet been ready for it. I wasn’t yet worthy of a bat-belt, a lightsaber, or a spear; I needed to learn to be strong on my own, first. Leaning on the assistance had me not trust my own strength or worth, to the point where I felt helpless, scared, certain I couldn’t make it on my own.

Dark Knight Rises: Prison Escape Scene

And so, I took off the rope. It was a painful, days’-long process.

I’m preparing for the climb again now.

These days had some victories: I discovered again how good exercise has me feel. On days I couldn’t go to the gym, I went on hour-long walks, bringing my focus to breath, and the feel of my feet on the ground as they rolled from heel to toe. I canceled some friend dates (thank you for being so understanding, friends ❤️) and I also reached out and called people, and wrote to one friend, when the despair got too heavy to carry alone. (Thank you for lending your steady strength and compassion in my dark pit, friends ❤️)

I’ve leaned on trainers, a counselor, and friends – but I haven’t leaned too much. There’s a balance. There’s a time when no one can prep us for the climb but ourselves.

I realized I had been hanging onto someone as he made the climb for us both, and we both fell.

But accepting help from community with deep gratitude is an important step for me. Hitting rock bottom and not being able to show a “perfect” face to the world has had me discover that many people are understanding, kind, and empathetic. They didn’t judge me. They didn’t even seem to think twice, just held me or let me cancel…

yes, there were those who surprised me with a lack of empathy, but having no resources to deal with that also made turning away from those few, and dropping those communications very easy.

There’s nothing like having absolutely nothing left, to teach a person how to say no, and how to say thank you.

And so here we are at Day 8 of the training. I’ve bribed myself with inspiring shirts to get me in the mood to go work out 😉

Day 8: Padawan

I’ve stuck with the challenge of dietary change (I’ll put a sample day’s meals here, one of these blog posts…maybe tomorrow …), of drinking half my body weight in ounces of water daily, (not as hard as it sounds, especially if you get some exercise in,) and of exercise.

I have discovered that I am most unhappy when I don’t allow myself to be as expansive as my nature demands: so when I was living in the “shoulds” of: closed off, reproachful blame, and victimhood; when I wanted above all things to understand why, I felt sick. I don’t need to know someone’s reason – all I need to know is that they chose.

As soon as I allowed myself to do what people told me I “shouldn’t,” which is: love, forgive, understand, be okay about things, let go, be actually happy about things just as they are, AND continue to wear my rings because they mean that I belong to myself now, and are inscribed a with these words: Present and Wonder, that I must live in now,

I felt better. I feel – good.

Ready to make the climb and leap with no rope, no bat belt.

What if I fall? Oh,but my darling,what if you fly? -Erin Hanson

Hope Farm

“Fall has arrived at Hope Farm…”

With these words, something rises in my spirit, just a little. There’s a glimmer like the reflection in a pond of a leaf shifting, caught just in the corner of my eye. Barely noticeable, except that my stillness in this moment is so profound, any shift is enormous.

If I move, will I break, shatter, be consumed with rage or grief or both?

No. I will not break. I have been there before, and this is not like that. This is sadness, yes, but it’s also the deep serene knowledge that I made the right choice.

When I consciously set out to heal, to learn to love myself; when I began to speak up, I also began a relationship.
During that relationship, I kept learning, growing, fighting the old shadows – and he was with me, though he didn’t always understand – he stuck with me. He allowed.
But the growth itself caused it to become apparent that there was a dynamic in our relationship that served neither of us.
It’s so ironic and so horribly sad that the growth itself that I did with him – the lessons his presence in my life sparked – those very lessons meant that eventually this had to end.

I have grown to see that the love I want has to begin with me – that the healing I have to do in order to call that love into my life is healing I have to do alone now.

It is a truth that we will accept harshness from others only equal to that we give ourselves. When the self-talk changes, the level of acceptance changes, too. This is the work, now – having the quiet strength to lovingly say no. No, I will not accept unkindness.

One day what I envision is this: a love that is solid, rooted in honor. Honorable behavior toward the world and toward each other. Trust. There will be no distrust from the beginning – that shattering wondering if my computer was searched or wondering why he’s hiding his phone … there will be no explaining old relationships or constant defending. There will be no asking who he was with- that simply will not exist because Honor will be the foundation of both of our intended energy in this life, a shared core value.

Further, arguments will be in order to reach understanding. They won’t be unpredictable storms out of nowhere with the object to quickly wound – wound first! – they won’t be power struggles or fear-based manipulations. They will be arguments with a solid foundation of knowing we love, knowing we are committed to continuing to nurture a relationship – arguments with the knowledge underneath -always the knowledge – that we love and therefore will not want to say things to hurt. There will be a kind of sparkly glue that holds us together. There will be no question of leaving, no fear of continued harm or deprivation causing doubt; no constant tests. That un-pin-downable, indefinable thing that is enduring, patient, joyful, trust-based, nurtured love.
There will be celebrations of each other’s strengths. Honoring and lifting up the good things- That is what I intend for my future relationship.

I don’t know how it will come about, but I am learning that when I set an intention I must let go of the “how.”  “How” seeks to control— and it limits.  If I let go of the knowing, if I let go of the worry of HOW I will meet this future person, I can focus on nurturing this intention. I can knit up my ragged edges with a lot of self-compassion, I can take responsibility for the ways in which I made choices that weren’t great, or caused harm; I can own my part of things and learn how to do better, and I can love myself as a person who is owning her sh*t and truly growing.

After a breakup, however it happens, the ego can get very loud and hungry. It screams at us to blame the other person – to list the ways in which they were wrong, the times they hurt us, the cruel things they said- it will even urge us to twist things around so that we might still appear in the right, no matter what! Memory shifts solidly in our favor – when in truth, everyone remembers things differently – our memories are not real. They only exist in our own minds and can transform, like the refocusing of a lens shifts a photograph. The problem is, if we give in to that, we put ourselves in the “victim” chair.  “That person did this, and this and this! and said this!” then we are in a place of reaction and anger, telling over the old perceived harms like toxic, poisonous little thorny rosary beads.  Each time we go over the cycle of harmful thought, the ego is fed but it wants more; the ego has a bottomless hunger. It makes things worse. If we look for “evidence,” whether for good perceptions or bad, we can always find it.
IN reaction, there is no empowerment.  We are at the mercy of others’ actions and choices – we are basically saying that we did nothing, could do nothing.

In a place of pain, it can feel like the right choice; it can FEEL like self-empowerment to say “I was right, he was wrong.” but if we listen to the ego and actually are tempted to think it’s showing us the “truth,” we are in for a painful road ahead and a longer time spent healing. Some people actually never really heal.

So: here’s a way to find out whether it’s true or not: simply check to see how it feels.
When I am in hurt and anger, remembering perceived harms, I feel small, tense, ready to spring; my stomach hurts, I cannot rest – there is no peace, I feel sick, and my energy drains away.

When I move away from that, distance from the ego and away from focus on whatever anyone else did, and when I focus on my own choices, I feel expanded, powerful, serene, peaceful. Even in the sorrow of loss, of endings, of breaking up — the wish that it didn’t have to be this way — the undeniable longing that somehow I could stay – there is still a kind of peace. We can choose this at any time! We can breathe, tell the ego, “Thanks, but this isn’t helping me,” and re-focus the lens. Refocus the lens to the beautiful memories, or the times in which we felt held and loved. Refocus the lens toward gratitude for those times, and the knowledge that by struggling through the hard things, by engaging in the discipline of saying “no” to toxic things, we are moving TOWARD, not away from, that beautiful feeling of wholeness, peace, love, happiness.

When I focus on the good, on love and continuing with compassion for both myself and him, I feel healthy. The energy returns.

Thus in a “growth” mindset rather than a “fixed” one, the mistakes are not things to hide from or fear to face: they are enormous, beautiful opportunities for growth and learning.

I believe we are here to grow, so I do much of my learning “out loud” in the world these days…it is my gift to my fellow humans.  Look – I have flaws, lots of them. If I can show the process of seeing them, having compassion for myself within that, owning them, learning from them and moving forward,
maybe then I can help others have self- compassion too. I think this is where much of our healing as a society will begin.

We are here to learn. I am grateful for the opportunity to do so. I am grateful for this relationship, for the companion who held up a mirror and showed me my ego, so i could do battle with it. Ultimately, it does not matter what he did or chose, or whether he can take responsibility or seeks to blame… that is his lesson to either learn or encounter again. That is where the healing comes in. In the distance from someone else and what they choose; the letting go.

I am grateful that I have grown so much in self-love and loving self-talk that my “limit” has raised – that I will no longer tolerate certain energies in my life, but will, with loving compassion, release and build a strong protective wall around my life.

I used to think that being loving meant allowing all – Chesed (in Jewish mysticism, one of the sefirot, a kind of holy chakra) – lovingkindness —
but Chesed must be balanced with, on the other side, Gevurah – discipline/strength.

sefirot

This was always my struggle.  I was never able to say a loving “No.”  No, I do not accept that kind of talk toward me. No, I do not accept this kind of arguing for the sake of wounding. No. I love you, but no – this is not the way I intend to spend my life.

And so, with a loving “No,” we both are lifted up, though we cannot maybe see it yet past the pain of change and loss.  My dear friend and companion – so much laughter. Incomparably beautiful times under the stars, the trees, seeing the magic in the world – on a beach sparkling in the moonlight –
painfully, I give us both this gift. with gratitude, I let go.

HopeFarm

this is a real farm, and it’s really called Hope Farm. with thanks to Rebecca Larken

Fall has arrived at Hope Farm. The trees magnificently blaze as they begin to let go… the chlorophyll that masked their true colors has drawn inward, revealing the rich hues of gold, amber, crimson – and so, may drawing inward for a time of healing allow each of our true colors to blaze forth as we release what no longer serves us.
There will follow a time of emptiness – barren branches –

and then: Spring.  Spring will come softly in to Hope Farm, and she will bloom as she has never bloomed, abundant and joyful with fragrant blossoms.

Parting in gratitude now for the loveliness that was you in my life, making space, examining my own stuff, drawing inward, releasing the past, and sitting bravely with the emptiness in prepation for the glorious, rioting Spring.

Book Love List

this is inspired by Sioux, whose blog you can find here: http://siouxtrett.wordpress.com

my blog entry will not be so clear, concise, tidy and understandable as hers;  I am a sprawling, messy writer.

Here goes:

a “Love List” for my book-    Image

My poor book that I have not worked on in over a year, because I’ve gotten too busy with FEAR RESPONSES, HEALING and OLD DREAMS.

My book that is really begging for attention again, like Figaro does persistently in the morning, his silently obstinate furry face totally un-ignorable — my book, you’re going to get my time and attention again and to merry hell with everything else.

Everything else being:

Fear Response: a certification that will lead to a business that is a side-passion in a health-related field, that will lead to more certain income.

Old Dream: a Maggid certification/ordination… this is in lieu of rabbinical school, which would have taken a lot more money and many, many more years. This has been two years of training, and it will be over in September. It doesn’t really feel like a “detour” as such, because it will add to my writing, and it has been a very rewarding experience. It has also challenged me to face and conquer some major demons, so I feel it has been a unique opportunity that is actually completely necessary on the road to completing this particular novel. (AND I have had to really conquer the fear of rejection, so that will serve me immeasurably as a writer. I  have a much thicker skin now, thank God.)

HEALING:  Figuring out the whole “love” thing (which, duh, no one ever figures out – it’s a cosmic joke, it’s why we are here in the first place, isn’t it, so I’ve gotten over trying and have gladly let go of the old – and may or may not lampoon him mercilessly in my book- and am enjoying the new and keeping it in perspective. I’m not sure I believe in romantic love any more, to be honest…there is love. But the romantic thing is, perhaps, a dopamine-flooded illusion. Maybe.) I’ve been focusing a LOT on boxing this year. I am stronger. I am healthier. I feel awesome. I’m getting good at boxing. But working out so much means sitting and writing has become anathema. I’ve tried to find ways to stand and write.  I’m still working on this. I think the fitness aspect will help the writing, actually, if I get more methodical about exercising early in the morning and then hitting the keyboard.

All right. Okay.  long apologia over. Now to the Love List for my book (Which is, for now, entitled “Steampunk Torah;” merely a description of what it was when it was a weekly serial – it needs a title of its own–)

I love you, Archives. I love you so much. You are unique, dangerous and weird and I still haven’t completely explored you. I am excited to figure out  the dark powerful mystery that surrounds you.

Characters I love dearly:  Jac, Professor Malone, Is.  You three are supporting characters right now, and I love you so much. I am not sure how you sprang out of my brain; you are hilarious and clever. You behave in ways that surprise and delight me. I have had to add a sequel simply so I can preserve your lives — and the sequel is duly added — you are not going to die on my watch.

I love that these things are in this book:  Shrødinger’s Cat, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, Amaranth, the “unwilting” that was mentioned in John Milton’s Paradise Lost as a flower in Eden, that happens to contain more iodine than the average grain, which happens to dissolve ink, and so it is used as a “murder” weapon against a Manuscript.  I still have to perfect the method of iodine extraction here, but I’m very proud of this research.

I love Mari’s journey that people will never read.  How she began as a heroine who simply reacts to the men around her, and how I realized that, and how she is now shifting to drive her own story – to create her life, not react her life.  I love how her “life” in this sense mirrors my own awakening.

I love the “villain” characters who grew from people in my life, who came across my path like ugly little gifts, to become the love-to-hate kinds of nasties that one needs in a book. And I love that they are faceted, not just plain nasty.

I love the illustrations that grow in my head until I need to put the colors of my book down on paper.

I love that you haunt my dreams still, book, you maddening, sprawling piece of weird adventure.  I wonder what is going to happen next. I wonder how you grew – truly it is a mystery to me where you came from.

Image

I love that an agent in Jerusalem whom I never would have met under ordinary circumstances (but you propel me out of the ordinary, and I love you for that,) stayed up all weekend to read you, book, and then told me she needs to know how you end — I, too, should love to know how you end —

I love the fun contraptions: the “Certainty Principle” which uses the spheres in their paths as a sort of guiding principle to manipulate space-time realities of human beings;
the wearable double-boiler (dangerous!) and wings; Figaro, who is not really just a cat, as he seems to follow his own space-time rules, but then, that’s a cat for you; Professor Malone’s clockwork carriage (highly dangerous, do not try this at home!), the Manuscripts…

I love the questions you make me ask, such as:

Who is to say that magic does not exist, since it’s all just bendy science, and therefore entirely provable and possible?

If the nature of space-time as we perceive it is defined by our limited perceptions, what if our perceptions were to be given a little shove of encouragement to expand?

Where will I find an editor who believes as passionately as I do in the semicolon?

When are you going to be finished?