Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Deep Ocean of Emotion

It occurs to me sometimes that maybe I feel things too deeply. I asked a lover this once if this were true: Am I more sensitive than other people? He said he thought so. I think so, too, but then I wonder about the flip side: why is feeling or expressing deep emotion, particularly intense sadness or pain, pathologized, stigmatized, and marginalized in our culture?

I look at other blogs, read books and articles on love, relationships, awakening, enlightenment, and find so little emotion there. The voices are mostly so calm, so reasoned. Be mindful of the moment, they say. Breathe. Sit with the suffering. Get out and connect, exercise, find a hobby. Bake cookies for a neighbor. Invite a friend for tea. This all seems so reasonable and healthy, of course. I have no problem with it. But there are very few voices describing how it feels to be in the midst of suffering, pain, loss, loneliness, disappointment, jealousy, those most integral and normal of human emotions. It's as if it's wrong to feel these things, or maybe just something we don't talk about in polite company.

When I'm in the midst of my suffering, I could no more bake cookies or sit with a friend over tea than I could jump off the roof and start to fly. In those moments, I can barely breathe, can hardly move. People looking at me probably think I look normal, maybe a little sad, but inside, a fire-breathing dragon has taken control of my insides and I feel like my brain is roasting, like someone near me could smell the smoke. It's a very painful place to be in, one I almost never see reflected around me.

When I hear people talk about their lives - their families, relationships, gardens, home renovations, jobs, commutes, vacations, I find myself always looking for the emotional subtext. I imagine myself in those situations, and imagine how I'd be feeling with that family, that relationship, those hobbies or projects, on those vacations, and I know that I'd be feeling something intensely. I wonder if they do, too. They talk about those things in such an offhanded way. Like they're such normal things to be doing, with no emotions involved at all.

So often, in the media, women who experience deep emotions, particularly the so-called negative ones, are almost always portrayed as crazed psychopaths, addicts, or suicidal artists. I think of Penelope Cruz in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" or Salma Hayek in "Frida". (Don't even get me started on the "hot, fiery latina" stereotype, like we white girls don't feel passion!) Feeling deep, painful emotion is almost never portrayed as something positive, something to be valued and welcomed as a growth experience, even something normal.

And then, of course, as my friend at Waking Heart reminded me, there's the pathologizing of intense emotion in psychology. Medicate it away! Treat it! If you're sad for six months over the death of a beloved spouse, you have complicated grief and should be in treatment, they say. It couldn't be that losing your best friend, lover, partner, and soul mate might make you sad and might make you feel bereft and lonely, set loose in a new, unfamiliar world, floating on an ocean of pain. And that that might be, in fact, a normal response to such a loss.

I don't want to be in pain so much of the time. It doesn't feel good. But as I continue to learn new ways to cope with the world, and to let the pain open me, to teach me to let in - with love and equanimity - the world in all of its complexity, I still wonder if I am really the only one whose heart cries regularly, who struggles to stay balanced and sane in a world where safety and tenderness are fleeting and hard to find. I know I can't be the only one.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Walk in the Park

Walking in the park, swirls of life all around me, and me swirling also, in the dance of the universe. The birds making flashing patterns inches above the shining, swelling water are not different than me; the eagle's wings flap once, pushing air that goes into my lungs and is absorbed into my body.

The other beings, people, dogs, birds, a tiny garter snake, the purple flowers that dot the green, as I pass them all the infinite possibilities in our meeting take place at once and then are gone; the smell of the Eucalyptus grove brings back memories of wandering similar groves as a child and my childhood self is there with me, too, not different than I am now, not gone, but there with me.

I walk on a road of green, my hips pushing my feet forward, the feet crushing or not crushing the plants, the plants springing back or not behind me. The light glistens on the grasses and leaves, we, all of us, who are all one, tremble, shimmer, and dance together and merge.

All the beings I have met are there, and the shy half-seen smiles of the ones I have yet to meet. Time and space in a loop, no past, no future. Only Everything. Now, at once.

I pass four shimmering doves and they erupt into flight, and for a split second, time freezes, like the space between the outbreath and in....snapshot. Then the world start up again, like a film projector, the breeze, the women walking their dogs, the hummingbird, the new and tender calla lilies.

Everything is perfect.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

In love

The lovers part


And I crave solitude the way

A starving man craves Food

I lie in bed

Only silence

In the darkness I feel the sadness

Once so overwhelming

Now contains pinpricks of radiant light


The pointed rock in my belly

Begins to radiate love in all directions

The supernova expands

My whole body feels warm and light

I am floating

In the darkness

My eyes open and I laugh in wonder

At having found my Bright Beloved

One of those (how many do we get in a lifetime? )

Who will always be connected to me

Always has been been

Since before we both were born

What a Miracle!

I reach out to him with the energy of my being

And feel him there, his sadness

I hug him to me and whisper comfort

I don’ t know if that’s his pain or mine

There is no difference

In the darkness, everything around me

Speaks of love

The hum of the refrigerator


The warmth of the blankets


My Beloved’s silence, his absence


My loneliness


The tic-toc of the rain starting


In the sounds of the first raindrops

I think I hear him enter my home

With his key

He’s there, for a brief moment

I listen for him

Then he’s gone

Our love joins Love

The dark underground river that runs under our feet

Silent but unceasing

Containing all that is Love

The anger, pain, sadness,

The joy, laughter, communion

The light touch in passing

The jealous heat

The small gifts

The broken promises

The moments of electric connection

Our love swirls like water

Joining all the other lovers

Coming together

Then parting

Like waves on a shallow beach

The sands hiss

He recedes again

I whisper his name but for once

Don’t reach for him

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Beast

She comes out of me, out of my head like the destructive forces of Kali, wearing human skulls on a belt around her waist, laying destruction on all sides, all I love is laid bare, all I cherish is licked by fire, charred, sometimes beyond recognition. I sit back and watch, powerless, I cry and beg the universe to take her away, to banish her. I pray for forgiveness. I crouch in the shower, crying, the tears mixing with the spray from the shower, broken, devastated at what I myself will do to protect what is not even in danger. I pray to the Great Mystery to please, please let my heart open to love and to open beyond the the insecurity, the doubt, the fear of loss. I want her gone. But she won't go.

A new wonderful friend tells me to cherish her, embrace her. Look her in the eyes and hold her to me.

Yes, OK. I see her, I see her pain, I see her confusion, I see the little girl who never believed she was every worthy of love. I love this fiery, confused, sad, creature of passion and love. It is love , welcome, belonging that she wants, she just doesn't know how to get it, or what it looks like when she has it. Like any little child who doesn't know how to ask for what she needs, doesn't even know exactly what she does need. She doesn't know how else to behave. She's frustrated, can't articulate her needs, feels forlorn and left behind. She comes out too much, she damages those I love, she damages me, but she doesn't want to. She doesn' t know what else to do, how else to behave.

I embrace this creature, this part of myself that cries in the night with loneliness, that tries to banish the loneliness by begging for others to fill the great void. She is scared. She doesn't know what else to do. She risks losing it all. But she doesn't understand that there is nothing to lose, that love is an ocean we all swim in, all the time. That she can merely open her heart, open her skin and her eyes and her lungs and her arms, and welcome all this in: the pain, the beauty, the fear, the sadness, the love, the anger, the joy. The great, cosmic Love that includes all these things.

I want to rock her in my arms and tell her it will all be OK, no matter what happens. The voids we've been seeking to fill are not voids at all, but open spaces. I pray to the universe and to the mystery to please, please, help me, help us, see the wonderful bliss and joy that is ours if we can only open ourselves to it. I apologize, once again, from the bottom of my heart, to every creature we've wounded with our carelessness and despair. And we walk forward together, arm in arm, like new lovers, eyes wide with wonder at what the future holds for us.