I have recently been told (again) that my expression of what I am feeling is excessive and grotesque. Maybe so. However I believe that the feminines (not necessarily females) will comprehend that from this mire the lotus grows. I have written this for them, so in reading may perhaps step into the warmth of knowing we are not alone; to offer words like reflections into the caves within.
I have just sat a ten day Vipassana course and served another ten day course. It was one journey. I began by realising that I crave to yearn for someone. A man. Actually almost any man. I crave the perfect relationship and can fantasise about this not only for hours, but for years. I have done it. I like it. I like the poetic urges of a far away attraction of something that is beyond this world. I know that it is fantasy: that is why I do not wish for it to come to fruition. I am not addicted to the perfect relationship, I am addicted to craving the perfect relationship. Having the relationship is counterproductive to this strange, silent, invisible addiction.
I just want to write love poems, not actually take on the responsibilities of love.
Vipassana gives a way to become more aware of the inner weather, of the storms, of the rains, of the lightening, of the peaceful sunny afternoons…one starts to see the seeds of the clouds. And I saw myself creating image after image of perfect relationship. My invisible syringe that no-one can see, not even myself.
Vipassana also gives a way to come out of craving: being aware and equanimous of sensations. And I am proud to say that I kept my nerve, and like an alcoholic who says no to a drink, I kept over and over (and over) turning my attention away from the delicious sticky feelings of those perfect images, of perfectly ironed white bed clothes in the arms of a perfectly loving, perfectly attractive, perfectly perfect situation;
Instead: sensation in left elbow.
Of holding hands walking down a perfectly romantic path;
Instead: sensation in left wrist.
Of having a perfectly perfect connection that is wordless and clear and secret;
Instead: sensation in left hand.
Of being adored perfectly, of adoring perfectly;
Instead realisation: I have forgotten where I was up to. Mind is scanning stomach…it’s a good enough place to start again: sensations in stomach.
Perfect perfectly perfect love relationship.
Instead: sensations in lower body.
And slowly the images became less powerful, less vibrant, less addictive. I was able to move my attention back to sensations faster. I drained the life out of all this craving for perfect relationship.
And then I started imagining other perfects. A perfect relationship with my folks. A perfect relationship with my brother.
Back to sensation: what’s going on in my neck?
But how can I have a relationship with someone who will not talk to me?
Back to sensation on my chin.
And in so doing I realised that this desire for the perfect relationship with a man, is in fact covering over an infantile desire for a perfect relationship with my parents: which I do not have. There is no perfect. There is, in this case WhatApp messages and a knowledge that inside of both my mother and father they have an object that they call daughter that they love dearly. We all have these idealised relationships in our heads, my mother, my father, my brother, myself. None of us are really willing to actually materialise these images, they are too precious to us. In the experience with my brother, we tried to make it real, and it blew up in our faces. Years of cold, painful silence.
I can only content myself to believe that the images that my parents have of me sometimes even resemble who I am.
Who am I?
How can anyone know who I am if I don’t?
Do we ever get to the end of the rabbit hole?
The answer is no in relation to the definition of ‘I’. We never find out. Because there isn’t one. There is only what we are not.
And instead of dreaming of perfect relationship I begin to wonder why I don’t have one, with anyone. Why I find it hard to have one with my folks, with my partners. Which took me quickly to intolerance of control freaks.
And there was one in the kitchen where I was working.
What to do?
Back to sensations. Burning sensations. Moving sensations. Sensations that in any other situation may push me into a scream.
It came to a head over whether or not to serve potatoes for breakfast. I (for some reason unknown even to me) was completely against it. I was consciously trying to let go, to not get into an alpha fight over who is the ‘rightest’. And we served potatoes for breakfast.
In the morning meditation I begin to wonder, what is it about wanting to be right? There is a whole range of dozens (or infinite?) balances of possibilities. Why choose just one and then fight for it? Why do we want to always be right? Why get obsessed over one colour in the infinite rainbow of beauty?
So in the kitchen I ask. The surprising deep answer comes back that (as a male – is this important?) he remembers being a baby close to his mother’s breast. The security, the warmth, the pleasantness. Then mother disappears – beyond the comprehension of the baby. Darkness, cold, insecurity. If the mother doesn’t return: death.
How long will this last? Will she ever return? Craving, craving, craving…for warmth, light, security.
When we want to be ‘right’ he says, it is more that we want to be heard, to be recognised, to be remembered, so that mother will come back and give us the warmth. Not being right, or heard, is tautological with darkness and potential death.
So when I sank into a smug security that I had ‘got it,’ I was then assuaged by a second control freak who tried to tell me how to do porridge after I had been doing it every morning for nine days. I breathed in, felt sensations, tried to understand.
‘Why?’ I ask my friend in our secret meeting place, ‘Why?’
I myself came to the realisation that I cannot be in the box and controllers cannot be out of the box. They cannot give themselves that liberty. I cannot give myself that security.
‘But why not?’ I ask my friend as we snuggled behind the building like two teenagers trying to understand the big world outside. I look at the clouds lit by this magnficient Latvian sun slanting into our atmosphere.
‘I believe that inside she got stuck at a young age needing to get recognition and value for everything she does,’ see pauses. A bird floats in the distance, ‘…or rather seeking self value in the regard of others for what she has done.’
‘Well that pressure to maintain that external mask of perfection…’
‘Perfection! That old thing!’
‘Yes! Trying to maintain that image of perfection – which she has ingrained in her as a need in order to get (external) recognition and value – is too pressurising…if she lets go for a moment, maybe the inside will explode, the monsters within…’
‘The fear that she doesn’t deserve recognition or value…’
‘Or worse, will be rejected…’
‘Yes, that fear that maybe somehow her father was right…that she is worthless…’
‘Do no leave the box…’
‘You know I remember my father shouting at me, ‘YOU HAVE TO GET BACK INTO THE BOX!’’
Next meditation session I saw how my father and my brother are under the effects of intense pressure cookers, and that is why they shout so much when things are not being perfect. I suddenly have deep compassion for them. It must be horrible to live with all that inside and out. The fear. The pressure. The need to be right.
And I feel the pressure I felt on my head to try and make things perfect and smooth and not shouting (not that it happened often, it was always subjacent, almost invisible). I feel the pressure I still hold onto to be perfect and have a perfect life and have a perfect relationship and a perfect job and a perfect house and perfect everything while presently facing an absolute nothing of any of these.
Maybe then I will get recognition?
And I realised that all this craving for the perfect relationship was actually very sinister indeed: my monsters inside.
And I wondered, what is wrong with being wrong?
I remembered the complete disaster of an improvisation piece once. How I sat up on a toilet wall with 50 eyes on me watching my brain freeze, watching the intense discomfort of having nothing to say or do, with the terror of everyone seeing me as a failure, and sitting there, dangling my legs, sweating cold damp over my entire body and daring to look each person in the eyes. As I did so, as I lifted my heavy head I realised, ‘This is abject failure, and actually – it is not so bad. It really is not so bad. I can handle this…’
It was so liberating. So incredibly opening to the unknown. If failure is not a big deal, nothing is really a big deal.
And weirdly quite a few people came to me afterwards and said, ‘That was my favourite piece…’
‘What?’ I asked gasping
‘It was so raw…so real…what is in all of us.’
The reality of humanity: it is impossible to be a failure if we are honest about it.
And yet still I cling to be ‘right’.
And I come to the reasoning that I am afraid of the dark, of the unknown.
As simple as that.
Like, wow, simple.
How to calm this crazy mind?
Back to sensations in the thigh, knee, ankle, leg.
Image of me in a perfect relationship.
Back to sensations, each toe.