Afraid of My Own Subconscious

You just can’t rush the healing process, no matter how annoying it is for friends and family.

I was dismayed when my best friend gradually stopped returning my texts. When my old boyfriend, who I had always assumed was still in love with me and would always listen to my whining, finally bowed out, too. And you know you’re in trouble when even your mother says things like, “God, why can’t you just get ever this already?” The general consensus seemed to tip-toe around this sentiment: You wanted to get divorced. Now you’re divorced. Be happy now.

In hindsight, alienating myself from my confidants was the perfect remedy because it forced me to talk to myself. Wow, I annoyed myself, too. Yes, why couldn’t I just get over it?

My crocodile began to emerge as what it really was, once I cared to look. It was my subconscious and I was terrified of it. I had read enough about the havoc that beast can wreak in all the self-help books I devoured in a panic over the last several months.

In What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, Shad Helmstetter, Ph. D. said I’m telling myself all kinds of negative, destructive self-talk all day long. Most of this I picked up when I was a tiny child and my subconscious has accepted it as truth. Often it wasn’t meant to be harmful: “Be careful, you’ll hurt yourself!” “No, you can’t do that.” Of course, sometimes it was plain mean, though. “You’ll never get into college with a C. They’re gonna laugh.” “You’re a big fat yeast roll.” That last one was adapted from the Quincy’s Family Steakhouse theme song by my older sister, who was very skinny. Yes, she actually sang it to me.

In Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz, M.D. told me that 99.5% of the population has unresolved emotional scars from the past which produce the agonizing pain of defeat, failure, frustration and loneliness.

In Healing Back Pain, John Sarno, M. D. talks about deeply repressed anger from childhood causing tension myositis syndrome, which can manifest as everything from sciatica to asthma.

These books were all illuminating and helpful to me, and I do believe that repressed gunk needs to come up and out in order to truly heal, yet I started to see my own subconscious as an enemy. The tragedy of this was highlighted in a surprising way, and the moment of revelation was one I’ll never forget.

At the Kadampa Buddhist Center I attend, we always begin with a breathing meditation. You follow your breath in and out and try not to think of anything else. If you need imagery to do that, you can imagine all your tension and distractions gathering together in the center of your body, in the form of dark smoke. On your out breath, you dispel it. Simple, right? Kind of. After about a year of doing this very meditation, I realized that I was forcing my breath in and out. Controlling it’s flow, instead of following it.

Then one fine day, after I had become the crocodile with no one to kiss my false tears, I was able to actually DO the breathing meditation! Finally. Instead of actively breathing, I sat and watched myself breathe. It felt like a balloon being filled and emptied automatically, without any will of my own. And…it wasn’t “me” doing it. It wasn’t my conscious mind doing this benevolent thing called breathing, to keep me alive. My subconscious was keeping me, my ego, “Sarah,” alive.

Wait. My subconscious is benevolent? Yes. What a beautiful, steady, trustworthy part of myself. Suddenly, I had real, wet, salty tears running down my face. How had I been attempting self-love, like all the self-help books say, all those agonizing months since the divorce, without loving the most faithful part of me?

I feel some inner child work coming on.

This was Mean Greeting Card #4. To see the others in this series, go HERE.

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