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? Not really.

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. I hadn’t gotten it at all.

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?

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

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Forgiveness Doesn’t Mean Being Okay With Something

kissandmakeup

I was 26 when my boyfriend almost killed me.

Two months after meeting him, he wrapped my Jeep Wrangler around a telephone pole with me, unseatbelted and drunk, in the passenger seat. After losing my sight and my hearing, feeling my hair fall out and half my face droop with palsy, undergoing multiple surgeries and spending months in the hospital…I married him. That’s young love for ya.

Traumatic brain injury helped.

How does a couple overcome something like that–my ruined body, his dark passenger of  guilt, and the specter of morbidity hanging over us both?

We buried it, of course.

Afterall, we deserved to be happy just like any other two idiots, madly in love. How could one whoopsie daisy destroy us?

But, it lurked underneath every minute of every day, an oozing cancer. Unfortunately, the past couldn’t remain tucked away, because I had permanent injuries that just wouldn’t shut up no matter how hard I tried to ignore them. And once young love wore off and my rose colored glasses cleared, it wasn’t long before nagging thoughts of, “But, you’re just fine. How nice,” and, “What really did happen that night,” and the most ridiculous, “Hey. You never even replaced my jeep,” began to surface.

It got worse from there. The whoopsie daisy polished every smudge in our marriage to obscene high definition.

Years later at one of many marriage counseling sessions, after describing the car accident to Dr. B, he said to me, “It sounds like you’ve got a lot of forgiving to do.”

That sounded accusatory.

What? That’s bullshit, what did I do? I’m the one who was maimed here. Affronted, I choked out something like, “How can I do that? How can I ever be okay with what happened?”

“Forgiving doesn’t mean being okay with something,” he told me. “If everything were okay, there would be no need to forgive.”

“Well…what is forgiveness, then?”

His answer was groundbreaking for me, and I’m sure I’m romanticizing it now, since I’ve thought about it so much–turned it over in my my mind, unpacked it and refolded it a million times since. I’ll try to paraphrase the message faithfully: “Forgiveness is letting go of the pain a person or event causes you. You’re the one holding onto it. You’re the one who has to let go of it.”

Dr. B was blunt like that, and I usually hated him for it. Yet, this time he rang the right bell. So, this was all about my brilliant mind. The mind that had clearly fucked up my own life, in my own power. Well then, at least I had some control.

To let go of the pain I would have to face it first, though.

“That sounds pretty difficult,” I admitted.

“Well. What’s the alternative?”

Indeed.

That sent me on a mission for answers. I had to forgive and I was in this alone. How could I be not okay with something Mr. X did, but still not let it hurt me?

I studied Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Tantra. Religion isn’t my strong suit, since I was raised an Atheist and I have a natural aversion to authority of any kind. I tried my darndest, though. I went to psychics and mystics, learned to meditate and connect to Source, faithfully took up Kundalini Yoga (nearly lost my mind doing that at first). I had my Akashic records read, listened to my soul council, tuned my chakras, cured my allergies, wrote two books, and even started making art again.

Over the years, I began to realize that I was not hurt at all by that fateful event. Not in the long run, in terms of the cosmos. In fact, I would’ve never experienced the richness of my life as I then knew it, had I not been so broken when I was 26. Forget that soulless beauty I used to be. If I hadn’t had my skull smashed, I might not ever have found the beauty within. I didn’t even blame Mr. X any longer. He was the agent of a great change in me, and possibly a divine agent of Karma. There are no accidents.

So, slowly and incrementally…I began to forgive.

The flip side to that was an unfortunate and unexpected byproduct, however. In all this soul searching, I had changed and Mr. X had not followed suit. And from my new hard won standpoint of a meditative, forgiving mind, I began to question if remaining in the marriage wasn’t more like martyrdom.

What a Catch-22! I seek forgiveness to save my marriage and forgiveness is the very thing that must end it! Was this a cosmic joke?

Suddenly, the tables were turned and I was no longer the wounded, but the one wielding the ax. Afterall, I had learned to accept Mr. X for who he was, flaws and all, and I loved him as a person and a friend, even if I didn’t see a lifelong partnership as viable any longer. The resentment was gone, but guilt had taken its place. I was a nervous wreck with all the sifting and sorting. How could I do this horrible thing that I had to do? How did I become the evil one with a dark passenger?

I went back to Dr. B for more marriage counseling, hoping to find help in ending it peacefully.

With snot running down my lips and a wad of soaked tissues in my clenched fist, I babbled something like, “What if marriage isn’t the right thing for me in this case? I think I’ve learned to forgive, but that doesn’t make Mr. X my partner until death does us part, does it? I think I made a mistake. I’d rather die than go on like this.”

Stone faced, he replied, “My main goal is to keep the marriage intact.”

“No matter what?”

“That’s my goal.”

And that’s when I realized the true meaning of forgiveness. I had to forgive myself and I was in this alone. I was going to break people and ruin lives. How could I be not okay with what I meant to do, but still not let it hurt me?

Well. What’s the alternative?

Indeed.

This was Mean Greeting Card #2. To see the others in this series, go HERE.

Thanks for liking, commenting, and following!  Visit my contact page HERE for social network links, or sign up for my mailing list HERE to be the first to see new work.