I’m letting inspiration guide my writing at the moment .. and ‘learning to feel’ is a lesson I am currently learning .. to become aware of and open with my feelings. In my household growing up, joyful and happy feelings were much appreciated .. while painful emotions caused deep distress or disconnect. So I learnt to cut off from my emotions. Over time I made a virtue of it. It was a case of mind over matter.
Such a strategy developed in early childhood isn’t likely to carry us through life without any hiccups. My cutting off from feelings, along with a cutting off from needs, also made me need to cut off from people. And while I managed ‘on my own’ for more than 42 years .. it came to take me down through a spiralling circle of confusion and escapism. What helped me to come out of my pit of despair was the realisation that I needed to connect with people and speak out.
I started a new job today. The goal is to support aged people to live at home, though my work experience is at a nursing home. In a lovely twist this work is, for me, about independence and connection at the same time. It feels like the next step in an upward spiral I’ve been on. I am very protective of my time and energy and have always been resistant to working with people too much lest my energy get completely drained. But I’m discovering that learning to be present to my own needs and feelings (which I never have been) .. and practicing being in my body and grounding myself (another thing I haven’t been conscious to do) is how I can be with people and stay open but not allow myself to get lost in the process.
And talking of lost .. which I now discover is an offshoot from cutting off from emotions .. I’ve been thinking about how I have spent my whole life feeling lost and constantly searching for an answer that explains life, the universe and everything. And my biggest breakthroughs around being lost have been:
1996-ish : bushwalking in Kakadu when I got completely lost and by connecting inward to intuition (due to extreme urgency) – and found my way back in a magical way.
2001-ish – Landmark Education course – discovered ‘my act’ was “I don’t know”. When discovered this, the flash of insight about how I’d almost driven myself crazy with getting stuck in loops in my thinking. For some weeks after the realisation and clarity, I felt confident, I knew what I wanted, I felt at peace, my constant hesitation had a rest.
2014 : discovered the Enneagram and felt like my understanding of people all fell into place. It felt like a mind blowing experience and has brought me a lot of peace. I guess I feel less lost and confused now that I can understand better how and why people respond to the world in different ways .. and it also gave me a lot more compassion for myself and how I had experienced the world.
2016: started opening up about my thoughts and feelings to a friend, and this has been a really clarifying and liberating experience. Also talking to a psychologist who is helping me to make sense of my world and my life. For the first time I started to feel what I wanted, and ask for it.
It seems that returning to feelings is my pathway to having direction in my life. And it makes sense really .. because when I just thought about how directions feel when disconnected from feelings I had a vision of a person with a crazy scramble of thoughts happening in his head. And, well, moving ultimately happens with the body, not the head .. so moving to the senses makes sense.
I have two weeks, as of tomorrow, with a job placement with early mornings. It’s only for a short time .. but it is bound to be a big shock to my system. I’ll be started work before I’d normally even be awake. It feels like a baptism of fire. I guess I’ll have to start having early nights. I have a sense it could be what I need to properly shift me into a healthier and more productive lifestyle (i.e. going to bed earlier and waking up earlier). And I have some huge resistance to ‘conforming’ .. though it is only temporary. I’m starting to see how I have resistance to ‘having’ to do anything or to having to do things the way someone else tells me. And of course I’ve done plenty of both .. but my point is that I see that as a response to my childhood (I think my nature defied conformity) and it is a pattern, or a blueprint, that I am carrying with me. And I have an opportunity to have a different experience .. simply by bringing consciousness to the situation.
And so .. life becomes an adventure .. so long as I keep throwing myself into it. When I withdraw I have lots of fun mind adventures .. but ultimately there is an emptiness. By being in life I am confronted with feelings of pain and discomfort .. and I think it is the memory of the emptiness and a sense of hope that has me push through the swamp .. and conscious of the fact that in the muck, is life.
I will sign off for now ..
Onward march ..