I’ve Gone to The Dark Side

Scared child

Image via Wikipedia

Want to know what happens when I don’t have the internet to distract me? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

I spent almost four days offline for Screen-Free Week. I also didn’t  schedule any posts because silly me thought I’d be my usual prolific self and I’d return online with more posts than I knew what to do with. I try to have a post up every two days. So, here I am panicking because it’s been two days since my last post and I got nuthin’. I haven’t written anything.

I have a bad feeling about this

I decided to meditate with a playful mind  on why I wasn’t writing. And I discovered I was choking on something that had to get out before I could write anything else. It was all this stuff.

When I was in my teens and early twenties, I starved myself because it was a way of controlling my emotions. I smoked a pack of cigarettes and drank a six pack of diet cokes a day. Maybe I would eat something if I thought I was going to faint. How my body also allowed me to be a runner, I’ll never know. But, it did rebel in other ways. I became amenorrheic, had a chronic cough, frequent migraines, panic attacks, depression, and risk-taking behavior. I was trying to live fast and get rid of everything because I didn’t believe I would be around to enjoy it for very long anyway. Actually, I was hoping I wouldn’t be around for very long to enjoy it.

I find your lack of faith disturbing

The end of my twenties into my thirties is a blur of something that must have been depression, but I honestly, I can’t remember much of anything about those years. I seems like one whiny ennui fit sprinkled with a few events like getting married and training to be a yoga teacher (for those from my real life reading this, please forgive me if I’m not mentioning anything else of significance during those years. It is not meant as disrespect)

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering

I began accumulating. I went from one project to the next to find something to catch my interest long enough to snap out of whatever had me in its jaws. Nothing did-except the Yoga. But, that comes in at the end (or is it the beginning?) Yoga stuck with me in its various forms. It waited for me to visit periodically to dip a toe into its vast pool of knowledge.

Then, I got stress fractures in my pelvis and thigh bone from overtraining for marathons. So, I gave up running and kept looking for the new “fix” to add. I also accumulated clothes because I was steadily outgrowing them. I had long ago quit the smoking, diet cokes, etc for organic fare. But, I was eating a lot of food, even while I was exercising and was physically, at least, healthy.

I had four children between 2006 and 2010. So, (and I really hate thinking this) I may have originally decided to have a child in order to fill me up and keep me busy. That idea certainly was corrected quickly once I became a mom.

But, here’s the funny thing. Those kids actually did the trick. Durn those kids, they have a way of making you face things you’d rather not! It’s taken five years for my thick head to get the message, but I finally think I may be sticking around for awhile. I’m finally taking the action of inaction. I don’t enjoy PPDemons and I’m tired of creating busy work to avoid them. Accumulating is not filling me up, it’s pinning me down.

Clear your mind must be, if you are to discover the real villains behind this plot

I’ve written about it here before and I’ll write about it again, I’m sure. I’ve been sitting with thoughts and feelings for three months instead of busily collecting the next new thing to distract me. For all the previous months that I “officially” had PPD, I was getting help, but it hasn’t been until the PPDemons started clearing out that I am able to see the clutter for what it really is.

When I have to face feelings, I feel like I’m going to break apart and scatter away in the wind. I don’t feel stable and centered enough to weather the inconstancies of life. The things I’ve accumulated are physical symbols I can point to and feel tied to the earth by. The experiences I’ve acquired are memories that prove I have substance to be here. My physical size literally surrounds my core being and keeps me weighted to the ground. I bump into things. I have to move my body around objects. I exist. I am real and solid. I can prove it. I have validity even when I can’t give myself permission to be here.

That’s a bit more to deal with than joining Weight Watchers or hiring a professional organizer to come in and toss my junk.

Do or Do Not, There is No Try

Now that I understand why I have all of this around myself, I can compassionately look at my body. I can compassionately look at my messy house.

Here’s where the Yoga comes in: Every time I look at a messy corner, I realize I’m looking at my Self. Every time I have to suck it in to button my jeans, I realize I’m buttoning in my Self. Not even the cruelest person in the world could say things to me that are as mean as what I think about myself.

My work in meditation is to delatch from the clutter I have created around my Self . I am recognizing that letting go of these things, gently and with self-compassion, will not cause me to fly apart. Just like I am not my thoughts and feelings, I am also not the things I have accumulated.

 Luke, I am Your Father

And Now for a bit of Parenting, because I always reflect upon how my examined and unexamined experiences enlighten mothering moments. With three little boys running around I sometimes feel overwhelmed and anxious. It is much the same feeling I have when I think about tackling my household clutter. I am not accumulating children, although that is a thought that makes me extremely uncomfortable for why I may have originally begun this parenting journey (always a red flag that something is unresolved to me) But, I find a tendency to want to buy them things or find a new activity that may keep them occupied and thus I won’t have to deal with them while feeling overwhelmed. See that pattern there?

Part of the reason I wanted to try out Screen-free Week was to declutter that mind-space and see if I could handle it. The kids don’t even have much screen-time as it is.  The idea of not having the option to use the tv was too much for me, even though we only watch one PBS show at breakfast and one PBS show or a movie at night. But, the real kicker was not being able to escape into words at the end of the day. It accumulated and by this morning, I was overwhelmed. Things I normally would have been more compassionate about were bothering me and I had an argument with my husband. I was short tempered with the kids and unmindful of their feelings. And I know it was because I was keeping my parenting anxieties bottled up instead of dealing with them. I hadn’t realized just how much I was pouring into my reading and writing until it was gone.

I had been worried about how the kids would do without the television so much that I didn’t consider how much being without my electronic outlet would affect me. I’m almost to the compassion tipping point for myself and once I’m there, I’ll be able to let it go. Then, I’ll get on to finding a balance between my need for versus my attachment to words.

And I know that I have unconditional love to receive from the outside until I can receive it from the inside.

The Force will be with you, always

In addition to meditating on my cluttered heart, I will also be addressing my Star Wars addiction.

Yoga Sutras: 1.3 and 1.4:

1.3 Then the Seer abides in Itself, resting in its own True Nature, which is called Self-realization.
(tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam)

1.4 At other times, when one is not in Self-realization, the Seer appears to take on the form of the modifications of the mind field, taking on the identity of those thought patterns.
(vritti sarupyam itaratra)

  • tada = then, at that time; at the time of concentration and meditation
  • drashtuh = the seer’s, of the soul, witness, Atman, Self; from the root drsh, which means to see (It is significant to note that Patanjali is not trying to define who is the seer, or the nature of that seer. This is left to be answered or resolved in direct experience.)
  • svarupe = in its own nature, own form  or essence; (sva = own; rupa = form)
  • avasthanam = stability, settling, remaining, being in a state, resting, standing, lying, abiding; the root stha means to stand
  • vritti = of the operations, activities, fluctuations, modifications, changes, or various forms (of the mind-field)
  • sarupyam = similarity, assimilation, appearance of, identification of form or nature, conformity with the shape of; the root sa means with, and rupa means form
  • itaratra = elsewhere, at other times, when not in that state of realization above

16 thoughts on “I’ve Gone to The Dark Side

  1. Wow. It is rare that I’ve come across someone else that seems to understand the starving oneself in relation to emotions. For me, it was… like cutting. I could hurt myself with no outward evidence.

    And children… they also give us a reason to live. I can understand why the idea of having them for the wrong reason may bother you, but they really do SAVE US. I wouldn’t have made it through my depression if it weren’t for my daughter. As much as I felt I couldn’t bear to go on with life, I more-so couldn’t bear the thought of copping out on her.

    Blogging can be so cathartic, such a release. And a place to find community and support as well. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today! I already replied to your comment there. 🙂

    • Thank you, Momma Jorje. Your comment is beautiful to me. Cutting and starving, yes exactly. You can still look “normal,” even good to most people. And I also don’t know that I would have made it this far if not for having kids. PPD not included, because that was a whole different ball o’ depression wax for me and I was convinced they’d be better off without me.

      And, yes, I’m immensely grateful for the internet community. I’m in awe of the talent and fearlessness out there. I love that I get to tickle a bit of it out with my finger tips

  2. Very nice post, Zoie. I’ve noticed in myself, when I want to cave, and I think, “I don’t care…” [insert, that this is unhealthy, that I skipped my workout, etc], that I might as well say “I don’t care about me.” It’s amazing what happens when we strip away the “stuff”.

    • Thanks, Katherine! Oh so true! I’m scared to strip away this stuff. I don’t know what I’ll find underneath. But, I’m doing it anyway. And if caving happens, it happens, right? It’s going to happen whether the band-aid gets ripped off or stays on-whichever brings more healing.

  3. Z,
    Thank you for writing this. It is beautiful and wonderful… and I am afraid I saw WAY too much of myself in those lines. I relate with so much of it that I as a reader felt slightly vulnerable. Thank you for sharing this and your journey with us. Thank you for putting thoughts into words that may hang out in my mind but skitter away when I start to recognize them. Thank you for your courage in not only facing those thoughts but in sharing them.

    • Thank you, Melissa. Your compliments mean the world to me. That’s one of the reasons I’m writing here instead of fulling notebooks (although I’m doing that, too) because we all respond and recognize ourselves in each other. I truly enjoy the unique thoughts that every person has. Just how you described “skitter away” has me enjoying a new aspect of this process.

  4. Every time I look at a messy corner, I realize I’m looking at my Self.

    Oh, yes. I have had many temper tantrums of shouting at my husband that whenever I look at the clutter in our apartment (which, after many, many years of slow, not-really-steady work, is almost clear now), I am looking at my own brokenness, my inability to cope with life.

    I’ve been sitting with thoughts and feelings for three months instead of busily collecting the next new thing to distract me.

    Seems to me that the sitting has been a powerful experience for you. Many blessings.

    • Thank you, Rachel. It feels so good to know I’m not the only one who recognizes this. Also, I appreciate the tantrum comment. I didn’t realize that’s exactly what I do when everything builds up and then duh! I read a parenting book that described tantrums in language that resonated. It’s kind of hard to admit that as an adult I still have them. It’s helping me rethink tantrums as a necessity instead of something to be eliminated.

  5. I wish I lived near you. I would beg you to do private tutoring for me in yoga and meditation. Would it be ok if I paid you in baked goods and produce from my garden? lol ; )
    My husband has commented frequently to me after starting my blog that it has seemed to help me. I live in a very small community of wonderful people but unfortunately very few of them share my main interest or my parenting style. It really has been very helpful writing, it seems to help me organize all these thoughts that normally just bounce around my head.

    • Thank you, Sasha. Wouldn’t that be awesome! I still think that crunchy global commune is the answer one day. Free yoga and meditation for everyone! I’d say I’d love the produce, but I’d covet the baked goods. lol

      I’m fortunate to live in a basket of crunchy mumchies-Northern California, after all. So, I’ve got lots of acceptance IRL. But, it is the writing and reading online that taps some part of me that I can’t seem to access IRL. I’m very grateful to have both ❤

  6. You make me think of so many deep things and then end it all with a smile. I have to say – I’m so very glad I found you and your writing Zoie…I’m right with you in many ways, and you are helping me also to see myself and offer kindness. So thank you. Thank you for sharing your stories and your thoughts. I hope the best results for you…

  7. Z-

    I’m not afraid of what happens when you don’t have the internet to turn to. It was a little odd not having your online presence during those days, but you used the time to great advantage. It seems to me you’ve done some incredible self reflection and have accessed a great deal of power. This post, dear friend, is Powerful.

    I’m glad to have you back, and I’m glad you had this time to reflect.

    (And I love the Star Wars references!)


    • Thank you, CJ. I”m very glad to be back, too. I often take a day or two offline each month to defrag (I don’t announce it like I did this time.) But, four days with no screens and I think I was getting a bit twitchy. I have to admit that I cheated slightly when I needed to check google maps for an address and then one night I completely forgot I was offline and was tweeting until dh reminded me. Ha!

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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