Monday, July 21, 2008
Enlightenment With A Pickaxe
I've been reading this Radical Acceptance book and one thing that really strikes me is that you can accept bad feelings. Whoa nelly, hold the horses, drop your chaps and call me a rodeo clown. I had no idea.
My main way of dealing with negative feelings is to talk myself out of them. I feel bad, I tell myself, "You're fine." I feel bad some more, I tell myself, "You're honestly fine." I feel worse, I tell myself, "Knock it off, you're fine." I do it over and over again and then I feel sort of numb, which is better than "bad" and I've presumed this must be the elusive "fine" everyone's always preaching about.
This Tara Brach lady who wrote Radical Acceptance suggests just recognizing you feel lousy if you feel lousy. Recognize it, accept it, sit with it. So I guess this morning I'll just sit with my lousy feeling rather than tell myself I don't feel lousy. My concern is that I know damn well I can talk myself into a pit of misery. I learned it from my mother.
My way of rebelling has been a stubborn optimism and a refusal to quit. Fuck depression, fuck anxiety, fuck every bad feeling, they're not going to get the best of me. I've gotten through life just based on pure resilience and determination to not be like my mother. But the trouble is, I still get the sneaking suspicion that something's not right.
You can only tamp it all down for so long and for so many times before you just flip the switch and say, "Fuck it, I'm not happy! God dammit! I've been doing everything right! Fuck a duck! Damn sam! Screw it all! I'm pissed!" And then you want to kick something.
I prefer puppies, but there aren't any handy.
So maybe I'll try something different. The Brach lady suggests just naming how you are feeling. Just a list of feelings and emotions, a list of things you don't have to contradict or judge. Just spill it. I'll try, but I suspect this is going to be hard for me, because I usually like to edit things and make them just a little bit better.
Oh. That last word suprised me. My therapist once told me that depression is anger unexpressed. Dammit, am I pissed? Because if I'm pissed, that's going to piss me off. Dammit. Fuck a duck.
Well shoot. I feel better. Lighter. Oh my god, like a weight has been taken off my shoulders. Is this insane? Can it be this easy? Is it possible that the simple act of NOT telling myself I'm not feeling bad has made me feel better?
Sometimes I look back over the last nineteen years of my fumblings with buddhist practice and I remind myself more of a crazed girl swinging a pickaxe than the peaceful buddha sitting under the bodhi tree.
Turns out I'm not fine.
Turns out I'm mad.
And I'm not exactly sure why. The funny thing is, that doesn't seem to matter so much. It just feels better to know I'm mad, and to feel the smooth wood handle of the pickaxe as it swings.