Yesterday: A Sobering Day To Savor And Learn From
Meditation, Daily Review, and Coffee Time – Wednesday, May 8, 2013 — reflecting on Tuesday’s events…
Many things floated up in my mediation time this morning – today’s daily review of all that yesterday brought, and contemplating the meaning and lessons in it all. In the end I could only say that it was another sobering day, a day taking me closer to seeing and accepting who I really am – merely and utterly human. Here was the litany of what floated up…
Three weeks ago I took delivery of a 2012 TSX Sports Wagon with 21,000 miles on it – Tech Package included of course. It replaced my 2005 TSX, which had 210,000 miles on it, a “rational decision” to trade in the old for the new it seemed, with all the driving I do. I thought I was not particularly attached to the “new” vehicle (it’s just a car to get around in after all), however I was aware that I enjoyed having it – though it will take a while to figure out how everything works. So yesterday morning on my way to meet brother Paul for coffee at Panera Bread I was backing out of my garage only to hear a “clumpity clump” noise. I stopped the car half way out of the garage. I got out to look around and to my utter amazement the fireplace log I was using as a tire stop had somehow stuck to the left front tire and wedged its way between the left front fender and the tire as the tire rolled back. Try as I might I could not remove the log. So I got back in and drove the car forward – carefully. The log came out, but the fender was damaged along the wheel well. Not a big deal, but I was amazed at how frustrated and disappointed I was about this freak accident to my new vehicle – and for no reason that I could think of for stupid behavior on my part. Today I took it to a body shop to see what “just touching this up a bit” might cost. Two options: Fix it right ($1,400) or buy $6.00 worth of touch-up paint and live with a few imperfections. The latter choice was a no-brainer.
But during the day yesterday I noticed how this experience affected me, finding myself far more invested in the outcome than I would have thought for “just a car.” Certainly there are bigger issues in life to occupy my mind than my car! Am I not at a higher state of consciousness, a state of consciousness that would allow me to just get on with the day unaffected by “just a car”? But I also was struck by the freakiness of the event. How could this happen – a log rolling with the tire and jamming up under the fender? Impossible for me to visualize afterwards let alone anticipate as a possibility. The weirdness of this all was as if Spirit was trying to get my attention, revealing to me an attachment about which I had been in denial. I am attached to my new car – part of my being “merely and utterly human.” Yes, my dinged car is a problem, but a beautiful problem, allowing me to see myself on a more truthful level – I am not as far developed as I had thought. I really like my car!
All of the above happened leading up to a great coffee time conversation with my brother Paul. We talked about many things, mostly family, business and technology kinds of things. I noticed that I wasn’t engaging deeply with Paul. Something was missing. Often our talks concern the meaning of life and death, or Spirit, or the Bible, or Pathwork. But not this day, and I noticed a disappointment. Again, we were “merely and utterly human,” perhaps.
This 90-minute sharing with my brother was followed by my somatic counseling session with Ed Gutfreund. I was looking forward to this session. My presenting problem: (Of course) my challenge with feelings – especially my “connecting feelings” (or rather lack thereof) with others, still …, again … I noted to Ed that my “ought-to-feel” feelings toward others were blocking my real feelings toward others. So caught up was I about how I should feel toward Mom, Dad, my kids, my grandkids, my colleagues in Mid-Atlantic Pathwork, in the larger Pathwork community, and in other organizations, toward my counselors, even and especially Pat, and, I told Ed, my feelings toward Ed himself. I could not allow myself to feel how I honestly felt regarding various dimensions of my life that Ed always helped me explore, and instead my mind would busy itself trying to figure out how to answer some of his questions of exploration. Just responding honestly about my feelings, especially in regard to my feelings relating to others, was not seemingly an option for me. In fact it was made impossible by not being aware of what my feelings really are in relationships, never mind sharing them with Ed. Certainly some fear in all of this – and that is a feeling of course – but what beyond that? Ed: So you miss the experience of connecting because of the “oughts” of connecting? Gary: Yes, that’s right.
We went to his massage table. As I lay there he tucked a pillow under my knees, placed a towel beneath my head, and invited me to feel into the sensation of the table supporting me. Slowly I could relax into the table, allowing the table with its pillow and towel to carry me. Ed: How do you feel when you allow the table to carry you? Gary: I feel safe, relaxed. Ed: Just take that in. We can spend some time here. … And we did. … Ed: Can you relate to the table that is supporting you? … Can you sense you are one-with the table? Gary: Yes, amazingly, I can. Ed: What feeling arises as you sense that you are one-with the table? Gary: I feel safe, as if in Mother’s arms – though that is not an experience I can remember having with Mom.
Ed: There is more here than just the table. The table sits on the floor. We are in this half of my office. You are breathing air in this half of the room. Can you expand your oneness to include your breath and your surroundings beyond the table? Gary: Yes I can. … long pause … Ed: You are not here alone. I am here with you. Can you expand your oneness to include me? What feelings arise? Gary: [I noticed some fear in me as Ed asked this question about relating to him – a question I assumed would be coming – but somehow I quickly relaxed into the question] This is an amazing realization. In all of this it is not as if I feel safe enough to drop into oneness. Rather I first sense the oneness, and then out of oneness arises a deep feeling of safety. I thought I would have to feel safe enough with you to experience oneness with you, but it is the other way around: I experience a oneness with you and then out of that experience of oneness I notice that I feel safe, at home, if you please.
This summarizes an hour-long session with Ed, and of course there was much more, many nuances. By the end, getting a taste of what is possible, I was deeply aware of the degree of my attachment avoidance disorder – my lifelong avoidance of attachment as holding any kind of value for me. I find value in many things and in many aspects of my life, but in some way I do not truly value attachment to others. Pretty sad, and scary!
As the session ended Ed shared how meaningful it is for him to be with me on this journey into myself in these deep places. I was glad. Ed: Your comment about safety coming out of an experience of oneness was brilliant. [As I took in Ed’s statement, inwardly I was glad to be thus affirmed].
However as I sat with this in meditation and daily review this morning I noticed more. Ed’s sharing yesterday during our session about how somehow my comment about safety arising out of oneness was “brilliant” had immediately brought me out of oneness into a familiar sense of separateness. How so? I am so easily seduced by having positive qualities that others affirm in me that I mistake these well-intended positive mirrorings as something that makes me “better” than I had been just being in a state of oneness with the other. I am so addicted to connecting-by-being-somehow-great that any positive (or disparaging of course) comment is hooked onto by my pride. Pride immediately pulls me out of the connection I long for – love. I long for the love of oneness, the safety of oneness, the support of oneness. This is an amazing realization about my patterns of identity – always going for separateness rather than unity.
This explains so much about my playground experience with classmates in grade school – my sense of not belonging – that I carried into all of my adult years. Friendship, true friendship, has not been possible for me from this place of separateness. I see that, and it both saddens and scares me. Will I ever heal from this attachment avoidance disorder? I am eager to take this on with Pat in our counseling with Sage and Anthony, with my helper Moira, further with Ed, and in the DARe workshop coming up in June that is focusing on this very issue.
What next in my “Oh So Sobering Day”? Other separating things came up in my daily review and meditation. I wanted so badly to prepare a blog entry from my session with Moira last Thursday, but in 5 days had not really take the time to do so – caught up in my busy life of stuff – some business consulting, then more than expected Mid-Atlantic Pathwork stuff. The latter had overly filled much of my weekend. And regarding the Mid-Atlantic Pathwork stuff I worked on over the weekend, while I had sought engagement on where we were on a number of key topics, my email was silent from those with whom I needed to engage. So my messy life with Mid-Atlantic Pathwork remained – and realizing that here I am, as with Ed, blocked off from connecting. My connecting with Mid-Atlantic Pathwork colleagues seems mostly to center on what things I check off my “TO DO” list for others in this organization. And I keep it this way – safe, or, should I say, pseudo-safe.
Next came a brief encounter with Kierkegaard. His book, The Sickness Unto Death – A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening, arrived yesterday, and just prior to meditation this morning I was drawn to his prayer on an early page: “Lord, give us weak eyes for things of little worth, and eyes clear-sighted in all of your truth.” This fit right in to my day of yesterday – first with the car incident, then with so much business stuff, though enticingly interesting, with Paul, the Mid-Atlantic Pathwork activities, and, later in the day, a business consulting engagement I enjoy. However these are distractions. Why cannot I stick to my growth, my integration via writing and sharing in this blog and in my one-to-one engagements with others in various venues, especially my time with Pat and my various counselors – aren’t these areas where I want to be “clear-sighted,” and have “weak eyes” for all the other stuff? I also noticed that I was favorably impacted by Kierkegaard’s prayer to the Lord – this was not some atheistic humanist. I like the way he works with the Bible.
Moving right along… Last night put the icing on the cake of sobering me up in regard to my attachment avoidance issues. For reasons that are not clear our next Netflix movie which had come earlier in the day yesterday was the French movie A Heart in Winter. Neither Pat nor I could remember why we were drawn to this movie, but upon watching it it seemed meant for me, and watching it unnerved me. This video is about a man who is extreme in his Attachment Avoidance Disorder. It was painful to watch, made more so by the exquisite performances of the lead characters and superb directing. (See reviews on Amazon). I could feel the pain of Stephane, the lead who would not allow himself to be in any kind of relationship, even a friendship. My pain was realizing that too many times I am right there with him – isolated in my own inner world.
At this point Pat joined me for coffee time. I shared all that was arising in me, in my grand daily review/meditation. Pat: With regard to your session with Ed and your experience with the A Heart in Winter, it is so good that you can slow these scenes down and really see where you are, to recognize your glomming onto separateness and the pain it can bring to yourself and to others. Gary: And even there I do not believe I can feel the full brunt of the pain that is in me in my isolation, let alone the pain my isolation brings others. It’s like I know the safety of being separate and know how to have some satisfaction in life from that separated place. But intellectually I realize it is a pseudo-safety – not really the safety I felt in my oneness with the table in Ed’s office, or later with Ed himself. And the satisfaction is what Pathwork Lecture 210 Visualization Process for Growing into the Unitive State describes (in ¶30) as “Gray Satisfaction” – far from the fulfillment that is possible in life. “… you fear pleasure, which becomes more frightening than the grayness you still wish for and create, a grayness of neither pleasure nor pain. You often want to painstakingly preserve this state of grayness without knowing that you do so. It is a grayness which gives you comfort, but in the long run leaves you empty.” Such was the life of Stephane in the movie – settling for grayness, terrified of love. It was so sad to watch because I could so relate to him.
Pat: Thanks, Gary, for your good work in this lifetime – yes, you had quite a day yesterday. Kierkegaard’s prayer is perfect for an Enneagram THREE – seeking truth above all. I am very admiring of your courage and determination for really looking at the hard stuff that’s here. That’s inspiring for me! You often say that I lead the way in in our spiritual journey, but I want to acknowledge your leadership too. Gary: Perhaps it is a dance we are in, a dance in mutuality – sometimes you lead, sometimes I lead. This feels very healthy.
Pat: Again I say it: “Our work is for the benefit of all sentient beings, for the benefit of all the Universe.” You and I give priority in our time and money for our inner work, including our work with Sage and Anthony, you with Moira and Ed, both of us going to the DARe Attachment Disorder workshop the weekend after you come back from Erena’s Graduate Program – and then both of us going out for our intensive with Sage and Anthony the last weekend in June. That’s a lot – but these are our priorities. And the Universe will provide and meet us there. If we have to give up our home here on 146 Miami Lakes Drive to do these things so be it. However we cannot give up the infrastructure that supports us! I often go back to my “Birthday Poem” compiled by Joe Riley from the words of Joseph Campbell (open). (Note: Pat receives material from Joe Riley regularly – this came on April 16, her 67th birthday.) Such was my 7th day of May, 2013, and reviewing, sharing, and savoring it on 8th of May. Much to take in and appreciate.
Shared in love, Gary