Saturday, June 20, 2009
Wherever you are right now is perfect. This story ends with a tattoo.
I was walking in to my treatment the other day at Tamara’s new space, and there is a sign outside that says “The Still Point”. As I walked by it, I smiled, because I recently was reading about this concept in Myofascial Release, and I love it.
The Still Point.
I walked on.
The Dead Point.
I walked on.
Suddenly, things started plugging in for me, I walked down the stairs into Tamara’s office.
“How are you?” She asked. I smiled at her and held up my hand.
“Hang on, I’m having an epiphany…”
“Oh, okay!” She said and headed into the room to prep.
I thought about the Still Point in MFR…
“The therapist, using the myofascial unwinding process, acts as a facilitator, following the body’s inherent motions. When a significant position is attained, the craniosacral rhythm will shut down to a still point. During the still point, a reversible amnesia surfaces, replaying all of the emotional states that occurred during a past traumatic event.” (For the full article, click here.)
I love this concept that things can only come out when you gently and patiently achieve a still point.
I thought about the Dead Point in climbing…
The dead point is when, for instance in a dynamic move in climbing, your body has stopped going up and has yet to begin traveling down. This is the optimal time to close your hand around the hold. In this way, your body continually travels up, without shocking or loading the tendon, the grasp occurring just at the moment when all is still or dead…
I thought about the present moment, the moment in meditation when your mind is miraculously still and all is quiet, time slows down because there is no time, just this moment, and the next, ultimately present, you experience your world in a vivid and extra real way.
This felt like the beginning of some sort of thought that I needed to follow, this felt like a sign post to me, little connections about the still point, about things happening when you stop trying to make them happen, but allow or facilitate the unwinding, the opening, the movement, and sometimes, stillness, the lack of movement, being in this moment is what you are looking for. Trying to rush ahead to the conclusion, we so often miss whats going on, the possibilities of the now…
This wasn’t new, again, I feel like I stumble across permutations of this concept every couple of weeks, and I realize, oh, its that same thing…
But then again, the things I struggle with are often the “same thing” just on another level of understanding. I’m struggling right now with ideas of being alone, what it means to truly sever. To be single, but to let go of everything and not need a new string to hold on to, just to be, in the still point.
I’m struggling quite a bit with it, and because of that, related issues that affect my ultimate goal, keeping focus on training my body so it can perform to its potential in 1046 days at Tryouts, are flaring up.
My relationship with food has been challenging to say the least since the season ended in April. I’ve gained and lost 10 pounds in May and again in June. (And we are only half way through June.) Along with that journey comes a lot of fear, a lot of sabotage and a lot of judgment.
I have finally found that I am able to not crucify myself when my life gets so crazy that I can’t stay on a strict training program. I have finally found some grace for myself there, and I feel today like I’m inching toward a new understating, everything I’ve been hung up on seems to be unwinding since this crazy epiphany began it all.
Let me back up a bit. The morning of this day, Thursday, started out with me being very tired, having for some reason not slept well the night before. I backed the Bronco into the pasture fence and broke the tailgate and exploded the rear window. I was running late, so I drove into town and parked under a tree hoping it wouldn’t rain in the truck.
I went in to a long counseling session, in which my amazing therapist challenged me to examine some things that I’ve been looking at, but not really looking at deeply enough. She held me accountable on some tough stuff, which shook the foundation. This is a good thing. This is the point of therapy, this is the way I like therapy. No bull, to the point, face the issue, then, sit with it, look at it, and see where it leads you. Usually it leads you through fear and into the sunlight, but sometimes the fear is very dark, and all your coping mechanisms scream at you when you head that way. That’s usually a cue for me that I’m doing the right thing…
So here I am, leaving counseling and realizing that I’m in crisis. It’s a quiet crisis, but its there nonetheless. I feel alone right now. I feel afraid to look at what is going on in my life, at the opportunities to practice being okay with being alone, to truly experience being completely, totally on my own. Alone.
Looking at that, I realize that this is my oldest, most frightening “bad place”, I recognize all the coping that has hung on needing to feel NOT alone, not abandoned, not spinning through space… and I’ve healed, I’ve come so so so very far in the last five years since I recognized the major source of trauma in my life, and asked him politely to leave.
And now, here I am, a calmer, stronger, more sure person, who has shed so much coping. I feel comfortable in my skin. I’ve learned to spend time alone, but not to feel alone and be okay with it… does that make any sense?
Alright. So here we are again, its Thursday, the next thing after counseling was a two hour Myofascial tutoring session, in which I was the body being worked on. We did lots of deep but gentle techniques, diaphragm unwindings and such, and now that's over, and I travel to Tamara's new space, and we are in the body work session, and Tamara, of course, immediately picks up that there is stuff going on.
I missed my massage session last week, and my body has been hurting in a way that medication can't touch.
She works myofascialy. I refuse to let go for the first time that we’ve worked together. I’m pushing, I’m asking myself to let go. My body hurts, and I want to let go and feel better.
I’m demanding, I’m frustrated, I’m breathing, my body hurts and I can’t seem to relax and let the work happen. Tamara stays grounded and slows down. I let go of the idea of being able to let go and identify what the fuck is going on with me today, write it off to being premenstrual, and resign myself to the fact that I’m an over sensitive, ridiculous person.
I tell Tamara “I feel very alone.”
She tells me, “I know. But remember that we are never truly alone.” Internally, I roll my eyes at her. That’s not what I wanted to hear. I wanted her to tell me that one day, I will be able to stay connected in a vital way, that I won’t scare away the person I love with my lack of fear about feeling, experiencing and giving love. I want her to tell me its going to be okay.
She tells me that its okay to feel fear, because that’s what I’m feeling right now.
I tell her that where I am is scary. She tells me to remember that wherever we are in our life is perfect in that moment.
I roll my eyes internally at her again. I’ve heard her say this before, and sometimes I can wrap my mind around it, and sometimes I can’t. Today, it feels like a load of crap, because where I am does not feel perfect. It feels dangerous and scary to my soul. Because it feels alone and unknown. We used to call this place “the big bad”. And when I approached the Big Bad, I’d tell Tom, and he’d make sure that I didn’t feel alone. He’d triage it, STAT. Because that’s what I thought I needed.
Keep me from feeling the scary thing.
But today, I was feeling alone, because no one was saving me. The people I trust who mentor me were not pushing me, but not towing me to safely either. I was left floating in it, just as I needed to be.
Because in this moment, I was feeling whatever I needed to feel. Where I was was perfect. I just wasn’t seeing it.
Something shifted suddenly, I had resigned myself to feeling scared, which I guess means I’d unknowingly accepted where I was. I was overwhelmed with what I felt coming, and rather than just letting go, as I’d been able to do in the past, I clamped down and held it in as much as possible. I was not. Going. To. Cry.
After the session, Tamara left, and I fell apart. Cried all over her table. Frustrated, scared. Felt stupid for not letting it go in session, felt greedy about processing my shit during body work, felt needy, felt lacking for feeling scared. Felt angry for not being okay being alone. Felt angry at my past for setting me up to be scared of being truly alone.
Do these things sound judgmental to you? They sure do to me!
I wandered out all puffy eyed and looked at Tamara. She smiled at me, like I was normal. I smiled a watery smile back at her.
Then, I headed to my space to give a massage. I was worried on my way over there what in the world I could possibly do for the person I was going to work on. I felt exhausted, but oddly at peace, like something was shifting, like there was some new understanding surfacing. I looked at the sign on my way to my truck. The still point, it said.
I went through the ritual of preparing my room for my client, warming the space with candles, incense, the hot packs, the towels, the tea made, the music on, a few moments of meditation, just feeling the breath, sitting on the old creaky oak floor, just getting out of my scared monkey mind and into the present, this moment where a body would lay on my table and I would connect to it, feel, and facilitate, just as Tamara had for me.
It didn't matter that all THAT had just happened, and was happening inside, that was one part of this present moment. The other part was that life was going on all around me. Other people were hurting. Other people were happy. The stylists were doing hair, Amanda was on the phone, there was a kid sitting on a skateboard. It was time for my client's massage.
I left my doubt behind and went into my session, and just lived under my hands for ninety minutes. It was a good session.
Acceptance for where I am seems to be compassion toward myself, and it gives me just enough space to be able to extend compassion to the person I am with.
After the session, I headed over to Third Chapter Tattoo in Bozeman, to meet with Chad for the third time. It was time to get a new tattoo.
I half hoped he’d have something come up, and wouldn't be able to do it. I wasn’t sure I was in a place where I could make a permanent decision about my body. I wasn’t sure which tattoo I was going to get, (Chad has designs for six more pieces I want to do.) and I was scared that I’d get pushed into a sad place and then have no one to commiserate with me, no one to celebrate with...
I was bouncing back to that scary, alone place, but at the same time that sort of pinball feeling felt quieter, like echos of an old pattern.
I went in, Chad was ready to do the arm piece. I’d been thinking of two I want on my feet, they seem less… obvious, less scary, less committed.
He sat down and started finishing off the piece for my arm. Fuck it. I let go again. Lets get the one I’ve been wanting for the last two years. Lets get the big deal.
Aequinemitas. Patience through Peace of Mind.
The word with a swirl underneath it. Tom designed it for me years ago, it was meant to look like a drop of essential oil sinking into hot water. If you are present enough to watch, the oil unwinds as it infuses the water, the scent unwinds into the vapor, the body unwinds as it accepts the heat, the mind unwinds as it accepts the scent...
Today, it reminds me of Myofascial work, because it looks like what my hands feel when they are working, and it has to happen with patience and presence, you can't push or force, you just connect, and wait, and follow, and the tissue heats, accepts, and lets go, unwinding...
But Patience. I’ve been practicing patience as my main focus since I got pregnant with Ethan 8 years ago.
“You’re on baby time, now, Kate.” The voice of Nkem, my beautiful Midwife, the woman who set me on my healing journey.
“If you can have THIS much patience, it makes turning that much easier.” Squatty, trying to help me ski bumps effortlessly.
“Kate, be patient, that part will come, but we are doing this now. Patience, Grasshopper.” Andy, helping me enjoy this without worrying or wondering about the possibility of that.
“You need to think about walking at a steady pace that you can maintain all the way to the top so you don’t have to stop. Better to keep going, and go slow, than to go balls out and then have to stop over and over.” Kurt, teaching me, of all things, how to walk. How to walk up a mountain.
I’ve spent the last year training at a break neck speed to pass the Three, trying to absorb all the information that I can about skiing, feeling voracious, but for the first time, feeling patient. Hungry, but patient. Feeling information going in, unwinding, understanding dawning, smoothing out the wrinkles and creating deeper understanding through questions, reading, and practice, and then more patience…
I took a sharpie at the end of the season last year, and wrote “Aequinemitas” on each ski. My little sister, Liat, who is a graduate in classic languages found this word for me when I told her I was looking for a word for patience.
I’ve needed patience in friendships, patience in relationships, patience with self…
I needed patience to get this tattoo, I’ve been here three times and it just hasn’t worked out.
I sit in the chair, we go through it, I get excited, I get nervous, then I let it go, because it doesn’t really matter how I feel, its going to happen. Its going to happen now.
I lay down on the table, and the gun begins to vibrate, the smell of rubbing alcohol, the ritual of preparation again, plastic down, Vaseline on the table, on the glove, on the ink cups, color in the cups, my first color tattoo, they have all been black till now…
Greg puts on some blues music, it make me think of hanging on to what I can’t have, it make me feel that alone-ness acutely, and suddenly, it occurs to me that I am getting a tattoo by myself for the first time. Fifth tattoo. First time alone.
Suddenly, its perfect. I had taken a pic, I was going to live blog it, but now, suddenly, this moment is perfect. This is an opportunity to practice being alone, doing it alone. Doing it only for me. Being patient to share, being present in this moment.
I lay down, its cold in the shop. The gun goes into my arm, stinging, buzzing, the flesh there is so tender, it hurts so much more than I remember, so much more than I thought it would. I know I’m going to be here for hours, I leave my phone on the floor in the other room and listen to the music and look at Chad’s tattoo’d head, this man I barely know inscribing the most meaningful thing, inscribing this moment.
Marking this moment in time, this moment when I decide that its okay to be alone, that we aren’t truly ever alone, that I’m enough for me, that this moment, wherever I am IS perfect, because it is what it is. It’s a time to practice being alone.
I feel a peace, a bliss all over my body, I focus on the scratching the pain the sensation of the gun abrading my skin, for two and a half hours, Chad is pressing down on me, making art in his own world, I’m in mine, in bliss.
He gets close to the armpit, and I feel it through my breast, in my ribs, down my arm. I think of the bracelet that I gave my mom two Christmases ago. It said, “While Alive, Live.” on it. I gave it to her hoping it would give her courage to care for herself. She gave it back to me this Christmas, hoping I would have the courage to do the same.
This tattoo is like that bracelet. This tattoo is marking the moment. In this moment, I understand the word Aequinemitas in a new way.
Feeling, but also living patience, because my mind is peaceful, because I’ve accepted that wherever I am is perfect. I am alone. Because that is where I need to be in order to become.