How does one deal with the changes that occur when we start peeling away the layers of junk that settle on us over the years? I have been asking myself this a lot, lately. At first I thought that getting rid of some of the layers of social pressure, inevitable parental damage, self delusion... would make the load lighter. As it turned out, peeling some layers off just revealed the demons that they were holding down- squirming, kicking, howling demons! While I may be a timeless presence in a transient form, I still have to deal with my transient form, and it is a mess!
What was the most surprising was the depression and sense of isolation that I developed. OK, I was equally amazed by how much pain my ego inflicted on me. Not just emotional pain, there was that, but actual physical pain and dysfunction. I had a knotted up ball of muscle in my back and neck that made me unable to lift my right arm for several days! As the layers of distraction dropped away and I found television and radio and computers almost completely irrelevant, I found myself in a state of withdrawal for my former life. Without the distractions of electronics and entertainment, or indeed normal social life, I felt at loose ends. Everyday conversation became largely meaningless, so there was no idle chit chat with my co-workers. The friendships I had cultivated for many years, some for decades, held no attraction for me. There was no one to talk to, as there had always been before.
Back to the pain. I am serious when I say I couldn't use my arm. Being a Physical Therapist Assistant, I tried to diagnose myself. Had I slept strangely? I knew I had a severely impinged nerve, and some horrible spasms in the muscles surrounding my spine, but why? Why wouldn't it go away? Nothing I did helped, nothing my PT friends did helped and I was starting to get frightened.
While driving to work, one morning (one handed), I felt the need to turn off the radio and just sit with my feelings. As I quieted my mind, I suddenly thought about my husband and my inner voice said very clearly 'I don't want this relationship any more'. That is a damn powerful statement! In the past, I would have panicked and gone through a million reasons why I was wrong for thinking that way, and of course I still want this relationship, and how could I even think that when James is such a wonderful man, and my kids need a father..... This time I just sat with the thought without judgement and let it unfold.
Indeed, I didn't want this relationship, anymore. Over the weeks leading up to this day, James had lost his job and was always home. He had always worked very late which left me to myself in the evenings after the kids went to bed. Now, he was always there and I never had a moment to myself. I felt claustrophobic and put upon. It wasn't my relationship to my husband I didn't want, it was my relationship to my lost time. I was all twisted up over the fact that my alone time, which I have always used to connect with myself, was gone, and therefore, to some extent, so was I. Except that I wasn't. I was alone in my car, communing with myself, no husband. How completely stupid! For almost 5 years I had wanted James to be home more, and now that I had it, I was letting it make me sick!
With this realization came complete relief. I could almost see the pain leave my body, and my arm worked perfectly. How insidious the ego is! How unconscious I was, especially in the middle of a quest for consciousness! Aaaargh!
At least now, if I come out of meditation with pain, or have pain (always in my 4th thoracic vertebra) that I can not relieve with conventional methods, I know there is something I need to deal with coming up from my rapidly evolving self. There can be no shrinking away from the issue, it must be faced without emotion in order to get to the root of it- and the root is almost always something silly.