I'm back to walking again, and I remember why I stopped. I convinced myself it was because I felt sick, and I did, I felt sick and exhausted. But mostly it was because of the emotional funk that rose up out of my subconscious when I walked. It almost always processed itself out by the time I arrived back at my house, but that first mile or two of rage, sorrow, confusion, craziness? Not much fun. Maybe something inside of me decided that I could only handle one battle at a time - food addiction or stored emotional past - not both. Or that could just be the bullsh*t talking. No way to know for sure of course.
But the back pain always keeps me motivated to exercise. I can't go too long without doing some weight lifting and cardio, even with the miracle that is Art and his whirring machine of pain relief. So I'm walking again, and last night's walk showed me something that stopped me in my tracks, literally standing still on the sidewalk in the leafy suburb I live in, the nice, comfortably upper middle class folks jogging and biking and walking around me. It was one of those epiphany moments, one of those moments where a hundred thousand Intellectual Knowings all of a sudden transforms into full body-mind-spirit consciousness. It was a direct line of something from my childhood, carried through into adulthood, that I'm in the final process of dismantling:
The belief in "boundaries".
The backstory: the extreme emotional distance my mother treated me with in my childhood shifted when I reached mid-teenage years into a relationship of listening to her, trying to help her solve her problems. For the next 15 or so years, to keep her attention, I made myself available to her anytime she needed it, usually as long phone calls, sometimes several times a week. This translated into how I lived out my other relationships, by believing my most valuable function was to listen to people's problems, to be nice to them, always flexible, never complain, never say no.
Translation: no boundaries, stunted sense of self.
What I developed to cope with this was anger and energy vampiring. The energy vampiring was what my mother was doing to me, which I only realized when I was in my early thirties, and what I turned and did to folks around me, which I only realized about seven years ago, right before I headed off for the back-to-college extravaganza when I was 38. I'd choose the strongest, kindest people I came into contact with and attach to them, usually a "teacher" of some sort - a therapist, spiritual practitioner/guru, or mentorish folks, but also with close friends. The anger was used to shove people away when the weight of their need became too overwhelming and exhausting for me. I collected lost souls, first just folks I met as my life unfolded, and then clients. It was what I did with my mother - let them call me at all hours of the day and night, spend hours and hours listening to their problems, trying to help them do a Grand Life Remodeling Project.
I keep writing and deleting the next paragraph, writing specifics about my relationship with my mother, how it ended. But it isn't right to put it here, and it isn't helpful for me energetically to write it. Whatever demons she faces are her own, and my perspective on them is utter bullsh*t. None of this is a blaming of her or anything I believe she did or didn't do. This is the dismantling of Katherine. No one else. Period.
The important part for me is that this energetic pattern with my mother translated all over my living, and really kicked into high gear when I began seeing clients for holistic work in the late 1990's. I allowed, and even encouraged people to become dependent on me, because I believed I could help them, but also because I believed that being of assistance to other people was my only valuable function. My sense of boundaries was so tenuous that when clients wanted to see me socially, I went along with it, even though it just meant that I no longer got paid for session work, and instead did sessions over dinner, or with cocktails, which seriously, seriously, was not fun for me, what felt like my life force being suctioned out of me via my eyes and ears and center of my chest. But I didn't believe I had a choice. I believed that if someone needed me, I had to be there, sublimate whatever issue and feelings I had, and be open, kind, generous, loving.
The direct link between the pattern with my mother and how it played out with clients and intimate relationships was that with all of them, if I ever tried to pull away, or tried to change the dynamic into something with more balance, these folks expressed denial that anything unbalanced was happening, then judgment of me for what I felt, then pure rage unleashed at me as punishment, contempt, acts to destroy or discredit me.
Those three patterns of energy coming at me - denial, judgment, rage - kept me locked into the No Boundaries pattern for years, for decades. But when I read the Jed McKenna books, something clicked into place, and I could see the pattern for what it truly was. And most importantly, I could see my role in it, my part, how I kept it all going, and why. The why? Because I was afraid I had no other worth than my ability to be of service to other people, and that if I denied people they'd leave me, and if everyone left me I'd be alone.
But back in 2008 it began heating up, and with The Hoon's death it reached conflagration. One by one, I stopped doing things for people, and guess what? All my fears came true. I denied people, they left me, and I was alone.
But I stayed with it. To face the fear. What was this being alone? What was this no social life, no friends, no support system, no assistance? And the longer I stayed with it, the longer I saw that with only a few exceptions, all of relationship is built on fear. All of it - family, friend, work, community - all of it erected as a scaffolding around the fear inside of us. Of dying. Of being sick. Of missing out. Of being uncomfortable.
As I went through this process, I was continually offered "friendship", offered assistance from teachers/gurus/mentors, but I understood I had to reject it, reject it all, even small assists, completely, absolutely staying away from any temptation to energy vampire off of another person. And also, people from my past kept showing up, coming back around for another pass. They wanted things to be like they used to be, they wanted me to be a holistic practitioner like I used to be, or they showed up as absolute replicas of past folks, Life enticing me to pick the pattern back up. And I did. Again and again and again. I can't even begin to express how hard this last part was, how actively angry people got at me, the browbeating, the sanctioning, the punishing that came at me in person, through email, over the phone. A daily, often hourly onslaught of angry, needy, sad humans, an avalanche of emotion and demands, judgment, rage, and self-pity screaming that it was my duty to fix Their No, my fault that they felt the way they did.
When I look back, it's so clear that the onslaught was occurring to force me to build strong boundaries. It was about keeping folks out so that I could see clearly how to draw a distinct line between them and me, between what they were choosing to do with their energy and time, and what I no longer was. I wasn't responsible for anyone outside of my own skin. And more than that, I couldn't actually do anything for anyone outside of my own skin, not in and of myself.
And I did get to the place where I kept everyone out. With the exception of a small handful of folks on an extremely limited basis that Life showed me was about immediate survival, everyone was out, every single one. And what I began to notice was a sort of drip method of interacting, small bits here and there that felt clear, true. They appeared to quickly fade into funk again, and I'd back away, but I began to get better at recognizing the signals for me to move closer to someone/a situation, and to back away from them/it.
And I discovered that there is no Good Person or Bad Person, only Energy Occurring Now, In This Moment. And so rather than having Friends, Acquaintances, and Non-Friends/Enemies, everyone outside of my skin stands alone, to be moved closer to or moved away from based on the ongoing energy present in the moment of Now. It's a dance of following the Yes. A dance whose choreography is created by something way way outside of my mind, though the mind stores and runs the programming of this human life, with the heart as the instrument the energy plays on, and the spirit interpreting the seeming mundane plodding of a life into both the vast expression of Yes and the tiny grain of sand it is.
There's a decent flow going right now. Still bumpy, still pocked with blank spots and exploding mines, but there's a groove. I can have conversations with folks, go to the movies, assist clients, help someone climb their own looming mountain. I can reach out for help, get it, give something in return, leave. Someone can reach out to me, I can give assistance, they offer something, then leave. Sometimes I give then receive nothing, but only if it feels true. Sometimes they receive then give nothing, but only if it feels true. No good, no bad. No right, no wrong. No rules. Just dance.
And last night I saw the pattern and thought: That's It, the epiphany solved the pattern, it's done. But then I wrote this post, and in the process of writing I saw the next step: dissolving the boundaries.
First there was no boundary. Then there was a boundary. Now it's about removing the wall between Self and Other, not to merge and lose myself, but to allow Life to have me flow wherever it wants me to, letting the new strength inside of me keep me "safe", Life doing the attracting and rejecting for me, me just following along, content to let Life take me down the river of my living.
I have no arrogance that I'm done with this stuff. I can only taste it right now, just the merest hint of its magnificence. But I'm at that Beyond 51% Place, that point of no return, not because I can't go back, but because I see too much truth to want to go back.
And so apparently this is why I still write. Sure, some sort of arrogance that says: record the steps. But also because it continues to clear the path for me. Before I wrote this post, I thought the breakthrough last night was about erecting boundaries, but now, after writing the post, I see that it's about seeing that there is no need for anything as bulky and clumsy as boundaries.
This is what writing has been and still is for me: spiritual autolysis. It's not the only thing I use, but it still has strong function and utility and flexibility and groove. And that's all that matters . . . for now . . . Yes.
So party on, party peoples. May this find you deep inside the awareness of your own choreography, that dance that is yours and yours alone.
As you sit there, wherever you are on this globe, whatever year and day and moment it is for you, a cup of coffee, tea, beer, wine, smoothie, water beside you, how you are alive inside your body, your mind in whatever state of aware, awake it is, remember:
You are gorgeous. You are full of love and light. (We all are.) You are also full of sh*t. (It's okay. We all are that too.) Hopefully, yours comes with kitties. And green growing plants. And the embracing of sun and moon and night and day and dark and light. Your soul's work is to see that your caacaa is compost. Nothing to be afraid of. Turn the sh*t into fertilizer. The directions for doing this are inside of you. The next step is whatever is lighting you up. What's harassing you via mind or experience? What reoccurring thought or pattern keeps arising in your living? Start there. I swear to you: all you need is inside of you. You don't need anyone to fix you or solve your problems. All you need is to say, to pray:
Thank you Life for my life . . . thank you for this situation, this person that I may not understand now, that may be causing me pain, suffering . . . thank you . . . I trust you . . . thank you for making the next step so obvious via so much energy, so that my attention cannot be moved away . . . thank you for giving me courage to keep facing this . . . to hold my gaze squarely on This Moment of Now . . . so that I can't help but see the truth . . . thank you Life . . . thank you for my life. . .