Eating Poison, Digesting Pain

My friend BethAnn counseled me “Kumari, being angry at someone is like eating poison and hoping the other person will die.” I didn’t believe her. Her advice has been attributed to Nelson Mandela, Debbie Ford, Pema Chodron, historic Buddha – basically a who’s who of self-help. I suspect the phrase originated in AA. Think about it, alcohol is poison to the human body. Who else but an alcoholic is going to drink poison to ease pain? Who else but addicts harm themselves inadvertently? The idea has merit if one’s goal is sober up. The idea loses some of its sparkle when I apply it to other life situations.

Being Angry is a psychologically healthy response to abuse.

Forgiveness is the gateway drug to the addiction of Make-believe. What causes people grief, creates emotional blocks and disconnect? Pretending to be ok with outrageous fortune. At the tender age of ten, my friend “Haxe”, the alcoholic, was sexually molested by his teenage brother. BethAnn argues forgiveness is for Haxe – to free him from the shame that binds him. Shame binds him, to be sure. The question is, “What has Haxe got to be ashamed of?” He didn’t do anything wrong! Subconsciously Haxe knows when he says that he don’t care, that it’s all in the past, that what’s done is done – he’s lying to himself. Unhealthy shame is born out of fear sired by lies.

We fear the reverberations of unleashed emotions.

The Older Brother is the one who ought to be ashamed. The OB, however, lives in blissful shamelessness – exploiting people with aplomb, a true socio-path. OB knows right from wrong, he just doesn’t care. I haven’t found a world religion yet that addresses the issue of unhealthy shamelessness. Most religions limit themselves to curing unhealthy shame. Haxe holds unhealthy shame. He can’t allow himself free rein with his emotions, instead he ruefully continues to anesthetize the wound. Pour enough drinks into him and the story leaks out.

Unleashed emotions return to the wild freely, unfettered by guilt or shame.

Well meaning therapists may command Haxe to stop feeling ashamed. Accept forgiveness, forgive yourself, forgive others, bless and forgive – all sorts of word play that in-practice translates to varnishing over harsh feelings, sensations and emotions. It’s as if nice society is uncomfortable with a grief so garish. What if Haxe had not been a small child when the rapes occurred? What would a normal healthy adult do when co-erced? React with fury – right? Am I right? Do you know anyone who would blithely, compassionately, serenely submit to unwanted sexual exploitation? I didn’t think so.  Yet adult children abandon themselves a second time when recounting painful memories with exoneration toward the abuser.

I say, “Let ’em be mad as hell.”

Fear of losing control ironically enough, causes lost control. The life of a using alcoholic is not “in-control.” If Haxe quit drinking? He’d flood with feeling. That would suck. That would be awful, terrible, frightening and overwhelming. Speaking as someone who lived on overwhelm for nearly a decade – feeling constantly on overwhelm is impossible. I wouldn’t say that if I hadn’t lived it. I couldn’t say that it I hadn’t lived it. It would sound too trite. But I digress. Overwhelm demands brief respites. Despite years of agony, uncertainty, stress, pain and fear you know what? Every so often – like once a fortnight I would lie awake with my old dog and have a moment of clarity, of peace.

Thirty seconds of sucks less is better than sucks.

That I would inexplicably feel slightly less pain than the rest of the decade, astounded me. Those moments were as rare as they were precious. Sometimes the moment was actually covering in crying and shaking. Those sensations, believe it or not, were slightly less painful than trying to hold everything in. I read that people who express their fearful trembling, suffer less from PTSD than those who suck it up. I chose to indulge myself. In private moments, far from the madding crowd I sobbed without constraint. I let it all hang out. No drugs. No talk therapy. No analysis. Just unadulterated dissemination.

I expressed my body language, my pain, to myself by myself.

Pain was not the only emotion I allowed to flow unsuppressed. During that time I would feel very, very angry when people suggested nonchalantly everything happens for a reason. I would feel serious annoyance when people  chirped I deserved what I got because of my karma. I experienced intense rage when people would gaily retort “God never gives you more than you can handle.” I endured serious irritation when told “God works all things for good for those who love him.” What else? Frustration, fear, despair, vexation, defeat, disappointment, aggravation, savagery, exasperation, weariness, loneliness, alienation, envy, dejection, rejection, helpless, hopeless – I imbibed them all.

My feelings of fury weren’t anything like taking poison.

My feelings, long stonewalled by arcane practices of study, fasting, meditation, and prayer, felt raw. Maybe that is why yoga, appealed to me so much since 2009. The journey toward re-connecting with my body, my needs, my feelings and emotions has been rewarding. Prayer taught me to put everything up and away. Fasting was training in bodily denial. Working toward detachment created a self that couldn’t care less. Meanwhile my life was going to hell in a hand basket as my (then)husband proceeded to kill himself via addiction. Frankly, having feelings flood my system was a interesting relief, a diversion from a life damned by acceptance, tolerance and forbearance.

The price of vivacity is less than the cost. Yup, we sell it at a loss.

All you need to buy vivaciousness, is open channels. Be sensational. Don’t just stop to smell the roses. Kick a soccer ball. Run a mile. Eat delicious food. Love ferociously. The cost? That’s something else. People don’t like loud, bright   women, ideas or colors. A basic bitch is so sure of herself/not so sure of herself. If she were really sure of herself, she wouldn’t seek to put others down, be so sarcastic, wouldn’t be a mean girl. Right? A badass bitch? A badass bitch is just herself. Not sure of anything. Maybe speaks without thinking, but it’s her, all her and not some manipulative tart.

After Howard left I got used to expressing myself. Now there’s no getting the genie back in the bottle, lol.

Be careful what you wish for. Yoga seeks to transform fiery emotions into stability by harnessing energy – not by blowing out the fire. Yoga seeks to balance lethargy into vitality (literally “life-force”) by increasing oxygen. A fire needs air and wood to burn brightly. An out of control fire can be destructive, a dead fire fails to power. Yoga tempers the rajasic and flames the tamasic to a state of True. Yoga moves more than electricity through the nervous system. Yoga pushed sweat through my skin, food through my intestines, judgments into my head, compressed strength into my bones and ideas on to my blog. The more I did yoga, the more I liked doing yoga. I find myself loathe to give it up.

Yoga enabled me to be angry when I was angry and then move on.

For the record I wasn’t ever angry AT Howard. I was angry at people who were needlessly callous or insincere or lacking in compassion. I was never angry, bless his heart, at a using addict. There’s no merit in being angry “at.” I was angry without preposition. I savored my feelings undiluted. Feelings are best when consumed fresh and raw. They are easiest to digest and then eliminated. The fire in the belly is enough to transform anger. You don’t need your brain to cook up assumptions or intentions that are pure speculation. That’s a fool’s errand. Simply be real.

If you don’t know how to be real, learn how – don’t spend another minute faking.

A little bit of wine is nice with dinner. A poison can be a medicine in small doses. Even large doses of chemo can benefit if the poison is controlled. What happens after we understand what we’re alchemating is reconstructive. The energy, if y’all didn’t know, is a by-product of chemical reaction. It’s not the ash we wanted, but the light and the heat when rage burns bright. Heat to create flexibility and light to see the way.

Now y’all play nice.