Ayurvedic Pre-Cleanse, Day 4: Homicidality on the RISE!


Okay, so, I’m hungry all the time.  And sometimes light-headed.  And don’t feel like doing anything.  I find myself wanting to eat the grossest, most disgustingly unhealthy foods ever.  French fries at Cane’s, next to the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre.  The jar of Cacao Bliss in the cabinet.  A steak.  Fried anything.  I find myself getting angry at every meal (I’m up to about 10 a day now, so that’s saying something).  I’m like, what is with you, you f*(&ing green soup!?  I mean, you have a problem in that I would really just like to kill you right now!  Forget you, aduki beans!  You don’t even fill me up.  I don’t care how much chipotle powder there is in your recipe!  And as for you, avocado, you are becoming a significant disappointment in my life, since you are making me fat and not even satisfying my craving to eat a car, a house, or anything covered in fat and sugar.  Rice, oatmeal, and 100% rye bread, you can go stick it.  I used to like you, but now it’s just a bored, washed-out relationship….

Before this cleanse I was moderately insane about food, more than some women, definitely not as much as others.  I ate healthy, I watched calories, and I knew what I needed to do to maintain a healthy size 8, which I did and do actually care about.  I had passed the stage of starvation diets or any diets at all, and I didn’t get hungry much if ever, since I ate lean protein and healthy fats instead of carbohydrates and sugar.  I had accepted that since I’m Irish, with a body somewhat good for child-bearing, I was always going to have curves and my thighs would never be skinny, and this was okay with me.  Aging, not so much, but I was working on it.

Now, however, I’m probably going to end up a homicidal size 12 in 2 weeks, ready to eat pretty much anything.

And on top of that, all I have to do is think about someone I didn’t like who I knew, oh, say 25 years ago and I want to go kill him/her.  Like, I mentioned my train wreck first girlfriend in the last blog, and all day today I’ve been monologuing in my head about how she did me wrong and she was in the top three of most amoral women I have ever known, and how she voted for Reagan, twice, in the midst of the AIDS epidemic and actually used ethnic epithets.  Instead of being all Buddhist and being like, “Well, you know, she was nineteen and so were you, and who knows anything then, and unfortunately she knew less than most, and was more f-ed up…”  I’m like, “Where is she?  I’m going to X state and find her and make her pay!”

I also didn’t think, “Well, you could have left a lot earlier than you did.”  I thought, “I don’t care how gorgeous she was or talented or how much of an idiot romantic I was about those things, SHE WILL PAY!”

So, I think I need some f$#^ing food!  Preferably something protein soaked in a lot of fat.

But, I am remembering the cleanse leader saying that feelings may come up.  I’m like, Right.  I already went in this week and told the IFS therapist she dresses like an interpretative dancer and talks too much and she better get with the program on how smart I am.  I’m not having any feelings.  I am FINE!

Perhaps I will now drink some water with a cinnamon stick in it and meditate mindfully on my homicidal feelings.  I will learn something new about my dark side, as if that needed any more encouragement.

And then, sometime tonight, my partner will come home.  She slipped up today and ate Indian food with some FAT in it.  I am so jealous, I could…

I will meditate.  I will.  I will stand on my head for at least 3 minutes.  I will do a handstand.  IT WILL BE FUN, DO YOU HEAR ME?  FUN.  FUN.  FUN.

I think there are about 10 more days to this cleanse.  It is very hard for me to say die, but it might be real enlightenment to do so, if death (for someone) is the other alternative.  I am considering this.  Ahimsa.  Or flatulence.  Or unmitigated rage.  It’s hard choice.

PS–I have no back pain.  So apparently, all my rage is now conscious (read John Sarno mindbody blogs if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

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Yoga, Yoga, Yoga and the Truth about Yoga


Well, first of all, yoga is a way of life.  It’s part of the Hindu religion, and the Sutras spell out a path to nirvana and peace (since the Sutras were written about 500 years after the Buddha lived, some scholars claim they would not have been possible without Buddhism and are heavily influenced by Buddhist philosophy as well as the atheistic Hindu system of dualism).

Of course, here in the West, yoga’s rep for sweaty hot rooms and twisty bendy postures has caused us to forget that it’s part of Hinduism at all.

And face it, I love the twisty bendy everything.  I have recently fallen in love with the investigation of the philosophy (just as I fell in love with Buddhism last year), but the twisty bend everything still claims me, tests me, makes me face so many things.  And not the ones you would expect–not aging, stiffness, the limits of my body.  But who I truly am.

I go to the mat.  And wherever I go, there I am.

I’ve written that my worst case scenario was to have an eruption of back pain while doing yoga teacher training, and that, of course, the worst case scenario happened.  And here’s the thing–I get kind of sick of turning worst case scenarios into AFGO’s (another f&*#ing growth opportunity), but what else is a girl to do?  I’m not allowed to lie down, wail and writhe in yoga teacher training.  So, AFGO.

I might add that the AFGO keeps honking its horn because I’ve had flare ups in three separate weekends.  I went back to the lovely Dr. Martinez to re-charge my John Sarno-I-am-insanely-homicidal-and-don’t-want-to-know-it approach to back pain.  I went to Thai massage and shiatsu, even though what I’m really supposed to do is examine my unconscious rage (and other feelings).

And I’ve returned to the mat.  If I wasn’t in teacher training, I might not have.  Weight lifting significantly changes the pain equation (when paired with examination of homicidal tendencies) in a way yoga does not.

Anyway, so I’m on the mat this Saturday, sweating my brains out after 2+ hours of incredibly strenuous yoga.  And satya (truth, a yoga yama): I’m getting angry.  I’m starting to have intense inner conflict, because even though I can continue to do the asanas (postures), I know from the other weekends that when I do, I reach over-exertion, my mind fogs out, I get triggered and unhappy and overwhelmed and I really just want to cry.  I mean, past two hours it’s just not fun at all.

At the same time, I have my lovely conditioning from my Irish father, a stellar athlete who was offered football scholarships to a million colleges and played halfback for Notre Dame.  We played sports all the time growing up, and he admired only fight, only never giving up, only trying no matter how much it hurt.  So I’m on the friggin’ yoga mat, knowing that yoga is a way of life and starts with ahimsa (non-violence, with self as well as everyone else), with this never-say-die tape running in my head, and the really great teacher, who I genuinely like, giving us instructions and assists, and it’s like a pressure cooker, because I’m totally overwhelmed and I really, really, really want to just stop.

On top of that, Saturday was an introduction to inversions, so I was excited to do headstand, handstand and stand on the forearms because they are really fun.

I didn’t stop.  And by the time we got to the inversions, I was in a black mood, and unable to concentrate, knowing if I did go upside down I’d likely have back pain because the point in every training where the back pain descends is just then–the overwhelmed, over-exerted point.  The point of intense inner conflict.

Though I didn’t do much with the inversions–I went up in handstand once, knew it was enough, and stopped.  But then I got triggered and tried again…and the back pain descended with FEROCITY.

I lay in savasana (corpse pose) crying a little, because I was so frustrated and disappointed.  I mean, I am often a 5 year old and not getting to go upside down was a big let down.  I decided, while lying there, that when everyone else went to lunch, I’d just hang upside down on the rope wall in 3 or 4 different ways to make myself feel better.  Which I did.  And it kind of worked.  The black mood lightened a lot.

Then, AH-HAH!  The light bulb, the explosion, the-I-did-notice-but-was-too-embarrassed-to-admit-it moment.  The back pain descends when I’m overwhelmed.  When I have internal conflict.

Earlier Saturday morning, I’d been struggling with wanting to go to Pride.  I’d been talking about it with my partner all week–our 25th anniversary on Pride weekend, Obama coming out for gay marriage (I’m back in love with him, which he no doubt intended)–I mean, it was too much to miss.  But a make-up for a day of yoga training is like $200-$300.  And I’m not teaching.  So, INTERNAL CONFLICT.  I woke up with back pain, and then did my Sarno writing (and some meditation) and decided to do one Pride event–not the parade, which I’d have preferred–on Saturday.  And the pain went….whoosh!  Gone.

Of course it came back at the overwhelm point in the training.  But I’m starting to get that these intense moments of internal conflict can be addressed or avoided and then NO BACK PAIN.  It’s more than my lovely homicidality (give me a break, anyone who meditates gets to find out they resent everything).  It’s when I go to war with myself and my conditioning and the pressure builds and I don’t know how to resolve it that I get back pain.

Yesterday, (Sunday) more intense yoga.  I sat out for part of it.  I didn’t get overwhelmed.  Though I’d walked in to class with a ton of pain, I was down to minor twinges after an hour.  AND, I went up in both handstand and headstand (I’ve always been able to do shoulder stand with no problem).

The truth about yoga is wherever I go, there I am.  And meditation teaches me to focus on myself.  It doesn’t matter whether anyone else is overwhelmed.  What matters is that I am, and managing my internal world in a kind and skillful way brings me peace.  I get to decide how much physical yoga is too much–that is something I have the power to do.

On the mat, it’s not about back pain.  Back pain is the teacher.  It’s about admitting I get overwhelmed, that lots of instruction can be hard for me to process, that whether the over-exertion is physical or mental (holding concentration for so long), doesn’t matter.  I get to say die.  I get to just stop.  And be with what is.  Until being with what is becomes peace.

Once a woman I had trained on a job I used to have told me the first time she saw me, she immediately felt intense resentment.  She said I seemed so confident, and she thought, “Nothing bad has ever happened to that woman in her life.”

Then she became my poetry editor.  So she read about my family.  She actually apologized for completely misjudging me.

Satya is finding a way to honor the poetry.  The truth and the beauty, the dirge and the psalm.  And really, who wouldn’t want to do that?

You Mean I Have to Be Honest about MY FEELINGS?


So last night my partner and I get home and she hops right into the shower and then starts oiling her body, giving herself self-massage.

That’s right, she’s in the middle of a ayurvedic cleanse.  She gets up at 6:30am and cooks bean/rice mush.  She eats only bean/rice mush.  She drinks de-tox teas.  She oils her body and takes tablespoons of oil plain.  Her skin looks great and she seems so centered I could scream.  I call the cleanse the WOO.  It’s not really all that out there compared to the shaman, the psychic, the holotropic breathwork and the hypnosis, but if I can get a joke out of anything…well, you have to know I will.

Anyhow, so she comes home and oils herself up and then puts a shirt over her head so she looks like a nun.  A nun with Eastern European heritage.  Who davens.  Then she goes to sleep.

She wakes me up ungodly early, making the mush, which is just not a quiet activity.  I lie in bed, rehearsing my speech to our couples therapist, Sheepdog.  It’s really a rant, starting with, Please sit quietly and listen.  Do not interrupt, reframe, or tell me to stop so my partner can talk because I HAVE THINGS TO SAY.  Included in the rant are all the big reasons I’m angry with my partner.  So halfway into the rant, I not only hate the couples therapist, I also hate my partner.  I am a seething kettle of rage soup.

So my partner comes to say, “Have a nice day,” before she goes to work.

“Yeah.”

Pause.

“You, too,” I say.  Which I obviously don’t mean, since I am homicidal.

Then she makes a half a heart with her hand, which is our thing for “I love you.”

“I’m feeling angry at you right now,” I say.

She’s like, “Why?  Oh, I have to go to work so we can’t talk about it.”

I say, “The short version is that I’m angry at you for x and x.”  (The two big impasse issues in our relationship from my side of the fence.)

She says, “Well, you have every right to be angry about that.”

Which pretty much destroys any possibility of me really picking a fight.

So I say, “I’m also rehearsing my farewell speech to the Sheepdog.”

She says, “Can I hear the beginning?”

I’m like, “If you want me to sit here for more than 30 seconds, don’t interrupt, etc.”

She says, “I’m with you on that.”

Then I said, “I have all these doubts.  I have all these fears.  I am grieving again and you are in there oiling your body and that just pisses me off.  Why can’t you be the one with the grief and I be the one oiling my body?  Especially since I have a right to be mad at you?”

And she says, “I’m doing the meditating and the cleanse and the breathwork to build a foundation for the harder things I have to face.  So maybe soon you will be the one oiling your body.”

I say, “That’s good, because I want you to go get some pain.”

She cracks up.  “Thanks,” she says.

Of course, having now told the truth about being pissed at her for being all WOO, not to mention the big unfinished relationship business, I am not only NOT homicidal any more, I feel close to her.

“You’re still the one I want to tell about feeling homicidal,” I say.

“I appreciate that.  And now I really do have to go to work.”  She makes the heart again and leaves for work, and this time, when I say, “Have a nice day,” I mean it.

But Christ, it’s hard to wake up in a rage and then have to f-ing talk about it.  I mean, how exhausting!  I want to just go back to sleep now.

Of course, the fact that’s she’s all WOO, and able to hear about my homicidal feelings with equanimity makes it easier to tell her.  Even though the equanimity pisses me off.  I know it makes for a better relationship.  But do I have to be crazy all by myself?

I seriously hope her time is coming.  And I get to be all equanimity meditator spiritual person and she gets to suffer not-so-Buddhistly.

Metta for my partner.  She obviously is going to need it.

PS-I also woke up with back pain.  That disappeared in the middle of the above conversation, continuing to motivate me to CHANGE MY LIFE.

The Sad News Is…Grief.


Okay, so, the back pain started to return.

Now, I’ve been having major resistance to reading Sarno’s book, then writing about rage, and writing about rage and writing about rage.  I mean, it’s not exactly a happiness-inducing activity.  Sarno also suggests that when the pain twinges, you can yell at it and tell it you’re not fooled; you know it’s really emotion being covered up.  But that just made me feel like I was verbally abusing myself.

Frankly, I’ve been a bit grateful to my mind for protecting me from all this information.  I mean, it keeps coming.  Yesterday I realized that while there are solid intellectual reasons for not believing in God, my intense rage at the Catholic Church for its anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-body, original-sin-born-bad, shaming, guilt-inducing dogma probably had a role.

This is not rocket science.  But, since a nun saved my life, it does create internal conflict, and according to Sarno, that creates back pain.

But, but, but.  I don’t want the back pain to return!  And I do know that I always, always, always need to find my own way, even when a theory is fundamentally sound.

So, last night and this morning, I picked up When Children Grieve.  And immediately started to cry.  Both times.

I’ve written a lot about being reactive, but the most embarrassing fact is that therapy or no therapy (and there has been therapy, however unhelpful or mostly unhelpful), I have trouble moving on emotionally from the losses in my life.  Or maybe I just can’t keep up with them.  I’ve said that I’ve entered the unknown, and it was grief that always propelled me into that darkness.  But there are these sorrows, these losses, that, ten and twenty years later, still lance me when I talk about them, still make me cry.

I quoted When Children Grieve before, about the myths of healing from loss.  But this morning I read the chapters on grieving alone, being told not to feel bad, and having to be strong for others.  I read this:  “In all our years of working with grieving people, one of the most common and difficult-to-overcome problems is the child who was cast in or adopted the role of taking care of everyone else.”

I am the oldest of six children.  Case in point.

Oldest children are pains in the ass.  We think we’re right, we try to do everything ourselves, we are perfectionists, we take responsibility for things that we shouldn’t, we enable, we undermine, we try to control.  We want to be one-up, because our real needs have always been the least important, including to ourselves, and feeling more important in our opinions or in having control, will, we think, help compensate for the loneliness.  We have no idea how to grieve–not that many people do–how to stop, how to listen to our vulnerable, troubled hearts.

I wonder if we go to therapy to learn how to grieve.  I’m reading this book, about how children are told “don’t feel bad” or “it will get better” or even “if you have to cry, go to your room.”  I’m reading about hiding when we are sad, because being sad has been seen as embarrassing.  I’m reading that we isolate when we’re upset because we’re terrified of being judged or criticized for our feelings, for how things get to us.

It sort of brings everything together.  We go to therapy because it’s supposed to be a place where people are allowed to be upset.  We want to be rid of our painful feelings so we can be happy again, but we also want someone, anyone, to take us in when we’re not strong, or happy, or responsible.  We want a place in which to be fully human.  Only of course, paying an individual for permission to be human isn’t the same as allowing yourself to be human, all the time, and having people love you for it.

In the Meisner acting technique I teach, actors are taught to respond spontaneously to each other.  They give up the control of their emotions and let the other actor affect them as deeply as possible.  They drop the socially acceptable; they drop the mask of “I’m okay.”  And the connective energy grows so intense–the kind of intensity you can’t look away from on stage or screen.  But for the actor–and I know since I trained in this technique before I started to teach it–it is an education in opening to everything you didn’t know you felt, or exposing what you knew you might feel but would never show.  And most people LOVE it.  The only way to make a mistake is to hide who you are or to pretend you feel something you don’t.  So suddenly, in an acting class, it’s okay to be who you are and to create from that.  I fell in love with Fred Kareman the first time I understood that this was what he was teaching me.

How we need a place of freedom.  Meisner actors say terrible things to each other, things that in life would be a reason to end a relationship, but since the words don’t matter, since only the co-creative sharing of energy, of relating physically, emotionally, spiritually is the focus, since everyone agrees ahead of time not to take things personally, it becomes…the most connected experience some of us ever have.  We stop pretending that we don’t get angry, that we don’t hurt, that we aren’t attracted to each other (even though we’re married to other people)…and we can be this honest because we agree not to act out our feelings, only to use them in the creation of art, and as a secondary consequence of commitment to story.

I have never been taught how to grieve.  I stumbled into it and found my way out, but since I can’t quite articulate what happened both the times I went to that place, I struggle to say why I let go.  Was it because I was loved?  Was it because I faced everything about the relationship?  Was it because I found people who could listen?  Was it because I didn’t stop the emotions as they came?  Because I stopped pretending?

My partner read one of last week’s blogs and said to me, “It’s so sad.  That you must have wanted therapy to work so badly, and it just didn’t.”

So, yes, when I was in my early twenties, confused about why I felt the way I felt about…my family, certainly, but also pretty much everything except travel and writing, I had a deep hope that there was an easy way to get clear.  And I still grieve for who I was, and how hard the road became as the therapists…well, you know.  Fell asleep, fired me for being too healthy, or told me I was so attractive.

I still grieve for moves my family made when I was in grade school, one school to the other, leaving behind the school where I’d been able to overcome being bullied to one where I might face those same issues again.

I grieve for Rick, who wanted one more summer, who wanted to be loved by a man who would see his gentleness and longing, his appreciation of beauty, and who died, as so many men in the 80’s and 90’s did, worn down to bones covered by skin and not much else.

I grieve for the funerals I was not allowed to attend, for the explanations I wasn’t given when my grandfather had a heart attack at our house, for the cousin I loved who disappeared.  And all the others.  I grieve.  I am not, at this moment, trying to be strong for anyone.

And so there is hope.

Because I know, absolutely, that each person I meet has his or her own list. That underneath whatever is being shown, is hurt, pain, hope, courage, truth.

I hope because as I write this the twinges of back pain start to disappear.

It’s not just rage that morphs into physical pain.  It is the emotional reality of my life.  And while just naming it, writing about it, helps but leaves me too raw, there are steps to grieving.  Learnable, requiring nothing but courage and honesty to attempt, these steps create the possibility of not just a pain free back, but of emotional resolution where it is most needed.

I must review what is unfinished.  I must look.  That is my first step.

I believe in healing.  I believe I must find my own way.  I believe I must not do it alone.

I believe this goes for all of us.

So.  Metta for all sentient beings, that we may be free from suffering, that we may find peace with what is, including all the losses we have known.

PS–Of course I’ll include quotes on the other steps to grief resolution once I review them all and decide I agree!  Once I try them and see if they all work as well as I think.  I’m just at the beginning!

My Rage List from the Mindbody Work


…has 77 items on it.  I just typed them up from the handwritten notebook where I’ve been downloading them.

I should say, 77 and counting.

This is not a joke.  I expect to get to 777 before I’m done, though that may take a while.

Having to be perfect is #9.  Then there were a lot about therapists.

A therapist responded to my blog about therapy today.  That made the list, too.

And the fact that the Red Sox are the roller coaster baseball team so the emotions are too intense.  And I happen to be in love with David Ortiz.

It turns out I am enraged that I am leaving the theatre company and also enraged I ever started it in the first place.

This is all about making what’s unconscious, conscious.  Or, stop making sense.  The Talking Heads really were, always, so smart.

So.  I have decided to go item by item and get really specific about what exactly pisses me off and what exactly I would do if I had no moral center and wouldn’t go to jail.

I’ve already done this with one item, and I have to say, my mind has good reason to be afraid that I could turn into a serial killer.  Of course, most people would probably already be serial killers if they knew what the item was, but I’m not telling.

Hiding who I am is also on the rage list, but this a public forum, and I’m already right on the edge of what I can get away with.  So I guess I’ll have to stay mad about that one for a while.

Rage, rage, rage.  I dare you to open your door into this vast uncharted country and see what you find there.  It may not be pretty, but it will change your life.

I guarantee it.