I’ve been lost, truly missing in action, for some length of time that I honestly can’t identify. It’s been somewhere between a week and a month since I last remember feeling like myself.
I’ve wandered around, knowing there are things to do–many, many actions in varying degrees of importance–but largely incapable of producing any of it. I want to sleep or sink into the mindless world of books, television, and the world wide web of distraction. I’ve even been willing to sit and gaze into nothingness and examine, and then re-examine the pile of things I can’t seem to do. More than any of those rookie distractions, I want this enormous chocolate chip cookie sandwich stuffed with icing and dipped in chocolate. I can purchase it from the bakery of my neighborhood grocery store. I believe they call them yo-yo cookies but think that something like Satan’s Playground might be more appropriate.
It seems that some baggage, unresolved matter from the past, is vying for my attention. I don’t know what happened… Actually, that’s not true. I know exactly what happened and I have no business being surprised that all of this is coming up. I invited it. I summoned this spacey madness by going to a White Tantric Yoga workshop, committing to a much more healthy diet, and clearing out clutter while I launched the Sick of Being Stuck September experience. I harassed my SOBSS students with the mantra “Release, release, release,” and now look at me. I can already hear their amused laughter echoing in my ears. I pushed them pretty hard from the start:
Are you stuck? Are you sick of it? Do you believe that releasing that which no longer serves you from your physical environment will free you to make the changes you desire? And if not, are you willing to suspect that disbelief for a day, a week, or a month to try a different approach to change? Yes. Yes. Yes. It only takes three to change your life.
The real kicker for me, of course, is that I also did the daily challenges. I explored my relationship with stuff, the memories, the reasons behind the stuckness that resulted in all of that stuff in my physical space. I did the work, digging in the garden of my own life, while encouraging them to do the same. Much was released from my physical and mental experience and now comes the emotional side. It is time to do “The Work,” and I really hate/love or love/hate that part. I love the potential of the process, and I love the results. I hate it when I’m stuck in the middle.
The discomfort has me searching and reaching for something to keep it… away or down or wherever it was stuck before that I didn’t need to deal with it.
That’s my impulse, you know, to push it out of my consciousness. It begins working its way up from deep within–the churning of my belly, the aching in my chest, the tightening of the muscles stretched between and including my shoulders. While I buzz about my world–going and tending and doing–as if my body isn’t slowly being possessed by old, archived pain, I don’t even notice it is happening.
I also don’t slow down enough to realize that my breath has returned to the fractured, fearful patterns of yesterday. It seems as if all that I’ve done to recover and heal from my old ways of being–just imagine the hours of yoga, meditation, therapy, writing, and such–was all just a dream, a flash of fiction unwritten in the shock of an early morning alarm.
Finally, the old makes its way into my neck. My throat tightens against the swell of emotion, a seemingly natural defense. But, holding back emotions that are ready to be released is the exact opposite of an organic response. They surge so we can let them go. This is an invitation to surrender and release and heal.
By the time my throat begins to close in on the surge of emotion, the experience suddenly pouring into my consciousness, I am in something of a crisis state. Keeping myself together requires an emergency reboot of the system, and it is almost too late to stop it now.
Desperate, I call upon my inner architect, “There was a wicked storm 25 years ago and the flood is coming. I need a dam… like yesterday.” Clearly, this is not my first crisis. I’ve built hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these dams in my life. Once it’s gone this far, I have to chase the memories and tears, sadness and grief, frustration and anger back to its secret place.
Instead of sticks, I wield big desserts. My choices are to use the food to numb, to go absolutely out of my mind with rage on the first fool who offers me even a pathetic sliver of an excuse, or face and experience the emotion.
For the most part, facing it scares the hell out of me. These days I make every effort to keep the violence in check because the aftermath–for others and for myself–is simply unbearable. That leaves only the sugar between me and the “Release, release, release.” As I mentioned before, I recently made some dietary adjustments.
Sugar got the boot.
The cravings are driving me out of my mind, or perhaps out of my body is more accurate. I can’t think about anything else. I can’t write, plan, complete tasks, or manage to calm my chaotic brain. I can’t even vacuum. Yes, I know that sounds lame. You should hear the way it sounds in my head. Lame is generous. Pathetic is more like it, perhaps mixed with a little hopeless and some no-wonder-you’re-such-a-fat-ass for good measure. I am stuck… and yes, I’m completely freaking sick of it (edited for the faint of heart).
I don’t want to eat those things. I want to be healthy. I want to lose this extra weight and be strong. I want to run and play with my wife. I want to be the kind of mom who hikes and gets in goal after school and on the weekends. I want to stay in my body when feeling gets hard, when the emotions surge on their way out. The pull of my desires to live in alignment with my integrity is up against my coping mechanism of choice. I just finished reading Geneen Roth’s “Women, Food, and God” and I can say that every single word resonated as absolute truth while I was listening but now I’m sitting here in the midst of one of the battles she describes so eloquently in the book. This one is epic and I don’t know what to do.
I can’t remember what I’m supposed to do to move through these cravings.
Years ago, I attended a Weight Watchers meeting and the speaker said something about a craving lasting for seven minutes and that when she was having one, she would go for a walk for 15 minutes and the craving would be gone. I told her that my cravings could kick her craving’s ass. I once waited three weeks for ice cream, obsessing day in and day out, before finally going to the pink place to get my scoops.
I know that a piece of Roth’s approach is that I’ve labeled this as a forbidden food and having done so keeps me in a toxic relationship with it. It’s like we’re bonded for life and while “Satan’s Playground” seems to care nothing about me, in this moment, I’m quite obsessed with the dessert in question. I’m stuck, stuck, stuck. I can’t think straight. I have no motivation. My get up and go is gone and I don’t even have the energy to fake it.
That is where I stopped writing last week. I had nothing more to say. My rant was colorful, perhaps familiar enough to bring a sense of relief to a reader or two. But, frankly, I’m a solutions girl and it is my intention to cultivate change with my clients, students, and readers. I’m all about self-discovery and self-acceptance. And I firmly believe that when you add integrity to the mix, the product is a profound sense of freedom. I want that for myself… and for you. I was stuck, this article was unfinished, and the situation was bad. I turned away from the article for what must have been the 97th time and fled to my old friend Facebook. This was the first item in my feed:
“Well, some days no matter how much you try to stick with The Plan, you just have to get up and get out! Been diligently working through my list for the day but feeling antsy, so time to let it go, go for a long walk & let whatever is niggling at me just out of range of my conscious awareness, catch up with me. Often scenes for the novel I am writing or insights about life come when I am walking- surprising and delighting me. It’s as if they are there, in my body, released by the grounding movement of feet on ground, & muscles in motion.” – Oriah Mountain Dreamer
My entire being needed desperately to be in the woods but until I read her post, I had no idea. It absolutely hadn’t occurred to me but her words resonated as truth (with a flair of desperation) in every part of my body–from the top of my head to the tips of every finger and toe.
My brain rushed in to report the impossibility of walking away from The Plan. There was so much to do: emails, long overdue articles, marketing, and still with the damn floors that need to be cleaned! The list of “shoulds” seemed endless and logic said that going to the park was nothing short of irresponsible. My body begged to abandon from the laptop and high-pitched squeal that I still haven’t found and eliminated from my home/office. My spirit was already across the street at the park, rolling around in the grass, awaiting the arrival of the rest of me. My intuition reminded me that Oriah Mountain Dreamer is one I have chosen as my teacher (Whether she knows about it or not!) and that following her guidance consistently and magically cultivates breathtaking goodness and freedom in my life.
Back and forth, the battle went until my brain conceded. I’ve done this dozens of times before, fled to the park to surrender my stuckness, and not once did I regret it. Not one time. Nothing will fall apart while I’m in the woods for a few hours. My spirit called from across the street, “Oh hell, Christy, it’s not like we’re getting anything done now anyway! Who cares if we make no progress on The Plan at the house or if we make no progress on The Plan because we are in the woods?”
I still don’t know what I would have done if I’d stayed at the house that day but while I was in the woods I found something I’ve been seeking for 20 years in a book that I’ve owned for well over half that time. I decided to host a group study of that book, “Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD. Two more students registered for my Sick of Being Stuck program.
Also, perhaps a generous gift from the universe for honoring myself by listening to my teacher, I answered a unidentifiable incoming call (which I almost never do) and had a nice, long talk with my contact at a publishing company about the book I’m writing.
Yes, I’m serious. All of that happened while I was in the woods for two hours. I could not have done more from my house, even with a magic wand.
So, how do we know which way to go? When we are stuck and overwhelmed–be it physical, emotional, or otherwise–what can we do to make our mind, body, and spirit shift back into forward motion? This experience reminded me that when I invest in a powerful support system for myself (and then trust the feedback it gives me), reconnect with myself through dance, breath, meditation, and yoga, and drag my very stuck and resistant self out into nature, I can barely keep up with all of the good that flows my way.
What does it for you? What gets you moving when you are stuck, stuck, stuck?
Image Credit: cspruit via Flickr