Yesterday, I went to a psychiatrist. I finally admitted to myself that I’m stuck, terrified, living, pretty much, like I’m dead, and that I need serious, professional help. The more I try to think about my life, the more the thoughts spin in predictable loops and result in further confusion, indecision, resistance and anxiety.
The psychiatrist, Pat, was nice enough. She warned me that she might say some things I wouldn’t like, and while I was sure that I wanted that, she did succeed in challenging me in a way I didn’t expect. I explained to her that I’m particularly frustrated in my work experience, and that I keep finding myself in jobs that press all my anxiety buttons and eventually lead to my resignation. I told her that I would prefer to stay unemployed at this time in order to figure out what I really want to do. She suggested that any job would be better than no job. I didn’t like that. Any job? Inflict my insanity upon poor, defenceless employers and co-workers? So far, I’ve been good at quitting with notice before any major disaster, but taking a job while I’m so stressed could easily lead to being fired. That wouldn’t be helpful. True, it isn’t necessary to project the past onto the future, but without a plan or a goal up front, before I act, just sets me up for the same old story. The cycle starts and ends with me. That’s where I’m willing and ready to address the problem. But to take any job… well, that’s what I’ve already done for 10 years and I’m confident that it’s not working for me or anyone else. More accurately, any job, I can take… a job – a LIFE – that I might want and care about… well, that’s why I need a psychiatrist. On the other hand, perhaps a solid ‘Suck it up, Princess,’ is more applicable than I’d prefer to admit.
Ah, now you see, this is why I shouldn’t think too much. I swing too wildly between extremes! My Course in Miracles lesson had good advice about that this morning: Lesson 4: This thought about _____ does not mean anything. It is like the things I see in this room, [on this street, out this window, etc.]. Whew. Ok. That helps.
Interestingly, the night before my psychiatrist appointment, I realized that there’s a deep ego need to get ‘the right answer’. So, in my session with Pat, I noticed that I kept making statements followed by asking her, “Right?” She was great; she never fell into the game. Is there ever a ‘right’ answer? Can another person, whatever their credentials or enlightenment, ever give the ‘right’ answer to me? Truly, a psychiatrist isn’t supposed to give answers, they’re supposed to help one find the answers for themselves.
Pat gave me an assignment that I didn’t like initially as well. She wants me to write an essay about who I am, right now. I balked, “Yeah, well, the short answer is that I don’t know.” She suggested that I might need to return to the dreams and desires I had in adolescence. Like my desire to get famous? Ha! That was a retarded motivation then, and it would be an even more retarded motivation now. Finally, I conceded that there were a few interests I developed more recently, and that I could write about. Yes, I can admit, while there may be deep holes in what I know about who I am right now, there are a few things I’m clear about. I see that the ego likes to make blanket statements like “I know” or “I don’t know,” keeping to extreme points of view, but it’s more balanced and reasonable to admit that I know some things and I don’t know other things.
So, I’ll write the essay. I’ll write from a stream of consciousness instead of thinking about it too much. Funny, I would never have imagined that a simple writing assignment could rattle me. I used to be so good at feeling the fear and doing it anyway! After all, in my teens, I skydived - not just once – but three times! I used to be fearless! I used to be enthusiastic and ALIVE! What’s happened to me???
This morning, I watched a highly inspiring TEDxSinCity video. It’s by a white South-African man, Bruce Muzik, who tells his big secret to the world – that he’s a racist. He says that it’s the secrets we hold onto that limit us, and that when we reveal our secrets, we release ourselves back to life, to ALIVEness. I agree with him, and I had to consider: Do I have any secrets? What would I still keep hidden from others? Is there something I’m still ashamed of?
Well… there is something that I was hoping to share with the psychiatrist yesterday, but she seemed more interested in staying firmly in the present. Perhaps that’s appropriate to her function – or for our first session, anyway. I’ve spoken about my big secret, in general terms, with my Mom and a few close friends, but I’m not sure I revealed the details that I’m most ashamed of. It’s also possible that writing about it won’t be enough, because it has to do with my mouth and speaking. Must I yet speak the details aloud?
Last week, it arose that I feared and felt ashamed about my ‘mistakes’ – mistakes I made in the past, as well as mistakes I fear to make in the future. I also saw that this was how I most commonly judged others, based on what I perceived to be their ‘mistakes’. It’s also related to the ‘looming disaster’ that I think will happen at work. What if I make a mistake that can’t be fixed, one that I’ll have to feel guilty about – forever? Yes, I have experience with that kind of mistake and that kind of guilt. There’s a particular mistake that comes to mind. One that I made when I was a child.
I’m getting a bit of a headache. Do I dare tell you? How do I put it delicately? Will you hate me? Will you be disgusted with me? Could you love and forgive me, even though I haven’t been able to love and forgive myself?
I was nine years old. It happened in the summer, between grades 6 and 7. My parents dropped me off to stay the weekend with a classmate, Joanne. Joanne had two older brothers who were about 16 and 17 years old, and, for whatever reason, Joanne and I were left alone in their custody. I’m sure there were adults around, at some point, but I don’t remember them.
The memories I did retain, and further memories that I recovered a few years ago, are jumbled. I don’t know the order of events, but I know that, at first, I was a willing participant. A child’s normal curiosity. A child’s normal innocence and trust. We played hide and seek. We played rock music and danced. They asked me questions and paid a lot of attention to me. I felt powerful and sexy.
I thought we were having fun. The enormity of my mistake became clear when I entered the boy’s basement bedroom and saw the younger boy sitting on the bed, holding a jack-knife, threateningly. He ordered me to take off my clothes. “No.” I answered defiantly, but a knot of fear twisted in my gut. Oops.
I was forced to give the older boy a blow job. I still feel the knife blade pressed up under my arm. “Don’t use your teeth,” the younger boy instructed. I still feel the pain in my jaw as I became tired and pulled away. “No, no, you can’t stop!” they insisted. I still remember the rancid smell of his crotch as I closed my eyes and submitted. I still remember my shock and surprise as he exploded in my mouth. They laughed as I spit out his spunk with disgust, “I didn’t know it would do that!” I complained. My chin was a sticky mess and they didn’t let me wash it off. It irritated and itched as it dried.
There were other tortures, far worse ones. There was, at least, a whole day and a whole night of entertainments in their exclusive company. I’m sure that most are better left unremembered and untold. Yet, I’ve told you the ‘secret’. The secret of my dirty, disgusting mouth.
On the second day, the younger boy threatened me again, “Don’t you ever tell anyone about this!” I shook my head, crying, “No, I won’t. I won’t say anything.” I kept my promise to him. Even when he was charged with rape later the same year and my Mom asked if anything had happened while I was there. I said no. I lied to her. I kept my promise to him, though, through my whole life, particularly in ways that couldn’t be anticipated. Perhaps it’s why I’ve always preferred to write about myself instead of speaking aloud. It’s also perhaps why I’m particularly inarticulate if I’m asked to defend myself. My facial expression is often tight-lipped, and I’ve recently developed a relentless circle of acne around my mouth – a constant reminder of my ‘dirty’ face. Also recently, I discovered that I’m allergic to dairy. Hmmm… yes, milk, yoghurt and cheese are similar to the consistency of spunk. Dairy, as a symbol, isn’t lost on me either: denial of pleasure (dairy is a pleasure food), denial of nurturing (mother’s milk), and, by extension, denial of self-love.
If I was subconsciously keeping the promise I made that day, you might very well ask how I performed as an actress and spoke before large audiences on a regular basis. Yes, well, I was always fine if I was playing a part or speaking from a script. Speaking for myself – no, that was my limitation. As much as I was subconsciously compelled to keep silent, I was also compelled by the opposite extreme, to be heard. Also, I had repressed the trauma throughout those years. My more recent commitment to the Self and its full realization brought those memories to the surface, along with the concomitant fear, guilt, shame, hurt, and various bizarre physical maladies, in order to be expressed, accepted, forgiven and released. It sucks, but that’s how it works. When it’s at the worst, I remember that it’s what I knowingly signed up for, and I’m grateful to finally shed it. It has no control when it’s in the open. It has ALL control when it’s kept hidden.
My grade 6 class photo is of a thin, beautiful, sparkling eyed, and broadly beaming girl. In grade 7, she’s fat, with reddish cheeks, and a tight, closed mouth. The light has gone out of her eyes. I found a diary entry from that time that could be related: “The more I think about you-know-what, the more I hate myself.” A lifelong suffering of migraine headaches, including sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting, began around the same time. My regular punishment and crucifixion, inflicted by subconscious guilt and self-hatred.
So that’s it. That’s my biggest, most shameful secret. Was it helpful to reveal it? Well, my body is now warm with kundalini energy, and I feel somewhat relieved. My forehead and neck still feel a bit tight, but not painful. It wasn’t so bad to tell. In writing, anyway.
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