Thursday, 3 June 2010
Tonight I’m courting the perfection of nihilism, which is just another way of saying that I’m playing Smashing Pumpkins as I write this, exercising the right of the artist to draw, paint, write, sing, or dance what it is we see in front of our eyes, what we see inside our own heads, in our dreams, in our nightmares, in yours. As artists we come here to engage with the fullness of life and the emptiness, the hope and the despair, the heaven on earth, the hell on earth, and the confusion in between. It’s what we do. Most of you know that I’m on a spiritual trajectory, working with a shaman. I have both spiritually focused friends and friends who are drug addicts. I have friends in the full range between. I have said it to each of them, I am saying it to you, and perhaps I should consider saying it to the shaman as well, my raison d’etre:
I came here for the full meal deal; nirvana or nihilism, it’s all a human state of mind. My job as an artist is to reflect that.
Last time I was here, dear sweet readers, I was taking my leave of you. I had been ordered by the shaman to cease and desist my blogging, and while it was painful choice, I did sign on with this man to create healing and change in my life, so cease I did. Those who have been reading this blog or my Twitter stream (@SinsoftheEldest) know that I have likened my work with the shaman to boot camp. Well, today I broke ranks.
Intoxicated with the madness
I’m in love with my sadness
I’m pretty sure that’s what the shaman believes of me, hence Smashing Pumpkins.
I don’t have permission to post this blog. What I do have is an understanding: if I choose to do those things I’ve been directed not to do, then I’m on my own. Now before y’all go and react to that (and first of all, thank you; I love that you are fierce about my well-being), let me tell you this. I am on leave. Normally one does not get leave from boot camp, military or shamanic, but my work with the shaman has been a struggle as of late, a tug of war. His solution: a month’s leave. And so, suddenly, here I am. On my own. Doing what has been forbidden.
Wanna go for a ride?
I know that readers come to Sins of the Eldest Daughter to taste of the forbidden fruit, whatever’s on the menu, and y’all have been steady in both your support of me and in your desire that I kick the shaman to the curb and write already. But I am committed to the work I began, the spiritual work, and I have no intention of quitting. I also know that in the shaman’s eyes, I am recalcitrant, a truant student who is absent even when I am present; a victim addicted to the drama of my own story. And maybe I am. My student/teacher agreement with this man is that I will submit to his will as a way of learning how I unwittingly submit to everyone’s will, whether I intend to or not. It is a tough lesson and one I very much need to learn.
The problem? I am also committed to my way of doing things, by which I mean I am committed to being the person I came into this world to be, something apparently only I can see for this attitude has been the bane of my life. I regularly find myself student to a master -- whether counselor, professor, or coach -- a role I sign on for in order to learn what I do not know, but while I desire the new skill I’m learning and need that skill to get to where I want to go, I also need to be who I am. Struggle ensues.
I did not win the struggle with my shaman today. Like any child, which is what I am in this situation, I do not in fact want to win. Winning out over a parent when one is still undeveloped is to find oneself without guidance or safety. There is no greater fear for a child. The struggle for control, self control, by which I mean control over one’s being and one’s choices, is too often a losing battle because it is waged upon the wrong field. This battle is not with others but with oneself, one’s habits, indulgences, vices, and it is a battle I have lost my whole life. I struggle with others; I lose myself.
This is what the shaman is trying to teach me, and he is teaching me as a drill sergeant teaches a Marine. This method has one rule. Do as you are told or be punished. As behavior modification goes, this is very effective. Just not with me. And I am not afraid to say so, punishment or no.
To the shaman, my arguments are those of one who is willful, one who cannot get where she wants to go, who is at loggerheads with life, and yet who continues to expect to do things as she has always done them. As he rightly points out, this is the definition of insanity. For my part, I know I am arguing for understanding. I also know it is not possible, this understanding, until I have proven that I can do both what is expected of me and what I wish to do. Scratch that. I do not wish to do anything. I am driven to do it, as a fish is driven upstream to the waters of its birth. There is no arguing with this instinct. And so I have argued with the shaman.
I never let on that I was on a sinking ship.
I never let on....
I grew up having to hide everything that was important to me. I grew up not being allowed to feel pain or fear or need. I survived by refusing to yield. On the outside, I submitted. The inside was another matter.
The problem, as the shaman sees it, is that I remain steadfast in my refusal to yield. I can submit, which is to say I bow to that which is unavoidable, giving in to the authority, power, or desires of another -- I have done this my whole life -- but I cannot yield. This behavior has its roots in an abusive childhood. I have overcome the childhood, the anger, the belief that I can be hurt but cannot cause hurt, and my need to regard my mother -- or anyone -- as toxic or bad or wrong. Such pejorative points of view do not serve me. But being stubborn has.
Today I told the shaman I knew the expected answers to his questions and that I would acquiesce because that is our agreement, but whenever he named the problem with my thinking, I had to disagree. Let me put this another way. Throughout childhood, I was told by my mother I had brown eyes. One day I looked into the mirror and discovered that my eyes are green. They are green like the forest: dark, with a smoldering brown at the center. Today, all I heard the shaman telling me was that my green eyes are brown. Struggle ensued. Then, mid argument, he let go.
There can be no tug of war if you are the only one holding the rope.
Immediately, I felt a rush of freedom. It wasn’t the I win! brand of freedom. It was just freedom.
Now some of you may be thinking that the shaman has given up, that he is deserting or punishing me. And some of you may be chuckling as you imagine him giving me just enough rope with which to hang myself (and undoubtedly, you are parents), but that’s not what I see. From my perspective, I have been given the gift of control. All of my relationships have been dominant/submissive relationships, with me in the submissive role (Jose being the exception, the only exception, so is it any wonder I wrote a book about our friendship?). I have struggled, I have cried, I have blamed and raged, and even attempted suicide, all in pursuit of having control over my life.
Let me say that again. All of my relationships have been dominant/submissive, with me in the submissive role. Today, when the shaman announced that for the period of a month I would be on my own recognizance, I received something I have never experienced. A person in a position of dominance over me chose not to dominate.
My experience of freedom today was not the freedom of the self-possessed -- I have a long way to go to be the sole person in charge of myself -- but it IS freedom. For the first time, my chosen jailer swung open the door. I did not have to charge the gate nor chew off my own leg to escape the trap. So, what do I do? I come here, the land of the forbidden. I pull up Smashing Pumpkins on YouTube and play “Zero.” Zero for MyZeroBDayBlog resumed. Zero for these lyrics:
My reflection, dirty mirror. There’s no connection to myself.
Those are the shaman’s worst expectations of how this could turn out for me, I know it. He undoubtedly has a set of best expectations as well, but those aren’t so clear. So I am playing Zero and writing my blog and singing, “Save your prayers for when we’re really gonna need ‘em.” I am not a saint. I am not a sinner. I’m someone who came here for the full meal deal. And I’m not settling for anything less.
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