My 19th Letter To You
I have been doing a lot of reading lately. Educating myself is the only way through hard shit.
Lots of Podcasts and books as the guidebook to me trying to be better and do better. I cannot imagine not wanting to try and be a little better to the world, each and every day.
It’s not that I wish to be better than anyone else, but honestly, I am just trying to be a better human and part of that is acknowledging the uncomfortable stuff in my life.
Five years ago, my friend Anna, who is also a practising Buddhist and Doctor of Sociology said to me that meditation is actually learning to sit in your own shit. Man, that resonated with me. No such thing as a zen waterfall and unicorns and enlightenment. It was about being present with what makes you ashamed, worried, anxious and so on. Those ugly thoughts and memories that make you feel flushed and hear a roar of shame in your ears when you think of them.
At the time my Dad was dying. I did a Metta meditation, sending love out to strangers, to casual interactions, to my enemies, to my father and then to myself.
As I focused I began to feel sick. A rocking of my core and gut that welled up in my throat and just as I thought I was about to vomit, my beautiful rescue dog Charlotte stood up and vomited some sort of black shit all over the carpet.
She looked at me, and I swear she shrugged and went into her bed, as though to say, I felt it, I got you, I got it out for you.
The sickness had gone and all that was in place was peace. Let it happen, my mind said. You cannot change the outcome for your Father. Let it happen. Feel the love and let it happen. I was afraid of not having my father to protect me from my Mother. I was afraid of not having him to make laugh. I was afraid of him leaving me to have to manage everything for them. I was afraid of being asked to do too much. I knew what was coming and it wasn’t for the faint of heart. I also knew he might have a horrible death, and I was so scared for him. I wanted to run away. I wanted to stop the meditation because I felt sick, sick in the place where his cancer was growing.
Instead, I sat in my own shit. I sat in the fear, the shame, the worry, the anxiety and the pressure. And then I got up and cleaned it all from the floor. Because first enlightenment then chop wood or clean carpet as it were in this case.
Feeling hard stuff isn’t easy. We run away from it by drinking, taking drugs, having self-destructive sex, eating too much, eating too little, smoking and shopping and being a cunt to other people.
Uncomfortable doesn’t go away, so instead, ask yourself, why are you struggling with sitting with this feeling.
Soften and let it happen. The feeling will go away once you’re honest with yourself and see where the block is for you. What is coming up? Write about it. Paint it. Walk it out. Dance it out. But whatever you do, acknowledge it.
Become present in your life, good and the shitty bits. This is when you own the feelings of wanting to run away but instead stay in it till it passes. When you hold the hand of grief, or step up and listen to the pain inside yourself, when you ask for help to get through the emotional tar, then you are taking part in your life and changing it. You are saying enough of this crap. Enough of the history. Enough.
I know you have some itchy, pointy bits that are pressing into you at the moment. The mysterious bruise that almost feels good to press as you watch the blood flow away from it and then back again. But how about you let it heal? How about you sit with it and work out where it came from and what you have learned from it? How about you stop trying to un-run it and face it? Stare it down. Be brave and real and honest and get help if you need to. Ask people to teach you how to clean up your shit is the most courageous thing you can do for yourself.
I love you. You are okay. But do this and it will be better. I promise. I really do.