An Approach...

[Photo of Mike Young from Kindergarten. If you cover up the mouth and hair, it IS Baxter Young.]

It's late. I should be sleeping.

I've been sensing a bit of a shift in my approach of late. I say approach becau
se it's not really a philosophy or a paradigm or anything as severe as that --- it's more of ... an approach.

I had really started spinning in circles there for a bit.
After the Feb-March match.com fellow and I parted ways I was back in the pit, forced to start straight at everything that I hated so much. I had started getting frantic in my need for stimulation - of all kinds. My cigarette habit was getting more frequent, I think there were a few weeks there where I drank daily - and I was feeling an insatiable appetite for companionship. Then, as bodies are wont to do... mine broke down. That fevery strep bug got me and forced me back into bed - and back into my head. That was three weeks ago.

I've stopped dating.
I've only had three cigarettes in the past three weeks. I've been sleeping 8-9 hours/night instead of the 6 hours that I was operating on there for months. I'm going out less and gardening more. But the most important difference is in how I'm choosing to reconnect with my sadness. I say choosing and not "being forced to" because it is very much a choice.

On Monday, my friend Scott gave me two CDs to listen to. He and Steve (both colleagues of mine) have been talking about this Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron. How she has helped them so much - to sit and face their fears, to embrace the present moment, to acknowledge the uncertainty of life, and to stop resisting feeling emotions that are painful. There were a couple of days last week when I would arrive on campus frazzled and glassy-eyed. For whatever reason, my drive those days had brought me "into it" and I fought every second to get out. I fought the tears and the pain so hard that my head was throbbing. Scott simply said, "Just be in it. It's just going to make it worse to fight it." And then a few days later, he left these Pema Chodron CDs for me to listen to on my drive.

I can't explain it all here.. it would sound trite and hokey. But the crux of it is about facing the demons that torment you. Abandoning any notion of an attainable state of peace or security is what sets us free. Embracing loneliness and pain takes away their mystiqu
e. As she says, "Loneliness is not a problem." This is what I've been meditating on for a few days now. Because it is my loneliness that plagues me most.

Chodron writes about an ancient Buddhist parable about a group of men who were attacked by dogs. Two of the men froze and trembled in fear. The third man ran as fast as he could ---
straight at the dogs. Bewildered, they stopped in their tracks.

That is what I feel like I'm doing. Running at the dogs. Instead of that buzzing sensation that forces me to want to smoke, or watch some shitty TV, or go online to find a new husband, I'm trying to just sit in the suckage. Own it and call it what it is: hell. Really, right? It is.

I miss Mike so much in some moments that my fingers tingle. My lips throb with the beating of my own heart, in a rhythm so fast and strong that I sometimes fear I will pass out. Waves of nausea come over me, like if I can't just reach out and touch him one mo
re time, I will die. I will worse than die -- I'll live here in this abyss... and always always just be hurting.

It sometimes feels like it is killing me.
But then... after some time, for whatever unknown reason, that wave passes, and I just get up. I emerge stronger, confident... not bitter as you would imagine, but instead filled with love. For what? Not for God, no. Not for Mike, though I do love him and will always. But the love is for ... well... for me, I guess.

Sometimes after a spell like this I visualize different yoga poses. When I'm sobbing I feel child's pose, but when I'm gathering myself back up, I feel Warrior one. With all of me standing straight and looking up at the sunshine between my outstretched hands.

And as lonely as I am, there are times now when I'm going about my day to day and I feel a sense of companionship.
Not in a conscious way, but just as a sort of presence. I've wondered if it's Mike... or the thought of my dear friends... but I think sometimes it might just be me - embracing myself - feeling compassion because of all the shit I've been through, because of all the horror that I've seen, for all the work I'm trying to do to raise my son and do what's right. I look at that person who's done all that and who's still just moving forward - one foot in front of the other, and sometimes I'm in awe. How is she doing this? How the fuck does the cat get fet, the bills get paid, and the oil in the car get changed? I have no idea. She's just doing it. Cause what else is there to do?

I leave you with a scrapbook entry that I came across from one
Michael Young (see photo at right). He had a little scrapbook where he put each year's class photo and could write details about his clubs, hobbies, friends, etc. The book also included a little section where you could check off "What I want to be when I grow up," appropriately dichotomized for boys and girls (it was 1972 after all). Girls had the choice of: Mother, Nurse, School Teacher, Airline Stuardess, Model (no, i'm not kidding). And Boys had the choice of Fireman, Soldier, Policeman, Astronaut.

Then there was a box you could check next to a blank line where you could write in your own profession. In the section for "Sixth Grade," Mike had this "other" box checked, and on the blank line he had written, "
Alive." Nice, Mike. Always the fucking comedian. Nice. I love you, smoosher.


beth said...

Kind of fucked up thing is that somewhere, Mike is laughing at the irony of THAT!

On my drive to work (when I often think about Mike), there is this street that I turn onto once I get out into the burbs, and it's been just gorgeous lately - everything is blooming and there are beautiful shades of green, pink, red, cream - and I've come to think of it as "Mike's Street". I think it's because of what you said in an earlier posting about Mike's capacity for joy - this street embodies all of the beauty of spring, and not only would Mike have loved to look at it, it makes me think of him.



Anonymous said...

That entry is quite ironic. Mike did, in fact, grow up and he was very much alive. So much so that his presence, while maybe not physical, is still here so strong. Maybe it's him, maybe it's Bax, maybe it's his undying love and affection for you both. Embrace it for whatever it is. It's here to get you through.

Love, love, love you,

Michelle xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

HBets17 said...

Hey Danna,
Pema Chodron's book - The Wisdom of No Escape. --sits by my bed. I'll be reading it forever.
love you,

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