Thursday, March 01, 2018

standing up for myself

Over the weekend, we noticed that the air conditioning of our car suddenly starting failing with warm air entering from one of the ducts. The rains were on and off in Chennai and the previous week saw only one working day for schools, before they went into a precautionary 'closed due to rains' mode. We drove past a mechanic and he was closed so we decided to get this sorted first this during the week. I was looking forward to getting back to our normal routine the following week on.

It was Monday morning and I prepared for a regular school / working day packing four lunch boxes and gearing up for the day ahead. I went to the balcony to check on my tomato plant with my little one, when my neighbour casually asked why he was up so early and ready with obviousness oozing out of her glance stating there-is-no-school-anyway. My brain was going no-no-no-no-no this cant be possible and I quickly reached out to my phone to read all the messages and emails announcing the same. As I let my brain process this new information, I waked in on my husband nose-deep into his laptop and mentioned about the new development. He was quick to respond, without so much of an eye contact, "I can taken them both to work today" the school was still not open due to a government declared rain holiday. I had to go into work, so Kumar very kindly offered to take the kids with him. I was now obliged to get the air-conditioning fixed to sort of feel like I was returning a favour.

Post work, I went to a mechanic's and after spending a couple of hours learnt of an issue that needed insurance coverage, else it would work out to be way too steep in my pocket. So, I drove down to the nearest authorized dealer, which was an hour away. Now here is where I discovered something new about me. Right in the car dealer's workshop, I had an epiphany.

Once the car was examined and it was decided that it be left behind for a day, I had the arduous task of having to clear my mobile-home. So there were extra pairs of shoes, a pillow and blanket (when one of the boys need it on their day-at-nibbana), some books, some bags among some other things. As I started collecting them all putting them in the bags I already had and of course it wasn't enough. That's when a well meaning young mechanic offered to bring me some more bags, so off he went.

Now, I had parked the car in-between two cars and there was just enough space to barely open the rear door to get the stuff out. As I was bent in busy picking up the items, our man who had gone to fetch the bags was back and he said 'here'. His voice was way too close for comfort. And as I turned around he was standing half-arm-distance away from me. I'm sure he was a well meaning guy and genuinely wanted to help me out. But, this distance was not ok for me. In the fraction of moments after seeing him stand right behind stooping me, my mind started racing with signals to run-away. I felt my body wanting to ball itself up and vanish. I wanted to vanish to feel safe and offer myself protection. Everything that was coming up was something that was familiar for me. This had been thus far my go-to action plan for protection when there is perceived threat for body violation.The fear of inappropriate touch, of grazing of fingers or the brushing of parts of the body, or even gazing eyes. What I heard next coming out of my mouth surprised me as much as it did the unsuspecting man standing in front of me, now that I had turned. In a very calm yet unambiguously firm tone the words "Why are standing so close, move back" flowed out as if it was someone else who'd gotten between me and that guy. I noticed my body, how my shoulders were stretched back relaxed and my feet stood firmly exactly where they were all the time. I hadn't retreated or run away.. In that moment, I learnt to stand up for myself in that very same place.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The inner struggle

Today I have some clarity on the inner struggle between my Parent and Child. The guilt is of course something that the Child is feeling because of the injunction "Don't Exist". As long as I was 'Pleasing Others and Being Perfect", I only had to deal with the feelings of sadness. The coping strategy of my sadness and perhaps my script decision involved around sadness, I've understood as 'suffering in silence'. The manifested behaviour has been that of passivity and passive aggression and internal harm that occasionally caused a bad stomach and a severe migraine. But now, when I am no longer functioning as if on autopilot in my driver behaviour, I have hit my injunction and my oh my, it is very painful.

There seems to be a difference in my consequential thoughts though. When I was little, and much into my adulthood, perhaps as recent as a few years ago even, I remember thoughts of getting rid of myself was prevalent every-time I hit my injunction. I would have wanted to magically just have my life ended. I remember indulging in thoughts of dying. However now, these thoughts have not occurred at all. I hear my Rebellious Child, speaking up ferociously to the Critical Parent about compelling facts that she (my internal Parent) ought to take into consideration.

This was however, initially coming to me as a fantasy conversation that I saw as an externalised faction. On paying closer attention and following my body language, I realised that it was my Child trying to get approval from my Parent. Longing for approval, to be told that I am a good girl and I am OK and accepted. And the Parent, well, I am not sure if that came in. What is coming up from me now is as I am processing this internal dialogue and as I externalise my inner world, I am feeling composed, settled, there is a smile on my face, I am not sure which ego state this is though. Certainly there is my Adult involved and watching and I seem to have received some internal Permission. I haven't quite been able to know and understand what that is. I am hearing 'It's OK being where you are'. I am glad to have this clarity. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Future past and presence.

Guilt ridden I sit nursing my migraine today;
the heaviness of them both at its seasonal high.
My mind and heart are at loggerheads today
torn between decisions and feelings that follow;
should I really stand up for myself or comply and wallow -
in mute resentment and passivity? I let go a deep sigh.

I know it is not going to be easy- this loving and respecting myself especially in turbulent times. It is going to be a journey. The loss of life as I know it that comes along with standing up for myself, is the one that is causing me grief, piercing through. So much so that I am almost tempted to give in and become a part of a current I clearly don't want to be in. The unfamiliarity, the uncertainty the wobbliness of my next landing step is frightening - it is dark and the terrain unknown. I know I would need to be kind to myself in this process more than ever before. Taking stock of the energy I seem to be having now to direct towards myself and the very apparent shift from the erstwhile rigidity in structuring my children to a more nurturing and compassionate one is very reassuring for me. I see me being softer and gentler with guiding and being with my children. I seem to have immersed myself in the joy of taking care of my needs and passionately going after them. I notice the energy to sustain the change is far higher than ever before. I have and will continue to take support from all the nurturing and accepting relationships around me and the people who have much before me, braved to be there for themselves through their books. Through them all I learn to live and speak my truth.