I'm doing something a little different today. I was doing my morning pages (=half awake/half asleep journalling to fuel the creative process) today and wanted to share. Intimacy with the self is something I'm deep diving into these days as I create a new program. Welcome to my early AM brain.
= Closeness, familiarity, warmth and affection
= Detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, time, subject, period
There is no definition in the dictionary for intimacy with the self. There is an assumption that we know ourselves well because we dwell within ourselves. Intimacy knows “like the back of your hand.” The funny this is we spend so much time avoiding ourselves. This hurts. I don’t want to feel this.
I’m uncomfortable so I’m going to do crazy amounts of cardio, eat a pint of ice cream, and spend hours and hours on my phone or Facebook. I’m going to clean when I’m stressed or angry. I’m going to move my body or numb my body to disconnect as much as possible from what I’ve labeled as “bad.” I’m overwhelmed so I am going to tune out with alcohol or drugs or music. I want to zone out. Veg out. Get out of this body, this mind, this trap, this pain.
I hear people say I don’t like myself when I’m not on this medication. I’m too sad when I’m off this medication. I’m too angry. I sink into a hole of sadness and despair. What if we listened to the anger and the grief? What if we asked it why it is there and what it needs? What if we gave it generous tenderness and time? I hear maybe I’m “just depressed.” Like depression is something you get, an affliction. We’ve been taught it’s a disease but not how to address it.
All these emotions are labeled as distasteful. Somehow separate from us and something we have to get rid of, take care of, and manage. We build walls between ourselves and our feelings all the time. We have our own go to activities that help us not to feel. We have a stable of them that are designed to let us go into static-cigarettes, emotional eating, alcohol, drugs, TV, overworking, over exercising, over experiencing, never stopping, the glorification of being busy. Activities that increase our ability to stay with our emotions are things like meditation and yoga.
Psychologists say that the development of our emotional maturity is arrested when we are addicted to a substance. This is originally in reference to addiction to drugs and alcohol but it could also apply to any numbing activity. Our fear of feeling prevents us from truly knowing ourselves. We don’t want to touch the feeling so we can’t identify it. Is it rage, grief, despair? Do we actually allow ourselves to feel any of those things? Are those so gross and distasteful and wrong and bad that we just hold up a hand and say no thank you? I’ll just check my phone again or channel my frustration and impatience into This Really Slow Checkout Girl. Or maybe your cell phone customer service person or the guy at the bank.
Or maybe life turns into one big annoyance where you start to look at everybody as being an impediment to your life. THEY are too slow, in the way, too rude, too unconscious, not paying enough attention. Your undigested emotions create a lens of steady irritation. They’ve been untended to for so long that they are just a big mush of unpalatable feeling.
It’s like a recipe for a discontent human: one part insecurity, one part social anxiety, one part unprocessed grief, one part pissed, 5 parts stuffing it down with a sprinkle of don’t look at me I don’t feel good about myself on top.
This is the human experience. We are all using substances in some way. We are all struggling to push away scary stuff. No judgment, no shame, no guilt. You’re human. I’m human. No one is exempt. You will experience some of what I described today. So will every single person you come into contact with. We are the same. You can look into the eyes of the person who hands you your coffee and see the fatigue or the preoccupation with their thing.
This is your assignment for today:
Reconnect with yourself. When you feel the beginning of that itchy/scratchy/nagging feeling of self-doubt or worry or I don’t feel loved throughout the day, STOP. Hold the phone. Identify the feeling. What is it? Where does it live in your body? What was the trigger?