I think a major part of my spiritual practice is subliminal song lyrics (I sure end up quoting them a lot when I write). Little phrases that pop into my head to remind me what I’m working on, or a song I’ve heard a thousand times suddenly speaks to me in a new way. This week, I had both.
The opening line from a Sarah McLachlan song keeps rolling in my head: Hold on, hold on to yourself, for this is gonna hurt like hell. Now the natural response to that is: What the…? RUN!!! But it’s no use, what you’re running from is within. So I hear that subliminal song lyric and think: Well shit! but try and brace myself as much as I can. (Incidentally this song is also on my A-list when I’m composing a mix CD for friends going through breakup. Sadly it’s the best advice and commiseration I can offer the love-eviscerated).
So I brace myself and hold on, through things like my latest health adventure: heavy metal detox. A process that I can only describe as leaving me feeling poisoned (as it should I suppose, just feeling it on the way out rather than in). It’s like all the not-fun parts of being drunk (another kind of poisoning I suppose) dizzy, queasy, uncoordinated, addle-minded. Good times. I’m also generally really good at having a freak out any time I start feeling crummy because I fear the relapse and the collapse of my life that usually follows, so not always approaching these days of detox with faith and patience. I often wake up the next day surprised as hell I’m not actually dead and I no longer feel like crap and can get on with the life I was so sure I’d lost. It’s hard to hold on.
Of course it’s never just toxic chemicals we get ourselves stuck with, but all kinds of emotional crap as well. “If you’d wanted to feel those feelings, you wouldn’t have stuffed them in your tissues in the first place” – a reoccurring observation from my acupuncturist. True enough, and that leaves us with the task of going through it all over again (hopefully now with some maturity and perspective). This time, holding on and seeing it through to the other side.
Right now, for me, it means clearing out some crap that got laid down when I first got sick in high school. Undiagnosed and exhausted, unable to get back to what I thought was my life, powerless and frustrated I responded with all the fury a thwarted teenager could muster (anybody remember teenage girls? YIKES!). And now, 20 years later, up it comes (here’s hoping I’ve got the patience and grace to handle it this time). Coming home from acupuncture where the bastard (gratitude through gritted teeth) has picked the needle points to stir up all that crap, I’m stuck in traffic – again powerless and frustrated, tears rolling down my face. Some song by The Verve comes on the stereo… tie yourself to the mast my friend, and the storm will end. And it just makes perfect sense to me!
When it’s too hard to hold on, you tie yourself in – surrendering to it, letting go of even trying to hold on, just putting yourself in the power of the storm. Eventually it’ll end. And I swear it will, but you gotta go through it first – ALL of it. And sometimes if you don’t lash yourself to the mast you’ll chicken out and bail overboard instead.
A psychologist friend whose work used to involve counselling couples mentioned again this week what she called the rollercoaster effect. Couples reach difficulties in their relationship and the tension builds as they try and work through it (the upward hill of the rollercoaster), and a lot of times it just gets too hard, too uncomfortable, and somebody bails out before they can reach resolution (at the crest) – both missing out on the downward coast of released tension (not to mention throwing up your arms and going WOOOO!). Couples that hit the hill time and again without every peaking over the crest tend to fall apart.
There’s so much stuff comes roiling up as we move through our lives, ya just gotta hold on. And when you can’t hold on, lash yourself in. And if you haven’t the strength for that, find a friend to sit on you (and thank them later, ‘cause you’ll be cursing their socks at the time).
Holding on to get through letting go. Better living through paradox… Channel surfing this week, I heard the mentor of Being Erica quote Ralph Waldo Emerson: Every wall is a door. For as stuck and frustrated as I’ve been feeling, the idea of seeing a wall differently sure caught me, and got me thinking about the paradox of blessings/curses. My Achilles heel, and the root my current suffering is utter stubbornness, digging my heels in and resisting what I think shouldn’t be. Suddenly I realized it was also my greatest strength. That tenacity – that ability to hold on no matter what – I could channel that to hold on and stand my ground in the middle of my storm; not to resist it, but to resist the urge to run. To finally crest a hill I thought would never end, to be able get to the other side and throw my hands up in WOOOO!
There’s momentum on the other side, freedom from long carried burdens, and the delicious feeling of being back in the flow. But only if you hold on, hold on through the part that hurts like hell. ‘Cause, I gotta tell you, (to quote a Robbie Williams song) on the other side: something beautiful will come your way (that’s three subliminal song lyrics in one article – Ta Da!).
Trust me on this: hold on through the letting go. It’ll be shitty, it’ll be awesome. It’ll be worth it.
Oh, and I discovered another reference to the value of my stubbornness in Escape Velocity. Apparently I RAWK (or at least am getting good and loving my crazy bits).