The Buddha & The Borderline

Several weeks ago I became interested in Buddhism. Long story short, all the various types of meditations and mindfulness practices my counselor had spoken with me about months ago seemed more appealing to me now. One of them, walking meditation, I continued to do on a fairly regular basis. So I was kind of looking online for “other tips” or other practices when I somehow stumbled upon a review of the book “The Buddha & The Borderline” here. This led me to purchase an online course to learn about Mahayana Buddhism from The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). It is a two year program that is meant to be a way of life, not to study academically.

It is just what I needed and falls in line with what my counselor and I were discussing in our last episode. I may not be able to make this internal chaos go away but I can recognize it and make it bearable. Recognizing it is what I am currently attempting to do in therapy and meditation and contemplation…”looking within” as she once told me is one way to achieve that.

Strange that Buddha means to be fully awake. Made me think of a song by Katy Perry, so I added below. The song can be interpreted many different ways. But as for being awake, I have just realized that I am asleep.  And so here is to my journey…

-Shadow

Know your why

I went to see my psychiatrist and told him about my father’s death and how I do not know what I am feeling. It seems as though nothing is there. He asked “Do you think your medication is working?” I responded, “medication is 10%, and the other 90% is up to me, isn’t it?”

I am always trying to fill myself up with something so I do not feel the emptiness. It has been a constant feeling throughout my life. That is where addiction comes in, doesn’t it? I don’t choose drugs anymore…now I seek more…”legal” addictions like spending sprees and cycling through religions. Although whether the former is always “legal” is questionable.

So several weeks ago, I decided to take a different approach and began listening to Gregorian chant (again) to help reduce anxiety. Now I have a routine of listening to it in the morning and again in the evening. I do not know what they are saying as it is in Latin but it does not matter. The tone is soothing and I have found it to be beneficial.

For months my counselor has been talking with me about mindfulness and meditation. Both of which I was completely uninterested in until recently. I have engaged with mindfulness before…several years ago and the forms of meditation I have tried to engage in seemed to be fruitless. So, I decided to take a different approach with that as well. Just sit in silence for 5 minutes everyday. I have found that incense helps.

I have the Meditation Sidekick Journal by Habit Nest that has also proven to be useful. The first thing it suggests is to “know your why”. Why do I want to do this? I want peace, that is all I seek. I once told a counselor that I don’t have good days and bad days, I have good hours and bad hours. If I am going to be on a roller coaster because of some illness, I want to make peace with that. If there is just one small chance that I can change it and have more control over the internal chaos and find that sense of peace, I want it. That is my ultimate goal. Before I can acquire this, I must be able to know what I am feeling. To know what this internal dialog is like. What is it saying? Why is it saying it? (Sorry, it is a habit to separate me from my emotions. Separating different parts of me is how I make sense of it.)

So these are the things I have been doing since I wrote last. We will see if I am still doing it in June. It is up to me, isn’t it?

In other news, my long distance friend contacted me today for the second time in… I don’t know how much time has lapsed since I last contacted her. She is the one I mentioned before under Disappearing. Why did I want to abandon her? Because I am afraid. It is easy to never give others a chance to abandon you by abandoning them first and devaluing them makes it easier to walk away. If I am to be totally honest, she has probably been a favorite person for a long time and I didn’t realize it until today. I don’t know how people become favorites, they just do. And when I realize it, it makes that fear of abandonment that much more terrifying.

-Shadow

Preparation for abandonment

A few months ago, my counselor asked how I can prepare myself for when she is no longer available.  She assured me this does not mean she is leaving right now.  I have seen enough county mental health counselors to know, they all leave eventually.  They move on to other jobs…to other cities or states.  And I have difficulty dealing with what I call “being abandoned” especially if it is a favorite person.  My mind interprets it as “they are no longer available” but my emotions interpret it as “they have abandoned me”.

When my mother died in November 2017, I didn’t feel abandoned.  Although, to be honest, I still don’t know how I feel about it.  When my father died in November 2018, I imagined that this must be what it feels like to be an orphan.  Although I suppose an adult can not be orphaned, emotionally I think I am still six.

In any case, below is the list of “how to prepare yourself when a favorite person abandons you” that I came up with December 2018.

  1.  Don’t take it personal.
  2. It may open the door to meet another favorite person in the future.
  3. It is okay to allow yourself to cry about it.
  4. Realize and believe you are not helpless or worthless on your own.
  5. You do not have to blame or punish yourself.
  6. It does not mean you are unlovable.
  7. Pray you don’t come apart at the seams.

Then, this month I came up with this:  O, good grief!  Stop being so dramatic!  It is not the end of the world.  Change is the only thing that is assured.

Numbers 3-7 from the December list comes from a place of emotion.  Numbers 1, 2 and the January 2019 comes from a place of rationalization.  I hope when the time arrives I do not engage in what historically, I seem to automatically do…ignore the emotions.  In the past, I have handled them by telling “self”: “What are you doing here?  Go away, I am busy and have more important matters to attend.”  They go away only in the sense I can no longer recognize them.  If I can not figure it out through reason and logic, it is discounted as unreliable.

Time will tell how I will respond when the moment arrives and I will see if this preparation has been worth it.

-Shadow

Borderline Psalm 54

My internal chatter leaves me no peace
It shakes me like a rattling can full of coins.
My inner noises and conflicts consume me
Like a roller coaster from hell.

I love you
I hate you
Happiness beyond measure
Sadness beyond consoling
This one
No, that one
It’s good
No, it’s evil…

If I had the wings of a bird
I would fly to the highest tree top and be at rest.
I would flee to the wilderness
To get away from this world.
I would escape
If it did not chase me.

Where can I flee from its presence?
If I sit among friends
I am consumed by thoughts of insecurity and judgments
If I sit alone
I drown in my own sadness.

I am like the blind person
Groping in the darkness
Unable to reconcile
All the pieces within.

-Shadow

Behind the masks

You took all the pieces
And stitched yourself together
It became your comfort
Entangled in the tether.

How can I know you
The one behind the guise
Lurking in the shadows
Hidden behind your eyes.

Who are you
And where did you go
That one behind the masks
That little girl down below.

Will I ever see you
The one without a name
Wrapped up your blanket
And covered in shame.

Shadow
December 25, 2018

Beyond the mask…nothing

My delay in writing has been due to moving into a cabin in the woods that I was excited about a couple of weeks ago.  It is such a lovely, quiet place. Unlike the dwelling of the Unabomber, my cabin has more than one room, running water and electricity…and I am not seeking a primitive lifestyle; only quiet, semi-seclusion.  For the record, I have no interest in making bombs either. These days, I’m more of a hazard to myself than others.

I have been contemplating the question by my therapist: “Who am I when I am not wearing a mask?”  I am still no closer to an answer than I was in 1986 when I first began therapy. Seems it is automatic for me to define “self” according to whatever behavior I may be engaging in at the time or whatever emotion I might be experiencing at any given moment.  

Several months ago, I attempted to discover self through meditation.  According to some Youtube videos, I could achieve this by “looking within”.  Although I must admit, I don’t know where “within” is exactly. I don’t see anything when I “look within”…just blank.  My therapist suggested that I might have a “blockage” and that could be why I can’t “see within”. Blockage? Why can’t it be that there’s nothing there?  Where am I supposed to be going, anyway? I’m not even clear how meditation works. Perhaps it requires a different skill set I have not yet acquired.

I am pretty good at psychological projection onto inanimate objects though.  Which I suspect is somewhat akin to religion. Speaking of which, I wrote a type of poem about the goddess Morrigan after reading about her through the study of Celtic mythology and beliefs.  It is a mixture of how she is portrayed by others, as well as my own search for self and attempt to see beyond my own mask.

Morrigan, Morrigan

Phantom queen.

Binding my fate

And setting the scene.

Morrigan, Morrigan

The one not clear.

Challenging me

To overcome my fear.

Morrigan, Morrigan

Who ignores demands.

They run through my fingers

Like grains of sand.

Morrigan, Morrigan

Weaver of time.

Creating a mountain

Then hurrying me to climb.

Morrigan, Morrigan

Shifter of shape.

Constant lessons

I cannot escape.

Morrigan, Morrigan

The one who knows.

I follow your path

But see only shadows.

Morrigan, Morrigan

I must open my eyes

If I’m to see you

Beyond your reflected guise.

©Shadow