Breaking the Spell of Separation

I have been under a spell for the last several weeks.

It started with the increasing rancor of the Democratic primary and the relentless negativity of the Republican primary, accelerated with some major changes occurring at work, and came to a point with the death of Antonin Scalia.

It was the spell of separation.

I developed an overwhelming feeling of us and them, good and evil, darkness and light.

I ranted about politics, hastily shared the latest attack-meme on various candidates, and generally felt self-righteous a lot.

I got into argu-discussions in fb comment threads, and actually considered blocking some friends because I was so inflamed by their stated opinions.

At work, my usual intense criticism of the criminal justice system turned to sheer angry disgust. I started to mouth off more in talking to DAs and judges, becoming less civil and diplomatic.

I began to dislike the city where I have lived for 20 years, triggered by the wealth inequality and the oppressive treatment of the homeless.

I had fantasies of doing some grandiose gesture of political resistance in the press or in the streets, or just running away.

I began to question whether I could even in good conscience live in this consumerist society.

With my anger and my clenching resistance to the present moment of reality, I painted myself into a dark and scary corner.

Thankfully, I noticed what was happening, and so did my loved ones.

I decided to tone my "serious" political facebooking down substantially, in favor of humorous coyote-trickster stuff. I went back to posting poetry and pretty photographs. I noticed that I was feeling really burnt out at work, and, having been there before in my 25 year career, reached out for support, and got it.

And yet I was still suffering.

Monday I hit my low point, and fell into flat out hopeless misery and numbness. I went to bed at 9 just so I could be unconscious, but then I couldn't sleep and stayed up half the night reading dystopian sci-fi.

Thankfully I am blessed to be surrounded by vibrant and loving community. Alycia and the kids could see my plight, and took sweet care of me. Alycia listened to me complain and bitch about a million "wrong things", patiently holding space.

My dear friends Jan and Brandon reached out, and my dad Andy checked in with me repeatedly. My Zen sangha-siblings offered wisdom and compassion and reassurance to stick with it, that the clouds would pass, as they do. My accupuncturist gave me some great advice on getting my flow going again. I got some good comedy therapy, listening to standup and watching silly videos, and the laughter really helped.

Then last night I went to my ManKind Project men's circle and did some deep work around sadness, because under the anger and the disgust and the vitriol was deep intense sadness, and within that tremendous concern and compassion for the world.

I needed to work with this sadness and restore flow in my body and spirit.

I knew I really needed to cry, but that doesn't come easy to me. So we did a process where I stood in the center of the circle and every man put a hand on me, and I just breathed and felt the sadness. I swam in it, nearly drowned it, while they reassured me that I was safe and that it was okay to release it.

My old shadowy habits and fearful stories from my various depressions had been telling me that if I "gave in" to the sadness, I would be overwhelmed, and possibly lost forever, so I had been stuffing it.

Except of course the sadness just leaked out, sideways, in the form of anger and self-righteousness and vitriol and hopelessness. As usual, my unconscious attempt to side-step my true feelings had just dug me in deeper and deeper into that which I was trying to avoid.

After standing in the circle for many minutes, I began to feel movement in my chest, and a sensation of energy and warmth moving through my body. I spoke to the sadness, welcomed it, and asked it for its help. I told my sadness that I forgave it, and that I loved it, and that I needed it.

I affirmed to my brothers that my sadness is the source of my strength, because it is the source of my love and my compassion, and that I will no longer hide it away.

I suddenly felt awake and alive and present in a way that I had not for many weeks. The anger and the fear and the hopelessness faded away, and I suddenly realized that the spell was broken.

I was back... I AM back.

Today I feel a tremendous lightness of spirit, and I keep grinning at people and situations that two days ago would have sent me into a rage. I have been whistling tunes while walking on the street, and I have been smiling at strangers.

So thanks to all you beautiful people who kept loving me even when I was sour and grouchy and ascerbic. I really appreciate it.

Today I am in integrity again with my beliefs and values; I see the fundamental good in humanity, crazy and misguided as it often emerges, and I see once again the truth that we are all one family, one organism, one reality.

I wish I could promise that I will never again fall under this spell of separation, but I know that's not the way of things. Most assuredly, another cranial-rectal inversion is on the way. smile emoticon

But I do know that next time it will be a little bit easier to break out of it, both because I am becoming more deft, and because I have created a life of practice and connection and community that reassures me that no matter what happens, no matter how dark and scary it gets (even no matter who gets elected) I will be perfectly safe.

No matter what happens, I will continue to live my mission of radiating love and compassion in the service of healing in this world. I am on the job.