Easter Sunday, A Holiday That Was Never A Big Deal For Me
It is Sunday. Easter. This holiday was never a big deal to me as a kid (Santa beats the Bunny, right?)… from the “Love in the Time of Corona” a Corona Diaries series of Morning Pages entries, written while Cat is stranded in Australia.
It is Sunday. Easter. This holiday was never a big deal to me as a kid (Santa beats the Bunny, right?)
One of my favorite memories was being young with my parents, walking through the park.
For some reason my older siblings weren’t around that day and I was young enough that my little sister wasn’t born yet. It was sunny outside. My mom loved the hot weather and she had on her signature Bermuda shorts. We took a walk in the park and for that moment I could tell my parents truly loved each other. I walked between them holding their hands and they played this game with me where they swung me in the air together. I couldn’t stop laughing. They played with me separately a lot growing up but it was rare to have them play with me together. Thirty-seven years later I still remember this.
I remember another Easter where we had this egg hunt at the church.
When the timer went, I ran out with the other kids, with my white leather Sunday sandals and white lace dress. Usually you’d catch me in cargo pants and a cape so this dress was a rare occasion. The eggs were easy to find and I managed to fill my basket in a couple of minutes. Then I looked around and realized that other kids couldn’t find any eggs. So I re-hid mine, put some eggs in some of the younger kids baskets, and even helped some of the kids find the ones that I re-hid.
I got the kindness award when I was 5 years old. I got it again when I was 12.
Knowing my own dirty secrets and shadows, I wish I could believe that I was as kind as other people could see me. A couple days ago I was re-reading the intro to “The Tibetan Book of the Dead” and realized that I’m fucked in terms of all of the karma I’m carrying.
When I was 18 I was hell-bent on the path to enlightenment.
Then I started to make freedom out of this lifetime less of a priority. How do I even be in this life in the first place – not get out of it, became my real question. I’ve spent my life half in, half out of here. Even now with this coronavirus, I watch my old pattern of “I’m outta here” but I know that there’s nowhere to go even if I did try to leave my body, except back into here. The only way out is through. I spent the past decade less mystical in some ways and more practical.
The subtle, the astral, the magnificent, the revelations, the awe – that comes easy for me. It’s like as Jack Kornfield writes, “After the Ecstacy, the Laundry.”
That’s been my practice.
And in all honesty, getting real these past decades with how much my eating disorder ruled my life. I put myself on my first diet when I was six, starved myself at 9, got severely underweight when I was 17, and played that game for a long time.
I remind myself as I’m struggling right now and having all sorts of feelings that at least I’m coping well. I’m not starving or over-exercising; I’m not bingeing or purging; I’m not taking any drugs; I’m not trying to kill myself; I’m not even over-working. Yes, I’m crying. I feel like crying is good. It moves things in my body. And I sit with waves in me that are uncomfortable. I am becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. And I’m also uncomfortable with it.
Yesterday my boyfriend asked me a strange question, “What would be the worst form of torture for you?”
(Let me just add – don’t move in with a new lover during a global pandemic. It kills the sexiness and mystery. We are getting strange with one another. I know this is real but there’s a part of me who wants to grip onto fantasy and I’m pissed off at you Reality, because really you’re just stripping me of all my fantasy. And that’s my favorite way to escape. Does anyone else feel like they are in Hotel California? “You can check out anytime you’d like but you can never leave?”)
Back to the torture – it was interesting to hear our different forms. I did tell him I was disturbed by the question. Personally I thought my torture fears were worse than his; but I’m in the couple’s competition mode and he’s really trying to play with me like we are on the same team. You can imagine how this is going.
When I first heard about this lockdown I imagined myself in my home in Bali.
Maybe I’d rent a piano again. I’d hang with my cat. I’d have time to write and I could deepen my practice. This is what I do on my vacations with myself anyway – so that sounded like heaven to me.
For some reason I decided to stay in Australia. Okay I’ll admit it was because of my partner here. I didn’t see myself fully enjoying myself in Bali knowing I didn’t know when I would see him again. How to run a long-distance relationship when the next time to see one another is undetermined?
I was excited for what my therapist termed my “growing edge.”
Yes! I’ve lived alone for over a decade, I cherish my aloneness, and now I’m going to learn how to live with someone. I painted sparkles all over it and saw the birth of my book. Out of this balanced tension for once, I would really know that I knew how to love and be loved.
Instead I am here with a bicycle. I don’t have a car. I’m trying really hard to enjoy myself as I’m very lucky to live in the bush with wild kangaroos all over. The weather hasn’t gotten too cold yet.
My boyfriend pointed out two days ago that he knows I hate his home (tent). I tried to pretend I didn’t hear him and inwardly wondered how the fuck he knew. I’m like a little kid who’s doing very obvious things, but thinks no one can see me.
The reality is that for all of us, I believe, we are getting to confront all of our little prisons that have always been here.
We have never slowed down/stopped enough to really feel them. Even with meditations we can still schedule a way to distract ourselves after. Even after an intense retreat, we can try to integrate the lessons and revelations and practices but we can always find ways to step aside. For sure through repeated practice there’s a depth and change that happens, and yet, there are so many ways we get to escape ourselves. Trust me, I know.
I am very pissed off that these are taken away from me. I have watched a child emerge from inside of me underneath the depths of this other wise woman I have. You see I’ve spent years cultivating myself as a teacher and as a student and as a friend. As a partner – I haven’t spent much time. A lover? Yes, I can play that, I know those waves and games. But the cohabitation with someone, having someone see me at my ugliest, having to share space and make messes, and have likes and dislikes expand and clash together, this I am new at.
[However Cat didn’t record herself reading Easter Sunday, you may enjoy listening to Cat read other blog posts on Cat’s Spotify Podcast]
My boyfriend mentioned the other night that he expects that I will improve over time.
I’m not entirely sure if this is just me mis-interpreting his English as a second language. I don’t know if improving is necessarily the way, but I do know getting real with what’s at the core of me is essential. The more I sit with myself, the more I see how wild and crazy and immature and neurotic and jealous and controlling I can be. I can see my deep sadness and vulnerability, my constant movement and desires, my need to analyze and understand. I am witnessing just how painfully human I am amonst the shame and guilt I may have, as an overlay about my very essence. Forced to see my own personal programs and games, I have to play hide and go seek with myself.
I also know that sitting with myself and admitting these edges, letting the power of these sensations in me move through, also helps. That I can try my damnedest, but there’s so many edges in me and that’s why I sit. Yesterday I called my best friend and I confessed to her the secret ways I can be an asshole. It was a relief to have her say “me too.” Not because it was okay, but for me to know that it’s okay that I can do my best and still have these neurotic compulsions that come through me. I will end up many times with mud on my face.
One thing I learned from all the years of therapy
was just how helpful it is to understand my own defence patterns so that when something uncomfortable arises I can see how my defence will come up to protect me. For example I have a belief (I’m sure some of you do too) that I need to be perfect because that’s how I know I can stay safe and have value in this world. The moment I’m not perfect – that’s when my defence will rise. That I can have deep shame if I feel like someone is criticizing me because subconsciously that means that they see that I’m not perfect and that means I don’t have value in this world and I’m not safe. I can see this in so many patterns.
In this time of slowing down, our patterns and reactions are getting more obvious.
Or at least to me. It’s so uncomfortable to feel some things – even if we’ve been practicing feeling with ourselves for a long time. So the biggest practice I’m having to remind myself is – beyond all the complicated rituals available to us from ancient times – there’s a power in kindness.
When we slow down, it’s helpful to breathe and be kind.
To venture into this territory with myself, there are spaces I’ve kept under lockdown for decades, maybe even lifetimes. I don’t even know what I’m going to encounter but there’s a lot of fear there. And one trick I’ve learned to bring myself back to my body, to the present, back home, is that a kind space works. A neutral one. Like I’m sitting next to myself with a cozy blanket, a kind face, and a warm hand. Sometimes we just need to hold our own hands and one another’s and remind ourselves, “We are okay.”
[Enjoyed reading Easter Sunday? You may also like reading: Exercising My Freedom to Step out of Time]