Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Thrashed on by the Inner Critic

Well, this has been a long day. CK and I even slept in some so we'd have more rest and more quiet time together before heading off to OSCON for the day. We felt we were doing a bit better, reconnecting together again. It had been tough yesterday as the sheer pressure of being at the conference together had taken a toll on the somewhat emotional place we'd been in on Sunday. There is just so much mental input, constant noise of people talking, and countless screens to watch.

After having trying to be present through days of feeling a real disconnect from CK, trying to connect, then dumping ourselves into the mass of people that is OSCON, we were really feeling the intensity of the lack connection was producing irritation, anxiety, and just draining us both utterly. I took a bath, we ate a little, and felt somewhat better.

Laying down to cuddle and rest I felt a rush of anxiety come back. The unreasonable flash of panic earlier that the stress of a conference full of geeks would be the end of us was echoed back to me. I finally thought that the anxiety that I'd been experiencing when we'd been together earlier was being recalled too. All of it just flashing through me again. We ended up drifting into sleep.

Sleeping in, waking up without rushing out the door helped as well. And then we were off to the conference. At some point during a series of talks about Perl I just felt the anxiety hit me. I felt so inadequate. I felt utterly outclassed and a poser of a programmer. It felt like I shouldn't be there at all. I didn't like diving back into the boys' club that is technology.

AM and I had dinner together and talked about the just drained, anxious way I was feeling. He was able to note how he just feels lonely without me around. Our friendship is so close that he really feels my absence. In talking to him, in being reassured again that he wasn't angry, wasn't going to treat me to snide comments and coldness like my ex-husband had done so often, I was able to see my fears are too big. He is OK even if his loneliness brings up irritation. He isn't angry at me. He truly wants to help foster the happiness that CK & I have in our relationship. When I'm feeling so anxious it is hard to relax into trusting this, hard practice.

Talking to AM this evening I had a realization about some of the anxiety about feeling inadequate professionally, intellectually at OSCON. The last time I did a conference like this I still weighed at least 80 pounds more than I do now. I still had the body armor of my weight, my long hair, anger, and a carefully constructed persona that included an intense bravado, a "fuck you" attitude.

Because of my practice I don't have any of that anymore. I'm present with all of the feelings of inadequacy that I was distracting myself from. I wasn't expecting to have a run in with my inner critic this week and it hurts. I practically begged to get to come to OSCON, I've been so excited about it.

I ended up not going to the Dharma center tonight. Showing up, leaving the merit list for the week, and pleading illness. Hogen asked if I could sit with all of this and I told him I couldn't there, not in zazen. I was too nauseated and my hips and back hurt so much. Once I'd had some tea and some real food that nausea passed, suggesting blood sugar contributing to some of the feelings of illness.

I'm trying to refocus on the encouraging people I've met. Suggestions of else I could be doing besides programming have occurred to me. There has been things that felt like what I wanted, more community to learn from. Trying to work on that inner critic.

CK had it pegged perfectly, how the inner critic was speaking through me today. In talking about what I want to do, I focused on everything I think I don't do well. I had noted that I'm having a difficult time articulating what I think I'm really good at.

My not being able to articulate my true ability, that is the inner critic with hands over my eyes and blinding me. The ability to clearly detail everything that is not a strength, that's very obviously that critic.

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