Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Validating the Inaccuracy of Input

I was slower chanting tonight, my teacher did not actually come over and tell me to slow down although each time I looked at him he was making a gesture with his hand to indicate that I was going too fast again. What got me afterward was D coming up and telling me how much she enjoys my voice during chanting service. That she finds my voice strong but mostly just beautiful.

I felt myself stiffening up inside. The veracity of the comments before me, and similar comments from other sangha members in nearly every week prior, were undeniable. Yet the present moment is in direct conflict with all the messages given to me over and over as a child.

You couldn't carry a tune in a bucket!

No one wants to hear you making that noise, keep it quiet.

And music, other than what I could listen to in my room on a radio, was denied to me. I was always steered away from choir in middle and high school. The one time I tried out for, and made, the choir for my school's annual winter holiday production the endeavor was cut short when it meant that I'd have to pay for shoes. It wasn't until I was at college, over 2000 miles away from home so there was no way anyone could hear me, that I actually was part of a choir.

I was aware of the stiffness, of feeling a tightness in my chest. "Don't cry", I thought to myself.

CK knew, of course. Before we even made it to the car she was asking if I was alright. We got into the car and I started to cry. I immediately felt really stupid crying over a really heart-felt, genuine compliment. It had struck me, listening to that praise just how false the input given to me for so many years was.

That was hard. Maybe it is because my birthday is a week away and it has me thinking I should spend time with my Mom since it really is a special day for her. But with the terrible echoes of shame coming up and memories of non-supporting, downright invalid information it is difficult to want to spend my precious free time with her. But I still feel guilty about it.

CK asked me when I was leaving her flat if we're doing better, she can't tell. I think we are. I to her the way her actions had left me feeling really alone and uncertain. She observed that it must have been really hard.

It was so hard and I felt terribly abandoned, all the more so because I could hear her breath but not her presence. Now we're able to cuddle again, so I feel reconnected to the intimacy we share. It isn't all about sex, it is about something she said to me when we were first getting together, shared vulnerability.

I've so vulnerable, exposed really, for so long now. Losing weight pulled down a lot of the persona I'd built up to feel safe behind. If anyone laughed at that person she'd flip them off, swear, and distract herself from hurting over it. But that persona is gone and when I'm around CK it feels as though there's very little left except the vulnerability. To have her share it with me again, in any capacity, does feel like progress.

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