Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.



It was nice last night, driving home with CK and settling down for bed.  I felt anxious when I finally got into bed, chilled and hyper-alert.  No monkey mind, just urgent wakefulness.  CK murmured sleepily at me, I answered back that it wasn't anything in particular, nothing triggered.  Just the anxious business of being around a crowd of people, the talking.  She curled herself against my back, warming and comforting me.  I fell asleep fairly soon after that.

Woke up five minutes before my alarm feeling awake, although not entirely rested.  I got into the shower and dressed.  CK woke up and wished me a good morning before I headed off to the office.  Spent a busy day, more working with people and less on code.  Tomorrow's shaping up to be much of the same.
Tonight's the second night we've had where I see her after work or teaching, we have dinner and spend the night together.  I've stopped thinking of it as "bonus" time together and started seeing it as the way we practice being together full time.  
I was chatting with an old friend from college this evening, unexpectedly.  He was commenting how we all looked so much better now, how we've all seem to have learned about who we are.  I noted that I finally stopped trying to fit in.

Out on a Tuesday

Today's challenge was having all of my co-workers, past and present, as me how things were going, how AM is doing, etc. I said fine and that he's looking at going back to school this spring. I smiled a lot and talked about my yoga teacher training.

More than anywhere or anyone telling people at work feels most awkward. The vast majority of my friends already have known I am sexually attracted to women. Most of them are going to nod when I say that I'm a lesbian. Everyone I work with thinks I'm straight.
It isn't that I've tried to hide it from them. I just haven't been involved with a woman in years so it didn't seem that important to tell people I wasn't straight. In telling them about getting divorced, but remaining good friends, it will make more sense if I come out. I just feels so damn awkward.
Thursday we're doing yet another team lunch. I'm going to try to catch CM afterward and ask him if he'd have coffee with me. He's been working at our company for over 30 years. At some point he made the shift from being a married father of three girls to being an openly gay man with a lovely partner. I am hoping he'll be willing to share some advice with me and not find it irritating or nosey for me to ask him about it.
More than anything I just want to be honest about who I am. I don't want to hide my love for CK from anyone or anything. That feels wrong on so many levels. When we are able to be out together, both in the sense of two women in love with each other and in the sense of being in public together, it feels entirely natural and comfortable. A friend of CK's, our friend, says we're adorable together.
Tonight I drove CK's pickup over to meet her at Cube Space for the winter Coder's Social after I finished teaching asana practice. I didn't stall once, except when parking (need to put in clutch sooner, further), which left me feeling pretty good. Upon getting upstairs, into the crush of geeks, I felt hugely overwhelmed, uncertain, and not up to socializing. I quickly got some food and went to find where CK was playing Apples to Apples with a group.
Food helped and when a new round of the game started I joined in. It was a lot easier talking to people in that smaller setting, with the game to help facilitate the conversation. Groups of new people is one of those things that really makes me feel my PTSD acutely. Or at least honestly process and feel how uncomfortable I am. Before, having crafted an elaborate personae, I was able to get through things much easier, ignoring my discomfort.
What I was able to settle into was how nice it was to be out with CK. To be seen by our peers and be together without it being any kind of issue or question. We're just another couple that shows up... Granted, we're a minority to begin with since more men show up at these events still. That we're vegan, Zen, yoga practitioners also sets us apart. Regardless of all the things that set us apart, we're considered part of the community and our being together is a non-issue, which is how it should be.


I kept coming around to the word synergy when talking to CK about how I feel our mutual practices combine. In a way I try and move away from using it since it is a word I think gets over used sometimes.

From the Greek sunergia, for “joint work, assistance, help”, synergy describe a situation where the final outcome is greater than the sum of the parts which went into it.

Earlier this evening I was talking about our practices. We each have a yoga practice and we each have a Zen practice. I finally said that it as though there is a third, distinct practice that is the one we have together. The practice that is us together is something unique.

It isn't that it is merely our two, individual practices twisted together, like the way a candy cane is distinctly two different pieces joined by heat and pressure into one. This is something that is entirely different and greater than the two of us that add to it. It very different from what I've known in the past.

This discussion came up around how I feel in part a little hurt that AM is deepening his practice now, when we are divorcing. How I realized he and I could have been truly sharing a practice for over 3 years now and I feel a little let down. I am finding it easy to let go of this, just acknowledge it and assure myself that it OK to feel this hurt. Maybe it is easier because I know I am already moving towards a tangible, supportive relationship instead into being on my own.

Trying not to pick this one apart too much and just enjoy the feeling of deeply sharing and supporting with another person at this level. I think about it too much and almost feel a little overwhelmed at times. It has me look even more closely at years of lacking this in my life, which is painful. It helps me to know that I move towards being authentic, honest.

I told JW tonight after class. Everyone had left and CK was a few minutes late because she was grabbing groceries (to make dinner AND cookies). I realized it was the perfect time to let JW in on why the past several weeks I'd alluded to things being very busy, very big in my life. I quickly told her it wasn't an, "aw, shit" kind of situation. It just was us realizing that the truth about who we were mattered much more than either of us hurting the feelings than the other. That avoiding the truth undermined us in other ways.

It felt OK practicing talking to another person like this. I suppose it will get easier to tell people, reaffirm and reassure with this information over and over. Each time I say it I feel the truth of it. I don't feel the sinking feeling in my stomach for too long and just find myself saying that it was important that I live my life in a way that is as authentic and true to my essential self as I possibly can. That is my practice.


Jinxes, Colds, and Authenticity

Just Monday I was telling my gynecologist that I'd only been sick once all year. I am now sitting with my laptop, in my PJs, sniffling, sneezing and feeling generally puny. So much so that I am not at the Dharma Center tonight, a change in my routine that feels unwelcome.

I am reminding myself that last weekend CK was ill. Then my friend SJ came up from San Francisco with a cold. Then DW came down with a cold. Yesterday I was sneezing like mad but I said to myself that it was allergies. Even my massage therapist noted how bad every one's allergies have been when I saw her yesterday.

I felt congested and had a slight headache when I woke up but after a hot shower and neti I was feeling better. While riding MAX into downtown a surge of the headache spiked above my right eye. CK spent the rest of the ride trying to block the sun from shining into my face. A latte from Backspace helped with the headache as did the rest of the walk to my office.

Around 11:30 the headache began to creep back into my awareness. I decided it was a need for lunch, but after having some curried lentil soup I felt generally lousy. By 1:30 I was checking with CK as to how she felt and letting her know my status. By 2pm I had that prickly, warm flush of a low fever and was talking to CK on the phone. She sent a message out to our Zen community asking for a volunteer to cover Ino duties for chanting service tonight.

I went ahead and went to my appointment with my therapist. She too insisted I acknowledge that my getting through my annual exam with my gynecologist without either a does of Xanax or bursting into tears is a significant success for me. We talked about all the changes going on, mostly just bringing to light the various tasks and anxieties. Paperwork, division of stuff & debts, what to do about my last name (if anything), settling into being with CK full-time, having kids, feeling like my pain is going to limit my ability to parent... And I touched upon a little bit of hurt I had been feeling.

I have been watching AM making plans, making many good decisions about what to do and how. I am so happy to see him doing this, moving along his path again instead of just coasting. I realized there was a part of me that felt irritated with him and when I sat with it I felt the hurt of his finally making these efforts when we're divorcing.

We talked about it, how it isn't entirely unreasonable to feel some of these things around his making efforts I've wanted to see him make for years. I'd really rather expend the real energy on being supportive, it is the most helpful, loving thing to do. It isn't as if I want to say to AM that I want us to try to keep the marriage together now that he's making these changes.

Ultimately nothing changes my being a lesbian. I know that I wouldn't be happy staying married to a man and having casual intimate relationships with women. I have never felt able to be fully open when intimate with someone "casually".

Finally being able to experience an open, loving relationship with a woman brings me face-first to the truth of just how many things about my sexuality have been patches to work around the fact that I wasn't being authentic. The more I express my essential self, the more my heart opens and I allow myself to be vulnerable, sharing myself completely with another person. That I get to choose a path that lets me be with another woman who is willing to share herself in love with me is an unexpected, un-hoped-for blessing.



It has been a full week.  I have been reflecting upon the past several years a lot this week, which is only to be expected.  The 24th was my seventh marriage anniversary and we celebrated it by hanging out at home and discussing our impending divorce.  AM has been so open, understanding and supporting of wanting me to be who I really am.  It has provided space for him to be honest about his feelings of disappointment, dissatisfaction in our relationship.  It has been sad in that regard, mostly because it is painful to change even when it is for the better.

I have been nursing a persistent ache in my left shoulder.  It occurred to CK and I last weekend that it is the arm I injured last spring, playing on the swings.  I'd went to jump off and caught a finger in the chain, wrenching the entire arm and shoulder.  I've taken most of the week off of doing yoga, especially anything weight bearing on my arms.  I'm icing the shoulder, which helps it. After teaching my beginning asana class today I find my lower back and hips ache; they have not appreciated the break.
I've been able to spend the past two days with CK, reconnecting after her being visiting home for the week.  While she was away I was aware of the ways in which she has become part of my life; the ways in which I felt her absence from the space in my life.  I found myself feeling anxious about my age, about my physical pain.  I've been aware the past week how often I feel so young, but I'm aware of the aging of my body and afraid I won't be able to be a good partner to CK.  Last night this fear bubbled out of me as I lay next to her.  Through her feeling ill from a terrible headache she offered reassurance and understanding.
She's across the room from me reading right now.  We've spent the day in close company.  It is easier to feel open around her now.  I'm starting to feel like I can relax into the spaciousness, the connection between us.  It is this constant back and forth still -- I feel myself pull away, resist trusting this love, and then remind myself again and again that it is OK.  
CB asked us all at dinner at Great Vow Zen Monastery on Thursday what we were grateful for.  I first noted how much Great Vow means to me, what a refuge it is in my life and how cared for I feel when I am there.  I also said how grateful I am for the people in my life who are open and compassionate to me, who encourage my growth and support me.
AM who is supporting me by wanting us to get divorced so we can both more wholeheartedly pursue who we really are.  It is strange in a way to call this support, but it feels that way.  He isn't calling me names or bad mouthing me, like my ex-husband of nearly 9 years ago does.  Instead he is trying to find a way to make sure everyone knows that we're doing this because we need to, that it will improve our friendship ultimately.
CK who wants to support my teaching yoga, being a freelance project manager and analyst so I have the time to do workshops.  Who likes to snuggle up with me and talk about raising children together; something that moves me to tears and fills me with such abiding wonder.  She expends energy on being observant, very thoughtful, and encouraging me to be silly.  With her I feel as though several truths have finally been revealed and I understand myself more deeply.



For a while now AM has been telling me I'm a lesbian. And I got it, mostly. Some things started to make a little sense -- all of adolescence being nothing but mostly feeling like I just didn't get what everyone was going on about. I tried to figure out the whole dating boys thing, but it never felt like anything other than hanging out with some guy and all this strange tension around him looking at me funny. Ugh.

A couple of days ago he commented that it has been the elephant in the house with us for a few years. It has been a quiet elephant. Keeping to itself, generally neat and tidy, unobtrusive. Still an elephant, taking of space and required that we work around it. But since things have been relatively comfortable, companionable and safe neither of us has really wanted to address the issue of the elephant.

Now that we've looked at the elephant, talked about it, we're both able to see, acknowledge the depth of the disconnect. Both of us pretending we were the exception, my sexuality had a "grandfather" clause in it that meant I wouldn't have to change. AM and I could stay together, best friends who happened to be passionate about the other despite the fact that our sexuality did not align in such a way.

The level of change is pretty damn big. AM at this point in time is still sad things have changed and will continue to do so, but happy we are both moving towards who we really are. We're both missing what we were, what we thought we had. Things change, relationships change, people change and here we are acknowledging that they changed a while ago and we just ignored it.

I'm mostly feeling overwhelmed at details. It will make more sense to do the legal things more quickly than I thought. It will help AM get things arranged from himself more easily and quickly. He won't leave quickly, taking most of the next year, but he's figuring out what he can do now. It feels strange. I'm debating when I should tell my Mother. We'll have to start telling friends soon and have already told SJ who is coming up next week.

It isn't grim and angry, not like when I fled out of the house after telling AP I wanted a divorce while cringing in the shower, where he had followed me, yelling. No packing up some things and fleeing to a friend's house until AP had gone to Los Angeles. We enjoyed dinner together and are watching episodes of Top Gear online; a pretty ordinary Monday.

When CK and I were hanging out yesterday we talked about some furniture issues. Making this house some place she will be happy in for a few years while we figure out what to do. I realized when I assured her it was fine to think about such things, to be excited about them, that I was happy about the same things.

After talking with AM today I felt more of the sadness of acknowledging the disappointment we've both felt for some time now. It also felt good knowing we were both going to be OK, it will have some challenges, but we're both moving towards what right. That knowledge took me back to the happiness I felt hearing CK's excitement on sharing a home with me, how I can finally just enjoy it.

HB told me last night not to feel any emotion just because anyone or situation seems to dictate that I should feel any particular way. It finally occurred to me today that I was feeling guilty for my sexuality, feeling guilty that who I am is causing everyone to change. Regardless that it is "just biology", as HB also said, and we all have the chance to change for the better, I felt guilty.

Most of all I felt guilty for being happy about CK. Not because I behaved unethically, but because I assumed I should feel guilty for shaking up everyone's comfort zone. I assume everyone is going to think I'm doing something wrong, inappropriate, and unfair. I need to keep focused on the fact that I'm choosing to live as authentically and ethically as possible. Lying to myself that it didn't matter because I didn't want to upset the calm was not ethical.

I'm going to try to start allowing myself to feel the happiness that is there through the work and pain. Just as much as I need to honor the friendship AM and I are rebuilding, I need to honor the happiness at CK & I fostering a life together. It will be work telling people, but the people most important in all of our lives honor the truth and will be able to share our happiness too.


The Hands Speak

I was too tired to write last night. I know when trying to approach writing as a practice one must do it daily, just like zazen. I also forgot to sit Friday night... and it is ango, when I am meant to intensify practice. Not to mention my commitment to taking Jukai next October. I am trying to let go of the inner task master, espeically given the intensity of last week.

My hands tell the truth of my anxiety this past week. The cuticles red and tender. I feel guilty looking at them today. I've been trying to catch myself when worrying them, but haven't been that good at it. The increasingly chilly autumn weather only adds to the tendency of my hands to be dry, peeling at the nail beds.

I'm in this strange space where shock and sadness co-exists with growing closeness, honesty and love. HB shrugged when I said this, "That's life." was his response.

The next year will be challenging and interesting, joyful and sad. I find myself not looking forward to sharing the planned changes with friends. The same conversation, assurances, and explanations over-and-over again. Time we need to spend reassuring everyone that this is not an end so much as a change allowing several people to live more authentically.

As for my hands... clearly I need to go back to the practice of constantly putting lotion on them. Whenever I feel the urge to, or notice that I am already picking at the dry skin and making things worse I need to run lotion into them. This helped before -- both in helping with the skin being dry in the first place and giving me something to do with my hands that is less destructive to them.


The Risk to Blossom

Last night, while writing, I became aware of the the fatigue and eye strain I was feeling. I was seeing rainbow tracers across my vision, a whole arcing line of them. I went to bed feeling the effort of my yoga practice and heavy with the size of the change in my life.

This morning I woke up and my head ached from the sinuses, to my jaw, and wrapping around the base of the cranium. I got up, showered and headed in regardless. Under the fluorescent lights of the office it began to feel as though I'd been both hit in the face with shovel and as if the skin of my scalp was too small. Some ibuprofen at 11AM helped for about 30 minutes but by 12:10 I was about as bad as I'd been when I first got there. Finally I just went home and attempted writing some documentation instead of the code I'd been working on.

I am feeling a bit more scared today. Have had time to consider the enormity of the tasks at hand. I'm grateful to not have to try and get them all done in the next few weeks, but even working on them over the next months seems a little overwhelming.  It is trying to figure out the details that feels like too much to manage.

I found myself considering a quote from Anais Nin today, "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”

Today I do not feel like I'm blossoming. I can certainly see that I was feeling the irritation at remaining with what is comfortable, safe, and has the trappings of societal approval -- in the bud, as it were. I don't know, perhaps all the pain of change, the pain of knowing, seeing, and admitting the truth, that is all the pain of blossoming.

I've not been known for my risk-taking. Even in my daring I was a cautious child. I would only sink into the thrill of something only after I'd assured myself that I'd be safe doing so, at least when it came to the physical world.  I can recall not being so cautious with my emotional body, throwing myself into trying to be popular, talented and smart, but not ever really fitting in with those groups in school.

I don't feel safe in these changes right now, like I've not tested the route, checked for the safety features or anything. It feels like nothing but risk and very uncomfortable.  Part of me would like to just check out, not be present for these changes, distract myself somehow.
What keeps me present, aside from abiding Love, is the direct knowledge from my combined practices that distraction doesn't work.  In asana the mind tries to take off, abandon the effort of the body. That very effort, and the direct experience of it, draws the mind back to be present to the discomfort.  The understanding I had found that all the distractions of my 20s could not alleviate the fear and sorrow I felt inside is what brought me to Zen, that and knowing I needed help in knowing what to do while being present.
So here I am, I don't feel like a blossom but at least I'm present for the changes.


Suddenly the world is changing again in big ways.

Really it hasn't stopped changing in years. In a way it is always changing, of course, but big changes. It seems like I really just started by wanting to improve my cholesterol level. At some point I became aware of not liking the way I interacted with people and just started being mindful of each person I interacted with.

Yoga practice started in 2003. Zen practice started in 2005. Big changes that have always felt subtle. I guess doing things the right way leaves a feeling of effortlessness. Life just moves along and I with it.

More pieces of who I thought I was are falling away again. Not bad, good really, but still hard work. I'm aware of the feeling of being exposed. Guess I'm getting used to it, slowly, as each bit of me is revealed. Consistent input that I'm accepted and safe helps, but it is just shaky. The "rails off" way of doing things, as CB would say.


Essential Sound

Felt tired and disjointed much of the day, distracted. Got quite a bit done at work despite this. Home, dinner, zazen... Tried using the seiza bench to kneel again and felt very uncomfortable the whole first sit. I feel a resistance to standing up, perhaps I should have since it stirred up enough pain to be uncomfortable on my zafu during the second sit.

I had mentioned to my friend MP about being dilute before, in 1999 when he first got to meet me, in response to his saying how "concentrated" I seemed. He laughed and said he'd meant how concentrated I seemed in terms of Prana. I wrote back thanks for the clarity and told him that I'd liked thinking about being dilute in a sense of the self that was the way I interacted with the world.

He wrote back to me to say, " you have me thinking about di-lute and mono-lute... whatever those might be. Or even tri-lute. Hmm.

"There is something about lutes as embodying the duality of material existence I simply had not strung together."

When I saw this it first of all made me smile, discussions with MP nearly always do this. I am thinking that perhaps we journey towards mono-lute. We settle down all the other tones until it is just one, essential sound of clarity like a perfect Om. One tone that moves throughout several expressions, encompassing all of them.