It’s February, and I have allergies. The elm trees are pollinating early, and clearly, my body doesn’t like it. Allergies smallergies; April Dansie is sooo sensitive.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if someone else could crawl into my skin so I might share the world as I feel it; so they might sneeze as much as I sneeze. Do my feelings of isolation and being misunderstood originate in how I live life unaccompanied in my body? Probably.
At the end of December, I started going to therapy again (hooray!). My therapist’s name is Dave, and I adore him wholeheartedly. He is skilled at holding space without judgment and uses Buddhism to teach me. He is turning my life upside down in the best way possible.
My first few sessions with Dave were simultaneously frustrating and rewarding. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of interpersonal drama and he was there to remind me how to swim. When I went back to school at 30 and decided to study Psychology and Gender Studies, I had no idea the mental anguish I would experience. The lens I see the world through has been permanently changed, and coping with the stretching has required a lot of hard work.
When Dave hands out homework, sometimes it comes in the form of parables or sayings printed on paper. After our first session, he gave me one that said:
“Pleasure is very much like a dog running around trying to
catch his own tail…the faster he runs the faster the tail escapes.
Pain is very much like a dog trying to run away from his tail…
the tail follows as fast as the dog runs. Once the dog discovers
that he “is” the tail, the chase and the flee are over.
Reflect on the complete acceptance of all experiences…is there
a need to label experiences as pleasurable or painful?”
Over the next week, I read this aloud to every friend I met and mused over the meaning and importance/unimportance of labeling our feelings. The notion of acceptance is a complex idea, and it triggers so many questions.
How does one accept things to be as they are in the present moment, without expectations?
What is the difference between suffering and struggling?
What is the difference between right and wrong?
All the way to…what is consciousness, and what is it about humans that makes us so damn important?
On the second week of therapy, still struggling to understand the complexity of this simple concept, Dave handed me a paper that said,
“From the first not a thing is, from the mind arises the world.”
The entire next week my conversations focused on the polarity of positive and negative language, and how clinging to any definition of my existence skews my perception. I began to notice how my belief in rightness was causing me to feel responsible for things that were out of my control.
And then I realized, there is no such thing as control. Every single one of us exists within our own subjective view of reality, which remains untouchable by others. What is “knowing”? What is “right”? Is our perception of reality what creates emotional divides?
I have been seeing Dave for two months now. Every single session he has reminded me that I don’t know what is best for others. The more I give myself over to this idea, the more humble I am becoming. I no longer feel responsible for protecting the ones I love and am focusing more on how I can relieve the suffering of strangers.
I cannot remember a time in my life where I have felt as safe, whole, and comfortable as I do right now. I am walking through my world wearing rainbow glasses, and all I can see is color.