Monday, May 11, 2015

Beyond reasonability

In my last post, I talked about two beings that exist inside of me and switch dominance every so often--one being, Unreasonable Colleen, ruled by emotion--and the other, Reasonable Colleen, who is ruled by thought.

Unreasonable Colleen emerged in the past couple days and has been feeling kind of shitty. She's spent a lot of time yelling at her kids to clean up and stop fighting, all the while feeling intensely guilty for not being nicer. She also did a couples massage and became really invalidated because her massage partner got alarmed and lectured Colleen at what she considered a massive breach of massage etiquette on Colleen's part--because most massage schools teach you that you should always keep a continuity of physical contact with your client, and Colleen doesn't pay much attention to that sort of thing. Especially since she wasn't connecting with her client on any other level either. But Unreasonable Colleen is particularly sensitive to being judged, and she thought about how she tries to be such a good person but manages to piss off multitudes of people nevertheless, and she imagined for an abyss-like, breathless moment what it might be like to hear all the negative things people have ever said about her. Then at home she feverishly push-mowed the lawn, trying to drown out the voices with a couple hours of unpleasant physical labor.

Unreasonable Colleen is still a little bit in residence, but tempered somewhat by the presence of Reasonable Colleen alongside her, who keeps reassuring her that all the pain of being pure traumatized emotion will pass. And here's what we ran across together tonight, from this book we've started reading--Relationship & Identity, by David Spangler:
All bodies, all vehicles, have certain needs and certain motivations, and each of our different bodies are no exception to this rule. It is also true that all forms of energy are living intelligences, are actually entities of some kind or other, and each of our bodies is again not an exception to this rule.
The emotional body creates the energy of motion--attraction and repulsion, "I like it" and "I don't like it." The mental body creates the energy of direction, by creating thought-forms toward which we will ourselves. Both of these elemental bodies find identity outside themselves.
Probably ninety five percent of what we call the spiritual path is composed of learning how to identify oneself with the soul in such a way that the soul takes control over these elementals and in essence absorbs them or disperses them or destroys them, so that you are not four or five different beings, struggling to work together but part of the time moving off in different directions: the astral elemental wanting this, and the physical elemental wanting that, and the mental elemental wanting something else. But you are one being, purely. You move with that singleness of identity, and that is a source of incredible--in fact, total--creative power.
When we hunger for something, when we feel either lack or desire, it's ultimately a reflection of a basic hunger for the purity of being.
Purity...refers to the ability of a being to enter into a state of silence, a state of non-activity in the moment, that it can stop and consider what it is experiencing and what it is that is motivating it, and begin to sort out the different levels of motivation and being to integrate them, so that its actions proceed not from the levels of personality which tends to see things from a rather restricted point of view--whichever point of view is holding the reins in the moment, either the emotions or the mind--but begins to see things from a more total point of view, the embracing point of view of the soul, the rhythm of the inner divinity, and begins to move in such a way that the needs that are met are true needs and they satisfy all levels.
I think this is a nice answer to my agonized question about how to mediate between my states of being. We can take all our desire and channel it toward a desire for wholeness, and we can create a few thought-forms that say that we can trust ourselves--maybe just a little bit. Giving the two parts of myself something in common to work for, they can start to find the bridges to synthesis.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Insecure Writer: A post devoted to Unreasonable Colleen

This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

I've noticed for a while that I have this distinct other personality that comes out every month, usually for two or three days when I'm pmsing. I call her "Unreasonable Colleen," and during the time she's in control, she wreaks havoc with relationships and often sends out hordes of angst-y texts and e-mails. Before I was married, I typically broke up with boyfriends once a month, then would apologize profusely and get back together a day or two later.

I realized that the main difference between Unreasonable Colleen and Reasonable Colleen (that's me) is that Unreasonable Colleen is intensely bothered by the difference between mental ideals and physical/emotional reality. Unreasonable Colleen is attuned to the emotional traumas that remain trapped in her physical body, and she gets very upset at what she puts up with that doesn't feed her soul.

Anyway, even though one way to think about Unreasonable Colleen is as a different being who I created in order to carry all my trauma and protect me by being super bitchy and angsty whenever I'm triggered to re-experience that trauma, another way to reframe this experience of two personalities is that Reasonable Colleen is my mental self in control, and Unreasonable Colleen is my emotional self in control.

What bothers me is that my mental self and my emotional self disagree so strongly about the ways they perceive my life. There are different esoteric takes on these two selves--Nietzsche talks about the mental self as being Apollonian, and the emotional self being Dionysian--and how society is dominated by paternalistic Apollonian structures, when liberation and ecstasy and art all arise from the Dionysian.

The channeled Right Use of Will books, which have had considerable influence on my way of thinking, talk about Spirit and Will and the imbalance between them--how Spirit is more the mental self, and Will has been the subjugated emotional self--the female part of us that has been so long unacknowledged as being equal to Spirit-mind.

What balances them in Heart--the "son" of Spirit and Will--and Reasonable and Unreasonable Colleen being so divergent in their views makes me think that something is going on with Heart in that mine is unable to bridge the gap between my selves.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Reflections on the A-Z challenge

I'd like to reflect on my experience of the A-Z challenge this year, even though I did it on my other, shared blog, and only wrote half the entries, and was barely aware when it was going on.

Nice things:
  • It was my most uneventful, least stressful challenge in the four years I've done it. I pre-wrote all 13 entries in March and they were easy and enjoyable to produce.
  • I got to play a lot in writing these posts. I'm not very good at writing poetry, but I enjoy it a lot. So for a number of A-Z entries, I chose different poem forms and wrote stuff that was mostly pretty tasteless (see this one about love with a Reptilian alien or this one about someone trying to get off before a meteor crashes into Earth), but easily got me in my "writing zone"--that place in which I'm totally present and completely enjoying what I'm doing. For a few of them, like this one, I used the poetic format to sublimate emotional experiences, which is also extremely satisfying. I jammed out a few stories as well (like this one), mostly in the 2nd-person format that is usual for the Hot Pink Books series.
Less nice things:
  • The lack of stress correlated to the lack of engagement. Since it wasn't even on my personal blog, and since Karen posts everything, I didn't visit anyone else's blog during the challenge, which really is a big part of the experience. 
  • I've been studying Jacques Lacan lately. Or rather, I read a few articles he wrote, understood next to nothing, and have been poring over this article for a few days, which makes him slightly more comprehensible. From what I gather, one of Lacan's great contributions to the realm of psychotherapy is the idea that when we first enter the world, we experience it in as undifferentiated a state as is possible in a human body. We first get the idea that we have a "self"--and the ego starts to form--when we see the other and realize that it's a reflection of us. But because that reflection isn't reality, merely an image that separates us further from reality, it creates an aggressivity with ourselves and others, our relationships with the world. We can never truly know anything--we simply make meanings out of language and further separate ourselves from the real by entering into the symbolic, separative, violently forced world of words. Yet we continually strive to develop our false sense of self, and in that striving we fear the pain that others can inflict upon us as we look to find truth in our reflection and are confronted with the bastardization that is the only thing we can actually achieve in the process
    • Anyway, this is a long-winded way of saying that during this A-Z challenge, I was particularly aware of the games I play with myself with regard to ego, audience, the gaze of the other, a false sense of self and how that impacts me.

Friday, May 1, 2015

New novella release: Cock-sure

I was thinking that this has got to be one of the most anticlimactic, sidling, semi-embarrassed novella releases ever, but that seems to be the way most erotica actually enters the market. So here it is: my latest release from Hot Pink Books, the Regency-era-themed choose-your-own-erotic-adventure novella, Cock-sure.

The story: 
As a poor gentlewoman living in Regency England, you dream of a life of simplicity and long for the day your handsome neighbor Bartholomew might offer for your hand. However, your mother has informed you that unless you marry your landlord, Mr. Peabody, he'll send your father to debtor's prison. 

Torn between duty to your family, your infatuation with Bartholomew, and your own sexual curiosity, you embark on an erotic journey on which your choices can take you from the height of the fashionable world of the ton to the depths of ruin in the seedy underbelly of 19th century London.
This novella is a little darker than the previous two I wrote (Cinderella Bared and Intercorpse) and there are fewer places the choices lead, but I spent the extra space on character development and more detailed erotic scenes. My favorite of those scenes was inspired by a surreal encounter in the parking lot of Caribou Coffee a couple months ago, which transpired after a first date with someone who was bland and somewhat uninteresting to converse with, but who was very, very hot. It's not often that real life translates so directly into fiction, but this guy was straight out of the Harlequin formula--emotionally unavailable, somewhat cold, a control freak, with kind of a cruel, objectifying passion. A jerk, but a muse as well.

I've been unsure of what the theme of the next novella is going to be. I thought about writing one about Minnesota, but after brainstorming it I looked at my notes and realized that I had actually successfully creeped myself out. Too close to home! I've written an initial scene of a time-travel one, but it's not grabbing me. So we will see...


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Finding oases amidst angst

I noticed recently that I'm not that excited about getting things that I want. It's much more exciting to want and not have, to feel that gulf between myself and my object of desire--to sense the element of improbability, the challenge of going against the grain.

It's harder to appreciate things that are easy.

I've been feeling rudderless and angst-ridden lately, adrift amidst some vaguely uncomfortable existential thought-forms, experiencing a disconnect from both others and myself. It's been triggered somewhat by my embarking on this program of study in existential psychoanalysis and phenomenology, in which I'm reading philosophers who seem to be, for the most part, very mentally oriented atheists. (They may not all be atheists, but that's the energy it's been triggering in me--because one can never know...and these readings force you to examine your beliefs until you see that there is nothing behind them except for the structures and culture that surrounded your infantile consciousness)

My mini existential crises were amplified by a pms-spike of hormones last week that drove me to reach out blindly and text my massage colleagues asking if anyone wanted to trade.

So that was how I discovered that one of my fellow massage therapists does shamanic healing work along with the normal stuff. It's not something that uncommon for me to run across--my best friend also happens to be a massage therapist who does shamanic healing work--but it's definitely a rarer sort of encounter in Minneapolis than in Berkeley. Anyway, I jumped at the chance, and we met yesterday.

The session was deceptively simple--feeling nothing more than like a guided meditation. Still, my body got uncomfortably hot, and I felt almost as if someone had placed a giant foot on top of my brain and was gently pressing down--making it squish and spread out, evening out all those convoluted wormy folds into a soft, gently seamed pat of play-doh. My thoughts slowed down. My breath slowed down. I didn't feel the angst go, or the dissolution of the cardboard walls I'd erected around me to defend myself against the abyss--but I noticed vaguely that they were no longer there.

Pretend you trust the world, she said.

The purpose of everything you've ever experienced is to bring you to this very moment.

After the session, I went about my usual. This morning, I woke up with hives dotting either side of my spine--and I can feel the itching going all the way from a little above my sacrum, all the way to my occipital ridge.

The last time I had hives was on Dec. 21, 2012. It happened in the wee hours of the morning, when the Mayan calendar ended. I do admit that I was a little bit stressed that day. But my point is that the physical body is the last place that manifests symptoms of things that are happening in the subtle body. And there's something that's moving...

Things need to be a little difficult for it to feel like magic when we get what we want. A little suffering is good for the soul, because we need magic. We need to feel like we accomplished something, so we separate ourselves from the effortless and matter-of-fact merging of desire with object.

That is well and good...but we need to remember that it is actually easy to get what we want, when we've built up enough challenge and suffering to make it magic. Sometimes we forget this ease altogether, so caught up we get in enjoying the stage of wanting and never having...

This is what I'm pondering as I'm pulling out my mammoth novel-in-progress. I don't know if I should rewrite the whole thing or if that would just make me cry. But I know I need to finish this, as one thing that I've learned about myself and my own self-created internal structures of carrot and stick, is that unless I've made some sort of headway on a writing project on a given day, I don't feel fulfilled. There may be no meaning I can ever truly grasp, but I suspect that the active search for one is enough.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

No exit

When I was fifteen and taking high school French, I read Jean-Paul Sartre's play, Huis Clos. The book, which translates to No Exit, is about three people in Hell--each of whom loves one and hates another in an eternal triangle. The message is that we make hell for each other.

Since then, I've occasionally entertained myself by thinking about what two people I would least like to spend all eternity with. One of the people never changes--it's this particular person I briefly dated when I was 20, who became so fixated that he harassed me for eight years afterward. The other one varies. Currently it's a massage client who I had a few hours ago who smelled terrible, groped me, underpaid the price by $20 and ran out the door before I realized.

What is it that makes some people so unbearable to be around, and others not? A friend of mine sent me this quote from here, which interestingly enough is also about Sartre:
Sartre argues that we, as human beings, can become aware of ourselves only when confronted with the gaze of another. Not until we are aware of being watched do we become aware of our own presence. The gaze of the other is objectifying in the sense that when one views another person building a house, he or she sees that person as simply a house builder. Sartre writes that we perceive ourselves being perceived and come to objectify ourselves in the same way we are being objectified. Thus, the gaze of the other robs us of our inherent freedom and causes us to deprive ourselves of our existence as a being-for-itself and instead learn to falsely self-identify as a being-in-itself.
The being-for-itself actuates his own being and is conscious; the being-in-itself is unable to change and is unaware of itself. 

What makes it hell to be around another person is when they look at you and they don't see you at all--they see some projected image that has nothing to do with you. They objectify you and refuse to acknowledge anything beyond their perspective. They have some emotional or ego attachment to their view of you. There is no meeting of minds or meeting of anything at all; the only way you can communicate with that person is if you diminish yourself somehow so you fit their picture of you and they can hear you. Otherwise, it's like talking into a pure vacuum.

Sometimes it's just as much of a hell to be ignored by someone...

Sometimes we get addicted to being seen as a false image someone has of us, and hell is that conflicting desire to be seen fighting against the fear of being seen...

Hell is a place in which you can never escape the game, the props, the stage. You try to call it, but no one listens, and eventually you succumb, worn down by their incessant insistence that you are who they say you are.

I am none of those things, you may protest, once you find some time alone and try to scrub the filth that clings to you from their objectifying gaze that possessed you by saying you are this. You scrabble to release the invalidation and return to the bliss of nothingness, of unselfconsciousness, but still you smell the stench that clings inside your nostrils and you feel the pinch of their fingers, hear the bite of their words. The mirrors of the funhouse cling to you and as you catch sight of one horrific image after another, eventually you wonder, am I that? do others perceive me so?