Cheese off the cracker

I have lost my ability to work with numbers and abstract concepts. They have stopped making sense, I’ve spent the past few days trying and trying to work through some formulations for a project I’m working on and I just can’t understand what I’m doing. I used to understand it, it really made sense at some point not so long ago; today I couldn’t even come up with a basic line formula. A co-worker was helping me out, it was embarrassing, I was completely blank, I hope he won’t tell on me to our boss…I’m in trouble if I don’t get my number ability back up and running ASAP. Is there a way to re-boot the brain?

The number brain is the most obvious one, but others are also gone, my accent changed again, and I have trouble writing proper letters. I’m freaking out. I don’t know who this is that’s out now, blocking everyone else; it’s a disconcerting feeling, like I don’t know myself. I am more or less used to that but I can switch for enough time to get work done. It’s not happening now, I don’t know why. We need the one that can work at this new job that we have now, we are happy to have this job, we are finally in a good financial position and we actually like what we do when we can understand it.

How can I have written a program and now I can’t understand it? I have to go and re learn the programming language every time I want to do something else with it. I am suffering, I can’t keep spacing out like this, people are starting to notice.

On the other hand the drawings are improving noticeably, but drawings don’t pay the rent. The drawings are also starting to freak me out, I draw faces everywhere; so suddenly I open a notebook or a drawer and there are a lot of half faces staring at me. So, this must be the artist who is out. As much as I enjoy drawing I really don’t have time for this right now. The artist is a spacy one, and what’s worst the artist is a ‘he’; and ‘he’ likes women. Eeeeewww. We do NOT want to touch a woman, that is icky, the body most definitely does not like the smell of women….we let him look at them but that is the limit, we are NOT kissing one, we never have and we are not about to start now. Besides there is a certain young man we have our eye on, and we are pretty sure it’s mutual.

Ok, I have an idea, what we can do for the artist is sit down for a proper drawing session; maybe there is something he needs to draw. He did not like our little ‘womanhood’ manifesto, he disagrees, he wants to go back to being a boy, he doesn’t understand why there is nothing hanging in between our legs. The artist remembers when he died unfairly in a war, he remembers his manly parts, I can feel them sometimes in dreams; the ghost of a memory. He needs to understand that we are simply not a boy and we do not like girls. Our body is not turned on by the smell of girls, it is turned on by the smell of certain men. But we digress…we were talking about numbers here…

Where did my numbers go? I want them back…years of studying deleted in a couple of weeks…not cool. I’m starting to get angry here, I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, I can’t blow it all now because the ‘artist’ needs to express some wishy washy melancholy feeling about not having boy parts. F—ck that! He really has fun playing with the girl parts though…

So I’m starting to understand that this is about sexuality, I think I maybe just need to explore my sexuality, but I’m not up for any complicated relationship issues. I hope the very shy certain young man will get overhimself soon and realize that we need to get down to business. And f—ck Sol who is still pining over her lost relationship, it’s over Sol, it’s not coming back, the body has decided.

So, numbers, come back will ya?…maybe this is it…I’ve lost it…the cheese has finally slid off my cracker…

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On being a woman

This post is meant to be read listening to

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nne4IUw6HpY

I´ve been thinking a lot about this lately, partly inspired by a discussion I was having with a friend from another blog (http://ptsdnofearinlove.wordpress.com/). What it means to be a woman is a relevant topic in my life since I am trying to find and enjoy my sexuality.

At first I thought that I am feminine because I carry myself the way society thinks a woman should carry herself. I have long hair, I wear makeup, dangly earrings, dresses and flowy skirts, I have a pink laptop case, I enjoy mixing and matching clothes, doing my nails, etc…cliché…All of that is very nice, and it´s ok to do it, it´s what I´ve picked as my image to society. However, it is only that, an image, it is not what makes me feminine or a woman.

So, what does it mean to be a woman? Is it the curve of my hips, the suppleness of my breasts, the softness of my skin, the wave in my hair?  Or is it the empty space between my legs? ….that´s part of it, it´s the physical part of it, but it´s still not what being a woman really means.  Being a woman is a physical thing, at heart I am a spirit, but the physical aspect of womanhood shapes how I live my life and how I feel my world.

Being a woman is about a cycle of water, ever changing currents of water that shape my day to day life.  It´s a physical cycle that starts and ends in blood every month, blood as the physical representation of the water of life that keeps me alive. First, it’s a physical cycle that carries with it the possibility of harboring life, and the ever present reminder of the bloody death of potential.  It is also so much more than the physical cycle, it shapes the tides of desire and creativity that swell up inside me.  People often ask why women are so inconstant in their mood, and yet, they would not call the rise and ebb of tidal currents inconstant. It is misunderstanding of the nature of cyclic living that causes so much conflict. Past cultures have honored and respected a woman’s blood cycle, but we’ve forgotten everything it means.

Being a woman is about water, and how that water builds up pressure inside the physical and the ethereal  bodies  in cyclical patterns. Water under pressure will seek relief; walled water will slowly erode at its constraining walls. Water is soft and adapting, ever changing in shape to fill the background that contains her, but resilient enough in its path to carve canyons out of the hardest rock. Failing to acknowledge the water cycle is what creates instability. My water is seeking relief, relief through tears, relief through desire, relief through pleasure, relief through creativity.  Being a woman is about making space to accommodate water, being ready expand to receive it and hold it when it comes, being able to guide it when it grows, and just flowing with it when it cascades.  Being a woman is about knowing that next month you have to do it all over again. Being a woman is about rythm and strength in softness.

At least now I am closer to my water, I feel its pressure inside me, its potential for creativity. There was a time when I was dry, and that is a sad thing for a woman, nothing can grow without water. Now the tides threaten to overwhelm me and drown me.  The tides have no release, I often dream about water, great swells of water that want to overtake me, clean water, dirty water, stagnant water, water pushing against the dam that restrains it. I feel the tears behind my eyes, and yet cannot cry. I feel desire like never before, and yet cannot feel pleasure. I am afraid of what else will come out with the water once I let it out…If I don’t let it out it will spill on its own anyway. I’m bursting at the seams; water will be my undoing if I don’t learn to respect its cycle.

I am a woman, by the curve of my hips, by the suppleness of my breasts, by the blood between my legs, by the unshed tears, by the unfulfilled pleasure, by the cycle of living and dying every month. I am a woman.

Dissociation or pure mind?

´Dissociation´ or pure state of mind

 

I´ve been thinking some more about what happened at the cave with the tall waterfall that I had to climb. Read more about that experience in my post `facing fear in the cave´.  It´s very interesting for me to see what happened in my internal process when faced with a dangerous activity in an unknown, although controlled and chosen, environment. So, at first I didn´t remember climbing the waterfall, I remembered we got to what looked like a dead end and then they said we had to climb it.  I had even forgotten about the waterfall until someone else mentioned it after the fact. So I was trying to remember it and it all got confused in my mind, much of the cave looks the same, a bunch of rocks and water in the dark. Then I had a conversation about someone else who was equally scared of that waterfall and couldn´t believe that they made newbies climb it. I tried and tried to remember and finally I remember reaching the top of the waterfall which was a rock wedged in between two walls of the cave. In order to remember this I had to go into a special state of mind where I accept that not all memories have words, and what´s more I can think without words. I didn´t really ´forget´ this memory, it´s there, it´s just a very different type of memory than what´s usual.

At first I was thinking that I dissociated because I was afraid, and I saw it as a bad thing to have happened. However, I don´t think that is the right explanation at all. The pause in the stream of thought allowed perfect concentration to do the task at hand without mistakes. Panicky thoughts and fear would not have helped me climb up that waterfall. So, instead of disassociation I think what happened is that I experienced a more ´pure´ state of mind than what I normally live in. I recognize this same state of mind when I am doing very cerebral and creative work such as drawing, thinking out ideas that require concentration.  It is actually a state of mind in which ideas ´flow´ without hindrance.  

In this case I was at the cave for fun, I chose to be there, even if I didn´t really know that it would be so intense. However, in a traumatic situation I think we revert to this ´perfect´ state of mind, as a protection so that we will do and endure what has to be done in order to survive. I´m looking for the ´key´ to unlock hidden memories, so that I can process them and face them and not be afraid of shadows in the corner of my eye anymore. So, this experience at the cave, has helped me see what happens in my mind when I forget an intense event. In fact, I think that the memories are not hidden at all, they are right there in the perfect state of mind. Instead, I am the one who has made noise to cover them up, and maybe if I learn to be quiet enough I will be able to see them.  The problem though, is that emotions are right at the boundaries of the perfect mind plane. It is the first thing I will get to once I start to quiet down, that is where the BIG FEAR resides, and all its nasty cousins. They don´t want me to get to the perfect mind so I have to go through them first.

In conclusion, the cave has been a validating experience in many ways. First, I saw and confirmed (through other people´s accounts at first) the fact that I forget very intense moments. Look up ´repressed memories´ online and the literature you find says that they are fake. It is refreshing to confirm through my own experience that they are very possible. Second, I’m really happy that I remembered the last stretch of climbing the waterfall. It makes me feel like it is possible to recover memories willfully. Third, since I remembered, I remember more or less what that special state of mind feels like, and perhaps I can replicate it in my daily life.

Facing fear in the cave

Going to the cave was one of the most exciting and terrifying things I’ve ever done. I don’t know if I liked it or if I hated it but I’m hooked, I’ll keep going now. I found it very interesting from a psychological point of view as I got to see my process when in a situation outside of my comfort zone. Apart from the fact that caves are really cool, I want to go on these expeditions in order to face my fears a little bit and see how I do it.

I’m not what you would call an athletic person, I’m not completely a couch potato either, but I’m not terribly agile or fit. I have never gone climbing, and I’ve only gone hiking a couple of times. I was completely unprepared for everything we would have to do in the cave. They said it was a beginners cave, I’d rather not think too much in advance about the next caves to come. So, what happened at the cave was that I did it in a mostly detached manner. There were moments of very intense physical activity when we had to hold on to two walls over a pit and make our way sideways. It’s a technique where you put both feet on the wall in front, and lean your back on the wall behind and then move like that over uneven ground, water, or, in some cases, no floor at all just a gaping black hole. There were also very tight tunnels, where I had to go in arms first and wriggle my way through water and rocks up a tight passage. In all, I think the things involving height without ropes are the scariest ones. I’m relatively small so tight places don’t bother me so much.

It was an intensely cold day, and yet, during the time in the cave I didn’t feel cold at all. Not even when we had to climb up that waterfall. Yes, me, who had never gone climbing, climbed a vertical waterfall,  some 16 feet tall, in the dark, inside a cave. The amount of water wasn’t extraordinary, but it was still strong and in my face. The funny thing is that I forgot about that waterfall, I only remember the second one where I lost my concentration and got stuck and the guide had to show me how to do it and then people helped me up. This second one  was much shorter and should have been easier to climb than the first one. Until someone else mentioned this first waterfall I wasn’t even sure that there had been two of them. So it is intensely interesting to study what went on in my mind at the time. What I remember at first was that we reached an apparent dead end with a wall and a waterfall. Then we had to climb it and I went into ‘peaceful resignation’ mode;  this mode drowned out the possible panic mode, drowned out thoughts and just got on with it.  It’s like the thought process was cut out for some time to make room for body awareness and full concentration. It felt like a matter of life and death and so there wasn’t enough energy to spare on thoughts. Looking back I do remember it, it’s just harder to piece together as they are sensory memories of grabbing rock and being mindful of having three secure points at all times before moving upwards. So, it’s a different type of memory, a memory without words. This is what trauma memories feel like, so it’s validating to be able to create memories like that in a setting of my choosing and in a more or less controlled environment. (note: I went to the cave under the guidance of experienced cavers who had been to this cave many times before and with the appropriate equipment).

When we finally came back to the entrance of the cave we had to wait for some time before ascending to the surface. That is when everything started to catch up to me, it’s like I had delayed emotions and even delayed coldness and stiffness. Still, at that moment I thought, not yet and simply waited my turn, climbed safely out and thanked my lucky stars when I saw the sun outside. Once I got home I took a hot shower, and then had enough left over adrenaline to blow dry my hair and feel like a lady again. Soon after that I started shivering, in spite of the fact that the heating was on, I was wearing sweat pants, and I was wrapped in my two down covers. I allowed myself to feel this emotion, I felt a lot of fear at this time, and decided that if I don’t want to I don’t have to go to caves again. I felt a murmur of panic of being trapped in a watery tight space, and I definitely felt all the cold I hadn’t felt during the experience. I had a massive headache, like my head was going to split in two, and I felt very weak.  There was also the physical exhaustion and the bruising from crawling on rocks. I had an urge to eat honey, pure honey, tea with honey, lemon with honey, I ate it by the spoonful. At first I was too tired to go to sleep and the headache wasn’t letting me relax I took a couple of headache pills but even then it was hard to get rid of the headache. Then deep sleep finally overtook me and I slept like the dead.

So what I think is interesting in this whole process is that I put myself through a very demanding situation, both physically and psychologically; and observed the process as it happened. I separated myself from unhelpful emotions such as panic and fleeing instinct while I was in the cave. I was able to be detached and objective to get through the hard bits. I was also able to cope with the emotional stress that came after the cave, once I was safe and warm at home. The process of assimilating the residual emotions from the cave, that is to say all the emotion that I didn’t feel in the moment when it was created, was physical. That is what the shivering was and the headache and the need for honey; it was hard in the moment but now I feel exhilarated about it. It’s like living through a mini process of trauma and recovery and seeing the dynamics of it in my own psyche. I can do it, perhaps this will give me strength to talk to the shadows that are lurking at the edge of my awareness.

Apparently, we are going to a more ‘advanced’ cave in a few days, I’ll try not to worry about it until I’m there.

Finding Pleasure

*** this article contains sexual discussions, read with care***

I have an issue with sexuality, I find it hard to enjoy being with a man, and I do not have orgasms. This whole exploration was brought on by my lack of pleasure, I ignored it for a very long time and accepted it as ‘that’s just the way I am’. In fact I only know that I don’t have orgasms because I’ve had about two that I remember in dreams. The dreams were not specifically sexual, but the orgasms then were physical and amazing, I’ll maybe write a separate post about that. So, I spent a lot of years without much real sexual desire or even thoughts, until one day my sensuality found me again. It was the most amazing moment ever, like a fire was lit from my genitals and traveled up my spine and exploded above me, this was a physical feeling. After that I’ve felt the pull of desire and the longing that comes along with it. It forced me to reevaluate a lot of things in my life, and to finally face the problem of my lack of pleasure. It also gave me access to a huge amount of energy, I got up and started running and swimming and drawing. I felt more alive than ever; like I had finally woken up and felt what being a woman is about.

So, in my quest to feel pleasure I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching, it has been bigger than I could have ever imagined, very hard at times, and still ongoing. I remember when I was about 18 I started doing some introspection work, and that was more or less when the night terrors began (refer to post ‘my own fear’). I wasn’t ready to face them then, and maybe I’ll be ready to face them now. More about that later, oh I have so much to say.

Anyway writing about this is kind of difficult for me, even thinking about this is difficult is like my head suddenly fills with cotton and I can’t think. So, I’m starting with the easy part and hope to move on to more difficult subjects later. I’ll start with the physical issues of why I haven’t enjoyed sex too much over the years.

I have some small health problems, no more than aches and pains really, not enough to even warrant a visit to the doctor, or to prevent me from living my usual life. However, I recently noted, that these small things are leaking energy out of me, I am always beyond tired,  I sleep and sleep and never feel refreshed. Honestly, I’ve just always thought that I’m a lazy person. So first of all I will try to address these things and overcome them hoping to become healthier and have more energy. So, here’s what this post is about, small health issues that have gone ignored for too long and how to try to heal them.

I’ve had some pain in my lowerback since I started driving, now I don’t drive a car anymore but the pain is still there. It is not an awful lot of pain, but it does make me get tired very fast, and often I just want to go lie down and not move too much. Exercise such as running, and yoga really helps relive the pain. Before I would do one yoga session and the pain would be gone for a few days, now it takes a few yoga sessions but I get rid of it, forget about it, stop doing yoga and it comes back. I went to see a physical therapist some years ago, he treated me with heat and ultrasound and massages and the symptoms got better for a little while. He said my back is overarched and my posture doesn’t help the problem so my muscles stress and cramp. It’s funny that I know what the cure is for this and yet I keep on just living with it. So, here’s a new purpose, do at least 10 minutes of yoga everyday this month, and sit up straight while I’m in front of my computer.

Another small annoyance is the chronic indigestion. It is so chronic that I thought that after eating it is just normal to always be bloated and gassy. It’s very uncomfortable I get very bloated (my stomach expands 2 or sometimes 3 inches!); and I get very painful and embarrassing gas. So after eating I am usually very very sleepy and can’t function properly for a few hours. Again, this is not so awful that it puts me completely out, but it’s a leak of energy. Let me tell you, this is not sexy at all, I feel very unattractive when I’m so bloated and often constipated. So, recently I took an allergy test looking for something else, and discovered that I have a sensitivity to wheat. A sensitivity is not fully an allergy that will cause anaphylactic shock, it just means that it is something that I can’t digest well. This was a few months ago, but given my love of bread, pasta and beer I was in denial and simply ignored it. Recently I decided to give it a try, cut wheat out of my diet for a couple of weeks and see what would happen. The results were almost immediate and incredible, I lost about an inch of waist in two or three days. Allergies cause your body to release fluid in the affected areas, I guess my body was just realeasing a lot of fluid around my stomach and intestines. In the past, no matter how hard I worked out I was never able to get rid of my belly. Also, my sneezing went away and what I thought were pimples in my face dissppeared, it was a minor rash (not really noticeable, just uncomfortable).  This week I’m back to eating wheat and not feeling as great,  I bought some wheat products and I feel bad about throwing them out so I’ll eat them and then not buy anymore. Living without wheat is going to be a learning process, and some things I just can’t give up, like beer, but I’ll try to cut back as much as possible and only eat it when I’m not at home and there is no other choice. I need to find ‘quick foods’ to make to take to work since eating sandwiches and wraps seems to be out of the scope for now.

Then there are the tense shoulders, neck and jaw. Sometimes I wake up during the night because they hurt since they are so stressed. Sometimes I feel like the stressed muscles don’t let me get into an upright position since they are so cramped and tight. The best solution for the back muscles,  so far is to go swimming and do some yoga. Note: I haven’t gone swimming or running in over 5 months. I still don’t have a solution for the tight jaw of the teeth grinding during my sleep (I chipped a molar recently…).

Another small problem is a persistent pain in the left side of my face, it’s a small spot about the size of a pea located between my nose and my upper teeth. I’ve gone to see dentists and nose doctors, I’ve gotten x-rays done of this and no one can tell me what it is. Everything comes out normal in the scans so doctors don’t take it seriously, they just give me a round of antibiotics and dismiss it. This pain has been going on for three years now. I really don’t know how to fix this one. So, I’ll focus on the other ones and get back to it later.

Then there are the bone aches, and the feeling that my veins are getting hard. This only happens sometimes when I’m very tired (once or twice per week); but it’s a very uncomfortable feeling. Like there is pain inside my bones, and my joints get stiff and I feel like blood is not flowing properly. Again, exercise really gets rid of this one. Luckily, where I live now, I have to bike everywhere so I get at least 30 mins of light exercise almost everyday so this has improved. It’s still there, today my bones hurt. It’s not a lot, it’s not awful, but it is debilitating, I just want to stay in bed all day instead of enjoying the sun outside.

So, you see, none of it is very serious, none of it is life threatening, but it sucks energy out of my day. Writing it out helps to see it more concretely and makes me realize I need to take action. So my resolutions for now are to reduce wheat intake as much as possible and do yoga at least 10 minutes a day. That should be manageable. And, how is this related to having orgasms? It’s about starting to feel sexy and energetic. There is no inclination for any kind of sexual activity if I’m bloated, constipated and my back aches. So this is a start.

I know I am split

I am disjointed, I believe I am split in myself because of several reasons which I will list now. I have not been properly diagnosed by anyone, but the thing is, I am very manipulative I can get any results I look for in a psychological exam. So, it is up to me to find out what is going on with me. Ok, so to the point, these are pointers of how I’ve found out that I’m split.  First the easy things to write, I change a lot from one situation to another. It is not just mood swings, I change in my opinions, I change in how I dress, I change my accent, I change my handwriting, even my values shift. I’ve always thought that I am a very forgetful person, and I’ve just overlooked how forgetful I am. I fail to remember things I did when I was very concentrated on something, I fail to remember people I met, places I went to. The easiest to explain are films, I may have watched a film, enjoyed it and understood it but then I am completely incapable of remembering what happened in it. The same thing happens with books. I have a mathematical self that is very number smart, with this self we understand abstract concepts easily, we can program, we can see shapes in patterns of numbers,  and we can remember many things. When this self is gone, I look at the programs that I wrote, the problems that I solved, and I have no idea how I did it or what any of it means. I remember when I did it, I remember what I was thinking when I did it, it just fails to continue to make sense.  This is getting very critical, I need to be mathematical everyday, I need me for my new job. Except the whiz kid doesn’t decide to show up everyday, in fact, in the past couple of months it’s only been there like twice. I spend most of my time drooling in my desk, and then do all my work in a few glorious hours of inspiration. Those hours have been enough to fool people so far, but the pressure is mounting and the deadlines are coming. I need my number intelligence to be with me at work when I am there.

Another self draws faces, when I am not being this self I can’t draw a stick figure. Luckily I don’t need this person all the time, so when the artist shows up the artist is welcome to use the expensive paper that the artist bought and try to make it worthwhile. When I can draw it’s like I understand figures and depth and their representation on a flat paper. It’s like the image is already in the paper just waiting to be portrayed.

Another self is sporty, this self has recently gotten us into caving, caving is dangerous. This self doesn’t understand why we can’t do more with our bodies, sometimes it pushes too much and then I hurt. This self does not appear regularly either, so there is no chance to really build up the body that it needs for all it thinks it can do. We went to our first cave this Sunday and it was amazing. We really liked it, despite it being everything we usually dislike, cold, dark, wet, and risky. We crossed pitches, we climbed a waterfall, we remember climbing the second waterfall but we don’t remember climbing the first waterfall. We had to really concentrate to keep our footing, concentration me doesn’t seem to remember to put things into ‘the stream’ of thought that makes memories appear like continous bits of film. We had to work together to get through that cave, and I think that is one of the keys to joining myself up a little bit.

One self is in love, the emotional self loves a fantastic man. The sensory self does not love this fantastic man. That is a problem.

People around me have noticed this, my friends a few years ago even had a different name for my ‘party’ person since it is such a radical change from my daily person.

Another pointer here has been the languages deal. I think in different languages depending on what self is doing what. Languages come easily to me, sometimes. Right now I’m learning a new language, a language that I never thought I would study, and it feels more like remembering than learning. It’s an odd sensation, most of what I learn feels like I already knew it but I had forgotten it.

My posture also changes dramatically from one person to the other. Sometimes I don’t know how to stand up straight, it feels unnatural, and other times it’s like it’s the only way to stand and why have I been crouching all day….

So I am split, we are many, we are legion.  I can’t write about all of us right now. I don’t know if what I really need to do is to integrate, I’d be ok with having more cooperation. The creative and intellectual are really needed right now. I hereby issue an official call for them, the situation is getting desperate.

I’ve always been like this as far as I can remember, so I thought that everyone was like this, and this was the ‘normal’ way of being. I begin to understand that not everyone is like this (I still secretly think that they are, they just don’t know it). They are all true, it’s not deceit when I am being shy and quiet sometimes, and then I’m being the life of a party at other times. Both things are true even if they are opposites.