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Mid-life Moods and dark thoughts

If we reject what is painful, we find only more pain, but if we embrace what is within us, we stumble upon the light. ~ Elizabeth Lesser

Aren’t you a dog anyway, always groveling for love and begging to be petted? You ought to get into the garbage and lick the insides of the can, the greasy wrappers, the picked-over bones, you ought to drive your snout into the coffee grounds. Ah, coffee! Why not gulp some down with four cigarettes and then blast naked into the streets, and leap on the first beautiful man you find? The words ruin me, haven’t they been jailed in your throat for forty years, isn’t it time you set them loose in slutty dresses and torn fishnets to totter around in five-inch heels and slutty mascara? Sure it’s time. You’ve rolled over long enough… at the end of all this there’s one lousy biscuit, and it tastes like dirt. So get going. Listen: they’re howling for you now.” tell me the power of words, blog,

Naming things, naming our sadness, our joy, our despair and confusion makes it more real and also helps us move beyond it. I shivered when I read the piece from Meredith above. It made me want to get out my journal and write about the gritty underbelly of feelings that I keep hidden.

It brings me clarity to name what I feel, even if I’m uncomfortable admitting to those feelings. Sometimes I don’t even know how I feel until I get to the bottom of the page and look back. Ah, that’s what it was. On the outside everything may look hunky-dory, but on the journey to the self, on my inner journey, it might be a good deal rockier. And always, beyond the chattering of monkey mind, behind the breath, there is a vital core energy breathing me.

I woke up this morning, two days after Hurricane Irene blew through New York and the northeast, and felt the spaces in my body where there was pain and absence, disappointment with myself, tension and stress, unhappiness, leftover rigidity from yesterday’s shopping trip with my daughter. We are often happy together, but if there is uncertainty, difficulty or tension about details, we are both very unhappy. I was left with the feeling in my body – that I am not always a good mother, that I hate being ‘in charge’ even if I like being in control. I am supposed to be the elder, wiser one, helping her settle into her first week of a new city, new university residence, negotiating new rules, new spaces, new contacts. But I’m navigating new territory too, beginning my own new ventures, a new website, new creative journaling classes for women, new book of poems, new non-fiction book for women in mid-life (The Tao of Turning Fifty). A lot of new’s for both of us.

Finally I went out to the health food store and bought a product called Calm, a fizzy drink with magnesium in powder form. Lovely, I thought, I need this right now. I want to be calm. I want to find that great comfy place where everything goes swimmingly well even in the unknown territories that freak me out, like filling out forms on-line to get an ISBN number. Should be simple, but what if I screw it up? Shoulders hunch up, I breathe, and try not to rush, and voila! Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Relax shoulders.

So journaling, writing, naming the blues. I always try to be uplifting and be a friend, hand holding and breathing light into the darkness. That’s ok. But there have been many, many times, especially during the last ten years on the peri-menopausal journey, where I have not felt so sure of myself, nor centered and right. I have reached out to my sisters for help, learned EFT, done workshops, felt lots of healing moments in Retreat, and gently gently am learning to go easy on myself.

So, the gist of it is, name the little bugger that’s got you by the pants, gremlin or cranky critic or depression, despair, or fear. Hold somebody’s hand if you need to. Buy some dark chocolate and spiced tea, play some soothing music and rock yourself through it – then write it. Write about what you’re afraid to feel, to acknowledge or admit, to risk. Write as a spiritual practice to help you go deeper into the ‘why’ of what you love, and what you hate, your struggles with overwhelm and your lack of understanding. Write your way to clarity.

Your journal is a safe place to confide in, to hang out naked in, to be private and converse with angels in. To be in your body, at home with your feelings, to gradually grow in self-acceptance and love and let go of judgement and painful self-sabotage – that is beautiful.

So, I’m sure the dark corners are like boogeymen. Once you shine a light on them, once you begin to name them, they shrink and disappear.

Nameste, Jenn

Ps what are you afraid to write about? Begin there.

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