It’s been many years since I’ve received a Christmas present from another person and many more years since I’ve given one, at least in material form. Back before around 2010, I used to receive many pity invites to Christmas get togethers of other people. After they badgered me into coming, I would ask them to not give me a present, that the invite was enough. They never listened. Even though they had no idea of what I might enjoy for a present, they would give me several generic presents. I wouldn’t bring one for them so it always felt strange.
For me, it is not a bad thing to not receive presents. I am glad to not receive Christmas presents. I always found it strange that people felt obligated to get me a present and, back when I had some friends whom I might visit, they too would always give me a present, not receiving one in return.
Now, it is much more simpler. I receive one card from my sister and, on a strange note, for the last 20 years, I receive a card from a woman I once dated and almost married but skipped the state for about a year when it got that serious. I think she was always upset with me about doing that to her. It freaked me out when it got to that point, especially after what happened to my once fiance who left me for her family and religion. This woman too was deeply religious.
At first, each year she would live all sort of Christmas goodies on my doorstep with one old sneaker. She wouldn’t note her name on the card. It was goodies from the “Sneaker.”
This went on for about 5 or so years and then turned into a card each year with photos of her husband and their children. When I moved I figured these would stop. Nope. Somehow she found out where I lived and again the goodies returned for a year or so then back to the card, which it has remained every year since, to the present, at least till last Christmas. I expect I will also receive one this year based on past experience. I just look at the picture of the family a year older and the almost comic book descriptions that go along with each photo on the homemade card.
All of this aside, there is one gift that I do receive each year. I used to call it a gift from “god.” Every year I would receive something special. Not material but something, such as a little light to brighten the darkness and pain that I lived in nearly continuously. It was the only present that I anticipated each year and never knew when I would receive it, though it was always within the holiday season. At times, just after. But it would always arrive.
Well, this past year I have been showered with gifts. One would think that I would have come to expect them and even become bored with them. I can’t say that this has happened. I am deeply humbled by each gift that my heart has given and was well as extremely grateful. I never expect them because I have no idea of what and when she will give it a gift. All I know is that I have been buried in gifts this past year and I don’t take one of them for granted nor to do I regard one above another, though they have progressively become greater and greater, one building upon the previous.
This morning I received a wonderful gift. Actually, it was a gift that I already had so you might consider it a re-gift. This gift has been given to me many times, more often as a reminder than anything else. Each time it comes when my perspective is skewed in some way. This time it really meant something to me because it came when I was dealing with feelings that are very threatening to me. Feelings so painful which, when I’ve felt them before it would often send my life into a tailspin of darkness for many months. I wrote about many of them in my previous post.
i woke this morning, somewhat like I woke yesterday morning. I didn’t feel the darkness as intense as I did the day before but it was still there. In the past it was often like this when I felt these feelings, some days they weren’t as intense but yet there were still there, tormenting me. Well, as I wrote yesterday, these feelings weren’t so much tormenting in as they had in the past. Mostly, they were confusing me. Why now did I have to experience these feelings after having gone through this amazing journey?
As I can see now, it is simply part of the journey. More things that I have to pass through and actually deal with rather than their attacking me until I collapse in painful agony, lying in bed all day with the blanket over my head and not wanting to see the light of day. Wishing it would simply end. All the while, even back then, my heart would talk with me in those moments so lovingly. Telling me that hang on. That one day it would end.
I never knew if I could believe her. I didn’t know who she was and why she kept telling me to hang on. I just wanted the pain to end. I wanted to die. I begged her, though I called her “god” then or sometimes and “angel,” to take my life. To let me go to sleep and never wake up here again. She wouldn’t comply. She would simply go back to telling me how much I am loved and how beautiful I am. Over and over she would say these things in various different ways. At times, going on for hours and hours until I would finally feel a moment of calm and would fall into a deep sleep. Giving me some time away from the pain.
The past couple of days my heart has been silent for the most part and I have been hesitant to inquire of her because I really didn’t understand what was happening and, being who I am, didn’t want to bother her with my feelings. Feelings I know so well and was confused as to why they had returned. Feelings that, in the past, so many people told me were my problem and I had to deal with me alone. I believe they used to say this simply because they had no idea what they could do for me.
I remember one time when I went to a church leader and talked with him about my pain. He simply said that I should read the bible, I would find the answer there. So I would go and read the bible for hours and hours each day. I never found an answer. He said it was because I wasn’t doing it in a prayerful manner and that I was reading expecting to find an answer. This confused me some. Actually, it confused me a lot. One time I read the whole damn bible and never found the answer. I came to believe what he said and believe that it had to be me. Something I was doing wrong but I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.
I spent many hours on my knees praying and praying. I prayed and was thankful for my food. The one thing I noticed in doing all of these things, they only caused me to feel more empty and further from the answers I needed.
This morning I was doing yoga before work as I do each and every morning. While I was in downward dog my heart spoke up saying something she has said to me many times. “Allow yourself to feel the feelings but don’t try to change them or fight against them.”
It was just a relief to feel her voice. I also realized that I did need this reminder. Then she added something to it which caused me to collapse to the floor and nearly come to tears. “Let me handle everything else.”
This reminded me of what I was asking people for, in other words, not directly, after my mother died. I needed some time. Not so much as to stop working and my life. I needed my obligations to be temporarily relieved so I could have time to deal with those intense feelings I was feeling at that time.
After I returned from seeing my mother for the last time before she died, I was to start a new job at a hospital. Back then I was on track to become a nurse. I was still working as an assistant but was growing in my experience, having moved from nursing homes to a hospital and then I was about to embark on a new learning experience in a surgical ward while starting my nursing classes at the college.
The nurse manager told me I should take some time before starting. I really wanted to do so but I had rent and a car payment to pay. I couldn’t take any time off. It didn’t take but a few weeks before I collapsed and soon I lost everything. It was the first time I lost everything. The second time came about 10 years later. After that I stopped trying to become a societal success. In fact, the second loss was even worse than the first, of which I still haven’t truly recovered from though it has been nearly 10 years since it happened.
After I left that job at the hospital and delved deep into a life of seclusion, which was very odd for me because before this I had unstoppable energy and was always on the go. A life of seclusion that went on for many years and basically my life was never the same as it was before.
Early during this time I went to several places, such as churches and mental health therapists. The funny thing was that none of them seemed to know what to do. I thought of all people that these people would know what I needed to do to deal with these things. Each of them literally told me that I had to find my own way through them. And, as with the churches, rather than give me temporary relief from my obligations, they added to my obligations saying that these things would help me.
I couldn’t ask anything of my siblings. They were off doing their own crazy things. Fighting and backbiting each other. It was terrible to experience. After my mother died, my family basically became what it always was but my mother had a way of keeping each of them in line. Now that she was no longer there, they let it all out and attacked each other brutally. It became where all they talked about was how terrible the others were. This was when I finally lost contact with them.
Looking back, I can see that much of my most intense anxiety came from not being able to deal with these intense feelings and also being attacked by the world who, as they always do, simply wanted things from me. They wouldn’t give me any time off to simply figure things out. When I would ask a friend for some help. They would refuse, thinking that I just take advantage of them. They, as my family and others in my life, believed that one has to always provide for themselves and all of these other feelings had to be put aside.
The ironic part of this is that they had other people in their lives, parents and spouses, who would help them when they were down. I didn’t have anyone and no one felt that I deserved any of these privileges. I had to do do it alone. Thus, from that point forward, I was alone in the world.
I always found this interesting that the society would go to what seemed as extra effort to keep me out of it. Maybe it’s because I didn’t appreciate it much and these people knew it. I really didn’t want anything from the society but at that time I simply needed some time and, most of all, I needed love, which I found was harder to come by than getting some time.
Love was on thing that most people don’t want to part with, at least in my case. Again, I used to find this interesting. I would sit alone watching commercial after commercial of all these places and organizations where people could go for help. When I would go to them, I would receive nothing. They would treat me as if I was a beggar. Worse than a beggar, it was more like they were thinking, “How dare this person come to us asking for help. He can do this himself. He’s just trying to find an easy out. He’s lazy.”
Thus, my trust in people slowly declined over time and especially in society as a whole. All was a lie from society. One thing that happened over time was how I would say to myself, “I am alone.” Until one day, about a year or so before this journey, when I sat on my deck looking up at the stars thinking of my relationship with the universe as a whole, “I am completely alone.”
So, when my heart added this simple addition to what she had always said to me, giving me a gift she has given to me over and over again but each time it means more to me, I fell to the floor while doing yoga, nearly in tears realizing that she continues to make all my dreams come true. She has filled my life with love. More love than most people experience in their own lives. And now, she added to it, taking away these obligations so I can finally deal with these feelings.
Once I heard these words from her, I felt everything life. Not the feelings but the fear of the feelings. I could finally let myself feel these feelings without thinking that they would attack me and overwhelm me, taking me down as they always did before.
As I did this, I found that again my perspective of the world around me changed. My perspective of people. I no longer saw them in the “spiritual” way that my heart had given me to see them, which I can now see was to aid me in forgiving them. To see their true beauty. A beauty that even they can’t see. This allowed me to release and also break down barriers I had built up between me and other people for various reasons.
Now, I can see the people as they are as physical beings. More through an existential perspective. I can see the “animal” that they are, as well as knowing of the beauty of who they truly are within them. Deep within all the barriers and walls they have built up around who they truly are. Around their hearts. It is different than how I saw them before this journey, though it is through a similar perspective. The difference is that I no longer have the divisive distrust and pain that had separated from through my experiences with them.
I feel a distance or a sense of disconnection from they way they choose to live. Their incessant need to buy objects which they nearly worship as idols though there is no love lost when they have to throw them away after using them.
Walking home from work seeing the streams of car lights on the street, each of them going somewhere they find to be important. Most of which is to a store or restaurant where they will proceed to do what they seem to love above all else. Spend money on things. Collect more idols to place around their homes while discarding used idols so as to have a place for the new ones.
They seem to feel it urgent to get to these places of importance as they speed around corners and then again down the street, as if time is against them. Racing from place to place gathering things for they and their families and friends to enjoy. Food and drink to consume while enjoying these things.
I found it so interesting to be observing these things without any real judgement or anger toward them. Just watching them go about doing things that they feel are important to their lives, feeling no connection to what they were doing within myself. Not desire to be doing these things myself. No desire to have the acceptance or approval. Happy, simply being me while freely experiencing feelings that once seemed out to destroy me, now simply part of the art that is me.