Hi, My Name is Jane and I’m not at Peace

February 15, 2008

I got up this morning, late, after a restless night’s sleep.  As I’ve been doing for the past 4 days or so, I wrote my Morning Pages before meditating.

I began my Morning Pages by saying “Look, I’m not in the mood.  I’m irritated.  Whatever it is you want to know about me or want me to say, forget it, it’s none of your goddamned business.” 

I forced myself to keep writing, though.  I started to write about what exactly I felt bad about.

I wrote about feeling like a loser.  I wrote about how, in social situations, I often don’t know what to say.  And then when I do say something it comes out in a crazy sputter.  It feels as though everyone else is standing in the room looking at me, all being “normal” and I’m tripping over my words, saying stupid inane stuff.  Many times after social evenings I reflect and then berate myself for some small comment I made that was completely off-topic or not as compassionate as it could have been, or maybe it was too bubbly or too loud or just simply too indescribably dumb.  I thought about this as I wrote.

I wrote about relationships that I’ve hurt in the past because of my stupidity, some which are still damaged and no amount of apology on my part will repair them.  I wrote about other relationships that I’ve hurt that I don’t care about and should.  I wrote about still other relationships that I haven’t hurt that I don’t care about but should.

I wrote about things that I hate about myself:  the ugly frown my face has when I’m thinking, my bowed legs, the way I feel incompetent at work, the way I hate my own writing, and here I want to be a writer…..  etc. etc.

This is the stuff that goes through my head when I’m feeling grumpy and irritable.  I know that now, because my Morning Pages don’t lie.  I cast this huge and endless stream of guilt and belittlement on myself regarding a host of random issue, from insignificant to significant.  It’s all fair game in my self-accusations.

I know I’m not alone with my complex web of negative emotions triggered by both real and imaginary things.  We wouldn’t have self-help feel-good books if no one else went through this.  I can’t explain why we humans (in general) aren’t born with an innate understanding of how to be at peace with the world and ourselves.  I only know that for me it’s a daily effort to keep all of this under control.  I can’t just, for instance, meditate one time and then everything is fixed (as in take a pill and it’s all gone).  It reminds me of what AA people do.  I have to stand up every single day of my life and say “Hi, my name is Jane, and I’m not at peace.”

6 Responses to “Hi, My Name is Jane and I’m not at Peace”

  1. Ned said

    And the group says, “Hi, Jane.”

    In writing, you are being aware.

    The subject that you are writing about– your complexities– are not you.

    I think the answer is to be awareness and not be this set of beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, feelings defined as “you.”

    Be the writing and not the written. I’m sure some famous dead poet said that.

    This sounds all mystical and crap… and for that, I apologize ;D

  2. No it doesn’t sound mystical, thank you for this. I like what you say about not letting the set of beliefs, perceptions, thoughts and feelings define “me”. I think I will put this comment on an index card and tape it up in my office. Methinks you have a lot to teach me.

  3. Ned said

    That particular insight came to me after hearing the famous last words of the Buddha, “Be a light unto the self.”

    I believe he meant that literally.

    You putting that on an idex card is the greatest compliment I’ve received in quite a while. Much appreciated.

    I’ll try not to let it go to my head 😀

  4. lirone said

    I think one of the most unhelpful things about self-help books, and it’s often true for Buddhism too, is that it tends to make us impatient to see change. It makes us feel that our painful emotions are a sign that we’re doing something wrong, rather than phenomena that, at least at our current stage of development, are just a natural and inevitable part of life. Learn from the turmoil, learn to take its power away, but don’t give yourself a hard time when despite your best efforts it still gets to you!

    (If you’re interested, I wrote a post with some thoughts on this a few days ago – Personal development )

    Wishing you peace and mindfulness!

  5. Jane said

    Hi, Lirone. It does take a long time to figure out how to flush out the emotional pain in us in such a way that it doesn’t pull us down. I’m learning how to flush it all out and still be able to carry on with the responsibilities in my life. I know what it’s like to be pulled completely under with the pain, and that truly sucks. I think the trick is to make sure that your life is strong, both mentally and physically.

    I think it’s very true that religion makes us impatient for change and then disillusioned when we don’t see it. Sometimes it’s not the religion so much as it is our expectation of it. I’ve been meditating (sporadically) for 7 years, and have only now begun feeling it helping the mental part of the equation.

    The topic about our search for values, spirituality, and how to deal with our pains and yet be able to continue living is something I’ll never be able to understand. I look at myself, and find that sometimes even I don’t understand my complexities, I have so many deep-seated emotional junk that drives some of my reactions to things.

    What works and what doesn’t work? I really believe that we are all our own teachers in our growth. I don’t reject the self-help books and the religions, though. Because they all contribute in some way to giving you the foundation that you need to do your own teaching and learning. It’s just that only you know how to create the recipe for how to put it all together to make it work.

    This is my theory anyway 😛

  6. lirone said

    I absolutely agree with your last para – there’s lots of wise suggestions out there and it would be silly to reject them, but we definitely have to make our own recipe and work out what’s right for us 🙂

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