16 November 2010

There's a cockroach under my bed.

I think this yogic lifestyle I've adopted - the sweeping changes I've made in the past four months - was, albeit unconsciously, an attempt to control the crazy in my life.  Which is why it's now so painful to admit that it can't control anything in my life anymore than its negative counterparts could.  The feeling is something like, "If positive changes don't work and negative changes don't work, then nothing is ever going to work.  Everything is out of control."  And, I suppose that's when the obvious answer - "YOU CAN'T CONTROL ANYTHING" - swoops in and gives some kind of emotional release.

Except it doesn't feel good, like release should.  It feels painful.  And, overwhelming.  And, discouraging.  If I cannot control my mind and it's moods, then that means I really am crazy and need more help than healthy diet, healthy mind, healthy body.  I need someone to fix my brain, because I can't.  That's harder to admit than it seems.  And, yet, I'm also aware that this stripping away of all the physical shit - the bad habits, the compulsions, the self-destructive behavior - has really allowed me to see the emotional imperfections that remain.  The inconsistencies that still need some sanding down.  What's left to work with after the fire has burned everything else away.  Without the physical problems - the ones I COULD fix on my own - clouding my judgement, I've been able to feel emotions that, I guess, I've been hiding away for a long time.  And, actually feeling them is a good thing - I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

But, my pretty yoga and my pretty diet and my new, pretty habits can't erase ugly problems.  Which is what I was hoping for.  I want them to be gone as a reward for turning my new leaf.  And, yet, they're still here.  I know that these exercises in mind-body-spirit union serve as a way to deal with and cope with my problems - but, I just wanted to come out a squeaky-clean, new girl.

I'm bipolar.  It's not pretty and it's not easy.  And, the hardest thing I've had to admit in the past few months is that I cannot control the disorder by myself.  That's a scary thing to admit - made even scarier by the recent death of a close relative who finally succumbed to his battle with bipolar by taking his own life.  To admit that my brain fluctuates in such a way that has led others to such horrifying demise is really frightening.  But, admitting that also must be some kind of release, for as I write this my throat is tightening up - a knot in my throat and tears that feel like they've started in my belly and exhaust their way up and out and down my cheeks; these have become permanent fixtures.  It feels like peeling layers off - thousands of ancient, unexposed layers careening their way through my body.  And, some of it is simply bipolar's effect, itself - unyielding depression about nothing at all.  Most of it, though, is ghosts of my past - anorexia; bulimia; coping with my sister's death and the aftermath, including ACoA disorder; emotions about all the things that have happened over the years that have been put off because of their enormity or because of the enormity of their surrounding context.  That, coupled with manic-depression, has taken all my effort and all my sanity.  And, I end up feeling a familiar sense of failure, because I can't ever seem to figure out an escape.  Not with the bad habits and not with the good habits - I can't control it, which means I've failed to pull myself up and out of it.  Isn't that what responsible people do?  Isn't that what success is - pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and overcoming your circumstance?  I can't even find my goddamn shoes; how can I pull myself up?  Ashamed failure.

One of my favorite passages about yoga is from Cyndi Lee in OM Yoga Today.  She is speaking about all the different ways resistance manifests when you're trying to get to your mat.  And, she offers, instead of ignoring it or trying to pretend that something negative is actually positive, can you just be curious?  Can you just accept resistance as resistance, or anger as anger, or frustration as frustration and then get on your mat anyway and see how those affect your practice and, in turn, how your practice affects those?  The idea that you don't have to pretend to be happy or positive, that you can just accept your state of mind and still function, that has always spoken a great deal to me.  I don't like having to force a smile on my face or pretend that everything is ok - I've done that.  A lot.  A WHOLE lot. So the idea that, not only is it ok, but beneficial to feel those emotions, not to be afraid of them - well, that's a relief.  The Guest House has become a daily affirmation for me.   Otherwise, I'm just constantly ashamed of these emotions that I can't seem to shake.

Honestly, some days, facing my resistance is getting out of bed.  Getting dressed.  Not feeling guilty for eating.  Sometimes, I don't make it to my mat.  But, I've also come to accept that it's not just about asana.  Bhakti yoga has become more and more meaningful as I navigate through this web of hate and anger and frustration that all comprise this depression.  Bhakti is, in Sri Swami Sivananda's words, "Love for love's sake."  Learning to love myself, to remember that somewhere in all this pain is divinity, sacredness.  Remembering to love myself, that I'm worthy of love - that's yoga for me on the worst days.  And, the best days, for that matter.

Apparently, healing isn't easy.  It's arduous.  It's lengthy.  And, it's not erasing the past or even the present.  So, to begin yet again, I suppose I just continue to feel and let go, feel and let go and accept that most everything is beyond my control.  Even if it's the good stuff.  I can't use it as a means to exert control, to hold on to my power.  Ironically, I think it's the opposite - I have to use it as a means to let go.  To quote John Lennon: "It's always in the middle of the bloody night, or when you're half-awake or tired, when your critical faculties are switched off.  So letting go is what the whole game is.  You turn on the lights and the cockroaches run away.  You can never grasp them."  They're there.  Maybe these emotional cockroaches will always be there. But I can't control them just as I can't grasp them.  And, trying to is useless - it certainly doesn't make anything go away.

All I can do is let go.