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Posts Tagged ‘mistake’

Topic of the Week: Trust

Posted by Amanda Gray on July 14, 2011

I saw my therapist again. I didn’t think the meeting was particularly helpful – I left more confused than when I started – but I had some important thoughts afterward. I realized that I have particular difficulties with trust.

  • I rarely trust others – they’re often unreliable, may abuse their power, and may make mistakes that could result in pain (or death) for me.
  • I rarely trust myself – my thoughts, feelings, abilities, or decisions. OMG, I make mistakes, am unreliable, and abuse my power too!

I can, generally, trust people who appear to have their heads on straight. Those that have confidence in themselves allow me to confide. Like, for example, the great spiritual teachers I’ve followed. But people, who seem just as confused and doubtful as myself, are anathema, and I won’t trust them at all. I also notice that I’ll trust a man more than I’ll trust a woman, and it’s particularly true if the man is gay.  Yet, if a man expresses any sexual interest in me, he’s automatically and totally, untrustworthy!

When I had a boyfriend, this was always a key issue. No matter what he did, I always believed he was ‘out to get me’. I would accuse him of trying to control me (without acknowledging that I was trying to control him), and since I usually behaved in alternating extremes, I either trusted him with far too much, and too soon, or with nothing at all. It was all deeply unconscious, at the time, of course, and I’m sure we both played into it equally. Our unconscious energies ‘clicked’, and that’s why we attracted each other.

As soon as I stopped having intimate relationships with men, I started projecting my trust issues to my work. If I distrust, I can find the untrustworthy anywhere. On page 462 of the text of A Course in Miracles, it says:

Yes, it [ I ] can dream it found an enemy [the untrustworthy], but this will shift even as it attacks, so that it runs at once to find another, and never comes to rest in victory. And as it runs, it turns against itself, thinking it caught a glimpse of the great enemy who always eludes its murderous attack by turning into something else.

Therefore, when I’m tired of projecting distrust on something else, then I project it on myself. After all, something has to be the untrustworthy ‘enemy’. If I distrust, and feel weakened, something must be the cause. Something or someone must have taken my power, and left me helpless. And since I think I can’t trust myself, perhaps I’m doing it; I become the enemy, in my own split mind. The Course says on page 463:

Could he admit that no one made him powerless? Reason would surely bid him seek no longer what is not there to find [the enemy boyfriend, or the enemy job]. Yet, first he must be willing to perceive a world where it is not. It is not necessary that he understand how he can see it. Nor should he try [but, oh, I have]. For if he focuses on what he cannot understand [no kidding], he will but emphasize his helplessness, and let sin [a.k.a. unforgivable mistakes] tell him his enemy must be himself.

The projection goes from outside, to inside, and:

[…] your belief that truth may be the enemy you yet may find. Here, then, would seem to be the last remaining hope of finding sin [mistakes], and not accepting power.

How can I trust myself to choose anything, even truth or power, when so much of my choosing has been a mistake? As my choosing became more and more erratic over the years, I saw that no choice ever led to lasting happiness. Happiness was inconstant – and so, it couldn’t be trusted either.

Elusive happiness, or happiness in changing form that shifts with time and place, is an illusion that has no meaning. Happiness must be constant, because it is attained by giving up the wish for the inconstant. Joy cannot be perceived except through constant vision. And constant vision can be given only to those who wish for constancy.

I tested the world through goggles of distrust, and found it lacking. Like an army of little tin soldiers, I knocked it all down. I proclaimed the whole world to be false, inconstant, and untrustworthy. My toy box got smaller and smaller, darker and darker. I felt more and more helpless. I appealed to many: “Help me,” I begged. But they couldn’t help – no, they can’t. Somehow, I have to trust myself to choose again.

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Big Secrets and Professional Help

Posted by Amanda Gray on June 29, 2011

Yesterday, I went to a psychiatrist. I finally admitted to myself that I’m stuck, terrified, living, pretty much, like I’m dead, and that I need serious, professional help. The more I try to think about my life, the more the thoughts spin in predictable loops and result in further confusion, indecision, resistance and anxiety.

The psychiatrist, Pat, was nice enough. She warned me that she might say some things I wouldn’t like, and while I was sure that I wanted that, she did succeed in challenging me in a way I didn’t expect. I explained to her that I’m particularly frustrated in my work experience, and that I keep finding myself in jobs that press all my anxiety buttons and eventually lead to my resignation. I told her that I would prefer to stay unemployed at this time in order to figure out what I really want to do. She suggested that any job would be better than no job. I didn’t like that. Any job? Inflict my insanity upon poor, defenceless employers and co-workers? So far, I’ve been good at quitting with notice before any major disaster, but taking a job while I’m so stressed could easily lead to being fired. That wouldn’t be helpful. True, it isn’t necessary to project the past onto the future, but without a plan or a goal up front, before I act, just sets me up for the same old story. The cycle starts and ends with me. That’s where I’m willing and ready to address the problem. But to take any job… well, that’s what I’ve already done for 10 years and I’m confident that it’s not working for me or anyone else. More accurately, any job, I can take… a job – a LIFE – that I might want and care about… well, that’s why I need a psychiatrist. On the other hand, perhaps a solid ‘Suck it up, Princess,’ is more applicable than I’d prefer to admit.

Ah, now you see, this is why I shouldn’t think too much. I swing too wildly between extremes! My Course in Miracles lesson had good advice about that this morning: Lesson 4: This thought about _____ does not mean anything. It is like the things I see in this room, [on this street, out this window, etc.]. Whew. Ok. That helps.

Interestingly, the night before my psychiatrist appointment, I realized that there’s a deep ego need to get ‘the right answer’. So, in my session with Pat, I noticed that I kept making statements followed by asking her, “Right?” She was great; she never fell into the game. Is there ever a ‘right’ answer? Can another person, whatever their credentials or enlightenment, ever give the ‘right’ answer to me? Truly, a psychiatrist isn’t supposed to give answers, they’re supposed to help one find the answers for themselves.

Pat gave me an assignment that I didn’t like initially as well. She wants me to write an essay about who I am, right now. I balked, “Yeah, well, the short answer is that I don’t know.” She suggested that I might need to return to the dreams and desires I had in adolescence. Like my desire to get famous? Ha! That was a retarded motivation then, and it would be an even more retarded motivation now. Finally, I conceded that there were a few interests I developed more recently, and that I could write about. Yes, I can admit, while there may be deep holes in what I know about who I am right now, there are a few things I’m clear about. I see that the ego likes to make blanket statements like “I know” or “I don’t know,” keeping to extreme points of view, but it’s more balanced and reasonable to admit that I know some things and I don’t know other things.

So, I’ll write the essay. I’ll write from a stream of consciousness instead of thinking about it too much. Funny, I would never have imagined that a simple writing assignment could rattle me. I used to be so good at feeling the fear and doing it anyway! After all, in my teens, I skydived – not just once – but three times! I used to be fearless! I used to be enthusiastic and ALIVE! What’s happened to me???

This morning, I watched a highly inspiring TEDxSinCity video. It’s by a white South-African man, Bruce Muzik, who tells his big secret to the world – that he’s a racist. He says that it’s the secrets we hold onto that limit us, and that when we reveal our secrets, we release ourselves back to life, to ALIVEness. I agree with him, and I had to consider: Do I have any secrets? What would I still keep hidden from others? Is there something I’m still ashamed of?

Well… there is something that I was hoping to share with the psychiatrist yesterday, but she seemed more interested in staying firmly in the present. Perhaps that’s appropriate to her function – or for our first session, anyway. I’ve spoken about my big secret, in general terms, with my Mom and a few close friends, but I’m not sure I revealed the details that I’m most ashamed of. It’s also possible that writing about it won’t be enough, because it has to do with my mouth and speaking. Must I yet speak the details aloud?

Last week, it arose that I feared and felt ashamed about my ‘mistakes’ – mistakes I made in the past, as well as mistakes I fear to make in the future. I also saw that this was how I most commonly judged others, based on what I perceived to be their ‘mistakes’. It’s also related to the ‘looming disaster’ that I think will happen at work. What if I make a mistake that can’t be fixed, one that I’ll have to feel guilty about – forever? Yes, I have experience with that kind of mistake and that kind of guilt. There’s a particular mistake that comes to mind. One that I made when I was a child.

I’m getting a bit of a headache. Do I dare tell you? How do I put it delicately? Will you hate me? Will you be disgusted with me? Could you love and forgive me, even though I haven’t been able to love and forgive myself?

I was nine years old. It happened in the summer, between grades 6 and 7. My parents dropped me off to stay the weekend with a classmate, Joanne. Joanne had two older brothers who were about 16 and 17 years old, and, for whatever reason, Joanne and I were left alone in their custody. I’m sure there were adults around, at some point, but I don’t remember them.

The memories I did retain, and further memories that I recovered a few years ago, are jumbled. I don’t know the order of events, but I know that, at first, I was a willing participant. A child’s normal curiosity. A child’s normal innocence and trust. We played hide and seek. We played rock music and danced. They asked me questions and paid a lot of attention to me. I felt powerful and sexy.

I thought we were having fun. The enormity of my mistake became clear when I entered the boy’s basement bedroom and saw the younger boy sitting on the bed, holding a jack-knife, threateningly. He ordered me to take off my clothes. “No.” I answered defiantly, but a knot of fear twisted in my gut. Oops.

I was forced to give the older boy a blow job. I still feel the knife blade pressed up under my arm. “Don’t use your teeth,” the younger boy instructed. I still feel the pain in my jaw as I became tired and pulled away. “No, no, you can’t stop!” they insisted. I still remember the rancid smell of his crotch as I closed my eyes and submitted. I still remember my shock and surprise as he exploded in my mouth. They laughed as I spit out his spunk with disgust, “I didn’t know it would do that!” I complained. My chin was a sticky mess and they didn’t let me wash it off. It irritated and itched as it dried.

There were other tortures, far worse ones.  There was, at least, a whole day and a whole night of entertainments in their exclusive company. I’m sure that most are better left unremembered and untold. Yet, I’ve told you the ‘secret’. The secret of my dirty, disgusting mouth.

On the second day, the younger boy threatened me again, “Don’t you ever tell anyone about this!” I shook my head, crying, “No, I won’t. I won’t say anything.” I kept my promise to him. Even when he was charged with rape later the same year and my Mom asked if anything had happened while I was there. I said no. I lied to her. I kept my promise to him, though, through my whole life, particularly in ways that couldn’t be anticipated. Perhaps it’s why I’ve always preferred to write about myself instead of speaking aloud. It’s also perhaps why I’m particularly inarticulate if I’m asked to defend myself. My facial expression is often tight-lipped, and I’ve recently developed a relentless circle of acne around my mouth – a constant reminder of my ‘dirty’ face. Also recently, I discovered that I’m allergic to dairy. Hmmm… yes, milk, yoghurt and cheese are similar to the consistency of spunk. Dairy, as a symbol, isn’t lost on me either: denial of pleasure (dairy is a pleasure food), denial of nurturing (mother’s milk), and, by extension, denial of self-love.

If I was subconsciously keeping the promise I made that day, you might very well ask how I performed as an actress and spoke before large audiences on a regular basis. Yes, well, I was always fine if I was playing a part or speaking from a script. Speaking for myself – no, that was my limitation. As much as I was subconsciously compelled to keep silent, I was also compelled by the opposite extreme, to be heard. Also, I had repressed the trauma throughout those years. My more recent commitment to the Self and its full realization brought those memories to the surface, along with the concomitant fear, guilt, shame, hurt, and various bizarre physical maladies, in order to be expressed, accepted, forgiven and released. It sucks, but that’s how it works. When it’s at the worst, I remember that it’s what I knowingly signed up for, and I’m grateful to finally shed it.  It has no control when it’s in the open.  It has ALL control when it’s kept hidden.

My grade 6 class photo is of a thin, beautiful, sparkling eyed, and broadly beaming girl. In grade 7, she’s fat, with reddish cheeks, and a tight, closed mouth. The light has gone out of her eyes. I found a diary entry from that time that could be related: “The more I think about you-know-what, the more I hate myself.” A lifelong suffering of migraine headaches, including sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting, began around the same time. My regular punishment and crucifixion, inflicted by subconscious guilt and self-hatred.

So that’s it. That’s my biggest, most shameful secret. Was it helpful to reveal it? Well, my body is now warm with kundalini energy, and I feel somewhat relieved. My forehead and neck still feel a bit tight, but not painful. It wasn’t so bad to tell. In writing, anyway.

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The Dreaming Riddle

Posted by Amanda Gray on May 26, 2011

Dream:

I’m in a gigantic bakery kitchen.  Thin slabs of chocolate roulade (thin cake baked in a flat pan, often used to roll with filling) are cooling on the work tables.  I approach one slab of roulade, thinking it was one I baked for myself earlier.  I cut a square chunk, but as I lift it to my lips for a bite, a man approaches me from behind, “No, no, no!”  He tells me that the other baker, Candace, baked that slab.  I see Candace, dressed in a white cooks uniform, across the room with her back to me.  I’m sorry for my mistake and I express to him that I hope I haven’t ruined her yield.

Enlightened teachers rarely talk about dreams, except to say that we need to wake up from the one we dream when we think we’re awake.  Personally, since my night-time dreams have been such a robust part of my daily experience, I’ve frequently used them to gain insight into the activity of my unconscious mind.

When I was a child, I imagined two black, cartoon ants that had an old film projector and a white screen on a stand.  One ant would ask, “What film are we going to show tonight?” and the other would turn on the projector, “How about this one.”  On the screen, I’d see the grainy countdown appear: 3, 2, 1, and, poof, I’d be asleep.

I’ve always loved to dream.  My dreams are rich, colourful, and entertaining.  I usually dream when I’m close to consciousness in the morning, so with very little effort, I can remember many vivid details.  When I started to make a concerted study of my dreams, around the year 2000, I would consider every storyline, character, and location.  I poured through dream interpretation dictionaries to understand every symbol and nuance.  It was extremely time-consuming, but it was also fun, a lot like solving a riddle.

I don’t know how my theory stacks up with the great dream philosophers of our time: Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, etc., but I divide my dreams into two kinds.  One kind is indicative of the ego keeping itself active and entertained.  These are often busy dreams, with lots of characters, locations and plot lines.  They’re difficult to interpret because there are many symbols, but rarely ones that really ‘jump out’.  The other kind of dream is short, sometimes simply one image, like a photograph.  It’s vivid and remembered easily, because, I think, it’s important to remember.  I’ve decided, through my experience with them over the years, that those are the images spirit is using to communicate with me.  It’s an elegant form of communication, and much like an ‘instantaneous download’ of knowledge.  I’ll find that one image will have many subtle, but meaningful, details.  I’ve also learned to pay attention to anything white.  A symbol in white, particularly if it’s a neon bright white, is always, for me, an important message from spirit.

The shadow elements of a dream, such as night scenes or dark basements, tell me that there’s something I’m trying to hide from my conscious mind.  The split of the unconscious from the conscious mind segregates experiences or traumas that we don’t want to acknowledge.  In my experience, dream shadows rarely give up crucial information, they’re really only helpful to know there’s still something to root out of hiding.  If my greater intention is unity, any smaller intention to hide in dark corners must, eventually, be brought to the light of consciousness.

I recommend two dream books that have been invaluable to me over the years.  My, hands down, favourite is:

Cloud Nine

My second favourite is:

Little Giant Encyclopedia: Dream Symbols

When selecting a dream book, ensure that it doesn’t offer nonsense of future predictions, such as, “dreaming of an itchy right hand means the dreamer will receive money”.  I’ve heard that some people have dreams that effectively predict the future, but, even then, I doubt they would get much value from those future symbol books.  Although I had an occasional prophetic dream in my early life, it was often only discovered after the event played out and was always so inconsequential, I stopped paying attention to them, and they went away.  To me, dreams are far more relevant as insight into myself, the symbols as placeholders for deep-seated belief systems and patterns of thought.

Dream dictionaries are like regular dictionaries, organized in alphabetical order.  To use one, I simply look up the words that best describe the dream image.  For example, for the dream I described at the top of this post, I would look up: bakery, room, kitchen, table, clean, cook, food, sweets, black, square, man, back, woman, and white.  The descriptions in the dream book are merely starting points.  After reading them, I would then consider which interpretations resonated the most for me, and then think further about how the symbols fit specifically into my life experience.

Without referring to my dream books, I knew what my bakery dream was about.  In 1991-92, after a year of cooking school, hosted at Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper, Alberta, I continued working over the summer in the pastry department.  One day, I arrived for my evening shift and had two tasks on my work list: mix and bake chocolate Devils Food cakes and ‘Etruscan Torte’ cakes.  I had made both of these cakes before and felt confident in my skills.  I started with the Devils Food cakes.  I assembled the ingredients, mixed the batter in the giant Hobart mixer, and filled the cake rings.  I don’t remember if I was particularly distracted that day, or what I was worried about, but I put the cakes into the oven and totally forgot about them.  When I finally remembered, they were cremated beyond repair.  I was thoroughly disgusted and furious with myself as I cut black chunks of charcoal from the baking rings and disposed of all ten cakes in the garbage.  Since I’d already started work on the Etruscan Tortes, I despondently continued with that.  I cut vanilla roulade to fit inside the cake rings for the top and bottom layers, and filled the middle with a gelatine-meringue mixture.  I thought they were to bake for 45 minutes and I put them into the oven….  Well, if you’ve done any baking, you may already have recognized my mistake.  Gelatine isn’t baked, it’s refrigerated.  In 45 minutes, I asked my sous chef how I should test for doneness.  He corrected me, but it was already too late.  The gelatine mixture had melted and leaked out of the cake rings onto the pans in a big slushy mess.  Ten more cakes, ruined!  I was horrified and devastated.  How could I be such a complete loser?  Within a few weeks of the incident, I concocted a number of excuses, and quit the job.

My dream pointed to this entire scenario in a few symbols.  By incorporating the character of Candace, a co-worker from a current job, it also links the past with the present.  It tells me that I made a past mistake that I never truly forgave myself for, and that I’m still holding onto guilty fears that I could make work mistakes again.  Through the dream, I discovered a limitation that has been affecting my experience, and I can now surrender it – forgive myself.

Although, I also understand why teachers of enlightenment wouldn’t recommend dream analysis.  The mind loves to examine itself, and as long as I’m rooting around in its house of mirrors, I won’t make the essential decision to abandon all mind games – lock, stock and barrel.  Yes, perhaps I have delayed myself extraneously, and thus, I’ve given up dreaming riddles, for the most part.  If I have a dream that I remember, fine, and if there’s some symbolism that jumps out at me, fine, and if an interpretation reveals itself without effort, that’s fine too.

Dreams are a fantastic mystery.  A form of riddle that may never be completely solved, but we can look, and ask, and wonder.

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