Thursday, June 26, 2008

What's in a Name?

Alright, alright, so maybe “the Cosmos” isn’t the most personal and intimate designation for the Almighty but, in a funny way, it works for me. As a former fundamentalist who took EVERYTHING literally in the Bible, I believed that God was in fact a fatherly type being who loved me and cared for me. I never questioned the patriarchal bias against women and assumed I was a second class citizen.

Anyway, after leaving the rigid fold of spiritual abuse, I encountered all sorts of names for God. G-D, let His name never be spoken. Her name? Its name. you see how confused I am. I don’t know WHAT to call this supreme being who seems to have manic/depression (note the seasons, wasps, sunflowers, typhoons, sea horses, bluebirds) or is wildly hyperactive with attention deficit disorder. No offense on my Higher Power but something seems to be a little amiss around here.

Like, for instance, why don’t we know its (their?) name? A friend of mine says we should just call God “ALL” but that sounds too much like a laundry detergent. (It IS a laundry detergent.) I have landed on the side of “cosmos” or “universe” or “Mystery” because those seem to be the most general and inoffensive terms to my sensibilities. Other strokes for different folks.

This doesn’t solve the problem of a personal relationship with the Lord. See, I said it. “The Lord.” Now is that Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed or Lao T’se. No, I like to think of hanging out with Jesus even though he could be disconcertingly unpredictable – one minute tenderly gathering the flock, the next minute trashing tables in the temple. It’s hard to let my guard down with him sometimes because I just don’t know what he’s going to do next. It’s kind of hard to get the warm fuzzies from a spiritual terrorist (not that I’m saying that’s what Jesus was but he WAS radical. And “love” don’t even get me started.)

I know I’m going into more detail about my spiritual journey that you probably asked for but this, as they say, is “where I’m at.” My personal relationship and experience of connection with the Lord is the most important thing in my life. God and I have discussed this a lot – what he/she/it wants to be called and it mostly depends on how I’m feeling that day. I have lots of appellations for my husband – Lucky, Duardo, Duecalion, Duke, Guagy, darling, studmuffin – you get the idea. So why not God? What’s important here is how we’re relating to each other and I suppose as I slow down and stop looking over my shoulder all the time, I’ll relax into just calling God, God.

I have a ways to go before that happens. For now, like e.e.cummings said, God is everything that is “Yes.” So, Yes, I worship you. Yes, I love you. Yes, I marvel in you. Now, THAT’S a mystery worth seeking.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Close Call

I have been battling depression all my adult life. Perhaps battling isn’t the correct word. I've been running from it, frantically. I see its shadow coming, and I'm scared as a child alone in the dark. It rolls over me like a Mack truck and leaves me flattened. Fortunately, lately with the help of medication and psychotherapy, the truck stays mostly in its garage and days are brighter.

But I had a scare the other day. I let myself get overtired, doing too many things, going too fast and not getting enough sleep (always a red flag.) I got to work yesterday, thought everything was fine – that I was getting stronger and learning to take one day at a time when all of a sudden, my stomach twisted into knots, I couldn’t breathe and my mind started to plunge. I could sense the truck starting up and rolling down my street towards me. In a panic, I called my boss and started to cry. “Go home,” he said. So I did. I’ve been resting ever since.

The truck backed up into the garage. I did my meditation so I wouldn’t fear it, whether it came or not - acceptance is a great part of healing. I’m almost back to “normal,” (“normal” being a relative term.) I happiest now when I’m in the stream of life, not hiding behind some bush from the Mack Truck barreling my way. If you’ve ever been through a depression, you know what I mean. It’s hard not to fear its strength and destructiveness. But I’m learning a new paradigm, one in which I don’t fear but rather ACCEPT what is happening inside me and trusting in the cosmos to pull me through. So far it’s working. Today was proof.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

On Writing about Evil

I was happy to see Kathryn Harrison’s new book, While They Slept, reviewed in the “NY Times” today. I haven’t yet read the book, but I know Mr. Robert Pinsky could not have done it justice. The book is about a boy who murdered his abusive father and mother and little sister while his older sister was asleep upstairs.

Pinsky talks about the “flatness of tone” when “speaking about the unspeakable.” Maybe I’ve missed the whole point but it seems to me that “flat” is about all one can be when speaking about the “banality of evil,” as Hannah Arendt called it. I mean, what was Ms. Harrison supposed to do? Sensationalize it like it was some tabloid serial?

No, flatness seems just right. Like when I sit with a young man who murdered his pregnant wife because she confessed to him that the baby she carried was “probably” not his own. How am I to react? I take my cue from him, the horrified criminal. He has enough tears for the both of us.

I’m guessing that Harrison’s understatement allows the readers to feel the terror themselves, without interfering. To some, this may seem flat. But to any survivor of trauma, it’s on the mark. Trauma is enough to silence us all to stand blunted and numb before its destruction.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Amazing but True

If you want to watch a fascinating video about the brain and enlightenment, check this out:
My son turned me onto it. He keeps me current with the latest in consciousness and what's out there in terms of thriving reality.

Ready or Not

My book is getting ready to come out soon - at the end of this month. All sorts of feelings here – excitement, anxiety, hope and apprehension. I mean it’s only the story of a part of my life – a particularly difficult period of my life. And I’m hoping it will help someone know that they’re not alone in the struggle to break free from abuse, if that’s what they’re going through.

I wrote "Losing the Way" for three reasons. First, because I had to tell the truth and move past the trauma. I had to bear witness to what had happened, as if by writing about it, I would make it real and begin to heal. Second, my hope was to help someone else who might be going through something similar. Very simple, as long as I keep my eyes on that ball, the healing ball, I won’t freak. Third, I wanted to help other people who know nothing about cults, what it was like to be IN a cult, to feel it in their bones, not just in their head.

The cult stuff, the betrayal of the “secret” opening the “lockbox” used to be a big deal. I was under the impression that if I told the truth, I would be damned. Now THAT’s a cognitive distortion, if there ever was one. Who’s to say who’s going to be damned and who’s not going to be? If telling the truth of one’s own experience is that bad, then I choose to be damned rather than to remain silent. Fortune-teller error – that things will turn out badly and you treat it as an already established fact.

I never set out to write a bestseller. That’s not the point. If I can begin to heal, help someone else and enable other people who know nothing about cults FEEL what the experience is like, then I’ve succeeded brilliantly. That’s my prayer and hope. We’ll see what happens. But it’s like being eight months pregnant with your first child. Ready or not, here she comes!