The threat of unwholesome torment

I was probably a little unfair to myself in my last post. There are some uncomfortable things that I was more than happy to continue enduring long after my untimely demise. The wrong things.

It’s probably only been in the last few months that the don’t be a sucker, it’s not worth it advice has actually started kicking in in all the right places. It’s like I had to languish about in the stagnant puddle for about five years, all soggy and shrivelled, before I finally managed to extinguish the pathetic little birthday candles on my back I was after all along. And maybe, if we’re being candid, they actually just ran out of wax.

But anyway, they’re out. I think. More or less. But the fear that I can’t tell what is and is not worth my toil is probably more the problem than anything else. Because I know when I get into it I can toil like a motherfucker. I’ll eat your shit off the table if I think it will save us and I’ll keep up that Kundalini kriya ’til my arms are non-functional if that’s what you tell me to do.

How do we know which is worth it?

Do we listen to what others have to say? Or do we listen to ourselves? Which of us is the most trustworthy?

Wholesome torment

I got a surprise Fitbit for Christmas. It coincided with me signing up for an online yoga class membership, and together they have helped to reignite my love for Kundalini yoga.

There is something about Kundalini yoga that I just really, really like. Even before I had ever tried it, or really understood what it was, I felt in my bones this is my Yoga. Which is lucky, because it’s also exactly the type of yoga that I need. And it’s also hard as shit.

A long time ago, I burnt out in all the ways I can think of. And to recover from that, I basically had to stop trying. My threshold for giving up on something had to be really low, otherwise I’d fuck myself up. So I learned to live under that low threshold.

And that low threshold fucked me up in a whole different way.

It’s hard for me, now, to keep trying when something gets uncomfortable. I used to pride myself on my tolerance for pain and suffering; my ability to keep going regardless, consequences to myself be damned. That is no longer the case. Now, when I move into pain and suffering, a voice in my head whispers don’t be a sucker, it’s not worth it.

Kundalini yoga often involves repeating what seem like innocuous and perfectly managable physical movements over and over again until your limbs feel like they might be disintegrating and you can’t contain the whimpers of desperate agony.

If you’re lucky, you have a mantra to cling to to push out the thoughts of how difficult this is going to make parenting tomorrow, how it would be so much nicer to be doing literally anything else with your free time, how no-one has a fucking gun to your head, how you’re running out of time to clean the kitchen, how this was a really stupid idea and a waste of money, how the neighbours are probably wondering what the hell weird shit you’re doing down here. Because if you let those thoughts in, your world is a world of burning, bloody toil. So if you want to keep going, you keep those thoughts out, and you focus on getting through the moment.

It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to David Goggins, and it’s good for me.

The mess

Life is messy.

I’m sure I’ve talked about this before. I wholeheartedly support life being a mess. I believe it is really the only way for it to ever be beautiful.

And so, many times, I have made it a point to embrace the mess…until the overwhelming compulsion to clean up the whole debacle has overtaken me.

I’ve been working to soothe my flash-sterilising tendencies over this past year. And I haven’t had any uncontrollable urges to paint the whole thing white and start over in a good long while.

But there is a certain mess right now that I may or may not be trying to prematurely organise. Morality and self-worth are tied up in it, and so I am needing to examine whether my inclination to keep things straight and tidy is, on the one hand, a wholesome desire to uphold my integrity or, on the other hand, a simple discomfort with letting it hang where it is until it’s dry.

Sometimes things are what they seem. Sometimes they are not.

The extended debrief

I’ve been involved in some verbal conflicts over the past few days. It’s quite unusual for me, but I have been realising lately it’s something I need to get more accustomed to. The online space is one thing, but face to face, in real time, conflict has a greater effect on my heart rate than I would like.

I spent quite a lot of time and energy deconstructing each conflict; trying to take all of their lessons with me. In the past, I have considered this habit to be harmful or weak. The fact I couldn’t stop thinking about it. But I’ve come to realise that if I allow my thoughts to naturally progress, being careful to keep them in balance, they lead me, in due course, to a natural conclusion. And if I commit to being present for that journey, there is a lot to be gained from it. And then next time it takes far less effort to regroup and recover and regain a steady beat.

Sometimes I think we forget that discomfort and even mental anguish can serve a purpose. They aren’t to be avoided any more than they are to be dwelled in; they are to be understood.