Just As Soon As I Find One

When I need to sneeze, I automatically go for the crook of my right elbow. But i can no longer reach it. Before I moved to Chicago, I noticed a pain in my right shoulder, and figured it was a pinched nerve that would go away. It hasn't. It's been exacerbated by the stress of moving, the effort of getting a job, and the constant hunching and clenching of my shoulders, trying to brace against the cold. And now...now I can't move.

I've been clenching since I got here. Trying desperately to maintain the part I'm playing of the strong, faithful, competent and independent woman who can totally take care of herself. And now I can't move. I'm avoiding doing so many things that are self- and other-caring and doing other things that are self-hating and "other" excluding. I've stopped brushing my teeth. Who the hell stops brushing their teeth? I've stopped praying, stopped nourishing my spirit and body both. I had ice cream for dinner, and have done since I moved into this apartment. I have both dental and health insurance, but haven't even made a move toward finding either doctor or dentist.

I haven't been still. I go to work, I buzz my mind through the day, listen to music and play solitaire on my phone during my commute, and when I get home I watch movies until it's time for bed. There are no moments of introspection or analysis. Ever. Well, until yesterday when I got the email from the church girl and realized how methodically I'd ignored this small favor. And then, in ever-widening circles, I started to see (and am still realizing) how pervasive this shutting-down has been. The current, working theory is that I'm just scared out of my mind of this, the new place, the new job, the new person. Good little Alina has to figure out how to mold her personality into what's expected of her, so she can be safe from...whatever. From failure, from judgement, from effort. I don't know who to be, so I eat ice cream. And I refuse to slow down. And I ignore my friends, and their needs, and my own needs, and really everything I can possibly manage to ignore. Ten-year-old-me is in total control, fear has taken over without being obvious about it. I have shut down all but essential operations, so that rigid control can hold sway. I did this when I was 14, and I've been doing it regularly ever since.

Lee used to say that when I was tired of suffering, I would stop. So I guess it's time to figure out how to stop, and I think a good place to start with the stopping is with mindfulness. Being present in every moment. I'm going to buy a book on the subject. Just as soon as I find one.

10:48 a.m. - 2008-03-15

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