I said, “I am good. I am safe. Thank you” (please respond)

You said, “I like to think that when they let go, they still feel safe.”

Interesting juxtaposition to your resent barrage of deaths. This town, too, has seen a lot of death lately. No one I knew too personally, but it’s a small town, so I see the effects on others.

Do you wonder why some people keep everything inside? As if they can’t show emotion. And I guess they might release it in other ways, secretly, in the bath or on a walk. But what about those close to them? What if they never get to see that vulnerability, what if they never get to see them open to their pain? Is it a wall against shared intimacy if someone you’re close to never shows any sort of affect? As though they themselves are stone walls and take the crashings in stride, the whip of the waves as if they were ghosts, or sheets of wheat, instead of the invisible knife that is real life?

I didn’t mean to write about that. I honestly have no preconceived notions of what I will write when I write to you, although I did have something on my mind.

It seems a lot of contemporary poets like to write about their therapy sessions. I’ve been guilty of that in one poem. To bring that third person in–the therapist–against the backdrop of whatever emotional drama or scene is being played out. In a way, it clarifies the poets feelings of objectivity against their emotional life. As if to say: “This is how I see it when I detach. How do you (therapist) see it?”

Either that or the poet just wants to look cool: See? I have a therapist; I must be a (too) highly evolved individual within my inner-life.

But that’s a sort of detachment.

I’ve been thinking a lot about letting go. Releasing / Gripping. Knowing when, or when not to let go. And how BOTH can feel like safety as well as a fall into the unknown. A scary leap.

But I keep reading things like:

Basic Trust: an unspoken, implicit trust that what is optimal will happen, the sense that whatever happens is ultimately fine. It is the confidence that reality is ultimately good; that nature, the universe, and all that exists are of their very nature good and trustworthy; that what happens is the best that can happen.

That is from A. H. Almaas’ book Enneagram of Holy Ideas. It was given to me by my philosophy professor that was more of a spiritual guru than anything else. She gave it to me because I think she knew I was experiencing something like this:

The dissolution of that facet of the ego structure…is difficult in the process of transformation since it means letting go of part of one’s identity, and this surrendering can be experienced as a dissolution, a disintegration, a fragmentation, or a sense that you are falling apart.

Yes. Falling apart. From what? From what we build in order to survive in this world. The ideas of self. The ego.

You mention babies holding on and letting go, and still feeling safe. I think they must. We all have that inherent in us. I believe so, anyway. But we lose touch with it. Lose touch with BEINGNESS. Being connected to where we came from. And then maybe the spiritual journey is a retracing BACK instead of forward?

By the way, how did your meeting with Charlie (?) go?

I like that you mention meeting a spiritual leader that has that sort of radiance about them. I have encountered that but with secular people, not very often with spiritual “figures.” I think what they exude is that basic trust. And we see that they have it and we want it. It’s like they have picked up on a frequency that we distantly know, from long ago, but have forgotten. So we can’t place it. But something in our being (in our belly) knows it.

Our belly as a way of knowing. Our gut. I believe in that. And I like what you said about the recent scientific research that the neurons in our bellies aren’t necessarily wired like our brains. An inter-dependence? Or a mutual give-and-take relationship?

Where does the therapist and poetry tie into all of this?

I want to write but my brain won’t let me. Maybe my body? I want to translate what’s going on in my heart and in my gut but all I come up with are blocks instead of images. I try to open those blocks, but inside them are smaller blocks. So I chew on them.

Do you know anything about triggers? I’m sure you do, since you teach about addiction.

A strange thing happened to me tonight. I was running from the bathroom to the living room because a silly TV show I was watching was on, and I thought the commercial was over (embarrassing to admit), so I was sprinting and I knocked my forearm against the door frame.

Later on, I was brushing my teeth and saw the red mark (which will more than likely turn into a bruise tomorrow) on the arm, on top of the bone. I say on top of the bone because that’s how I imagine it. And something in my brain said, AHA! Do it again!

As I sit here, since I’m writing about it, my brain is focusing on it and I can feel the throb a bit. Like a leftover sting. A sort of itch on the bone.

Why do I want to do it again? Why, out of nowhere, do I want to hurt? Triggers.

You see, I’ve lived and walked this life so far quite healthy for a while. What is healthy? Maybe the trigger came about because the wound was combined with seeing an old teacher from when I was a kid today at the health food store.

I drove away and thought, I wonder how she perceived me back then, and how she perceived me after she found out I succeeded, went to Sarah Lawrence, kept writing. (She was the woman, my tutor, who told me to keep bringing her poems, even though it was math tutoring. She is, I think, a large reason I kept writing, (I was maybe 6 at the time and it was my main reason to live to see her smile and say “This is a beautiful poem Shannon!”).

I guess I could have gone a different way. I was very “bad” for a while.

It’s funny I say, that, too, because yesterday I got out of the shower, looked down, and my hands were folded. I didn’t even know I’d pray. But I noticed my hands. My body doing that thing. Why? I even knelt. I said, “I am good. I am safe. Thank you.”

I’m sorry I wrote so much about myself. But I see you often tell stories and maybe, where I say you “think too much” you actually share a lot. You tell great stories about your life. An oral history almost. I never do that. Sometimes I do, but then I stop. Maybe I’m ashamed to have a voice sometimes, so I hide behind pretty images.

It can be scary to tell real stories. That kind of letting go. But who’s scared and why?

Psychics tell us our own stories back to us. Therapists, too. In a different light. Poems do that. As to spiritual guides. Why do we believe it coming from them? Objectivity?

I think we’re more powerful than that, deep down. The ground we stand on is not water. We will not drown. All past selves are beautiful. And Letting Go is just another expression of Holding On.

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