I am a blessed individual. I am following my dream to wherever it will lead me, and I have a wonderful, caring, intelligent man who has chosen to accompany me on my journey. I am in relatively good health, although the smoking has just got to go, and am losing weight (albeit slower than I would like to). Other than some minor stresses, like the still-empty house at home and an unfortunate and unforeseen exchange with our previous renters, life would appear to be grand.
So what’s wrong with me?
When I went to Japan, I had a little more than a whole week to myself in Tokyo upon landing. That was one of the hardest weeks of my life. The utter foreign-ness of it all, my fear of being alone and lost, and my severe and sincere unhappiness with who I had become contributed to a pretty rough nervous breakdown, which while it was a low point in my life, would also turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. It accomplished in one fell swoop what would have taken years of psychiatry to do – it purged all of the old, the unwanted, the memories and inferiorities that had come to dominate my existence; it broke the previous me-statue into a new block of clay, one that I would work over the next year to mold into what I wanted, for the first time in my life. I returned home feeling grounded and energized at the same time; I felt as though the universe were open before me. I felt no better than anyone else. I felt at one with everyone else.
That sort of sensation and centering takes a great deal of effort to maintain over several years – effort that I either didn’t choose to expend or didn’t know how to expend. I felt it slipping away but ignored it. I substituted it with lesser feelings; I became a bit of a manipulative bully. I could no longer feel at one with everyone, so I opted for feeling better than them. Other than being shallow, this is both destructive and self-destructive. I gained all my weight back. I fell into depression. I smoked like a chimney.
All along I thought the magic was the traveling, and maybe it was to an extent – but it was also being alone, being fearful, being honest, and being focused. Japan was just the setting, an extraordinary one. My body has reacted in most of the right ways to the extra exercise and healthier diet, as it should; but my mind and spirit have not. I am not alone, not fearful (except the once), not honest, not focused. I snap at Rhys, who doesn’t deserve it – but he is the only one left here. I hate him sometimes just for being around. I hate myself more for feeling that way.
I decided to look into some program that would help me. I could perhaps do this alone again, but maybe not, and who’s to say it would stick? I need some guidance. I happened upon two that looked promising, and both in Thailand: one is a fasting/detox/meditation/yoga retreat (yes, that’s a lot of slashies) that I will be staying at for 8 days – after a few email exchanges with the director, I felt pretty good about it, although it does cost a bit. It is small – only 10 participants at a time against the staff of 24. It is a full physical detoxification, with a larger emphasis on mental and spiritual centering than any of the others I looked at. I have signed up for this. The website is here if you are interested in reading about it. But Indi, you may be saying (if you’re still with me, that is, after the whining above), that seems so commercial. Yeah, it does, a little. But I want to go through the medically-supervised fast for not only the reasons stating above, but an additional one – TO HELP ME QUIT SMOKING. You are not allowed to smoke while there. People who have gone through it before have been able to kick the habit because they are taught replacement “crutches” for times of need, like meditation and yoga. That’s the primary reason I’m doing the fasting first. The fast may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but that will probably only remain true until I go to my second plan…
The second thing I ran across that interested me cost virtually nothing at all. It is far stricter, and I am likely to get far more out of it. It is a monastery retreat, a 10-day descent into complete silence, meditation, short sleep hours, little food, and chores with the nuns and the monks (Buddhist). I would live with them. It can be longer than 10 days – but 10 is the minimum they will allow a participant to join them. I am strongly considering this as well. I need the periods of solitude, the enforced silence, the microscope pointed at my mind and spirit and nowhere else for a while. Silence is scary. Lack of distractions from the beasts of my own temperament is probably not going to be welcome. But I think I will come out the other side a better person.
I know many of you look at what we’re doing as a holiday, and that’s fine – I know not many people in the world can “afford” what we’re doing (both in time and in money) for as long as we’re doing it – and it may seem impossibly ungrateful that I’m feeling this way at all. But I undertook this journey not only to see how others live, but to find myself again, and that comes with the bad as well as good. For the most part, I have resisted blogging about my struggles; I have become very withdrawn over the last few months. With some urging from my unmistakably better half, this is written. Thank you for reading, your support and any criticism.