I hope not to be writing much more about adoption after I leave Tulum. There’s the whole idea of neurons that fire together wire together, and while I think it was healthy and good for me to write about a key, massively underdiscussed agent in my life, I’m starting to feel that I’m just digging the trauma trenches deeper in my brain: I was relinquished (given away), therefore I’m not lovable; therefore I am always in danger of being alone and in trouble; therefore my life is not valuable; therefore I am not real.
I need new connection trenches in my brain: I was born under a lucky star. I wonder what amazing thing will happen next. Everything is okay. I have enough money. I have enough of everything. There is no other shoe. People love me and I love them. You will not leave me. I will not leave you. (Unless it’s really time.)
It’s work to change. Katie Peuvrelle, who guided me through many changes with her work, including NLP, would have me restate that: It’s not work to change. That could just as easily be true, right? But for some reason I want life to be hard. Some part of me likes staying stuck and so I make a million excuses for not changing.
Two weeks ago I gave up coffee. I first starting drinking it in graduate school almost thirty years ago, and it was also when I started getting migraines. I have known that coffee makes me sick from day one, and yet it was something I claimed to be one of the most important things in my life. I said I would give up an arm before I gave up coffee. I loved the energy it gave me, an almost desperate need to move. I lost a boyfriend because I could not sit still after we had our morning cup. He wanted to sit and talk and I wanted to tear his face off because I needed to move so badly. I made him feel lonely, and so he left.
I am so afraid of just sitting around and being a slug. Coffee sets my nervous system on fire and so I move all morning until I crash and turn to food for more up. It’s a lot of work to balance a body with food and caffeine, trying to get the mix just right so I can stay as close to manic as possible. It’s a job, staying high. But I finally gave it up when one day I was present enough to feel what the coffee was doing to my guts and my brain and I felt the sickness and no longer wanted to hurt myself. Thirty years of habit dissolved in an instant of presence. So bizararre. (I’m not saying it was easy. The following week was Suck City. One day I got up at 1 p.m. because if there was no coffee there was no reason to rise.)
When I was young, every morning my mother would ask, “What’s your plan for the day?” I hated this question. I hated that I had to know what was going to happen before the day had even really started. I hated that she wanted me to hand over the checklist of my activities as if I were trying to earn a merit badge. More often than not, I would say, I don’t know just because I was blind with annoyance, but I already had that list in my head. I knew exactly what my plan was, for I was going to earn that merit badge despite my deeper desire to just be myself and let the day magically unfold.
My system needs a lot of down time. In a perfect world I would have a few hours of outside activity: walking or working in the yard or chasing birds—whatever—and a few hours to work on some sort of creative project, a few hours of time with a friend, an hour for a nap, three meals. The world I was taught by example to imitate was the 9-5 race (truly more like 7-6) where you work really hard at something that doesn’t feed your soul so you can have a house and a car and a family and not enough time to fully enjoy any of the three. You need caffeine or some sort of stimulant (or alcohol or drugs or addiction to shopping or porn) to get you through a life like that.
Last night in Tulum, I went to a yoga class in what looked like a big tree house that overlooked the ocean. At one point the teacher said, There is only now. If you are in the future or the past you are missing your appointment with your life. I stopped thinking about how I was going to get to the airport in three days and looked out at the ocean, seeing it. It hurt to be in the moment. When you slam on the brakes, your car often shudders to a stop, as if the idea of slowing down is not natural. That’s how I felt. Almost sick to my stomach with the impact of now.
Something happens when you are relinquished at birth, I think. Or relinquished as an infant or a child or a teenager. Part of your brain is stuck in the past because part of your brain is waiting for the mother to return, for the second before the relinquishment to reoccur and for the narrative of your life to continue on its womb path: this is my mother: this is my life.
I want my brain to give up that thought. I don’t want to live in the past any more. I am missing the ocean, the people right in front of me, my true story.
It’s painful being in the now when part of your brain is saying you exist only in the past.
I need to write my way to a new brain.