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pain
Posts

  • It’s Going to Hurt!

    We adult humans spend a good portion of our lives avoiding pain. When we get too cold, we most likely go inside to stop the discomfort of freezing fingers. When we’re too hot, we again go inside – but this time into chilly air-conditioned rooms. We take painkillers to dull the uncomfortable sensations in our bodies, and medicate our brains to ease the uncomfortable thoughts in our minds. We often don’t attempt physical risks in fear of injury, and will avoid relationships altogether that we think have the potential of breaking our hearts. And when we participate in golden showers, we do so in the comfort of a Ritz, not in a grimy a Holiday Inn.

    We run from pain because we fear it.

    Because of this pervasive trepidation of suffering, we socialize our children to avoid pain also. If you go to a playground, you will hear a chorus of parents shouting “careful,” over and over in a round – like an extra annoying version of “row row row your boat.” Parents are constantly trying to protect their children and keeping them from falling – forgetting that a face-plant is actually a pretty important part of learning. Sometimes falling off the monkey bars and getting the wind knocked out of you is a good thing. That way next time you’ll know to fall on top of another kid, to soften the impact.

    I guarantee you that the most crucial and life-changing moments of your existence were not your happiest – but rather overcoming something challenging. We don’t learn from ease, we learn from pain. When we breakthrough pain, we realize our own strength and resilience. That is how we grow and evolve. No one remembers the days that were super chill, nothing difficult happened, and someone served you bonbons on a golden plate. We instead remember the times a grown man pissed on a prostitute, or got pissed on by a prostitute.

    I think one of the greatest disservices that we can do to ourselves, or our kids, is thinking that life shouldn’t be painful – because guess what? IT’S GOING TO BE! The expectation that we can evade pain is not only unrealistic; it’s setting you up for a lifetime of disappointment. I don’t know about you, but I would rather know I can get through painful experiences than pretending life will shower nothing but prosperity upon me… because only then will I realize that I’m actually wet with urine.

    You guys… I just can’t stop with these references. It’s too special. Trump’s life is comedy gold…en shower.

    Back to the point. The other day The Munch got a splinter. Now there are two kinds of splinters in the world. A splinter that goes into your skin at a diagonal angle – which means it is easy to get out – and a splinter that goes into your skin at a 90 degree angle – which means your fucked.

    The Munch got a 90-degree splinter into the heel of her foot. I was out of town, and her dad called me to explain the situation. I told him to soak her foot in warm water to soften the skin… but I forgot to mention SOAPY warm water. So basically he put her foot in purely warm water, and immediately the wood expanded – making the splinter even harder to extract. He tried to get it out, but at that point it was too embedded.

    The next day I came back, and the splinter was still there despite many attempts, and holistic remedies. We tried olive oil, eggshell, banana peel, Epsom salts, whale sperm. Nothing worked. I could run my finger over the skin, and it wasn’t even poking out anymore. Anytime we tried to grab the end of the splinter with tweezers, the wood just splintered off. The Munch couldn’t walk, so there was no choice but to get it out, yet the question was how? I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to take a splinter out of a 6-year olds foot, but it’s kind of like wrestling a rabid wolverine.

    Munch: Ow mom OW!!!!! Don’t touch it! IT HURTS!!!
    Me: Well I have to at least look at it…
    Munch: OW OW OW OW OW OW OW!! STOP NO OWWWWWWW!!
    Me: I can’t get it out if you keep moving around and kicking your foot!
    Munch: YOU’RE NOT BEING GENTLE!
    Me: I am trying to be… but if you don’t let me get it out, we will have to take you to the doctor to do it. You can’t walk, and it can get infected.
    Munch: NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY!!! I AM NOT GOING TO THE DOCTOR!!!!!!
    Me: Then you’re going to have to let me do it.
    Munch: OW OW OW OW OW OW!!!
    Me: Dude you have to stop kicking!!!
    Munch: I CAN’T STOP KICKING BECAUSE YOU KEEP POKING AND HURTING ME!
    Me: Well, do you want to go the doctor then?
    Munch: NO NO NO NO NO I WON’T GO!

    You can see this was not going well. Then I realized something. Part of why The Munch was resisting so much was because she thought I was going to be gentle, and not hurt her. Yet the problem was that there is no way to dig a splinter out of a foot and not have it hurt! The only way to get this demon wood out was to pick, prod, squeeze, and shear the skin.

    Me: Listen. This is going to hurt. There is no way I can do this and it won’t be painful. But if you don’t want to go to the doctor, you have to let me hurt you.
    Munch: Fine, but you have to be gentle.
    Me: I’m will do my best to be gentle, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt. It is. I am going to hurt you. You have to wrap your head around that. But that’s the only way I can get it out. Life is full of pain okay Munch? There is no running from it. But you’re the bravest girl I know. You had someone cut your eyeball out of your face… twice. You’ve lived through surgery; you can live through this okay?
    Munch: Okay. Just don’t take me back to the hospital. I hate that place.
    Me: Deal.

    For the next hour of our lives, with her dad holding a flashlight to The Munch’s foot, I dug into her skin. Sure The Munch would have to take breaks, but there was no more resisting, no more kicking, no more shouting. She just let me carve my way into her foot and then squeeze the shit out of it to try and loosen the splinter. Then, I finally saw my moment. I got the tweezers, and pulled it out. We all started screaming and jumping up and down in celebration. I swear on everything holy pulling that splinter out was as emotionally satisfying as watching the birth of my child. In fact, it was more gratifying.

    Obviously the Munch had a shift of consciousness. Once she not only expected the pain, but also accepted it, her tolerance quadrupled. She was able to sit there peacefully and deal with the discomfort because she had surrendered to that reality. Once you allow the pain, you realize, that it’s not that bad. You will survive, and the satisfaction of getting through it is profound. I think we all can remind ourselves that pain is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Stagnation is. Allowing ourselves to be stifled by the fear of suffering. So go out there, make mistakes, get hurt, have someone destroy your heart. You’re going to be okay! I promise. Live life embracing pain. I know I for one am going to remember this the next time I get pee in my eye from a presidential golden shower, because that shit does sting.

    The tools and splinter

    splinter-blog

  • Health and Healing Hypocrisy

    I see all physical ailments as metaphysical messages. I believe our souls communicate to our egos through the language of the body. Every time I am sick, hurt, or in pain – I see it as an opportunity to dig deep in the bowels of my inner being, and extract a warm brown piece of who I really am.

    Because of this belief system, I never take western medicine. The medical establishment may lesson your symptoms, but it drives your sickness deeper inside. When you take pills for momentary relief, you are denying yourself the opportunity of self-reflection. Rather than trying to mask my pain, I will willingly sit in it so as to discover what it is I need to learn.

    Yet when my kid is suffering, I just want her to stop complaining – I mean I just want her to get better fast.

    The Munch was really miserable the other day. Usually when she is sick, she takes it as an opportunity to watch TV all day. Yet this time, she was in such a state of distress, that she wouldn’t even watch “My Little Pony!” She said that her eyes hurt too much to open them, and was writhing around in my bed in a state of physical crisis. The only thing I could do was to tickle her back to relax her.

    I felt so helpless. It’s traumatizing to see your child in anguish. But she was also being really dramatic and annoying about it. Sorry that was my auto correct. I meant to write; she was being SUPER dramatic and annoying about it.

    At first I tried to examine the mystical meaning of what was going on with her.

    Munch: MOMMY! It hurts! Wahhhahhhhaaa!
    Toni: I know it does sweetie. Can you tell me what it feels like?
    Munch: My eyes are pushing into my mouth.
    Toni: What do you think that means? What is it you don’t want to see? Or don’t want to say?
    Munch: WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? My eyes and mouth just hurt! Wahhhaaahha!
    Toni: I hear you – but what do you think is the significance of your eyes hurting? Do you feel like there is some hidden question you could be asking yourself? What are your eyes and mouth trying to teach you?
    Munch: MY FACE HURTS! WAHAHHHHAHH
    Toni: Is there something about yourself that you have to face, and that’s why your face hurts?
    Munch: I DON’T KNOW! I JUST KNOW IT HURTS!!!

    My philosophical inquiry wasn’t exactly getting to the bottom of things. The Munch didn’t seem too interested interested in delving into the spiritual significance of what was going on with her health.

    Then my mom called.

    My Mom: I think she has allergies.
    Toni: How do you know?
    My Mom: Because she is experiencing the same symptoms I used to have. Stuffy nose, itchy eyes, irritability… That’s why I take Benadryl every day.
    Toni: But what do you think that your runny nose and itchy eyes are trying to tell you mom? Is your nose running perhaps a metaphor for something else you are running from?
    My Mom: Jesus Toni, it’s just seasonal allergies from pollen. Stop being such a hippy freak and go get your daughter some over the counter allergy medicine like Zyrtec.

    So I did.

    The Munch ended up sleeping the entire day, and I kind of felt like I drugged my kid. Which I guess I did. But then she woke up the next day, and was perfectly fine.

    hiding under the pillow munch

    munch sick sleeping

  • Whatever Doesn’t Kill You… Puts You in a Really Bad Mood

    You can’t avoid pain. It’s an inevitable part of life. The only thing you can do when you experience pain is to wallow in it dramatically and complain incessantly to anyone within a 10 -mile radius. Or you can try to learn from it. Whatever, who cares?

    Last Monday I got home from dance and had a bad feeling about my back. I woke up in the middle of the night, and it had gone into spasm. My entire lower back had seized up, and even sitting up was incredibly challenging.

    This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. If I were to trace my lower back pain, it started when I was in the 5th grade. Maybe it was the super intense stress I was under at school making dioramas, or maybe it was the trampoline I spent 10 hours a day on. Who knows?

    But this particular back spasm episode was the worst it has ever been. I called my acupuncturist and made an appointment. She couldn’t see me until 3:30, which was a REALLY LONG TIME TO WAIT! I called my friend Grace hoping that she would have some maxa, which are Chinese herbs you light on fire to smoke your hurt body as it draws out the bad chi. I needed her help because I couldn’t reach my back or butt, which was where all the tightness was.

    Toni: Can you come over smoke my ass?
    Grace: I sure can.

    Even after a good ass smoking I was still a wreck. I laid on the floor helpless.

    Grace: Do you want a blanket?
    Toni: No I hate blankets?
    Grace: How can you hate blankets?
    Toni: I hate seeing people under blankets. I hate being under blankets. It’s too vulnerable.
    Grace: You look cold.
    Toni: Just grab some of the sweaters over there, and throw them on top of me.
    Grace: Oooookayyyyy.

    I lay under sweaters, WHICH ARE NOTE THE SAME AS BLANETS, until it was finally 3pm. I then pathetically got in my car, in hopes that some needles would help. Now my acupuncturist isn’t just any acupuncturist. She’s a 5th generation acupuncturist / Chinese herbalist, and she’s a goddamn sorceress. But she’s also not fucking around. She doesn’t just put needles in, but she turns them in farther the entire time – tuning me like an instrument. She is about as large as Thumbelina, and as strong a linebacker. She seriously scares me.

    She jammed a bunch of needles in me, pressed my pressure points, gave me some herbs, and sent me on my way. The next morning I woke up, and I was worse. I knew this would be a possibility because sometimes acupuncture draws the pain to the surface. I couldn’t move so I asked if she could come to my house. She said she could be there at 3:30… which is A GODDAMN LONG TIME TO WAIT!

    My mom called so I complained to her.

    My Mom: Why don’t you come here and I will put castor oil on your back. You can sit in the sauna so you don’t get castor oil everywhere and make a huge mess. I will sit with you. It will be cute.

    I hobbled over and my mom greeted my in her Anne of Green Gables nightgown.

    My Mom: I wore this so I wouldn’t worry if I got castor oil on my nightgown.

    It took me about 10 minutes to take off my clothes and lay down in her sauna. I couldn’t fit because my stupid body is too tall, so I squeezed myself in so my feet and head were pressing up against the walls. My mom put the castor oil on me, added a heat pack, took off her nightgown, and sat her naked bum inches from my face as she chatted away.

    My Mom: This is fun!
    Toni: Uh huh….
    My Mom: Good thing you are too weak to get your camera and write about this.
    Toni: There’s still time mom….

    After an hour I extricated myself from the sauna and still felt terrible.

    My Mom: Why don’t you get in the shower?
    Toni: I really can’t. I wanna die.
    My Mom: Well, you are going to get castor oil everywhere if you don’t so….
    Toni: Okay… okay.

    MY MOM OBVIOUSLY HAS A REAL FEAR OF CASTOR OIL MESS!

    I leaned against the shower wall, and let the castor oil spread all over my legs. Not really sure if that’s what my mom had in mind, I took my slicked body and got dressed. I staggered home and waited for the acupuncturist. When she arrived she had a bag full of different healing remedies. She pulled out a giant brown stick.

    My acupuncturist: Do you have this?
    Toni: Tree branches?
    My acupuncturist: Cinnamon.
    Toni: I don’t know anyone who has this.

    She gave me the massive cinnamon stick and showed my how to make tea. Then she heated up some herbs to maxa me. She worked on me for a few hours, but still the spasm persisted.

    That night I did something I never thought I would.

    I took the white man’s medicine.

    For the first time in 15 years, Toni Nagy took an “Aleve.”

    I woke up the next morning and the spasm was over. (uhhh thanks Western medicine)? The tightness had remained however, and it was still really hard to move.

    I will spare you the details of the rest of my week, but it was pretty dismal. I had to have my back smoked every day – a half hour process that is NOT exciting for the other person I was dependent on. I’m pretty sure that I’m the only human who has ever has been maxad by someone watching the Patriots game. Although I have to say, having burning hot coals over your body as someone is swearing at the TV isn’t as relaxing as you would think. I also took over 90 Chinese pills a day, and forced anyone who was kind enough to visit me to also massage my back/ass. By the time it was Sunday, I must have the loosest ass this side of the Mississippi.

    Yet the pain persisted.

    I went through the usual psychological journey of trying to understand why I did this to myself. Even if we don’t want to admit it, we are the architects of our own suffering. No one else came up to me and hit me with a tire iron on the back. I hurt my back, me, for whatever reason.

    I journeyed deep into a philosophical questioning of self. I tried to deconstruct and reconstruct every part of my being. I meditated on my 3rd chakra, and chanted a variety of primal sounds to bring my inner core strength. I connected to my ancestors on the astral plane, and visited my original self on the quantum shelf. I repeated the mantra “life is wasted if we don’t appreciate every part of it,” and bowed my 3rd eye the eternal oneness of all beings.

    Yet the pain persisted.

    I was useless, cranky, and sad. I went to Munch’s best friend’s birthday party, and was so antisocial I spent the entire time making endless grilled cheese sandwiches and washing dishes. I think I have a pretty good career as a dishwasher if nothing else works out – or at least that’s what I was told.

    I left the party early in total despair. Then I did what any reasonable person would do who had been dealing with debilitating pain for 6 days. I smoked some pot and went for a walk. I thought about movies I want to make, and characters I want to create. Then I got home, smoked some more, and stretched while The Munch took her bath. While I was stoned stretching, it was almost as if I was accessing my spasms. I could feel the tremors, and I just breathed into it. I let the shivers and the intensity of the stretch feel like a massage. Then I got up, and felt almost fine.

    I guess in truth I did think a lot during this week. I realized I’m becoming sort of cynical and jaded. Taking a step back to look at my existence is never a bad thing. Maybe I will do it more often. Before my body goes into total mutiny. Or maybe I should just smoke pot and stretch more often.

    Do you guys have this kind of cinnamon at home???

    cinnamon

    January 18, 2016 • Health • Views: 577

  • Only The Best Picture of All Time Can Cure Depression

    Lately I’ve been feeling super depressed, sad, and full of anxiety. You know those days where life feels like a meaningless cavern of emotional torment, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t dig yourself out of the headspace that your life is totally futile?

    No? Neither have I.

    I’m soooo fine. Really.

    I’ve tried a variety of efforts to inspire a different feeling other than hopeless despair. One was to binge watch Game of Thrones, which surprisingly only made me more despondent. I guess super violent rape, murder, and incest isn’t the best way to cheer yourself up. Go figure.

    Usually music and dancing helps take me out of emotional funks, but I couldn’t fake the funk.

    I tried eating hotdogs, because hey, hotdogs can be good.

    That didn’t work.

    But then I saw this picture. And even though I can’t say my heart isn’t a black abyss of suffering, I did get a good laugh out of it.

    Isn’t Munch’s face so priceless here?

    It’s like she’s saying to herself, “When is that goddamn beat gonna drop?”

    best-picture-blog

    June 10, 2015 • Musings • Views: 889

  • Dealing With Your Addictions

    I have never been addicted to anything, but I have abused a variety of substances. Even though my relationship to drugs and alcohol was excessive – and would lead to my doing things like being at a bar and falling onto a glass table full of drinks, breaking said table as my entire body became submerged in cranberry juice and vodka, then getting right back up to dance like that never happened – I never got hooked.

    So I can’t say I personally understand the struggle of addiction, but I do understand the urge to fill the existential hole in your soul with cocaine. It happens!

    I think the root of addiction lies in wanting to satiate your emotions with something outside of yourself. It’s a way to deal with the monotony of existence, or mask the pain of life. You turn to a chemical compound that will shake shit up inside your mind, and dull your heart from having to feel.

    I know my kid is only 4, but I want to set up good patterns of behavior even now. I don’t expect that The Munch won’t ever experiment with drugs. I am sure one day she will get super fucked up, hippy flip at a festival, and then have to vomit on her best friend because she mixed nitrous with an ecstasy acid combo. These things happen! I can’t shelter her from wanting to party in her youth, but hopefully I can build the groundwork so she has the mental fortitude to avoid being consumed by chasing the dragon – because that guy is fast!

    I want The Munch to be able to express her inner being, and not feel confined by the confusion of the human condition. I figure the more we confront things head on, the less she will feel the need to escape later in life. Sure, I am not dealing with any hard-core strife right now. I mean, it isn’t that complicated to process your tears after losing a Frozen flip-flop. Yet I have noticed that when The Munch hurts herself, her first request is to watch something on TV to “take her mind off it.” And when she is bored, and doesn’t know what to do, she always asks for a treat.

    I decide that we needed to unpack these instincts so she doesn’t one day move to Tampa, Florida.

    Munch: Mom, my sunburn really hurts. Can I watch some Carebears?
    Toni: Munch, you don’t want to watch something just to run from being in pain. You need to face it head on.
    Munch: But I really wanna watch something so it doesn’t hurt.
    Toni: Yeah, but life is full of pain. And sometimes you have to just sit with it. That’s the only way to realize that you are not your pain, and you can overcome it.
    Munch: Can I overcome my pain tomorrow morning and watch something tonight?
    Toni: I’m not sure it works like that.

    THE NEXT DAY

    Munch: Mom, can I have a treat?
    Toni: You already had like 5 chocolates today.
    Munch: But I REALLY want another treat.
    Toni: Munch, if you have a treat every day then it’s not special any more. You are just eating sugar all the time and cultivating a sugar addiction. Remember when we talked about how sugar is addictive?
    Munch: Yeah but what does it mean again?
    Toni: Well….
    Munch: Oh right. Addiction is when you can’t control yourself and you just want more and more and more even though it’s not good for your body.
    Toni: Exactly.
    Munch: How about I have one more treat today and none tomorrow. I will work on my addiction, and I won’t have treats every day. Just sometimes. And a lot of them.

     

    addiction-blog

  • The Heartbreak of a Broken Heart

    Do you remember your first broken heart? Did it feel like someone peeled back the layers of your skin only to pry their fingers deep into your aorta, and scrape the inner walls of your ventricles with their nails? Were you writhing in agony as the seething suffering traversed your veins and settled into a cantankerous cavity hidden inside the bowels of your being? ME TOO!!!

    My heart was broken for the first time when I was 15. He told me we lived too far apart, and he couldn’t be my boyfriend anymore because he wanted to finger-bang other girls. I wasn’t just devastated… I was destroyed. Forget the fact that I had another boyfriend who went to my school. The loss was too profound to bear. I would think of him every night when I went to sleep, and he was the first thing on my mind when I woke up. I sometimes wouldn’t leave my house in hopes that he would call. (The tragedy of being a teenager in the 90’s, pre cellphones *tear). I thought of him obsessively, and would look for him in any crowd I was in. It took me an entire year to move on emotionally, and of course as soon as I got over him, he was like “let’s date again,” – so we did.

    Being broken hearted is a helpless and vulnerable feeling because it is rooted in rejection. No matter how the other person tries to rationalize their reasoning, the piercing truth is that they don’t want you. That sinking reality is so painful because it also digs at the core of your self-esteem. The ego becomes enmeshed with the heart. Not only is the object of your love leaving, but they are also scarring your sense of worth with their disinterest to stay.

    The Munch is going through her first experience with heartbreak, and it has been breaking my heart to witness her sorrow. Her baby sitter since she was one year old has decided to move on. We had a conversation about it last week, and I think at first Munch was in a state of shock or denial. She didn’t really mention it, so I was hoping maybe it would be a smooth transition. Then the other morning, Munch came in my room while I was meditating wondering what I had done with a picture her babysitter Liliana had drawn her. It had been hanging on the fridge, and I had taken it down. At first I didn’t want to admit that, and tried to claim I didn’t remember – but Munch kept asking me where it was.

    Toni: I took it down.
    Munch: Why?
    Toni: It made me sad to look at it.

    That was when everything hit her. Suddenly Munch had to face reality. She started weeping in my arms telling me how much she missed Liliana. I held her, and began crying right along with her. Her pain was so relatable. Of course wanting to discontinue employment as a babysitter is drastically different than ending a relationship – yet in Munch’s world, the sentiment is the same.

    Munch: I still want her to be my babysitter. I don’t like those things she said. They really hurt my feelings. I don’t want her to leave. I miss her. I can’t stop thinking about Liliana!
    Toni: I know baby. It is really hard. But people can’t always be who you want them to be. Sometimes they have to be who they want to be. And when you love them, you have to give them that space.
    Munch: But I miss her so much and I want to see her. I am so angry that she doesn’t want to see me any more. I want to be with her. My heart is broken. She broke my heart.
    Toni: It hurts, I know. But Liliana wants to go back to school. And we want her to be happy. She needs to find her happiness. Don’t you want her to do that?
    Munch: Yes, but I also want her to stay with me.
    Toni: It doesn’t always work that way baby. Sometimes happiness means you have to leave.

    We sat, talked, and cried. I didn’t want to talk her out of her feelings, because that seemed like a fruitless effort. We can’t rationalize our way out of loss. We have to go through it. The only thing I could do was to listen, and suggest different ways of seeing the situation. After a while, we got up, got dressed, and got in the car to go on an adventure. We decided that we would listen to music as loud as we could, and sing as loud as our voices would go.

    As I was driving I realized the universal truth of heartbreak. The other person is happier with out you. That is why they have to go. Suddenly I felt elated by this knowing.  Even though there is a sweet sadness, there is also hope. Your aching has meaning because the person you love is happier. Even though that bruises the ego, the true self wants the people you adore to find their bliss, even if it means they take a different path.

    I know Munch is still hurting from this separation. She will go through her iPod, find videos of her with Liliana, and then cry as she watches them. Although the tragic rawness is brutal to witness, I also respect that this is a process she has to go through in order to let go. All I know is that I considering Munch is only 4 and feels this deeply, I am seriously in for it when she is a teenager.

    heartbreak-blog-(i)

  • Unleash Your Inner Teenage Girl

    When I was a teenager I would come home from school, put on really sad music, and cry. Just to drive this point home and make sure you have the visual… every day for four years I would blast Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan, and *insert any 90’s angst- ridden singer songwriter here – just to make myself weep FOR HOURS! When I look back at that time in my life I have to wonder what the fuck was going on with me?

    The obvious answer is I was a hormonal mess, controlled by the insanity of estrogen pumping through my system at an alarming rate as it surged through my veins. Yet at the same time it was deeper than that. It was the one part of my day where I actually felt alive. For whatever reason, being a teenage girl made it possible for me to easily access my sorrow. It didn’t take much for me to feel infinitely sorry for myself, or even for all of humanity. I could tap into grief with a calm effortlessness, and access that intensity more than any other emotion.

    I didn’t know how to make myself feel boundlessly joyful, but I did know how to drop into sadness. Even though the melancholy didn’t feel good, the extremeness of the sentiment was full of vitality. The heightened sense gave meaning to everything, even if the moment was blurred by my salty vision.

    I don’t suggest this as a daily practice – unless I can get a book deal, in which case sign up for my 3-week course “Weep Your Way Into a Better You,” – but I do think there is something profound about releasing into the chaos of desperation. Perhaps if we were more willing to feel the truth of the lows, there would be more room for the altitude of the highs.

    Pain is also terrifying. I don’t want to feel hurt, nor do I want to see other people suffering. I once saw a cat that had been run over and was lying on the side of the road. I stopped to help it, but I didn’t have the capacity to handle how much the poor creature was in agony. Another car stopped right after me, and the driver went right over to the mangled animal and held it in her arms as it died. I had so much respect for this woman. She was able to bear the burden of this being’s transition when I was rendered impotent by my own excessive empathy. I felt so deeply for the cat that I couldn’t be there for it because I was too lost in my own feelings. I would like to think that if that woman hah never showed up I would have pulled myself together, and been more proactive then sobbing uncontrollably. Yet I am so grateful that she did, because she was there for us both that night.

    I was once part of a hippy new age shaman ceremony celebrating the descendants of grandmother moon, and go figure, I was actually feeling pretty good. Then this woman started writhing in discomfort as her primal cries filled the room. I found myself totally distracted by what was going on with her. As much as I wanted to help, I also knew that there wasn’t much I could do for her. She was on her trip. The best way for me to have been there for her was to visualize her as the perfect self. Yet it was so challenging not to get caught up in the drama of her experience. I had to repeat the mantra “this is her healing” in order to maintain my own sanity.

    Even though I felt terrible for this woman, I also wanted her to stop being in pain – not only for herself, but for me too. Her anguish was harshing my mellow! I felt so guilty that I was feeling fine, and she wasn’t.

    Isn’t that a metaphor for the global suffering that is going on all the time? When you are having the best night of your life, someone else is having the worst night of theirs. That is why it is so hard to really contemplate about all terrible realities going on. I feel awful when I really allow myself to think about child brides, therefore I don’t want to think about it. It is too hard for me to be happy when I remind myself of the millions who are not.

    So that is why we all need to unleash our inner teenage girl, and allow the totality of suffering to pass through us. Not only for ourselves, but also for all the beings on this fucked up planet we live on. To run from the hurt doesn’t mean it goes away. Maybe the best thing we can do is to truly turn towards it, so we can actually deal with how much it all sucks.
    (Look at me! I am on the verge of tears just sitting around xmas eve when I was 14)

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    January 15, 2015 • Musings, Old School Stories • Views: 1458

  • A Distraction From Life

    You know what blows? When you are really excited for something to happen, and it doesn’t go down the way you had planned. It is like experiencing emotional blue balls. You just want to release your joy all over the back of existence, but then some metaphoric knock pounds down the door to cock-block your bliss.

    Disappointment is probably the most dissatisfying emotion. At least if you are angry or sad there is some spice too it. You can punch walls, or weep until your eyes look like Bill Clinton’s. Yet when you are disappointed all you do is turn yourself inside out like dyslexic calzone – oozing cheesy self-pity all over the place, but too despondent to spread the sauce of your agony. There is a pathetic flavor to disappointment. You are inherently admitting anticipation that was squelched like a weed in a soybean farm sprayed with pesticides. There is nothing cool about being let down, because it shows you cared in the first place.

    Over the weekend I was going to host a dance retreat so some friends and I could spend our days dancing our asses off. Not in a twerking kind of way where we bounced our asses until they created so much friction they combusted, but in a sweet way. I like having women’s weekends where we eat copious amounts of kale, drink an absurd amount of tea, and talk incessantly about how we don’t need men – because if we discuss them constantly that means we totally aren’t thinking about them am I right?

    The first night I led a yoga class where we explored our 2nd Chakra. You know how bitches are all about opening up their hips and shit. That evening, while washing homemade hummus off the dishes, I told my friend I was going to bail on the morning Kundalini yoga adventure.

    My friend Sarah: NO! You have to go. That is part of the whole plan.
    Toni: I don’t know… it is just so early. I will just meet you guys back here when yo are done.
    My friend Sarah: Dude… it is one morning. We are all giving and we are all sharing our talents. Don’t be a wimp.

    So I womanned up and went to the class. The thing about Kundalini yoga, is that it is all about moving energy and going into the crevices of the body to address core issues. It is more intense than other kinds of Yoga, which is why it is both amazing and terrifying. Not everyday you are psychically prepared to look your inner demons in the face and have a conversation about your damaged childhood.

    I am pretty sure that on this Saturday morning, I just wasn’t in the mental state to get to the bottom of my self-loathing and inner rage. We did all these positons and exercises that felt equally freeing and constricting. As soon as we left the class and I got into my car, I knew my back was totally screwed up. I was like “FUCK! Who am I kidding? I am white! I am not supposed to face my emotions, but repress them deep inside my body until I eventually die of a heart attack. That is the American way!”

    We got back to my house and I tried to do the ballet class – but I could hardly move. I forced myself to continue through the crippling pain for 30-minutes because that is what New England people do, but then I had to lay down and admit defeat. I had fucked my shit up hard core. I could feel it in my back and my hips – if I was a rapper this could have been a pretty sweet Hip Hop song.

    I tried to stretch to release the spasms, but it wasn’t working. I fell down the staircase of frustration because I knew that my dance retreat was ruined. There was no way I was going to have spontaneous recovery and pirouette my way out of this. All my excitement about the weekend was transformed into feeling very very very sorry for myself.

    One of my friends is OF COURSE a hippy healer girl, so she came over to do some voodoo on me.

    Hippy Healer Friend: I am getting a message that part of your pain has to do with your daughter. Not sure exactly what, but that is the information I am receiving. Maybe some issues of violence?

    Ummmm…. WHAT THE DICK!? The last thing I wanted was some peaceful yoga hippy girl to think I was beating my child or something!!?

    Toni: Ummmm violence?
    Hippy Healer Friend: Well it doesn’t have to be literal violence. It could be emotional. Or spiritual. Anyway… don’t get attached to any of this. Just something to think about.
    Toni: Uhhhh yeah okay…

    Not sure if you have ever tried to peacefully receive a healing while at the same time stressing out about what your healer thought of you. But let me tell you… it is NOT as relaxing as it sounds.

    I tried to think about why those were the messages this serene chick was getting about me. It just seemed so extreme?! I mean, I guess I had admitted to her the night before how I let The Munch eat ice cream for breakfast. I some how rationalized this because she also had green beans. The Hippy Healer girl also witnessed The Munch watching Snow White. Maybe in her pristine child-raising world where her daughter thinks raisins are candy and screen time refers to some mediation practice, exposing my child to Disney and vanilla flavored sugar was a type of violence?? Maybe Munch also casually mentioned how we eat meat too! BUT IT IS ORGANIC FLESH FROM A LOCAL FARM OKAY!!???

    I wasn’t exactly sure that my pain had to do with The Munch, and was more convinced it was my philosophic quandary regarding the futility of existence. This relentless knowing that no matter what life path I choose, it will be fraught with bullshit and the same patterns of consciousness that oppress me today. How regardless of my efforts, I will continually make the same mistakes while I swirl in a spiral of mediocrity. Come to think of it, I would much rather contemplate my relationship to The Munch than that shit!

    So I thought about my child, and how so often she can feel like a distraction from life. Yet in truth, she is not distracting me from my life. The Munch is my life. Maybe The Munch thinks I am not showing her that enough?? Perhaps she feels that our time spent together, I am too distracted from all my blaming her for being the distraction.

    I felt sad. Even though I can’t live my life where every second of everyday is devoted to my child, I still want her to feel valued. I decided we had to have a discussion about this so I could get to the bottom of my back pain … ummm I mean, be a good mother to my kid and figure out how she was feeling.

    Toni: Munch, you know how Mamma’s back hurts?
    The Munch: Yeah….
    Toni: Well, my friend says it is not physical. She says my spine feels aligned. She thinks it is an energetic block from something emotional.
    The Munch: What is emotional?
    Toni: Like my feelings? She thinks my back hurts because of my feelings. She told me it has something to do with our relationship. What do you think about that?
    The Munch: I don’t know. Maybe your back hurts because you dance too much. Maybe you should stop dancing because it is so boring for me.
    Toni: Ummm well I love dancing so that is not going to happen. But what do you think about our relationship. Do you think I am a good Mamma to you?
    The Munch: Well sometimes. You always say “no” to me when I want more chocolate.
    Toni: Okay “more” chocolate… fine. But I have to do that. Seriously. Are there things you want me to do different? Is there ways I could be a better Mamma to you?
    The Munch: I don’t know. Maybe we just have to take care of each other more.
    Toni: Okay. That sounds like a plan.

    The next day, because I was hurt, I couldn’t do anything but relax. As a result, The Munch and I ended up spending 7-hours playing together with ZERO interruptions. We didn’t even leave the room we were in. I didn’t touch my phone. We just hung out – and rationed out a banana with peanut butter to survive. It was like we were in a vortex. Usually some thing breaks up your day, like going on an errand, or having some sort of obligation to do. Yet we were in this black hole of togetherness that nothing could penetrate.

    Things got kind of weird at times, we laughed, we fought, and she pretended to be a baby as I swaddled her in a yoga blanket. But it was amazing to just be present with her. I am not sure we have been like that since she was first born and I was high on all the new mom hormones. So even though it sucked my back hurt and I couldn’t dance for my retreat, it created the space for this memorable moment with the most important person in my life.

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  • Does Pain Have to Be So Dramatic?

    I don’t understand why when kids cry; they have to cry so damn loud. There is always a wail beneath their weeping that makes the whole incident an event you are forced bear witness to. Trying to talk over a crying child is like whispering to an 80’s punk band musician during a car alarm. Nothing is going to get heard.

    Kids also cry a fuck of a lot. Especially when they hurt themselves. When children are in physical discomfort, their bellows have a density that is unparalleled. It is not that I can’t understand the need to express your emotions when faced with agony, but why at such an intense decimal?

    When The Munch hurts herself, she suddenly has the vocal capacity of an opera singer with an elephant lung transplant. If I am being real with you, it can get annoying. I am not a monster, so of course I hug her while she is processing the pain – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck having someone screaming inches from your ear. I am not saying that she isn’t suffering, but does she have to suffer so dramatically?

    You guys… it is not my fault I am like this. I was raised in New England, by WASP’s. We don’t talk about silly things like emotions. When I felt a feeling, like coldness, I would never express my penetrating discomfort – I would just get a mild case of frostbite because it “builds character.” That was how you did things. As much as I want to be sensitive to The Munch’s despair, it is also sometimes hard for me to patiently tolerate the theatrics.

    The other day Munch and I went on an adventure to this kid’s extravaganza that involved the stories of Roald Dahl. I don’t really get what was going on, but there were girls dressed like oompa loompas and what else did I really need to understand? We went with a bunch of our friends, so after 3 minutes of being there I was already overwhelmed by the variety of needs demanded from the variety of children who surrounded me. I told Munch and her friend Hazel to go climb the rocks so I could have a moment to watch the rain fall on my head and travel down my cheeks like the tears of failed dreams.

    As the weather got more extreme, I watched the girls sliding down the slippery rock, and knew some shit would go down.

    The Munch lost her footing, slipped down the rock, and then landed on her knees on another rock. I am not going to say it wasn’t a digger. It was. It looked fucked up. She was bleeding, and it bruised immediately.

    Yes she was also freaking the fuck out. At first I was like “yes, yes I understand” like a normal person, but as the minutes ticked on I was kind of like “girl, you got to get over this and moveon.org.”

    The problem when Munch hurts herself is then everything becomes about her “boo boo.” She will be like “I can’t walk because of my boo boo.” Or she will just keep repeating “my boo boo hurts” like the mantra of a stoned monk who forgot what he just said 3 seconds ago. Now we had just driven for 40 minutes to get to this god forsaken kid’s paradise, and there was no way I could deal with the entire evening being textured around her fucking boo boo.

    Munch: Mom… my boo boo really hurts. Will you carry me? I can’t walk. I need you to carry me. My boo boo really hurts mom.
    Toni: Listen dude. We have an entire evening here, and I cannot carry you the whole time because my arms will fall off my body.
    Munch: But my boo boo really hurts mom! Wahhhhhaaaa. WAHHHHHAHHHA!
    Toni: Munch, it’s okay to cry, but can’t you just do it more quietly?
    Munch: But I can’t calm down. It really hurts.
    Toni: I get that it sucks, but that is being a kid. Children fall down Munch. You fall, you scrape your knee, but then you get up and keep going. Life is full of pain. You are going to hurt yourself 1,000 more times. You can’t hide from the pain. The only thing you can do is learn how to deal with it.

    The Munch hobbled along stoically… yet would still occasionally mention the bleeding festering wound on her knee. I of course would respond oh so compassionately with statements like, “I am not sure little girls who complain will get chocolate at the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory station where there is a chocolate fountain to dip your chocolate sticks into.” The Munch would then bravely continue – ever motivated by sugar.

    Then last night, as Karma would have it, I trekked outside to visit my brother around 11 pm. It was very dark, and the clouds covered the slight sliver of moon that would have provided light. I couldn’t really see where I was going so I tripped on a log, bashed my knee, and cut my toe. AND BOY DID THAT HURT!! I just started screaming out into the abyss of the night “Holy fucking mother of Christ!!! God fucking dammit to hell!!” I was so loud that everyone in a one-mile radius could hear me with the clarity of Beats by Dre. When I finally got inside where I could see the damage, there was barley a scrape on my knee, and the slightest cut on my toe. BUT YOU BET YOUR SWEET ASS I COMPLAINED ABOUT IT!!!

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