Because of All the Ways
Dream – somebody (I?) was beating somebody’s (mine?) lifeless body. Lifeless as in, passed away. They were (I was) pounding somebody’s (my) lifeless flesh with tight fists, over and over as if in a rage, with every drop of strength they (I) could muster.
When I was about 19 or so, a boy I barely new, but had a crush on, either fell or jumped to his death from the roof of a building where I was attending a party. The whole evening was so random. I was walking down Fillmore street in San Francisco in 1989 and passed by a house that looked like it had a party going on inside one the flats. I was working on my shyness, and I wanted to meet people, so I braced myself and went up. A little bit after I had arrived I saw a boy come in that I knew from City College where I was taking a few classes, filling in the gaps left by my early and abrupt departure from highschool a few years earlier. I didn’t know his name, nor had I ever spoken to him, but I had seen him around the little courtyard outside of the arts department, and had developed a pretty crippling infatuation. He had messy, died black hair, and wore the long army jacket and boots that a lot of my friends wore. He had slightly crooked teeth, and I had imagined him with an English accent. He came in with a few people, one of them a girl who was pretty obviously his girlfriend, and they all disappeared promptly on to the roof. I hung around for a while pretending I didn’t care, and then went into bathroom.
The whole bathroom was white, the floor and walls were covered in white tile. There were a couple of plants in the window sill, and there were little objects in the earth part of the plants, little glass jewels or figurines reflecting the sun coming in from the light well, and I admired and coveted the feminine touch, a touch I didn’t myself posses. I didn’t have to pee, I just needed to be alone for a bit, to manage my shyness, and the little heartbreak I was having over the boy. I’d been in there for probably five minutes when his body plummetted past the window.
I went outside. There was a lot of commotion, everyone from the party had come outside into the street. I spotted her, the girlfriend, talking to paramedics, and I sat down nearby. I didn’t talk to her, I just sat and tried to be empty and absorptive. I was meditating, sort of, imagining the area around our bodies filling with light, a technique I’d learned from my grandmother. I wanted to hold her and also give her room. I wanted to absorb her fear and pain and overwhelm. At some point I noticed we were holding hands, although we still hadn’t exchanged a word, and I’m not sure she’d even looked at me. We sat together like that until it was time for her to get in the ambulantce and ride with the boy to the hospital. She asked the paramedics if I could go with her. They said that wasn’t possible.
Later I heard that he died in the ambulance. I never found out his name, and I never saw his girlfriend again.
A few years ago I experienced a radical healing as a result of a spiritual crisis in the form of finding out my yoga teacher was a fraudulent abuser of women and power. I questioned everything I had ever believed in. I questioned, and remain quite suspect of, belief itself. I came to understand how much of what I thought was supporting me and making me strong was actually holding me down, keeping me dependent, my self esteem resting in the opinions and approval of others, and whether or not my actions were of value to them.
I write things down. I have hundreds of little notes to myself, both paper and digital, of things that come up that feel important or resonant. This is one I wrote during that time:
Because of All the ways I pretend.
Because of All the ways I make myself invisible.
Because of All the ways I have brutalized myself in the name of protecting or serving others (breaking the waves)
There’s a certain way in which our best qualities, in terms of how we show up in the world, can be our biggest failures in the way we show up for ourselves.