Rebirthing for Nerds

I have a boss (not Pat) who is completely psychotic, but to his credit is always working to get less so through spiritual practice. He has tried a few different methodologies and found he really likes rebirthing. He feels that it helps to clear the substantial amount of rage and pain he carries with him, and over the summer he was so convinced of rebirthing’s value that he handed me an envelope with a rebirther’s number and the price of a session.

I would have preferred to keep the cash and put it towards something like botox or hair extensions, but I dutifully called the man and set up an appointment. My boss warned me that the guy was a bit of an oddball, and to roll with it. I took a train uptown and from my experience of the neighborhood and the mission at hand, anticipated a clean, new agey white apartment with plants and a massage table in the middle. There’s almost always a massage table involved with this sort of activity.

I was greeted by a bearded man of small build wearing jeans and a t-shirt. He was probably a couple of years younger than me, and he welcomed me into a one room hippie pad, which could only be described as grubby and clearly the home of a bachelor. It did have plants, but messy plants. It had that kind of organization of a man who doesn’t know fully how to clean properly but knows that he must make things presentable.

I recognized the signs immediately: The bed was made. There was a pile of quilts on the floor which were folded neatly into a sort of pallet, which I assumed that I would be laying on. They looked washed and I was grateful for that. The floor was clean-ish. But the kitchen looked dubious from a distance, and the bathroom, which I used upon entering, was pretty crusty. I am a fussy girl when it comes to the settings of my new age brain clearing activities, so I immediately felt edgy and judgy. What is it with some guys that they can’t scrub out a tub? What germ life is my bare ass touching right now on this toilet?

But, in for a penny, in for a pound. I squared my shoulders, re-entered the room, sat down on the pallet in a protected yoga crossleg and listened to what he had to say. And he had to say A LOT. I think my tattooed appearance and guarded demeanor made him feel the need to explain that he too was hip and knew the streets of New York, and he outlined every detail about his former life as a drug addict and how he had come to the process of rebirthing and how much happier he is as a result.

He leaned back on pillows in comfortable hippie bachelor dude mode, while I sat stiffly, semi-smile pasted on my face. I felt deeply uncomfortable, which in fairness is more a statement about my mental state than his own. It was like one of those times where you find yourself waiting for a friend at a bar and end up sitting next to a too-interested guy who really wants to get to know you while you continue to glance at the door hopefully for your rescue. I am uncomfortable meeting new people in an ideal setting so this was nowhere near a relaxed zone for me.

Rebirthing, according to what information I ingested and retained, has to do with breathing. The theory is that the birth process is one in which we are thrust upon the world in a manner that is traumatizing. Breathing is painful in those first minutes and so we learn to never breathe fully and properly, and we hold energy from traumas throughout our birth and life in our muscles and body. Rebirthing is the act of breathing deeply and quickly, which causes a buildup of oxygen in the blood and helps to cleanse the suppressed emotions we are holding down by a lifetime of holding our breath. Here’s the wikipedia page:

I grasped that I would soon be laying on the floor and panting heavily while this strange man stared down at me. Fabulous. I am not thrilled, and not convinced, and grateful that I wore a big t-shirt rather than something breast-ey and low cut. But he seems harmless enough and very confident that this will be a life-altering experience, so I get on with it, thinking the faster we get it going, the faster I’m out of there.

I start panting, and within seconds it’s excruciating. I want to be anywhere else in the world except laying there huffing. It’s too much work. I don’t feel good. I question the cleanliness of the blankets underneath me. Thoughts are racing through my head and I want to run. I’m unhappy physically and mentally. He tells me this resistance is normal and you have to ride it out until you come out the other end, which, God-willing, is the clearing side. I curse my boss. Isn’t it enough that he tortures me at work? Why am I here?

But after what seemed like an hour of agony something did happen, and it’s interesting enough that I put it in a corner of my brain to blog about at a later date, in case the information is of any use to anyone else:

I do a thing with my hand when I get defensive or angry, which is sort of cock it up in a “halt” position. A friend noticed it years ago when I was an angrier person than now, and she would shout, “The hand! The hand!” when she thought we were nearing a danger zone. My dog, who was viciously abused in his early years, does a unique thing with his paws whenever he’s afraid, which is to tense them up and cross them over each other very tightly, almost as if he’s wringing them. It’s the saddest, most pathetic thing you’ve ever seen: as you dip him into a bath he just gives up and rolls in like a furry pill bug.

So I’m laying there panting like an idiot and my hand goes up, my feet tighten, bend, and cross just like my dog’s, and memories of a night that I was molested as a very young child flood my brain. And I start crying. It was instantaneous and very emotional, and at the same time there is another part of me thinking, great, this is absolutely mortifying and the last thing I wanted to do was give this guy the satisfaction of weeping five minutes into this crap while he is probably looking at my boobs or wondering what he’s going to have for lunch. But he’s still talking and telling me to go with it, and it was either go on or make a scene and drag it out even longer.

The next thing that rolled into my head almost as instantaneously was a cinematic action version of this, which is an image from a video game called Bioshock II:

Last year I got completely obsessed with playing Bioshock and Bioshock II. It’s a great game, visually it is right up my alley with beautifully detailed art deco settings, music from the 30’s, interesting opponents and a very creative and fun weaponry system. Dork, dork, dork. Your character is a man in a nearly invincible suit of armor which looks like an old-fashioned diving suit, and the game offers you a choice to be either a protector/rescuer or a harvester of of these little girls who have been turned into sort of energy collecting zombies. It’s all very complicated and awesome and creepy, and I spent months and months stomping around as one of these big daddies, protecting and restoring little girls. I just could not get enough, I would finish and start right over again, until I reluctantly loaned the games to my brother to get them out of the house for a little while.

So I’m laying there sniffling and I think, this is weird, how did Big Daddy get in here? So random…And then OOOOHHHHHH. What we ladies like to call an Oprah “aha!” moment. Of course he’s here while I’m crunching up physically over something that happened to me when I was 8. And THAT’S why this game crawled so deeply into my psyche. I get to be a giant, armored monster who protects the little girl.

Well duh.

So without getting all sappy and drawing this out, I do feel that I cleared some of that particular energy out and got a better understanding of how much that incident hurt me. I have always felt that it was a minor infraction in my life compared to the pain that other people have suffered at the hands of abusers. It probably lasted 15 minutes, after a couple of days of painfully uncomfortable interaction in which I sensed it was coming, and then I never saw the person again. But clearly, if this is what came up, it was still sitting in there, and is maybe emblematic for other hurts that were too easily dismissed without the proper respect. 

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to pay attention to, and what to let go. I am very cautious about fetishizing pain, and have a hard time with people who can’t move forward in their lives. But at the same time, you have to deal with your crap.

If I look at my life from the outside, objectively, the Big Daddy/Little Sister relationship has been a primary theme throughout. Protecting the inner, easily wounded part with armor and ferocity. I am attracted to people who behave similarly and love breaking down the scariest person in the room. But then, isn’t this how most of us protect ourselves anyway? It manifests outwardly with different armors, but the essence is there. Some people use anger, some addiction, some people-pleasing, some sex, some plain old asshole-ism. Peeling off those layers is, in my mind, the whole point of being here.

As far as rebirthing goes, I was told that it is recommended that people go for numerous sessions, as different things come up to clear every time. I am sure that’s true. He pushed me to make another appointment and I declined, stating that I would at a later time, but knowing that I wouldn’t be back. I gleaned some information out of the experience that was valuable to me, but I don’t feel a burning desire to go back. I I just want to lay the experience out here for those of you who are curious about the process or seeking new methods of healing.

And happily,
Skyrim was released this week, can’t wait to see what the dragons have to teach me about my deep inner life. This is the excuse that will now be used for the hours spent nerdgaming. Oh happy day!

Readings and Rapture

So I had a little minor surgery on Friday and I’ve been recuperating all weekend, spending most of it watching movies and playing the most elegant video game on the planet, Bioshock 2, which is set in a underwater city called Rapture:

I took the day off of work today just to be safe, which is a rarity as Monday is payday at my job and no one gets paid unless I’m there to facilitate it. So I can’t not write something or I’ll really feel like a slob. I am only marginally driven at best, and this winter has been exceptionally un-driven for me, I haven’t felt the desire to write and no real urge to blog. I am not depressed, and am actually feeling very even and cheerful for a February, with a pretty hopping winter social life. I’m just sort of in a holding pattern when I’m at home alone with the time to write.
I have managed to do a couple of readings with my talented and far more prolific bff Ms. Zoe Hansen. She hosts a monthly reading with David Henry Sterry and along with letting me read whenever I want, she had me to fill in as co-host when he was out of town, so that was most educating and productive-feeling. Plus if I know I have a reading coming up it lights a fire under my ass to produce something new. 
David is a very generous person and posted this video of me on his site:

The lighting makes me look fat, goddamn it. I am not that big.

Reading your shit out loud in front of people is very interesting and probably necessary for writers. You get an immediate reaction; words ring differently when they are voiced, and people feel what you have written in different ways than you expect. It’s also nice to connect with writers, people who are interested in writing, and loving friends who indulge by showing up on a cold winter night to listen.

I have some mixed feelings about what I’m writing about, which may be what is stalling me out temporarily. At the moment I am an amateur diarist. I write my own shit down and through the process of blogging discovered that others find it interesting, which led me to the conclusion that I should/could write about my adventures in New York as a rock star/party girl during an incredibly fun and fascinating era which disappeared before most of us were prepared to say goodbye.

Everyone’s life story is interesting if written down properly. You can work in a factory every day of your life and still tell the most poignant life story imaginable. We all have inner lives, internal struggles, deep lessons, moments of inner and outer drama. It’s all in the telling. I love Bukowski and can read him for days on end because he takes the most mundane, shitty moments and turns them into poetry, comedy, tragedy, with the simplest of phrases. It’s about the writing.

Right now old tales are selling, and everyone’s got one, and everyone is telling them. And every time I extend myself publicly, another person comes up to me and says, “I have a bunch of great stories too. I’m going to get onstage with you next time and tell mine.” Which leads me to mixed feelings. In one way, the more the merrier! I want to hear other people’s experiences and stories. I love the idea of storytelling as art, keeping people and moments alive with our telling and retelling. It’s as old as the caveman and it’s a beautiful thing. I wouldn’t have been inspired to the life I lead in New York if others hadn’t done it before me.

On the other hand, I also don’t want to become part of our current “I want to be famous” cultural zeitgeist, in which there is an undercurrent of desperation for attention, any kind of attention, regardless of whether it has depth or merit. My “scene” is of the age where we are all somewhat forgotten, our moments in the hot sun behind us. Yet many are hoping to feel that warmth for a little longer, sometimes in any way possible. I wonder if I am feeding into something that I don’t necessarily desire to create, something that feels self-aggrandizing and a little desperate to me. 
I want to write. I enjoy it, I enjoy moving people, I enjoy creating images with a few words. I enjoy being moved by other people’s words. I like hearing and reading other people’s stories when they have taken the time to arrange them on a page creatively. But this energy of personal need that seeps into my consciousness through the words and actions of others confuses me and then shuts me down a bit at times. Where do you draw the line between creative expression and ego masturbation? It’s fuzzy; it’s a slippery slope.

For the moment I am just considering it down time and not worrying too much. If I ever write a book, I write it, if not, the world will be none the lesser for it and I can write my blogs when I feel like it and do readings here and there until there’s enough to put together in one volume. And lately I am thinking about possibilities for fiction, which is where I always imagined things would lead anyway.

So that’s my little state of the union. If anyone needs me today, I’ll be in Rapture, using plasmids to save the little sisters.

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