Planet Waves | Genexhibitionst by Maya Dexter



 I am beginning to question the economics of the emotional transaction. If I can fill my own account better and fuller than anyone else can with exactly the kind of currency I need, what the hell am I relying on anyone else for?

Deja View

Genexhibitionist | By Maya Dexter

Maya's Alchemy by Via Keller | Studio Psycherotica

I loathe repetition. It smacks of futility, that hyperactive Achilles' heel of my spiritual development. I have dedicated a lifetime to the avoidance of futility, honing my ability to observe and replicate with graceful precision in order to avoid the need to do anything more than once. As you can imagine, repetitive chores like dishes and laundry carry the scent of Sisyphus for me. Hmmthat's a lot of mythos in one paragraphbut my life has felt pretty mythical lately, so I'll leave it alone.

So this is the fifth time I have tried to write this article. Writing 'No Words' set my mind up for a tremendous bout of writer's block. I guess it's true what they say, words create reality, and my codependently-reared psyche is especially well tuned to the Pavlovian response, so it's been hard finding my voice again. It doesn't help that the theme this month is Taurus, and dealing with all the flotsam this particular astrological maelstrom has whipped about. I suck at Taurus; it's empty in my chart, and in the 12th house to boot, so the bull's eye is right in the middle of my blind spot. I dance with the sprites of chaos. If you've ever seen my house or my emotional life, you can verify this. But we'll try it again. You know what they say, 1,267,543rd time's a charm

Repetition. Yeah. Suddenly I have the funny feeling this straight path I have been walking actually curves very gently. The scenery looks vaguely familiar and I am wading knee-deep in stuff I thought I had buried long ago. I've worked like hell over the past few years to rid myself of patterns that were eroding my spirit, only to find that the winds have changed, not vanished, so the erosion just looks different than I expected. What do you do when you think you've broken a pattern, only to find that the shards that remain belong to a much larger one?

On to the point (I'm not so focused lately). I noticed that there is this transaction that happens in my relationships. I hate to put it that way, but it really is the emotional equivalent of money laundering. I have an emotional need, so I fulfill it for someone else in hopes that they ultimately pass it back to me. But after the assorted unspoken agreements have been made and the transfer fees are paid, I sometimes (okay, most of the time) wind up not having enough to get by.

The story this time is long, and the details mostly irrelevant, except to say that it is a scene I have found myself in before, though not for quite awhile. My Sag seventh house is loaded with potent stuff like the Moon and Neptune and my North Node. This gives me a very damsel-y demeanor for the most part. My favorite thing to do is look to someone else to provide me with fulfillment. I tend to want to be picked up and carried away, like the cover on one of those ridiculous romance novels; rescued by someone smarter, braver and more sensitive than I, from difficulty and loneliness and all the things that can be obscured in the light of another (at least in the beginning). I want to feel special, exalted. What is this strange need so many of us seem to have to feel special somehow? It's all bullshit, I know, but these are the things I react to when I am not looking. Yes, it's true, it is the story we are given by our culture, but I can't blame the fisherman when I swallowed the line.

I have decided without a doubt, though, that I don't want to play this game anymore. They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. They also say life is the greatest teacher. Who are "They" anyway, and why do they seem to know me so well?

Before we moved from St. Louis to New Jersey, my world was falling apart and my family was torn apart and then, the dream of a beautiful communal learning experience became a nightmare that I couldn't afford to get out of. I felt trapped and afraid and alone. So I did what I knew how to do, what I had always done, and found someone upon whom to hinge my happiness. But the hinges were rusty and couldn't support my weight, and after I moved I fell into a tremendous abyss of my own making. Which was apparently exactly what I needed, because what I didn't notice was that I was building myself another box when what I really needed was a mirror.

Somehow we always seem to get what we need, even if it isn't really what we wanted. Those mirrors I got are set up right in front of each other in that way where you know if you could just move out of your own way you could see forever in both directions. But I can only just see the edges of myself, rippling off ad infinitum into the distance, and they reveal all the times when I have found someone with whom to distract myself so I don't have to feel the pain or face myself. Now it seems it's time for the face-off.

Circumstances have conspired to leave me alone whether I like it or not. I don't have housemates to keep me constant company anymore. My husband is holding down a full-time course load and a part-time job, we are tag-team parenting to get things done and we see each other for about 20 minutes a day if we're lucky. We moved to a town that is at least an hour from all of my friends. I have a new job full of really nice people with whom I have nothing in common aside from sharing residency on this planet and perhaps drawing from loosely the same palette of emotions. Certainly nobody from that crowd to distract me from the mundane (have I really done that at every job in recent memory? Yes, if I'm honest. I guess bad habits are one thing I like to repeat). No denying, it's lonely times. Damn so.

Alone in this new place, I am forced to do something I have never done before -- be my own friend. I have taken myself out on little dates, I spend lunches alone at the park (nature alone, what a pleasure!), I laugh to myself a lot and notice and discover things that I would maybe not have observed before without an audience (which always makes me more observant, somehow). And after a day or so of being really nice to myself I noticed that I didn't feel so lonely at all. In fact, I felt fantastic, like nothing and no one could knock me down or deter me from this center of joy. The most surprising part of all was this total absence of need, this complete contentment that I felt, that had eluded me though I had looked in so many eyes to try to find it. I had just never looked into my own.

I carried that feeling for a week before I lost it. Not bad for a first try. I was surprised I did that well, to be frank, and a little part of me had been waiting, cringing, for the other shoe to drop. It did, though I was dimly aware this time that the shoe was not real. I lost the feeling because I forgot and entered into another emotional transaction, and the instant karma of it reached out and slapped me on the wrist. I am not deterred. I know it takes practice to unlearn the lies we are taught. It is like one of those optical illusion images where you only ever saw the vase and someone says "no, look again, there are also two faces." You have to struggle with those expectations for a minute until you can get past your brain's need to see only a vase. Until you can get a grip, your eyes shift back and forth. So I am still adjusting my eyes, but I am beginning to see things in a whole new way.

With this new awareness in mind I have been watching the view while I fall instead of just screaming all the way down. There's a lot of anger in this here rabbit hole, and a desire to wiggle out from under any blame, to slip into the victim's hairshirt and say, "You did this to me, you made me feel this way by not saying/thinking/feeling what I wanted you to. This is your fault" to the unwitting person on the other end of the transaction. The pressure to succumb to this is strong, like gravity. There are times when I cry in frustration. But like I said, it's different this time. It feels more transient. Once you know it's all a trick of perception, like finding the wizard behind the curtain it's hard to muster up quite as much fear as before.

I am beginning to question the economics of the emotional transaction. If I can fill my own account better and fuller than anyone else can with exactly the kind of currency I need, what the hell am I relying on anyone else for? Why do I have more faith in others, who may or may not be as reliable as I know myself to be, than I have in myself? Not that there is not a place for other, but they should not be responsible for filling my needs. Like the old saying goes, "pay yourself first." There's another saying that goes, "your cup runneth over." Combine the two and there's always enough left over to give freely, as long as you keep filling your cup. But if you let your cup get empty you wind up sucking on grinds and it's hard to remember how it was ever full. Remembering to keep it filled takes a certain amount of discipline, which could be said to take practice, or repetition. Hmm, there seems to be a hole in my education here.

These days I am trying to treat myself kind of like I treat my five year old -- with a lot of patience as I repeat these same mistakes again and again, with that same encouraging gentleness when I grow frustrated. Breaking a pattern is the hardest thing in the world, especially when the ruts of that road are worn deep by a lifetime of travel. But my favorite places have always been off the beaten way. Guess that's a pattern, too.

The nice thing about patterns, though, is that they give up a larger picture, a sense of the greater nature of things, and when you find a new one, you can go about breaking it. I suppose it all just creates new patterns and new habits in that fractal way that the cosmos likes to arrange things, but you can arrange the pieces like mosaic tile to be a pretty picture or an ugly one. It's all a reflection of the same person anyway, so I guess it's all good.

My mom always told me growing up that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, which is true for things like washing your car under a mulberry tree. But maybe there's something to be said for improving things with practice. Maybe the more I am kind to myself, the more time alone in nature I allow myself, or any other space in which to fill my cup, the easier it will get to hang onto that feeling of fullness. Which I suspect is closely related to that other elusory experience, bliss, which transcends fleeting feelings like pleasure and pain and tends to stick around longer and touch deeper as long as you let it. I think it's definitely worth repeating the experiment a few more times in order to find out. ++

Maya Dexter is a Pisces.

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