Elemental Emptiness month 7: Fear and Desire

Posted on May 17, 2009
Filed Under elemental work, emptiness, Experiments, Taylor Ellwood, XAH | Leave a Comment

4-18-09 I got a response to my last post report on the elemental emptiness working, where the person made some observations about my flaws as a person. It wasn’t easy to read, but as I reflected on what had been noted, I realized that it was an observation as opposed to a judgment, but also realized how much fear I have around being judged for what I would consider to be my flaws. It’s a fear of being seen for who I am…and actually it’s come up a bit the last few days in different ways…yet obviously I have been seen for who I am by different people and am still in the lives of the different people I know. This fear of being seen though is an interesting fear to feel…there’s a level of self-consciousness to it, but also a realization that in some ways I’ve focused on what I think of as deficiencies to the exclusion of appreciating my better qualities. Self-esteem issues…yeah, a fair amount and working with my fears is allowing me to really see those self-esteem issues for what they are. I did wonder today, if I’d been raised in a more “ideal” situation, would I be as fucked up as I sometimes feel I am? And when do I realize I’m “ok” or good, or whatever…when does it balance out?  The last few days, in different situations, definitely made me feel vulnerable…no one likes it when they are called on their shit, or seen in terms of their worst flaws. I’d like to run, but I don’t think the hermit would let me, or honestly, I would let me. And while anyone can see those things about me I might not like, the only person who can choose to do anything about those things is me. And shying away from what I don’t like about myself just leads to more dissatisfaction and unhappiness. So here I am, vulnerable, flawed, selfish, but also less angry, more compassionate, loving, and willing to sit with all of me instead of just the best face forward.

4-19-09 I talked to the moon goddess today about some of what I wrote above and she pointed out that it’s important to keep a balanced perspective and that someone telling you about the good aspects of you can be equally as revealing as what one observes about you that s/he doesn’t care for. And in thinking about that I realized that how you create equilibrium is maintaining an appreciation of what about you is good, while still working on your deficits. And that might seem obvious, but I think it’s easily forgotten, because as a culture it seems more acceptable to focus on the dysfunctions and problems as opposed to what really works.

4-21-09 In therapy we talked more about fear as the emotional base for a lot of my decisions. Something interesting came up, because she mentioned how at one point last year when Lupa and I’d seen her together, I had mentioned how I didn’t do anything unless there was a direct benefit for me. We talked about that statement and it’s context to fear…the realization that fear for me has really operated from a place of scarcity, poverty, and trying to “get” something directly feeds into that kind of statement. As I find myself shifting toward being more giving without expectation, I find myself realizing that I don’t always need to see a direct benefit from something, in order to do it. On the other hand, I also recognize that there’s a lot of value in recognizing what the payoff is for doing something. Afterall, I can easily tell anyone what my payoff is for writing, coaching, or doing any of the other things I do. But being able to come into a situation without an expectation place on the other person can be incredibly liberating, and much less fear-oriented.

I also told her about a victory I’ve had in regards to my fear. I don’t get as angry as I used to be…and I’m not as angry at myself either…and when I get angry I’ve put together strategies to help me express it constructively, while allowing myself a way out, in case I need to cool down. It’s a big victory for me, and one I hope to continue capitalizing on.

April 23, 2009 – I don’t think feeling anger is unhealthy. I think holding on to it is…The feeling of compassion isn’t a substitute for feeling anger. You need to feel anger, to really allow yourself to feel it, in order to move on from it. Compassion that stymies anger just leads to more anger and unhappiness…compassion which comes after anger is felt and expressed, is the seed of forgiveness, which allows us to move on from what angered us, while also forgiving the people involved (though not necessarily forgetting). Forgiveness is not condoning what happened. Forgiveness is moving past what happened so you can heal.

4-26-09 Something I’ve been trying to do more, with varied levels of success is just being quiet and present with my fear. Sometimes it works…and sometimes it doesn’t. when it does work, I can quiet the tapes and when it doesn’t work, I have to find a distraction for those tapes. When it works, I’m finding a way to meet the underlying need, and consequently, I feel more present and involved in my life, because that need isn’t defining the situation I’m in.

5-01-09 I haven’t been writing as much this month, but the last two days provided ample fodder, as it were, for this month’s working. I went camping, and went to a radical faerie Beltaine, by myself, as much to get away from my really busy schedule of late, as for the opportunity to meet someone I know online who was going to be there. This person is going through a lot of similar spiritual work with emptiness right now…in fact, I felt like I met my mirror…in terms of the fears and other issues we are dealing with.

Going to this event, I realized I was likely one of the few straight people there, if not the only one and the entire time I was there, I felt out of place…It was a good reminder to me of the fact that people at the event, that people of skin colors and ethnicities which aren’t Caucasian deal with this feeling of out of placedness, or marginalization, or whatever on a daily basis. I only had to deal with it for a day and then I could go back into the world and not think about it. It reminds me of how easy it is to take for granted how, in some ways, I don’t have to think about or worry about what others will think. Honestly, if I’m conscious of anything, it’s my gender. I’m male, and being male, I recognize that what I say or do can be taken in a variety of ways…but even that awareness is something I had to learn.

And going to this event reinforced that that I don’t identify with the pagan subculture that much…I haven’t identified as such for a while, but it comes home to me occasionally that as I continue to make some fairly comprehensive lifestyle changes, my identity changes as well. And while I will always practice magic, that practice doesn’t automatically confer onto me a label of being a pagan, occultist, or whatever. Well it may for some people viewing me, but not necessarily my own perception of it.

Actually, I realized that in a lot of ways, my emptiness work is really about purging myself of what is holding me back identity wise…what I’ve been clinging to out of fear, anger, lust, whatever else…all as a desire to fill myself up with whatever, so I wouldn’t have to face myself. In choosing emptiness, choosing to sit with emptiness, I’m also seeing all the rot in myself…and as I clear out that rotting, what I’m left with is an awareness of what has held me back, both in my personal choices, my fears, and yes even my associations. I still plan on writing books about magic, because I have something to say about magic, even as I plan to continue running the nonfic line of immanion press, but as I mentioned to a friend recently, I’m not really in touch with the majority of people in the occult subculture anymore. I have a small group of friends I work with on a regular basis…a few others I talk shop with…and that’s all I need and want. At one time, it would’ve been a different answer, but that answer was based from a place of fear…this one is based from a place of authenticity with myself. And it extends to the rest of my choices as well…This year’s helping me prioritize my life choices, as much as it’s helping me face and embrace myself.

5-4-09 “Once there was nothing that turned itself inside out and became something” – Sun Ra The path of emptiness isn’t just about nothing…rather it is also about becoming. Emptiness strips away the delusions, lies, and falsehoods…the masks we give ourselves, but it also reveals the potential we have as well. It shows us the possibilities. I feel like I’ve started to swing around to the other side of emptiness, to that discovery of possibility. It’s always been there to some degree, but I’m more open to it, because I’m living in the moment., and not letting my issues obscure the awareness of possibility. This is revealing to me…just how much my fear has stopped me from realizing my potential.

5-6-09 I’ve been reading Kissing the Limitless by T. Thorn Coyle, and in it she talks about the concept of self-possession, saying that self-possession is the process of becoming consciously aware and awake. And reading about it really speaks to my own realization that my own journey is one of self-possession and that lately I have felt a level of confidence and self-assuredness about myself and my interactions, which I’d never previously felt before. That isn’t to say I still don’t have my moments of insecurity, but I’m able to recognize those moments for what they are and sit with them much more than I’d previously done before.

At the same time, the moon goddess pointed out something, which I’m going to spend more time with. She said that while she definitely noted that I could be very open, she also noticed a guarded secretiveness as well. And I have to agree it is there…I’m aware of it, and I’m aware that it’s roots go back to the abuse I experienced early on. Such guardedness is typical of situations where abuse has occurred, but in the here and now, do I need such guardedness?

5-09-09 I’ve been meditating further and doing some thinking about where I want my emptiness work and therapy work to go. I think I’m ready to untangle the guarded secretiveness I sometimes inhabit. I’m aware of it. I’m aware of some ideas for handling it. The first step is talking about it, opening up about it…not just with people I know, but really with myself. What are my reasons for doing it…do those reasons apply now? And I know some of those reasons go right back to growing up in a situation where keeping secrets was a way of staying out of trouble…the less they know, the less they can use to hurt you. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other reasons. And what does all that have to do with emptiness…it’s another dysfunctional outlet for the unhealthy relationship I have with it.

On a different note, I found myself in a situation where I realized how I felt about someone had shifted a bit. It wasn’t a bad shift, but I also recognized that while it was good to acknowledge that shift, it didn’t mean I had to act on it…and in fact perhaps it was best to just acknowledge the shift and leave it at that. No planning, no trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. Just acknowledgment, acceptance, and letting it be…And that was really empowering.

5-10-09 Today found me in a situation where I needed to express feelings of hurt about behavior that my wife has sometimes exhibited toward me. I was upset, even a little angry, and yet I was able to express those emotions in a manner which was fairly straightforward, emotive, and yet not over the top. I didn’t blow up or yell I did raise my voice a bit, which was fine. Most importantly I allowed myself to really feel my emotions and express those emotions, but I did so respectfully to her. And that, to me, is what all this meditation and other work is about. It’s not denying the emotion, but it also isn’t letting it control me. It’s accepting it, acknowledging it, feeling it, and expressing it and also letting it go instead of holding on to it. This is a good approach to handling my anger, fear, and yes hurt. I’m also pleased because I could actually express how I felt, without trying to hide it. I’m getting better at speaking up, instead of holding things in.

5-11-09 I was talking with a friend today about the occult subculture and how nutty it can be sometimes. The power plays, the politics, and also depending on what groups you know of and are affiliated with, the racism as well. A year ago, even half a year ago, despite what disillusionment I might’ve felt, I wouldn’t have imagined myself moving away from the occult subculture as much as I feel I have. And it’s not that I’ve moved away from my magical practice or spiritual beliefs, because those are still very relevant to my life, but rather that I continue to move away from the occult subculture itself, as well as the baggage that goes with it. A person can have a spiritual practice and beliefs and yet limit participation in the subculture that the spirituality and beliefs are usually affiliated with. I don’t think I’ll ever completely leave the occult subculture, but the emptiness work continues to reveal what is and isn’t relevant in my life, in this moment.

I’m also continuing to work with some of my desires and how those desires get expressed. I don’t believe in denying desire, but I do believe in finding healthy ways to exercise it. In the past, one of my greatest challenges was exercising my desire in healthy ways. A lot of times I used my desire to avoid emptiness, and while I think I do that less now than I used to, I also know there are times when I still look to my desire to fill up my emptiness. old habits die hard. I know as I continue to work with this, it becomes less of a struggle, but this is a persistent work in progress for me.

5-13-09 In her book Kissing the Limitless, T Thorn Coyle talks about how sex is part of how we connect to the divine and that when we try to grasp at sex to fulfill a yawning void in our lives, we are actually moving away from the divine. That point and a realization that sometimes sexual activity has come from a place of anger and unhappiness with my main relationship really has shown me a lot more of the roots of the dysfunction in my relationship to sex. It’s not easy to look at that or feel it. I feel weak today.

5-15-09 I’ve been pondering what I wrote above for the last two days. As I’ve sat with my sexual desires and where a lot of those desires originate from, I feel like I’m ready to move away from using them to try and fulfill my emptiness. I already know nothing can fill the emptiness. I’m also tired of struggling with these desires…and yes I’ve said that before, but just as I once struggled with cutting myself, and recognizing that cutting myself was an addiction, so do I realize that some of my other choices and behaviors also could be addictive…get hooked on a few seconds of bliss, makes all your problems go away…then you come back to Earth and you feel worse than before…or at least more empty. That’s how it’s always been. My fear, with my sexual desires, is a really a fear of of that emptiness, of letting myself fully feel it…just as I felt the same with my anger and fear…It’s really being present, really being aware of what my sexual desires are and no longer trying to use them to run away from the emptiness I also need to be present with.

5-16-09 Last night we went to a play party. I met several people there, flirted had fun, and later emailed them. I only heard back from one and it was evident that she’d responded more out of politeness than any genuine interest. I feel embarrassed and ashamed. While my emails were merely stating an interest in getting to know the people I’d met, I still feel as if I’ve somehow walked over boundaries I didn’t know existed. And that right there has always been one of my fears and issues with my own desire. How do I balance the expression of my desire with the awareness of the boundaries of others. In the past, I’d tend to favor the expression of my desire over the awareness of others…In the last year and a half I’ve slowly, but surely changed that. My expression of my desire too often has come from a place of trying to fill up something within myself, with little or no regard for how it affected others. And sometimes it still does.

I sit with that sometimes and other times I fight it. If there has been one issue in this emptiness working which has been more difficult than the others, it is desire. Fear has been hard, anger as well, but desire is the underlying fuel for those emotions as well, because I’ve realized time and again that even my expressions of anger and fear have stemmed from a desire to fill myself up, to be whole, instead of feeling like an endless hole. Sex is one expression of my desire, but I’ve found other expressions via consumerism, need for attention, etc., which have spoken as insidiously to me of trying to fill something within myself.

I don’t think experiencing desire is a bad thing, but I think the U.S. culture has an unhealthy relationship with desire…or maybe it’s just me who has an unhealthy relationship with desire. It just seems to me that sometimes the achievement of desire is valued far more than the recognition of the consequences for achieving that desire. I have valued the achievement of desire more than I have recognized the impact that achievement has had on other people. Yet that achievement has lead to a lot of suffering for me. Satisfaction hasn’t been achieved…if anything the opposite of it, dissatisfaction has been felt more keenly as the years have rolled on.

Conversely this year of emptiness has seen me happier and happier, partially because I’ve come to better grips with my anger and fear, and emptiness, but also because I’ve been been learning to sit with my desire more, instead of acting on it so much. I still feel torment about my desires. I still suffer, though at least that suffering isn’t extending to people around me nearly so much as it did in the past. I’m still learning that delicate balance of enjoying my desire, while also recognizing when the expression of desire goes overboard and becomes an attempt to fill something up.

Fear taught me a lot…but desire…I’ve talked about it a lot throughout this working, but I haven’t that much with it yet. And perhaps it took sitting with my fear to get to this point, because if there is something I can say I am afraid to face, it is my desires. I’ve expressed them, but have I really sat with them or talked to them, or just been present with them? No…because I have been afraid to do that. It is scary to sit with my desire and fully acknowledge it. But now is as good a time as any to start.

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