Before I fully dive in, I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude for the support, encouragement, and appreciation of my weekly posts. Although writing is a means of catharsis and an avenue of passion, my grandiose intention is one of service. I can recall stating this in my late teens (amidst my treatment journey): Through the expression of my pain and process, it is my sincere hope that other beings feel met and understood in their own. This was said as I reflected on how utterly alone I felt in the depths of my suffering. In listening to an interview with Karen Rinaldi, Senior Vice President of HarperCollins Publishers, one sentiment struck me. Karen expressed (please note this is being regurgitated and paraphrased): The writing process itself is deeply personal. During this purgative process, the story is your own. Once the story is completed and is released to the masses, it is no longer your story. Upon hearing this, time slowed, which is often indicative that further contemplation is required. After mulling this over for a couple of days, I have reached an understanding and wholeheartedly agree. As an individual reads a blog, an article, a novel, a biography, etc., it is interpreted through the lens of their experiences. Thus, the story becomes their own. Evidently, the plight of a writer is to create content that resonates with the audience enough that it can be interpreted through their own eyes. Those are large shoes to fill, so please don’t judge me too harshly. In any case, it is an honour to be a voice that permeates your mind.
There remains a burning curiosity in relation to last week’s topic of codependency, so this #thoughtfultuesday will continue to unpack human connection in a different light. As I have formerly stated, I am a rampant consumer of podcasts. TED content in its entirety is near the top of my preferred list. TED Radio Hour collects TED Talks and Interviews on a specific topic and compiles them into a single one-hour episode. Today’s winner was, “How We Love”. There were many golden nuggets scattered throughout this episode; too many to recount. Given that I am witnessing this content through my own perspective, I will attempt to relay it in a way that is universally meaningful. Surely, like me, you have you encountered the intoxicating experience of romantic connection. If not, some may find this melancholic, but I consider you to be one lucky bugger because you don’t have a template for what you are missing. In hindsight, apologies for that uttering, as it is both a bias and projection. But I suppose it adequately demonstrates my undeniable humanness, flaws and all. For me, this experience is almost otherworldly; a virtually enhanced version of this life. In this temporary state, life is more grandiose, colourful, and opportunistic. Unsurprisingly, this state (which we will call love for practicality’s sake) stimulates the same reward pathway as drugs and alcohol, and a myriad of other dopamine-releasing substances/behaviours, as has been thoroughly researched by Helen Fisher. It is no wonder that I feel such an intense craving for love. This also explains why close relationships with friends and family don’t fully fill the void. Another nugget to mention is rooted in the fact that love is not only a state, but rather a full experience which permeates all aspects of our being; cognitively, sensationally, and spiritually. If you answered yes to the intoxicating experience, then you are also familiar with the fall from the dopamine high back to reality. Eminem accurately depicts this in his lyrics, “Snap back to reality, ope there goes gravity….” Fisher notes that the fallout from love, more commonly known as heartbreak, is visible in the same regions of the brain that we experience physical pain. The scale and intensity of this pain is similar to that of a piercing toothache. Science provides a perfectly procured explanation as to why heartbreak can be viscerally excruciating.
Now that the latest in neuroscience has been adequately explored, it is my intent to hone this in on a personal level. As I have been engaging in personal work on entrenched issues and altering patterns, I have been rather perplexed by my reactions to romantic connections. What I was once attracted to and found a sense of safety in now elicits a trauma response. This has happened with two separate individuals, both of whom are incredibly loving. I am fully aware that my reaction to each of these men was not about them personally, but rather was a response to a subconscious energetic presence. In both of these scenarios, these men re-entered my life after many years of separation and expressed their fondness for me. Allowance for the reconnection was not founded on immediate romantic interest, but rather one of curiosity and openness on my end. In their physical presence, I was in a pure state of panic. Every cell of my being was vibrating on high alert and my mind was urging me to flee. My nervous system was blaringly telling me I was in imminent danger. All of this was occurring simply by being in proximity to these beings; there was no direct physical contact, only verbal communication, of which they were expressing their feelings towards me. Your reaction to these accounts is likely as perplexed as my own. I was completely blindsided by these responses and had no means of comprehending what was unfolding. All I was able to do was ride out the intensity of the waves of panic. When I reached a lull, I would attempt to coherently express myself, only to be hit with another tsunami. In real time, this occurred with them as witnesses. Ease was only found when they were asked to leave. In my aloneness, I tried to unfold and describe these reactions; I was suffocating. Something about these interactions elicited the feeling that my soul was being latched onto and the life was being squeezed out of me. Undoubtedly, I was not in physical danger and these men were once cherished. What had changed? A more fitting question would be, What hasn't changed? Even though I do not question that they had strong feelings for me on a soul level, I am not the woman I once was. You see, the past Sherise had to die to become the present Sherise. There are undeniably remnants of my past self in my present self, but to move through the assaults on my being, many aspects of then Sherise had to perish. When I reflect on this process, it is similar to that of a phoenix. In Ancient Greek Folklore (which was popularized by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series), the phoenix is a near immortal bird that cyclically regenerates. A phoenix obtains new life by rising out of the ashes of its predecessor. This too was my process of regeneration. Esther Perel’s work was referenced in the TED Radio Hour I have been alluding to throughout, which provided me with some perspective on the aforementioned encounters. Perel notes that our attraction template evolves over time, which has been blatantly apparent in my life. Perhaps the most pertinent piece of information relates to an intrinsic desire for autonomy. “Love rests on two pillars: surrender and autonomy. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness.” This resonates profoundly. In these circumstances, I felt the collision and enmeshment of souls. What was absent was separateness. It was as if their souls were invading and intertwining with my soul. Previously, I did not have an awareness of my soul and accordingly this type of connection was incredibly alluring. Presently, this consumption-type energy is terrifying. On the whole, the learning from this life is that surrender can only be met through separateness. Once our separateness is identified and understood, it becomes our channel to surrender and paradoxically an avenue for connection. So, my confidantes, do not fear deep self-exploration and never abandon or compromise your essence.
Have a wonderful bountiful lustful week,