Bathing the Cat

I meditated again a couple days ago. It was like giving a bath to a cat.

Letmeoutofhere!letmeoutofhere!letmeoutofhere! After ten minutes I was panting and bloody. On the inside at least.

I started a couple months ago. On November 24th to be exact. On that day, I decided that after a couple weeks of paralyzing anxiety over the election, the one thing that I could do – or at least the first thing – was to improve access to my own calm. I had a feeling that with the shitstorm ahead that I was going to need it.

I made it 31 days in a row! At least ten minutes. Except for that night when I drank too many margaritas and all I could manage was five...But other than that, ten minutes! Or more! I meditated on the floor of my living room, with a lit candle, or sitting on a pillow on my bed. But my favorite place to meditate was the boulder in the middle of Longfellow creek.

Now it’s too fucking cold. But that’s not why I stopped. I stopped because

On day 32, I totally forgot. Really. Not like I thought of it in the morning and then thought “No, I’ll do it later.” I never once thought of it. Until the next morning when I realized I’d broken my streak.

Fuckfuckfuck.

I haven’t been able to get back into it. I think I got two days in a row at the most in the last couple weeks.

But last night, I’d committed to doing ritual with my roommate and a friend. I was dreading it. I didn’t want to do ritual, because I didn’t want to have to be a hostess, and take care of everyone, and plan the whole fucking thing and priestess everyone else’s shit. And I didn’t want to do ritual because, like meditation, ritual requires you to face yourself and feel your feelings and slow the fuck down.

I really didn’t want to.

Letmeoutofhere!letmeoutofhere!letmeoutofhere!

Plus, both of these friends are going through stuff, each in their way, and I didn’t want to deal. I wanted to be the selfish bitch who sent them both a text that said “I’ve overplanned and I need you two to carry on without me.”

Man, I thought about writing that text. I phrased it and rephrased it. I said to myself “You know what, Self? You have a lot going on and you don’t need this. I mean, yes, one friend just had her heart broken and the other one is fighting cancer. Yes. Okay. The nice thing to do would be to show up and be a good person. But you know what Self? You don’t need that! What you need is a glass of chardonnay and an early ferry to go see your boyfriend. What you need to do is to keep drinking and fucking and not thinking about… I mean, just because they are going through stuff doesn’t mean you have to go through it! They are the ones with the problems! They can be there for each other!”

I’m not holding back, am I? Not very nice. Not very likable.

This is what I’m like sometimes.

But you know what? I think that’s okay. Because I remember that one of my heroes in this world, writer Anne Lamott, says that we should “never compare our insides to other people’s outsides.” And most of the time I manage to be like this only on the inside. Most of the time, I manage to hold myself accountable for the shit I actually say and do, not the content of my cat-in-a-bathtub-brain, which was saying all that shit because it wasn’t my friends’ stuff I was avoiding at all.

It was mine.

When I thought “They are going through some stuff, and I need to take care of me,” what I actually meant was “I am going through some stuff. And I’ll do almost anything to not feel it.”

I discovered this when what I actually did was show up. We started by checking in. The cat sat next to me on the couch – the real one, not the wild one in my mind – and my pals started to share and we saw each other. We checked in for forty minutes, one by one. About cancer and heartbreak and fear and disconnection from self.

And then we ate some chips and dip and apples and chicken salad because we were suddenly starving.

And then we cast the circle and called in the elements with a simple song.

And then, just as my roommate had suggested, without me having to construct a big fat hairy ritual all by my poor me self, we meditated together in sacred space for ten minutes.

And it was STILL like giving a bath to a cat! As soon as I got quiet, all I could hear was “It’s the end of the holiday break! I was going to get so much more done! I was going to stop focusing on getting things done and be so zen! It’s the end of the break and I did it wrong! Letmeoutofhere!letmeoutofhere!letmeoutofhere”

But I stuck with it. Because I wasn’t alone and because I can do this. I can do magic, I can meditate, I can face myself, even though sometimes I feel like I am getting carved up by anxious kitty claws when I do. Because I need access to my own calm. And you know what? It was such a relief when I finally slowed down enough to see what was making me run around and avoid and worry. Ok, granted, it was for maybe 30 seconds out of the ten minutes. But that time was a patch of blue sky that I know now, that I remember, that is inside me and that I don’t want to let go of again.

That was day one. Today is day two. I haven’t done it yet, but I’m not going to let a wet cat scare me.

Happy New Year.