Sensing evolution

Is “sensing” becoming the new normal, the regular parlance of our world…perhaps especially amongst women (it is, after all, the natural domain of “the feminine”)? I’m hearing the term used such a lot these days and the reason I tend to notice is that I have always operated this way; its always been front and centre of my life-skills to sense rather than “think into” a situation, but its not always been so easy to talk about it. Not so many moons ago, if you mentioned you “sensed” something rather than knowing it, you would so often be met by raised eyebrows or a roll of the eyes but these days I sense (ha!) more acceptance of the skill and certainly more people are starting to explore it, in broad daylight, without so much cringing as before, which is (in my view) a very good sign.

For some of us, its a known trait due to our particular personality stack (try combining Introverted Intuition with Extroverted Sensing, as per an INFJ…) to be able to sense substantial things in our environment with a kind of sixth sense the same way as others might gather empirical data employing the usual five senses, and its not always fun to live with, either. If your senses have to be “out there” checking for comfort, or danger, in every moment before you can take your next step, because you happen to be wired that way, this can lead to the kind of over stimulation and general exhaustion and overwhelm that I talked about in yesterday’s post Trick of the Light, which can then lead to all types of “crashes” occuring (in my case, a health crash), depending on how early the trait came on board and how overstimulated life has made it. It can also make you seem “irrational”, hesitant or hard to relate to and you have to learn to constantly advocate for yourself when having very strong grounds for why you do or don’t do certain things to a whole host of people who just don’t get your “reasoning”, which can be exhausting and alienating unless you surround yourself (as I have…eventually) with people who respect your sensing abilities.

For me, this tool kit was fully active from day one and I can clearly recall using the parlance of sensing all the time to my bewildered parents and some (not all…thankfully my sister “gets it”) of my siblings. For instance, I would frequently declare that this thing/place/person “feels funny” and I don’t like being near it or want to proceed, etc. When this is met with constant annoyance, disbelief and even censure, you can start to shove the trait deep underground, but it doesnt go away. You know you live by its information, come what may, and nothing will ever iron that out of you, however much people may want you to conform to “normal” benchmarks of decision-making.

Yet as you mature the trait, it becomes a gift and even a super-power, especially once you are an adult and thus a free agent to make your own choices. Used to navigate the right restaurant to eat in, when to hurry out of a dark alleyway, or a road junction right before the crash unfolds, or “just knowing” you’ve met your lifelong partner on first brief encounter, and when you’re quite confident you’ve found your new home of the next twenty years though you’ve only just put one foot over the threshold, it is that superpower and no mistaking. I’ve done all those things and more, beautifully navigated via my sensing skillset. Once, I changed the date of a ticket on a European train to the same time but in a different week, on what felt like a last-moment whim (though I really felt the strong compunction to make the change) only for that original train to be subjected to a terrorist attack, and that’s just one example of many. I’ve had more near-misses than I can count over the course of my life but what I mainly focus on by choice is that I narrowly, gratefully, avoided whatever it was and made some great if unaccountable decisions, and am still here to tell the tale.

So it struck me as interesting to discover last night that my artwork The Yellow Window has been used to accompany an article in Vogue (I’m terribly thrilled about that, by the way) featuring author Elizabeth Day, who talks about how she decided not to purchase a “perfect” house that didn’t feel right in various subtle ways, and for very good reason as it turned out. This sudden awakening to how important having a sixth sense can be, and how strongly she sensed the subtle clues not to proceed with the original purchase, inspired the “chilling” plotline of her latest novel “Magpie”.

Vogue Australia Oct 2021

Paradoxical really, as the painting in question is one I associate with extremely good and light, positive feelings and, in my opinion, the reason its been my most successful artwork to date is that its tanked full of all the good vibes that I painted into it. Just as real as any of its yellow-hued pigment on canvas, those good feelings were literally overspilling out of me onto the canvas like a kind of energetic “paint” of their own as I recalled all the wonderful feelings I had about that room, the gorgeous view, the much-loved people with me at the time (it was from a memory of the morning of my neice’s wedding and she and both bridesmaids, including my young daughter, were getting ready in the room behind me as I gazed out of the window at that golden view). In essence, I had bottled the positive feeling and enscapsulated it onto the canvas, into the artwork for posterity, so that (hopefully) when people look at it they sense the very same frequencies of golden light, love, gratitude and radiant, uplifting beauty coming at them as part of the overal effect.

In fact, this is a topic I suddenly recall writing about once before (back in 2014, in a post entitled Windows of Insight) when a stroke of synchronicities led to the sale of the original painting to a couple who had been trying so hard to track it down for two years since first spotting it hanging in a one-week exhibition during an art festival. It had left such a strong impression on them that they had employed a commercial gallery to try and track it down but were only ever offered substitutes to try out on their wall, none of which they kept, so they were overjoyed to finally find me. Until then, it had worked its magic hanging on the central wall of my house (right in “its heart”, you could say) where the very curl of the stairs begins, so that we were all forced to walk past it a zillion times a day and I really liked sensing it there. So, at first, I was so reluctant to part with it but then and I very-much felt like it had worked its charm for me, nudging me to realise important things about myself and my health-journey, and was now ready to go and hang on somebody else’s wall, especially as that someone was so attached to it, in fact I could sense it had found the perfect home to go to (I always like to sense when, and to whom, my paintings fly). Meanwhile, its become one of my most successful prints and commercial images, and now this. Mainly, I just like to think of it getting out there to be seen, hopefully spreading good vibes.

So, really, its far from inappropriate that it should find itself attached to an article about sensing when not to hang around in a particular place…not at all….because the whole point of sensing is to be able to discern when to go ahead, and when not to; there is always a yang to the yin, as a law of the universe. Sometimes you just have to get “the chills” in order to know which way to go because those hairs standing up on end tell us things, both positive and less so. In fact, the whole balance of the Yellow Window painting depends on shadow and light; you can’t have the one without the other and it only “works” as a composition because there are both, highlighting the radiance of the view. As I’ve discovered in my own life, for every set of uncomfortable feelings, there are an equal number of comfortable ones to be found…if we but allow ourselves to be more discerning, using our innate skills, which so often go deeper and can be trusted so much more than a lot of the information that comes in at us, bamboozling us, from “outside” of ourselves these days. There is just so much informational “noise” out there and we desperately need to learn how to lean into ourselves, and trust ourselves, far more than we have been entrained to do by a world that leans so heavily on “proof”.

So, in an era when things “not being quite what they seem” is so rife in our world, we really, really need to bring this skillset onboard, and then some. Interpreting those inexplicable “off” feelings we sometimes pick up on, as well as noticing (and relishing!) all the most positive ones, is something we need to get a whole lot better at, or at least we need to cease ignoring them just because they’re “not rational” (as is explored in the article) because they so-often hold substance and our felt senses know much more than our minds, a great deal of the time. And if we really are on the verge of a “sensing revolution”, and if popular literature exploring the theme is going to help bring that to people’s attention some more, then I can see why this particular painting would want to be there; it all feels pretty joined up to me!

You can view The Yellow Window on my website www.helenwhite.org (for print options contract me).

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Trick of the light

Asking myself, instead of flailing around in search, I find I readily have all the answers I need. And what I find is that a very highly sensitive, intuitive child was born into a somewhat chaotic, highly-strung, though loving, family scenario in a very small overcrowded house, to over-stressed parents, and I went quickly into fight, flight or freeze mode. I went into it so much, so concertedly and often that it became my norm, though nobody knew, least of all me. When school bullying issues and “not fitting in” added to the triggers and it felt like there was no relenting, this state stuck in the “on” position for a great deal of the time. I had no idea other people didn’t feel so overwhelmed, or if they did…all I knew was what I was immersed in.

Nature/outdoors and books were my respite…those and certain TV programs and music and art. Yet it all got much worse in winter when I felt trapped in the chaos and heaviness of proximity with others who triggered me even more. In summer, and in my escapism, the roof lifted off this compressed feeling somewhat but the dark months felt/feel like the lid has clanged back on and as though I’m stuck here, wrong person, wrong frequency, wrong time and place. Where was all the light? Why wasn’t love the primary motivator? It felt as though I was asking this from my soul, from the very first moment…but I wasn’t, ever, depressed, just bewildered and trying tirelessly to make it feel better.

Christmas was meant to be the light in the dark but who were/are they trying to kid…I quickly picked up that this “concept” of the perfect time (for that’s what it really is) only exacerbates everyone’s stress and unconsciousness the more and then their mass irritability spirals out of control because of so many empty aspirations, the shallowness of so much of it; surely they could/can all feel its more facade than substance? As the sensitive child, I felt all at sea and often drowning, even as my heart broke over again because the light-of-lights hadn’t turned out to be as expected, for all the build-up. Did everyone else feel this disappointment (hard to tell…they never discussed it)? It would stomach punch me, year after year, and nothing to do with disappointment over presents. Other people’s behaviours certainly spoke of more distress than could be explained at surface level yet, every year, they dialled up the same expectations, on repeat…still do. Like the child-anthropologist, I was as fascinated as I was confused.

As an “empath” and a “fixer” I felt extra-loaded with responsibility to be good and make things better at that time of the year and that became the long-lasting Christmas tradition of my life…get everyone else what they want, negotiate peace at all costs or feel doomed in my purpose for being here. My own sense of magic was quickly dispelled, all too too early, by a sibling so-eager to drag me into the “reality” that it was all made up…the magic of Christmas wasn’t real, I had been duped!

All that spiteful act really did, apart from demonstrating more absence of love, was confirm the worst of my steadily amassing fears, that which I had already started to sense, being that the world itself was devoid of magic; those half-remembered other dimensions I came in with were all but a dream. I was indeed stranded here, all alone in an alien world that felt/feels so very dark, heavy, low-frequency, by and large. It’s how I’ve continued to feel all my life, for all the tireless quests in search of light, the daily search-party I send out into the mists in pursuit of what I refuse to put down, being the idea of a benign and loving reality where we can trust one another to meet us as we are and to do the right things, a world where peace and equality reign. I wished for this 365 days a year, all my life, not just on Christmas eve…

Our world continues to sing one tune and deliver something else…and Christmas continues to be the biggest bare-faced lie of them all. People fake all the magic in landfill-loads of plastic goods but the majority lack very much light or signs of awareness in their hearts; its all about “seeming” like without so much substance. I still turn to fantasy for affirmations that the spirit of Christmas does, or could, exist but I don’t find it very much in real life. The season always makes me want to withdraw till its all over.

So this disillusionment feeling (perhaps disillumination is better, as in a seeming lack of light) slipped in when I was a child and the world still feels desperately dark, heavy, sludgy like goo stuck to my boots. Day after day, I rise up striving to believe that there is light here, other than what sunlight delivers to my garden or that the birds so tirelessly sing about…but I still struggle, really struggle…mostly at this dark end of the year. It’s as though it closes in on me as the cloud-cover pulls over; hard not to feel hopeless, to not want to rise up any more but just become inert, surrendered to the feeling. It’s my hardest time of year, by far, as we enter the final month before solstice, and my body shouts it out in symptoms, try as I might to ignore it. Normally, I can always pull myself up by the bootstraps, and I still can…just, but it takes about all I’ve got when my body feels this lousy.

The difference these days is that I know that if I was to die tomorrow then, in an instant, all the sludge would clear away and all would be light…even the worst of it. All that feels so difficult, so messy, hopeless or relentless down here would seem oh-so simple, coherent even, and all would indeed be light, just as the sun never goes out above the clouds. This is the real trick of the light…that it never ever left us. The fact that it appears so absent is the trickery of our own perception, ingrained into our hard-learned human patterning, the ways of the flesh.

Getting to where I know that Truth moment to moment, “down here”, is my life’s work, ongoing. The spirit is willing but, having started so early in my profound disillusionment, my body shows all the signs of many decade’s wear and tear. This is still the heavy baggage to be put down, to be overcome so I can embody light, and I continue, even as just so many ingrained beliefs, doubts and fears try all the harder to disillusion me of my light….both inside and out (our world is full of them). We all take our knocks and our bodies wear the scars.

A lifetime’s worth of fight, flight or freeze response plays out as a bundle of “syndromes” that create havoc for my autonomic nervous system. When in “flight”, I’m over-stimulated, obsessive, a little too wired or on the edge of manic in my need to make good all that seems to be “wrong”and its not sustainable, or the right approach to get anywhere. In “freeze” my entire body takes this mandate a little too literally as the plaster-cast of rigid pain that locks all my muscles into fibro and the kind of fatigue that feels like being stuck in a vat of glue, day after day. When in “flight”, my nervous system suddenly decides it has to run for it, so all the blood pools to my legs, leaving my head spinning, my heart racing and the shock blood-supply to extremities resulting in the kind of hypermobility that returns me a body made of chewing gum instead of concrete…different, but it still isn’t going anywhere. This is what a fudged belief system looks like in the flesh…we see it, daily, in our world of under- and over-reactions but pitifully little forward traction.

So, stuck like this, I find no happy medium…my entire system is a series of automatic responses to an “old old” situation that has me feeling triggered just from the very fact of being alive in a largely incomprehensible world, at this particular time in our history and when it happens to be at this level of (un)consciousness. It’s as though I am from some other time…whether future or past…just, in a nutshell, some very different era that leaves me feeling fundamentally misplaced and reacting; my attempts at higher awareness and acceptance most earnest and sincere yet flagging from long-weary effort against the apparent tide of “what is”.

As ever in my life, the dark months only make it all feel so much worst, exacerbating the effects that are easier to deny when summer’s light fills most of the spaces. The same could be said of “these times”; they exacerbate all that already felt “off” but perhaps easier to cover-over or ignore in brighter times, before we landed with both feet into this mess, and now no denying it, there is work to be done. The dark will always show us what is missing, what we too-long denied, so we either curl up in a ball, frozen and inert, surrendered to our fate, or we pull hard upon those boot straps and we change our broken beliefs from the inside out.

Christmas, as ever, is the great multiplier of the effect; salt in the wound, pretending as ever it does that most people are of good heart and wide awake to the potential of love to transform when really they are mostly fixed upon consuming, consuming, demanding and consuming. I see no let-up, at this time of the year, to the long-running pantomime of pretended enlightenment used to cover up a dark hole of entitlement and self-interest. Then, all the extra demands of the season only add to fatigue and sensory overwhelm, it all feels too much; a perfect storm of too-much-ness.

Still, I grip onto a childish idea of magic made apparent, made real, allowed by mass concensus to rule for a day…and that, perhaps this time, it will wake everyone up, deed done or at least well on its way. Everyone will bring forth their best self and the armoury of forgetfulness will crack wide open to spill forth the remembrance of who we really are and how we are all connected. I hope…and yet half a century’s dashed hopes start to get to me, in my heart, leaving me core weary of the endless reruns of the season.

Knowing all this is the antidote, seeing the bind is the fix….and I never saw it more clearly than this. Like the full life-review without death, I have the overview, I see the conundrum, I shout-out the bind my body has got into, I bring awareness in to light up the whole picture as it is, I renew my vow to be the light (there is no better way for any of us to do the work) and I stalwartly renew my faith that those of us who landed here feeling most “off” from the very start, who feel down to the soles of our shoes that we are born of another time and consciousness, are here to help be the bridge that gets us there.

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Oh, the paradox!

Although this isn’t a post about health issues as such, I request to draw on the endless pool of useful materials that it provides on my journey towards wholeness. It’s a truth tripped over many times on that journey that the very thing that is most likely to provide remedy for one of my health issues is also, so often, the very thing that could make one or more of my others conditions much worse.

Magnesium is an example; supplements of this being highly recommended for numerous of my chronic pain issues, so I have been diligently taking the recommended dose and even using topical magnesium oil for a few days to tackle rigormortis-like rigidity and pain in my muscles (I was pretty desperate for a remedy before a physically challenging weekend). However, it can also drop blood pressure, which makes my various PoTs symptoms much more severe, as well as triggering IBS (and maybe a touch of toxic dump as muscles release their load of free radicals), all of which has occurred, contributing to a significant flare-up of various other symptoms I had under better control until now.

The same with several of my go-to relaxation remedies which then, ironically, hit my already low blood pressure and make things rather worse for me, whilst also making certain things such as nerve pain feel much better. Or, I turn to opposite remedies such as green tea or more citrus fruit to keep me upright for longer with better immunity and help clear free radicals while I am on the move more, yet they set off a whole load of other symptoms from my extensive range. It’s all such a constant balancing act and source of paradox, turning me into the lifetime student of the topic (whether I want to be or not).

I’ve also lived for 16 years with the paradox that its essential for muscles to be worked regularly through exercise, to achieve good blood supply and move out toxins that have built up in body tissue…yet with chronic fatigue syndrome there is not enough energy, due to mitochondrial dysfunction, to exercise muscles in the same way as other people, therefore use of muscles beyond a very low threshold can lead to spasm (meaning severe and long-lasting cramps), further reducing circulation, allowing more toxins to accumulate and triggering even more pain and fatigue.

Living with such conundrums can feel like a perpetual catch-22 sent to try you when CFS and Fibromyalgia, etc, are part of your picture. It honestly feels as though we are now living in the age of paradoxical health conditions, long-covid included, and whilst they are awful to live with, you can also sense they part of an evolutionary directive from the universe, forcing us out of our linear thinking and rigid diagnostic boxes.

Yet in some ways, this degree of paradox is all business as normal for an INFJ personality type (Myers Briggs), living as we INFJS do in the Land of Many Personal Contradictions. There was a very good article just the other day on Introvert Dear, about all the many paradoxes of the INFJ personality type and if you are one I highly recommend diving in to see if you recognise yourself. The summary, from some of my top paradoxical traits, is:

  • Preferring to be alone yet constantly in search of meaningful community and connection.
  • Free-spirited to a fault yet really needing structure and order.
  • Highly logical yet hugely emotional.
  • Fiercely independent yet constantly distracted by trying to meet others’ needs.
  • So confident in our own values yet able to see things through everybody else’s eyes or even speak up for their standpoint like holding both sides of a debate at once (some people find this trait so annoying).
  • Being a stickler for details, yet always of the BIG picture mindset.
  • Find beauty and opportunities for appreciatation in nearly everything, yet not easily impressed…

What I have come to discover, the more I mature, is that somewhere just beyond paradox lies “godliness” or, put in a more accessible way, that highly elusive quality “wholeness”. Because when you can learn to accept two paradoxical things about yourself, embodying them as Who You Are, you become the house of all things on a spectrum between polar opposites, all living in some sort of makeshift peace together…which is the best we can hope to achieve in this lifetime. We turn our crazy “house” into a home by learning to cohabit with all our traits, with respect and a large degree of overview, from which angle what we really focus on is all the amazement, respect and awe that we can be so unfathomable and yet keep on going…and growing!

When the yin and yang opposites of ourselves can be wedged so firmly side by side, not because of so much push and pull for the same territory forcing them to engage like terrible twins in combat, but because they agree to coincide (a little like agreeing to disagree) then a new kind of peace starts to reign, making things feel a little bit more “alright anyway” than they once were. Once that sense of “its alright-ness” starts to gain even the tiniest space for putting a root down into the ground of our experience, it soon grows and eventually starts to blossom as a new state of normal…one that coexists with that other reality, where everything feels contradictory and hard…helping to make it all feel better.

This is the kind of paradoxical “normal” that allows for many colours, creeds, opinions, expressions and other kinds of diversity to exist together…as the expression of Oneness that we all are. Its a state of Being the Universe, in physical form and sometimes it is those of us that seem to suffer the most that embody that state the more readily, because we’re not so streamlined into this or that version of reality…but into being a taste of everything!

Just the other side of that lifetime’s worth of suffering lies all this vast potential to realise what it is to be so many things at once…and be OK with that, rather than torn asunder. The inner conflict can call a cease-fire and a sort of no-mans-land Christmas can ensue, at least for a while.

Its why, in my way, I have come to love having one of the most paradoxical personality types there is…and even a body that throws ridiculous curveballs, never doing what it is “supposed” to do or making things easy.

I read another excellent post today, Reconnect With Your Loving Yessssss, by Jessica Shepherd, who has also been experiencing a lot of health challenges lately. She quoted a plaque that used to hang in her childhood kitchen reading “Bless this mess”, a sentiment she has drawn upon many times as she has learned to live with. and breathe through, all the intense pain, inviting her divinity into the mess of it all, in order to be more OK with that pain though she would of course rather be without it (I can relate as this mindfulness approach is also my most successful “remedy” approach to date). When we allow what is to just be there, we allow the divine aspect to pour in through the very funnel of all the living paradoxes we embody (each and every one of them being the opportunity to soak up even more grace), and so we evolve.

This is why my health journey has been the biggest evolutionary catalyst yet, a topic (as it happens) discussed in the latest short video released by The Gupta Program “Recovery is a Game of Bowling”, which I will attach below. The more we embody these paradoxical characteristics that we seem to bash against, on one side or the other of our straighter path (the idealised most direct and easy route) through life, the more we learn to course-correct, to find our own middle way, and thus we evolve as we do so. We learn where our sides are and, though knowing them better, we navigate more directly and comfortably “home” to ourselves.

Today I sit here in pain and paradox…including the paradox that I am full of love and gratitude following one of the best weekends for a long time and yet now I am having to find my comfortable place between many symptomatic contradictions which is, as always, work in progress. Yet we keep on trying to find our own way, in all of our ever-varing circumstances, and as we do so, we grow.

Reconnect with your Loving Yessssss – Jennifer Sherpherd, Moonkissed

14 Contradictions that INFJs Experience Nearly Every Day – Introvert, Dear

Recovery is a Game of Bowling – The Gupta Program

Posted in Consciousness & evolution, Health & wellbeing, Life choices, Life journey, Menu, Personal Development, Recovery chronic illness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Light into old structures

The directive was clear, both times…first, to purchase tickets to see Luxmuralis’ latest light creation at Salisbury Cathedral and the second, when that day came about, to visit Old Sarum, a place I hadn’t stopped at for over 30 years.

Between those two directives, a great deal had happened on all my different levels; a very great deal of water passed under the bridge. At the deepest levels, I had gone intensively into Lee Harris’ “Initiation“, his latest course, offering a perfect fit for my present stage of evolution. On the morning after the third, perhaps most personally revelvant, live session, still pulsing with the energy from the night before as I woke up, I learned that my closest friend and soul sister Kat had transitioned in the night (as written about at the end of a previous post).

Of course, I had no prediction of any of this when I bought the tickets several weeks ago, driven by how much I enjoyed Luxmuralis’ last offering local to me, in and around the Radcliffe Camera, the Bodeian Libray and the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford (my photos here), two years ago, at a point in time when the subsequent pandemic and all that came with that would have seemed like a coming armageddon, had I but known about it in advance (thankfully, I didn’t or it might have been a dampener on the evening). Mostly, what I recall is just how uplifted I felt, like I was witnessing something tremendous, spawned out of ancient brickwork by the application of light.

Little did I know, I would come to welcome these new tickets, for an event in Salisbury, all the more by the time the date came around, because of this latest shock-factor, which had left me reeling even though I had known my friend would unlikely make it to Christmas. “We don’t have to go” was offered by my husband but, without hesitation, I knew I really wanted to, almost had to…it was exactly what my soul called for, witnessing extraordinary light flooding into old structures, resculpting them anew; I really craved something out of this world…and I also felt, somehow, it would bring me closer to my friend, perhaps ease my heartache.

The light show, entitled “Heaven and Earth” or “Sarum Light”, had more than a touch of life-review about some of its themes. Witnessing lists of endangered species projected onto a cathedral wall is a mightily powerful thing, loaded wih regretful pathos (we know not what we do)…as is witnessing a hovering blue butterfly as it seemingly breathes in and out the heavy structures of all the massive brick walls around it with every one of its bellows-like though fragile wing motions (the butterfly-effect in action)…and trees taking on a life of their own as they move in and merge with the high gothic arches (surely, trees are what inspired those medieval stone “leaps” to the heavens). This latest show seemed to have sucked in some of the sheer intensity of the last two years and grown up, in the interim, turning into something far more substantial and affecting than the last time…combined with the realisation that I was in such a massive space with more people than I had been around for a very long time. It had the feeling of holding a mass vigil about it; a moment of pause, for the planet and for humanity (and of course, for Kat), and I was so glad to be there.

When the walls became full of bees, I felt Kat all the more, her spirit filling the entire space as though suddenly super-sized all around me, in fact I could feel her glee…Even in her last months, as she faced coming off all the trials and winding-down her attempts to outlive the cancer a second time, she had signed up for an indepth online apiary course that I had sent on to her because of her passion for bees; to the end, always hopeful, engaged, eager and curious…just as bees ceaselessly breathe new life into our planet (or nectar into crumbled masonry, as I recall writing about a long time ago) though we hardly ever stop to appreciate.

So, it was the right call to go there, according to our plan (which made even more sense now), and I felt my friend with me by my shoulder all the way, yet that other part of our outing, Old Sarum, came from nowhere and I was quick to respond with a curious “OK then”. We could stop there mid-morning, en route to Salisbury, before we headed for lunch near the cathedral, before the light show.

A bit like my old haunt “Silchester” (Iron Age “Atrebates”) closer to home, which has been around for wayyy longer than the on-site informationals imply yet all the tourists ever seem to see (or want to see…) are the remnants of Roman-ness, Old Sarum was once a Bronze Age settlement and likely a neolithic one dating back as early as 3000BC and these feel like my layers. Having forgotten (until we pulled up in the carpark) how intact its walls are, compared to Silchester, I did my best to breeze past all the history pointers and imagine what it would be like without most of those walls, dialling right back into the original feeling of the place…whatever it was that drew people to its oddly rounded, perhaps volcanic hump (as is often the case where fault lines exist), to which fortifications were only later added…tuning in deep down and much lower than what still greets the tourist’s eyes, beneath a thousands years’ evidence of patriarchy.

Old Sarum trees: Photo © Helen White

“Down there” in the layers of time, I found a place of huge spirit, important in its time but in far less of a “worldly” sense than later came to pass. I also sensed there was a leyline passing through, or very close, but had no reference as to exactly where it crossed over. Logic would dictate it cut through the centre of the circle, however my eyes and my energy were constantly drawn outside of the ramparts and towards a line of copper trees, so distinctly lit up against a smokey backdrop of distant woodland with the water meadows and river down in the valley below. Here was goddess energy, something far more fluid, though no less potent, than that which had been milked by the builders of castles up on high. Try as I might to spend time on the hill or on the other side of its walls, to walk the full circle, I was constantly drawn back to that other side, to walk the perimeter clockwise, dawdling near those trees, which were now lit up with such coppery fire, as though they had been “switched on” for their very own light show…and then those lights, just as suddenly, turned off again just as surely as though a caretaker had flipped the light switch just as we rounded the corner, back to the far side of the circle once more. It seems, we had been there at exactly the right moment, just in time for the one burst of sunshine all day.

Suddenly, the scene was bitterly cold and gloomy, the trees turned to drabness again. I was reminded that, when such rare November sunshine lights up all the dying leaves on the trees, we witness the incredible upgrade of colour that is autumn exactly at the eleventh hour of the year, right before those leaves start to fall and the trees go into their mini-death of the winter season. Light poured into old structures really is some of the very best we ever get to know; as though stored up for these last moments, a finale.

Of course, when I returned home, I checked for the position of that leyline and, according to my source, this is part of the Duke Line (for Rev Edward Duke’s controversial theory about how this line aligns with the planets see here), which runs from Avebury and through nearby Stonehenge, past Old Sarum, right beneath those copper trees (you can see the trees clearly on the ariel view), forming one side of an energy trine or triangle with the Michael-Mary line and the Apollo line (so good to see something so Brexit-proof as that triangle, for a change). My friend, who was a gifted astrologer, would have loved all this!

Perhaps the original settlers were alright with the leyline being off centre, knowing that to live on top of a ley is an unsettling thing. Perhaps those later folks, Romans, kings and bishops, thought its proxomity would bring them a shot of power…only, it didn’t quite work out that way, so they dismantled their original cathedral at Old Sarum, to move it brick by brick, down into the valley, next to the water meadows, where Salisbury Cathedral now stands.

Somehow, having walked alongside the ley…having acknowledged “I see you” to the original energy powerhouse that attracted people to this spot…I felt like a torch barer for the rest of my day, carrying that inner light down into the light show of the evening, to add it to the mix. Beside me, Kat seemed to smile all the while…she would have been having a blast.

There’s something so powerful about seeing a thousand year old building, beautiful as it is, being softened, resculpted and transformed by nothing more substantial than light. Its a reminder of something important…and that’s all it takes, to be reminded by the demonstration of it.

However set in our ways, however long we have been alive, or the building stood there gathering moss on its roof, layers of dust thickly accumulated, old feelings, emotions, associations good and bad trapped into nooks and cranies, signs of wear and tear mounting with the years, we can always bring in that shot of light and it is as though all is made anew, somehow freshened and transformed.

Perhaps many of the hordes of peoples walking through the vast spaces of the cathedral that evening could feel it too…I think we all felt a little “touched” by the effect…and long may we all carry it into our lives. We had witnessed a resculpting of bricks and space itself; a disorientation that somehow renews. Death is said to be such a disorientation, thus we fear it with all our might…yet, if we could only learn to hold the faith that light is coming, how much more light could we dare to open up to.

I’ve been pulling oracle cards more than usual this week, shuffling well and taking my time but the one that has come up an uncanny number of times is the “Metamorphosis” card. A timely reminder that the process of change is often painful…but it doesn’t have to be. Either way, “if you are to transform from one form to another, a part of you needs to die”. It’s been an open-discussion topic for Kat and I since the very beginning of our friendship, perhaps one of the reasons why we were so drawn to one another at the start. She recognised in me someone who had faced so many micro-deaths over all the years of chronic illness, run parallel with the death of just so many of my former beliefs and egoic structures and, by her side, I have stood more close to death than since my mother transitioned, which was my original spiritual opening-point.

Right to the very end, we had a no-holds-barred openness with one another such that she would video diary or say to me some of her deepest, darkest, and lightest, brightest, realisations, expansions and fears around death as they came to her, way beyond the cultural pro forma dictating how death is “supposed to” be referenced, discussed or handled. I helped to keep her sane as this one outlet where she could express exactly what she was going through, without all the cultural clap-trap, fear and taboos around the topic and, via her courageous explorations, we both experienced huge expansions. I have revisted some of those conversations this week…in tandem with feeling so much awareness around what transition is, as it came to me direct from my ongoing connection with my friend. In these and many other ways, we have somehow managed to shed some serious quanities of light inside some extremely old walls and structures during our friendship, continuing. She was born to be a breaker of moulds and so, for my sins, was I.

Because (if we let it) death opens us up, makes us curious, and we can’t help but be a little touched by its effects when it happens to those we deeply love. Faced with our own ingrained terrors, we may choose to close ourselves down in the face of all that learned cultural fear…leaning into all the near-at-hand “conventional” responses and platitudes or becoming the victim…or we can open ourselves up widely next to that person going through the process, from which hallowed spot we can’t fail to be brushed by some of the expansiveness and light as it comes in to dissolve old structures. That is, both their old structures as they leave the physical realms and also our old structures, especially our old beliefs about “what dealth is” (even as we look our grief straight in the eyes and embark upon our own healing process, for as long as that takes).

What is left is so much light because light does not disolve the light; rather, it becomes even more light. I am quite confident there is plenty of Kat “left” after her transition; I have been feeling her closely since she passed, and I know she will always be with me at some beyond-three-dimensional level, a realisation that brings me much comfort (in some ways, the fact we never met in the flesh set this connection up all the better, since we have become accustomed to feeling one another, even when no words were being spoken). As happened when my mother died (mothers and daughters already have that unspoken connection…) opening up to all this possibility of remaining connected can be the start of our own next evolution towards letting more light in. My mother’s light is as real to me today as it was 25 years ago; and the same applies to Kat, I have no doubt, thus I feel lighter and more blessed for having known them both.

Love, of course, is also left and all that was ever related to love (certain memories, all the many ways you were touched by each other because of that love) remains intact…whilst so many other, unnecessary, structures just seem to dissolve away before your very eyes, as though they never even mattered at all. It’s an important lesson, if we are open to receiving it…and then remembering it, once the initial effect of the “light show” of transition has worn off. If we let it stay with us, touching us, it can change us forever.

We do this by letting go of all those no-longer-needed aspects of ourselves that get highlighted in the process; and I am busily gathering mine, newly spotlit, dispensing with whatever I can afford to lose, to better hold onto that which is most cherished and light-imbuing about our friendship.

Nothing in form is meant to last forever and we are thoroughly deluded (or caught up in some egoic “posterity” trip) if we think it ever will. As I spent some time today filling in some of the rotting wood around my window frames before the winter weather, I knew this was just a makeshift way of delaying the inevitable, and the same applies to all our efforts to preserve forever our bricks and mortar (or anything else made of form), though we can try, for as long as possible, to preserve our most treasured keepsakes, to prolong a life, to bring us some comfort and extension.

Better still, we can review what is most worth keeping without ever locking anything away with such reverence that we dare not ever bring it to the light of day, or reintrpret it, or find it a new use, or give it a cheerful lick of paint, or blast it wide open in some other brand-new way that could be the re-making of it…one of the reasons I so appreciate these light shows held in places of such high antiquity that their preservation orders are well intact and yet, with my very own eyes, I have witnessed them being totally reinvented and transformed beyond belief. Looked at that way, death is just another version of upcycling the best of what we have become, without making the flesh so precious that we are too afraid to let it go. Kat spoke on this topic, most eloquently, as she made her final peace with her situation.

Old Sarum trees: Photo © Helen White

Of course, letting go isn’t easy but, just as a caterpillar must shrug off the last remnants of its former state to become the light-filled butterfly, there is no skipping out this stage of the proceedings. Either we open to the evolution, letting light in (knowing that light can, and does, destroy what is not of the light) or we don’t evolve at all. Kat said to me, in one of her final messages, that she really wasnt so sure she was meant to continue. She could feel the old world imploding, a necessary shift taking shape, and it was beginning to feel to her that she was a part of that shift; that in order to encourage the shift, she also needed to be part of the leaving, making room for the new; how incredible she was. It’s so easy to think dark thoughts when something or someone is “taken away”, or fall back on the reassurance of how things “have always been”, even once they are not working anymore, gripping on at all costs, in preference to change but all that ever does is block out all the light potential of metamorphosis; a message for our times.

Posted in Consciousness & evolution, Divine feminine, Leylines, Life journey, Menu, Personal Development, Spirituality, Symbolic journeys | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Determination (a “feminine” quality par excellence)

I’m going to dive off the bizarre topic of my sudden urge to rewatch “Sex and the City” this week…not because I’m so fascinated by the TV program but from the perspective of the lay quantum historian that I always tend to be on the quiet. I’m quite fascinated by the subject material (and its not so “fluffy” as you might think…the scripts are often pretty astute and invariably amusing) of this long-running series from the point of view of when it occurred and why, at the time, I so strongly connected with it…and now the revisit. I’m going to add, there’s not one iota of the intellectual (or even spiritual!) snob in me to trip me up or determine (that word again…) whether I “should or should not” talk about such piffle. As ever, I’m just wide open and curious as to what brought me back here, and what it tells me about myself and my relationship with “the feminine” over the last two to three decades, which has been a seminal time for that long displaced aspect to start singing its song more loudly in our world.

Because, let’s not forget when that program (and likely others like it) was devised right on top of the turn of the millennium, on the fast-flowing tail winds of the eighth wave activating (for that quantum holographic reference point, search for all my other tagged posts on Dr Carl Calleman’s “Nine Waves of `Creation” book and theory). If, and I believe it did, the feminine aspect came more healthily “back” into the picture of our three-dimensional reality, after eons of cultural alienation, during the 90s and into the millennium, what would it look like on our TV sets; would it look a lot like this homage to handbags and sexual liberation? And how did I respond to it at the time, what did I find so relatable?

Well, at that time I found it hugely relatable. I was the same age-group as its four main female characters….and whilst I was considerably less driven by multiple sexual conquests or Manolo shoes, I had this in common with them….a trait I notice across all of the revisited episodes…sheer, almost feral, determination.

Whatever the situation back then, I brought that very quality to its table…vascilating wildly from the abject trivial to the life-dependent yet it was all the same, I was the most determined person I knew to the point it almost defined me (perhaps in its way, it still does…the core material of this blog as I have waded my way through the subsequent years of bewildering health challenges).

In fact, I really needed it, being the stage of my life when I “had” to be much more career-minded, money focused, social and seen. Over the time phase I was watching S&TC I threw a big wedding, had a child, got divorced, ran a small business, changed jobs more than once, worked for a big corporate, dressed to kill, bought and sold houses, shopped till I dropped, went out (a lot) to restaurants, bars and parties…and all that stuff. All the time, strongly suspecting that none of us were doing these things the way they had been done in the 60s, 70s or even 80s, certainly not the way our mothers did it. We were doing it anew in some uniquely female-oriented way that shouted “I’m determined, get out of my way”. Whether it was the determination to get that “thing” we had our eye on or to survive post-divorce and against all the odds, it was always there, that word…that quality…and we weren’t dialling it down any more, as previous generations had. It was no longer gender suicide to show this quality off or lead with it, no longer this “behind every successful man there’s a determined woman…stood politely in the shadows” thing and I liked this reflected back at me by S&TC. It bolstered my own determination and drive, just when I most needed it. Perhaps I need it again now, hence my revisit!

The program is a giant waving flag to the reality that women have material desires and aspirations too and this isn’t wrong, we just go about it a different way compared to most men. Whether in pursuit of the next orgasm, a pair of shoes, a career progression or a brand new house, we have that intense desire burning holes in us and its allowed, its not flawed or counter feminine to be so. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is exactly feminine; we are that quality, even when a man feels it driving his own aspirations (lets remember that yin and yang are not gender unique but partnered aspects in all of us).

Let’s look at that word “determination” again. According to the Oxford dictionary, it’s “the quality that makes you continue trying to do something even when this is difficult” and it can be fierce, even dogged, holding on to the last. Then there is the word “determine” at its core – to set the intention for something to happen, from the root de – “off” plus “terminare” from terminusend, limit”; to mark the end or boundary. Its like a way of declaring “enough is enough” to a situation as you set about making a new intention.

In a nutshell, this is what the feminine aspect was doing at that millenial juncture in our collective history, in all its forms and inside of us all, regardless of gender. Very good timing, since it was going to take a renaissance of sheer determination to get us through the next few decades, especially the times we are in now – so, back then we were just starting to cut our teeth for the main event yet to come.

If you boil down the plotline of most of the episodes, they pivot on the need to renegotiate the feminine’s relationship with the masculine. Not because it is all powerful and knowing (far from it, as shown) but because, without some sort of understanding arising between feminine “determination” and masculine “reality”, nothing much seems to change, whether that masculine aspect is played-out as a particular mate, a career ceiling or a rigid internal quality that undermines or seals off the most determined feminine flow.

Like a river that hits against a heavy rock fall, determination will still get there in the end, eroding away at the blockage, but that can take eons…or, with that uber-feminine quality that determination is so well-known for, it can find another way around, forge a brand new path, to continue its journey back to the sea. This is where we, collectively, are now…needing to adapt and forge new routes, to pick “determined and swift” over slowly chiselling away at the most obstinately resistant and sealed-off old ways, in order to get back to our collective wholeness. Women (as the embodiment of the feminine aspect in gender-expressed form) know how to do this; we were trained in it across all the thousands of years that we were met by so many intractable man-made obstacles!

We get there by setting off on that round-about route, doing it for ourselves, and never mind that curious others may notice us headed off in that direction and be inspired to try that route, or some other new route, themselves because we deviated…but, in our way, we become change makers, by example. Then we always got there in the end, because that’s just how derermined we are (we don’t stop till we drop), and now we remember this about ourselves we can set about doing that all the quicker, when we lean into our best qualities like never before (rather than bashing our heads repeatedly on piles of heavy boulders that have been trying to block our way for eons). Not by trying to be more masculine than the men (that never works out in the plotline…) but by doing what we do best…determining what has our most lit-up and sparkling attention held, thus realising what we most aspire to, then flowing towards it in a most determined way.

Those four women in the “story” get what they go after in the end, even when they have to do it for themselves until everyone else catches on. When they isolate their desire, that far-flung intention they want to go after, and screw all the obstacles, they get there, no apologies, a message I needed really needed to hear about, repeatedly, in my 30s (to undo all that cultural training of my childhood) and it delivered, in spadeloads.

One other thing that really can’t go unnoted…its about a group of women friends, all of them very different to one another, bonded together by virtue of their zest and quest for (their own particualar version of) authentic life. Its real, its gritty and yes their solidarity and acceptance of each other is palpable, through thick and thin. I used to know something like that, before health issues isolated me from all but the most stalwart and most friendships turned “virtual”. I’ve known what its like to have flesh-and-blood “drop everything” female friends show up on my doorstep or sweep me off somewhere in a crisis and I could use that back in my life at some point. You could say, I’m still determined to include it on my mental vision board for my future experience, even though its eluded me for so long.

Where does all that leave me today. I explored the same territory, during the same era, as those four women did…doing the liberated woman in a wine bar thing, the “career’, the clothes (the best dressed, if quirky, woman on my floor I was once told…and perhaps I did have a touch of the Sarah Jessica’s about me as I scooted around in my boho-vintage put togethers), the big mortgage, grabbing life by the balls and speaking my mind. What happened? Around 2007, it imploded (with my health…as it did for so many women of my generation, I notice…perhaps testament to how far we had leapt in such a short time!) and, “puff”, it all seemed to disappear overnight.

What does that say about those initial yin-yang renegotiations of the millennium? Well, inside this gal, its as though the feminine turned in on itself, which was necessary at the time of my collapse but is never a sustainable situation for a person wanting to remain viable in flesh and blood (the non-negotiable materials of 3D). It was as if I bagged up all my previous aspirations, like so many shoes I no longer had occasion to wear, and tried to forget about them. From now on, my determination was mostly acquisitioned for my health and my spiritual growth, for the next few years, so it became desperately inward looking and, in its way, went back underground unless you count my determination to share the fruits of my progress with the outside world through writing about it.

The result is an overly yin state (health that is fluid, to the point of highly unreliable in the outside world and a remarkable lack of commitment or structure relating to anything external) held up by as many yang circumstances as it takes to maintain a degree of predictability and routine. So, a collaboration of sorts…but true health only occurs when both yin and yang share the same house together, side by side, in matters both inward focussing and outward manifesting, both of which are important. Never mind whether you are introverted or extroverted, there are always ways we can put out into the world that don’t offend an introverted nature and I have come to realise just how important those are over the last couple of years of so (and am determined to develop them further).

For a long time, its as though I was waiting for outside circumstances to be better placed to meet my health restrictions before I stepped back out into them; now, I have learned something important…that we tend to do better when the yin and yang step out there together, as it were, hand-in-hand (a much more “ninth wave” way of approaching things too, rather than one “side” always waiting for the other to make the first move). Important to register that the ninth wave (search by tag to explore Dr Carl Calleman’s material about this quantum hollographic milestone) came onboard during the time I have been pulled back from the world; that too is just starting to get its feet under the table and is having its say. Put in more literal terms, rather than wait until I feel strong enough to meet the world “at my best”, I am starting to step out into the world a little more, just as I am, and notice how I feel stronger for making that effort to show up!

What I see, revisiting a series that transports me to another version of me, decades ago, is that I had a quality back then that was pretty awesome in its way; it saw me through such a lot and it was only just beginning to come out fully when it imploded…and now, well, its been in some sort of internal slow-cooker for a while but is ready to come out into daylight again, in ways that I don’t yet know the manifestation of, but I’m curious. Not shoes and job promotions this time, no, but perhaps something more materially viable, less abstract than of late. What came before feels like it was a rather “entertaining while it lasted” dress-rehearsal or honeymoon phase of something far more meaningful about to come up (not just for me but for all of us?) but I’m ready now, for a far more manifest expression of determination than just getting out of bed in the morning.

There is nothing wrong with having material aspirations (I would add, those that don’t actively harm the ecosystem), this is one of the misnomers of our time…one suggesting that it’s OK to need things to survive but not because you really want them for your own enjoyment. Reality is, we have to really want a materially better set of circumstances than we currently have in order to manifest them, and this is where the feminine comes in because “she” knows how to live by that. Wanting something beyond its puritanical “usefulness” is how we inspire the regeneration of the world on the principle of beauty as well as function. It’s how we value the arts…as we should…and include the magical, colourful, joyful and aspirational along with all our sheer determination for the viable future of this planet. And that’s also how we engage more people in the delivery of those dreams and get everyone on board with how we get there, in the most determined way, together.

Instead of turning inwards, in a survivalistic way (which is a chronic health situation in a nutshell…said by one who knows this from direct personal experience), we get drawn out of ourselves by such an aspirational intention for the future. It lights us up with a determined fire in our belly and, as such, is an ingredient that is very-much needed right now…both by me in my recovery process and by the world in its. So perhaps my little trip into what I smilingly think of as quantum holographic anthropology, revisiting the over-exagerated preoccupations of a whole generation of females via a series that has taken on the air of a comedy pastiche of its era (though its not that far off the mark…) has been a useful exercise in identifying this mislaid quality in me, and courting it back, if in a somewhat different format to the practice run of my earlier years.

Posted in Books, Consciousness & evolution, Culture, Divine feminine, Health & wellbeing, History, Life choices, Menu, Personal Development, Recovery chronic illness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back in the body

When trauma, or physical pain, hit a highly sensitive person…perhaps repeatedly, relentlessly, over many years…a trait can be to learn how to leave that body, to vacate it (and anyone who is familiar with doing this will know exactly what I mean). Looking back, that’s something I did for long periods of time, days at a time, in the earlier days of fibromyalgia. I would vacate and float off, somewhere else, beyond all the pain and overwhelm, only coming back when the “show” was somewhat over, to repeat next time I had a flare. Perhaps I learned how as a child and young adult when, sometimes, the emotional, even traumatic, pain of life would get so much, so very severe, that there was no other way. It served me well, in its time…and perhaps again if I really needed it…but, lately, I’ve noticed a shift around calling on this trump card, this get-out clause. Lately, I’ve voted for staying in the body much more, even when in severest pain, even when it goes on for days…yet I’ve still elected to be with the pain, with my body, no longer the absentee landlord but at home with all the lights switched on.

It’s like that now, having just returned from a fairly arduous, if enjoyable, trip in more than one way (though notable for the fact I would have turned down such a trip…and have done…in the quite recent past yet this time I surprised myself by choosing to join in). Having travelled almost 200 miles north to Derbyshire to reunite with family last week, all those motorways that affect me hugely because of the intense EMF exposure and sitting posture, breaking the journey half way (as I felt I must) meaning having to sleep in two alien beds, one of them not so suitable for my hypermobile joints, one night after the next. Then settling in for a few days of what, for me, was an exceptional amount of “socialising” in a group of 12 people (more chatter and interaction than I’ve done for several years!), sat in a hard upright chair for most of that, then the return trip home, all in one journey this time (barring a leg stretch) because I felt I couldn’t cope with a repeat performance of the stop-over in “that bed”, my body is feeling hammered. Perhaps inevitably so, though the optimist that I am always hopes that it won’t happen and that this time will be different.

I’m in so much pain and stiffness its almost funny, especially when I limp across the room doubled up like the old woman of the hills (its how I feel). That’s how I start my days at least, and how I end them, and the pain doesn’t relent in the middle. But instead of befriending the sofa and vacating myself, drifting off to the sound of audio meditations, sleeping, doing whatever it takes not to be there with my body, less and less present or there whenever someone tries to speak with me, I’m doing the very opposite.

In fact, in the three days since we got back home I’ve completely redecorated a room! Not just “touching up” as I’ve been doing with much of the rest of my house in paced stages for a while now, nope, but opening that 2 litre can of paint and redoing all the walls as well as the woodwork. Its a job I knew I had to tackle before our trip, having failed to find a match for the original wall colour (and all my tester pots had made a graphitti of one of the main walls) but I had assumed it would take me a few weeks on and off between now and Christmas, not two days!

However, having landed back home in severe pain that walloped me all the more for how relatively good I felt when I was away, coping so well with the first night of seeing family that I elected to go out walking with them the next day and then socialise some more that evening (I really thought I was getting away with this trip!), I took the executive decision to get stuck-in the day after my first recovery day (already finding myself zoning out from the body most of that lost pocket of time…Monday was an absolute blur of succumbing to the desire to be “out of it”) and just see what I could do. This was a new tactic, born out of how much success I’ve had recently doing bits of decorating in small stages and my eagerness to get back to it and not put off my stride by a health dip…and perhaps because my trip away had grounded me in the body for five busy days and I really didn’t want to go back to all the abstraction of my ordinary life, not this time.

Before I knew it, I had covered two thirds of the reachable walls with paint and it was looking promising. By the next day (yesterday), fuelled by a steam of great music and audios in my earphones, I had done the rest of the walls too, including hard to reach areas and no short cuts taken where I had to shift old books and boxes off the top of the fixed bookshelves. By now, I had a fire in my belly to complete the job and perhaps overdid it by finishing off the woodwork I’d started right before our trip and there it was, all put back together again, my room all done and looking lovely as I sit in it typing these words, more than a little proud of my achievement.

Am I still in pain? I should coco, more pain that I could explain, more than most people could relate to unless they had been there. Pain that comes from deep inside tissue and limbs, from hypermobile joints, from nerve endings that have been over-sensitised for coming up 20 years and to such a high degree that it feels as though my skin is on fire, my clothing like sandpaper that I long to tear off; there is no rhyme or reason for this kind of pain except that it has become a habit of the body. So as I see it, I could deny it and leave the body behind, as though I am the co-occupant of a house that is no longer sharable, caught-up in an irreparable relationship with my lodger and unable to evict them so its down to me to move out, or I could put my feet back under that table and declare “I live here” again.

Inside house, outside house…in many ways its all the same. Investing in my own home with all this DIY lately has reminded me that unless we invest our effort and our care, its as though we don’t really inhabit there anymore, using it as the hotel for the night but seldom as the place we really want to be or envision a future for. Same with the body, unless we throw off our shoes and look as though we are planning to stay, the body starts to shut up shop, to make far less effort, becoming this cold, alien, cobwebby place where we don’t really receive such a warm reception.

Warmth is one thing I really appreciated in Derbyshire; the weather turned while we were there and, combined with the keen wind up in those northern hills where we were staying on a farm, warmth became a primary preoccupation. It was a timely reminder, about now and my future life. If I plan to move somewhere “like that” (and I do) I will need a warm, hospitable house, inside and out; my body will need to be the right home for me, one that I cherish time spent in, every bit as much as my actual bricks-and-mortar house, or the dream of finding my true earthly home, the one I’ve long been searching for all my life, won’t come about.

Derbyshire is also one hell of a grounding force…all those rocks and crags, water, wind and elementals coming at you from all directions…hard not to be in the body in such a landscape, as though gravity has given you an extra tug, crashing you back down to the ground with a slight bruise on the forehead and reminded you “there, you’re on planet Earth and don’t you ever forget it”. Hard to be airy-fairy all of the time there; to zoom off into the ethereal, spend all of your time on a cloud of abstraction. Not like back home where its been made all too easy for us to leave our bodies; our whole culture is built upon escapism and there’s a strong, pushy, element of “somebody” really wanting us all to vacate our bodies, to prefer to live in some virtual reality, so that we become far more complicit, far easier to shepherd around, to make decisions “for”, without any come-back. Such a timeline holds only horrors ahead, in my view, making this is a time to become vehemently grounded in our bodies, even more so if we are aware and sensitive, so as to cast our vote for something far different to all that. Its what COP26 is all about…our collective responsibility and how we all step up to it, not just allowing the few “in power” to cast a vote for all of our futures.

So perhaps it’s a time for sensitives to take this stand for becoming more grounded, whatever the cost to our sensitivities, no longer always choosing to vacate, floating off into abstraction, fleeing to the “spiritual” (rather than grounding their spirituality) whenever things get too triggering, too hard to swallow, too abrasive, too painful or traumatic, just generally too much. Realising there is always a choice, to either go or to stay…and, then, if staying, to be fully present in my body, and with my body, with my spiritual aspect right there inside of me, as fully intact as it ever was when I used to go “out” of myself to visit it all of the time (which was perfectly alright for me back then…it fuelled my spiritual awakening), all together sharing the same physical house…this has been a BIG movement towards the positive for me, this year. Huge!

What I notice is that somehow pain and overwhelm become less, at least for the larger portion, when I’m engaged in projects that mean something to me, and I don’t just mean the decorating…it could be anything that inspires, big or small. It’s the engagement with something that lights us up that makes it possible to hang around for far longer in a physical sense, even when that physicality continues to feel so triggering and “too much” whenever we stop and think about it (the key is not to; to redirect those thoughts to the positive, over and over and over again). Holding a vision is absolutely key, so work on envisioning what you would like to aspire to realising in this world, beyond the smallness of all the usual limitations and triggers. There are those moments at the beginning and end of each day when it really is harder to forget the pain, even sometimes in the middle of the day if I’m overdoing it…but then, I also think about what I’ve achieved today and what I’m looking forwards to achieving next, keeping that torch lit, so that becomes the predominant focus, not the pain at all.

When pain is unavoidably attention-seeking and physically limiting then (I’m not running a boot-camp here…activities are meant to be enjoyable) of course I allow the abstraction, the dozing, the journalling, the meditation, the drifting off out of the body for a respite yet I set a time limit to that, in a positive way, as in “have a break for an hour now but wouldn’t it be great to get that thing done between 2 and 3”. Then I can get myself back to it and so it repeats, day after day; the dress rehearsal for a zillion other ways I know I can become more fully engaged with life again, only this time more “switched on” and aware than I ever was before all this health crisis happened to me.

Having the daily rituals in place, for instance the morning meditation or time set aside for journalling, followed by an idea when you would like to get upright and more productive (by the way, this is helping enormously with core strength and dysautonomia as I find I’m able to sustain being upright, even balancing and stretching above the head, the more regularly I do it…astonishing compared to how I was just a few months ago having dizzy spells all over the place), helps to strike this balance. In fact, its perhaps essential in the early stages of becoming more grounded, meaning you are still consciously factoring in those times (as regular as you feel you need) when you are off the hook to go soft, to stop doing and just float away, until a more balanced habit of life takes shape. And, of course, there should be no imperatives that anything “has” to be done at this stage, its just a case of making space for more intentional behaviours, goals, tasks, small commitments that would make you feel good about yourself or as though you have contributed something tangible to your day, even (perhaps especially) on a day when you are more challenged by pain…because the satisfaction of the achievement outshines the pain every time. The next morning as you wake up you won’t remember “yesterday I was in such pain again” but “wow I did that thing” and so, inch by inch, you reinvest in life and it starts to tip its balance.

What I also find is that, as triggers arise, they only make me more determined, more “fuelled” in my commitment to shake it all up, to move the body…and the energy…around to better suit myself. What I glean is that we sensitives serve as alchemists, expressly because we are so acutely aware of the difference in frequency between one experience and another and thus the stages of shift it takes to manouver from one to the other; and far more so than someone who is not sensitive thus cannot even perceive that the energy of a situation is “off” or challenging in the first place. So, this is our gift, but only if we bring it down to earth to use it in our daily lives!

So, in effect, nothing has gone wrong here, none of it is a slip-up or mistake, not even the pain; really, all just a journey towards renegotiating our relationship with the physical whilst expanding to incorporate the non-physical (which we sensitives are world leaders in doing; and much needed in these times, where far too much onus is put upon the mental/logical in a way that would be the ruin of us all). Aren’t we the ones that can see how it’s all going wrong, how desperate mistakes are being made, how the world needs more soul, more compassion, more oneness? No point realising all this if we don’t bring it to ground and embody it, urgently now, as who we are, how we conduct ourselves, the living example of our days. We are needed…not out there in the abstract (the abstract can get along just fine without us standing in attendance) but here and now, anchored to this physical reality.

As I alluded to above, its been made all too easy for us, not just the most sensitive, to vacate our bodies, even preferable (culturally speaking) that we lose ourselves in escapism rather than staying fully present and awake, having an opinion or taking action regarding whatever timeline we are collectively on. Perhaps its time we sensitivies commited to becoming more grounded, practicing how to be more fully present with our bodies (first…inevitably spinning this out into the world the more we balance our own health), learning to ride or even transform all the triggers, in order to anchor our higher vision to the physical world we all share together as our only embodied “home”.

When our sense of home is more than just our body or the house that we live in but also the whole of the world that we live in, with all its occupants our extended family all living beneath one roof, we start to spin out the same priorities for all as we would want to preserve for ourselves and that’s where we all start to make a real difference, together, as embodied souls living on a beautiful, healthy and supremely well cared-for physical earth; one where pain might not be completely absent yet where it begins to self-limit through the dramatic reduction of provocations and the embodied focus upon higher things.

Post script: Shortly after publishing this post, in fact it was 11:11am because I had just laughed outloud at the synchronicity that it should be that time on 11/11 (double whammy master numbers) I learned from her husband that my dear friend Kat had died this morning. Kat had had a rare kind of cancer for quite some time and we knew this was coming, in fact I have spoken about my grief in this space before, yet it is still a lot to process. She was the closest friend (my husband excepting) that I ever had in this lifetime, although we never met in the flesh (it didn’t really matter to us, in fact it helped us to go in really deep and multidimensional, without so many worldly distractions). I recognised her the very first moment I “met” her online all those years ago, and she felt the same. In Derbyshire last week, I felt her in the wind, the rain, in running water, jutting rocks and craggy hilltops, in fact in all the ever-present elementals of that rugged earthy landcape, perhaps especially after darkness fell, when the senses become all the more keen…her kind of place. I just kept feeling her there as though she was already stradling realities, which I suspect she may have been by then, expanding out of her troubled body to better match the sheer scale of her consciousness, playing with the elements.

As I was pondering the timing of her passing, I was struck by the irony that I had woken this morning at 6.30am on the nail with a blog post (this one) quite determined to come out of me and with the ready-formed title “Back in the body” already waiting for me to use, even before I really knew about its content. Oh the irony, given Kat had, at that very moment (I later learned) left her’s behind! She would have belly-laughed at this with me…we were always playing yin and yang to each other, its what made us such a tour de force. One of us would be grounded when the other was “out there” in the ether, or one would be up there on the high end of the see-saw of life when the other was down in the floor-sweepings and yet we came to realise, over and over again, that both ends were really all the same, no better or worse…that’s how we did big alchemy together and, apparently, we still are doing it today. Celebrating the enormous heart and uniquely free-spirited soul that I knew as Kat, feeling so much boundless love and appreciation for her today, knowing she will always be with me and that we will likely meet again.

Posted in Consciousness & evolution, Health & wellbeing, Life choices, Menu, metaphor, Personal Development, Recovery chronic illness, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A good place for creative license

The plot-line of a long-running “vintage” TV and film series that I decided to indulge in on DVD lately (I won’t say which one for fear of distracting from the topic of this post…I’m not here to talk about TV programmes) drove me absolutely nuts with its creative license over historical events and timespans. Over the course of nine series and four additional movies, the characters’ lives spanned five decades tracking linear events yet, by the end, their concluding ages really didn’t add up and many other landmark “historic” dates were played with so free-and-easily that it nearly drove me out of my mind with overthinking it all, trying to reconcile the narrative with logic. If this had been “The Time Traveler’s Wife”, “Cloud Atlas” or some such, I would have been signed up for non-linear playfulness but it wasn’t (a bit like most people today don’t realise they are signed up for anything but strictly sequential logic; and I used to be one of them so I know how hard that can be). So this sudden amorphismin, in an unexpected (and what I thought was “familiar”) place, got to me, being wholly unexpected. After long rumination, I was forced to surrender to the obvious fact that the script-writers hadn’t made a mistake…they had just got majorly creative in the name of tying off all the ends, thus I have to accept that and move on.

This flagged up a major sticking point that I have when it comes to “lack of logic”. For a creative-type, I am also a deeply logical person, born of a logic-driven family, and my strict adherence to this can be a real stumbling block at times, even though I don’t always see it any more (preferring to regard myself as far more open-minded than that…). Ironic, since my lower chakras seem to have much less struggle with playing free-and-easy with structures. When it comes to my body, hypermobility issues that affect my physical integrity and nervous system to a pretty high degree (almost rendering me non-viable as a physical form on my worse days!) all denote a sorry lack of logical structure and far too much flux. I can’t help wondering if this apparently over-compensatory trait (a body that seems to make up for an occasionally rigid mind in ways that are self-evident in my physical foibles) is a factor to the known link between autism (often referred to as a “left-brained” dominance) and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome…

But I digress, what I notice is how, when it comes to my head, it’s like mixing oil or water to try and mingle logic with a creative license for “facts”. Or, like dangling an electric wire in the bathtub…sparks seem to fly around my energy system, as-in, my nervous system prickles and burns-out whenever logic seems to have vacated the building. This tripping point lingers in the shadows of my near-constant sense of fatigue and overwhelm; nothing in the world seems to add up anymore, at least in three-dimensional reality, and this seems to crash my physical system pretty regularly these days…perhaps everybody’s system.

Yet I also realise, as an artist and spiritual venturer, that its in the creative license that we get to jump timelines or meld them together, altering realities, flipping outcomes. In terms of recovery from otherwise unshiftable health issues, I can point you at the work of Dr Joe Dispenza (who plays, most successfully, with quantum healing) for countless anecdotes in support of this “truth”. So many of my own breakthroughs, in life and on the canvas, have been born out of letting go of structure or logic, for just long enough…

How bad is it really that the script-writers of a beloved series played so free-and-easy with timespans in the end, after their steady start in the early years (it was a very long running program). I suspect it was done “for art’s sake”, to wrap things up in the best possible way for all the characters and to make a point about life and its interactions with some key events in “history” so why is that so bad? Why does my mind wrestle and squirm so? Isn’t the very fact of allowing time-lines to soften “that thing” at the very core of creativity? Aren’t fixed timelines the very things that keep us stuck in the same old ruts? How deeply must I have been conditioned by our culture, to resist this degree of bending the rules, if I react this way…to a storyline?

That word “creativity” relies on a softening of linearity. Its where we get to fuse one unlikely but hopeful reality to another that isnt looking so good. How we get to abruptly, perhaps dramatically (with fanfare), or even subtly yet decisively (“I didn’t see it at the time but it all began to shift on that day…”; here’s hoping COP26 is such a “day”!!) change trajectories though this was looking as likely as snow in hell just a moment ago.

It’s the ending of all of our favourite movies, and where miracles occur. What I call an “Anita Moorjani” moment, where a body riddled with cancer is inexplicably healed in a day (read her autobiography “Dying To Be Me” if you haven’t already…I promise, you will never forget it).

Paradoxically, my physical problems have been where my body gets too free-and-easy with actual structures of body tissue (structural laxity and hypermobility), to the detriment of my ability to bear weight or move around at times. I need my bones and ligaments to do what they signed up to do and this has been my year-on-year increasing challenge.

Lately, I had a breakthrough realising that maybe meeting soft with soft wasn’t such a good idea, so I began sleeping on a sheet of hardboard over my mattress, with just a 2 inch foam topper to soften the blow. Since that time, I’ve enjoyed remarkable improvements in my ability to just hop out of bed and walk normally to the bathroom, with no need to reconfigure my body back into its functional integrity when I first wake (or for hours afterwards…). Capitalising on this, I’ve likewise replaced soft toppers with firm support under sofa cushions in daytime seating and made sure I move around and vary posture much more, standing to do tasks when I can. As a result, I’ve enjoyed better daytime mobility, even redecorated portions of my house and done things I had put aside for years, and thought I perhaps might never get to do again, all because I kind-of insisted to my body structures that they be more structure-like, by showing them how to do this, during my rest-and-respite times in the night. Walking has improved, digestion (apart from when triggered by wrong ingredients, as written about recently) has improved, pain levels are work-in progress but I’m quietly optimistic (Rome wasn’t built in a day). Once my joints were no longer sagging in whatever free-for-all way they used to do in my ageing memory foam bed when I slept, they began to reconfigure and I am much stronger, more mobile and upright as a result, leading to a subtle yet quietly evident systemic shift from the inside.

So, like a plaster-cast on a broken leg, these methods are reminding my body how to be a three-dimensional structure because, contrary to some trains of spiritual thinking, we do still need those, even as (or especially because) we’re starting to explore other dimensions more and more. And because our world is beginning to reboot…we still need to anchor, with one foot planted firmly in physical reality, as this shifts occur.

The thing is, when I get up from my bed, yes a little sore most days (that part isn’t going to disappear overnight) I also know that movement and fluidity…yoga, dance, mediation, presence, music, writing down whatever comes to me, time spent doing/thinking nothing at all or being in flow…are the balancers. In fact, years of my body forcing me to make this relationship between structure/non-structure (masculine/feminine) so very present, visible and conscious, in need of negotiation where others seem to take it for granted, has been the gift of my life. Because I have become, in effect, the marriage counsellor between yin and yang in my own body and, thankfully, signs are that they are starting to really talk to each other, or just be with each other without provocation, at last. This is great news in terms of better physical health.

Yet I also suspect that, whilst establishing a better, more comfortable, arrangement between my physicality and all that it contains is a way forwards, it might not allow me to actually heal (as in shift) all those distorted realities, across many dimensions, that led to my chronic health situation (as I suspect applies to the state of our world). For that to occur, I need a minor miracle, and that aspect really does take playing much more free-and-easy with my internal plot lines. I need to be able to sculpt my own “ending” without adherence to precedent or other people’s expectations of what is, or isn’t, logically possible. I need to step outside of rock-solid linear progression and get creative (as in, having an Anita Moorjani moment, many times over). This is the crux of how we all heal, truth be known and, with the hard-fast (often dogmatic) beliefs of western medicine pushed aside for the moment, this is a truth that needs airing now, whether we are talking about an individual’s health or that of the entire planet. At its most basic, there has to be a will to heal, and a faith that it is possible, before any medicine will deliver its healing effect and that part is the unfathomable ingredient; the yin to the yang.

For that, I need far more than just a comfortable cease-fire between the physicality of my body and my desire to lead a more fulfilling life. I need them to merge, to get down and messy with each other, to mingle in the quantum goo between cells, to create way beyond what logic would dictate.

So yes there’s a level of healing where a more balanced status quo is a good resolution, or at least an interim one, but the real magic of healing starts when this balance-point holds space (as a vice might hold a piece of wood before the artist begins to carve…a mixture of craftsmanship and inspiration) in order for a shift, or a kind of orgasm, to occur.

Because that word, which still makes some people squirm uneasily, really denotes a moment of complete and utter creative license, you could even say surrender to the flow. It’s when our diligent adherence to logic is finally submerged beneath the higher aspiration to create best outcome; rearranging the jumbled pecking-order (cart before the horse…) that has dominated and distorted our world for way too long. Logic is useful, yes, but it does not make the day. Sometimes, it blocks the view of what is possible, or keeps us feeling small and helpless, locked into a fixed narrative, slaves to linearity and proof.

Here in a word that merely aludes to excitement (the creative ju-ju of the universe) combined with projection, a quantum leap, is a taste of cosmic creative-license, as in, where a taste of original universal creation gets to come in to form, to be sampled by mortal beings, wielded by them as portions of godliness, from which point “events” could literally go off in any direction, because timelines have come together as one; a hyper-junction in the road of life. Its a case of sparking the imagination towards potentials you would love to become actuality (which your logical mind might otherwise block as “ridiculous” yet setting out in that direction anyway). Not demanding that any particular outcome occurs, nor expecting it, not looking to the “laws” of science to uphold such an outcome but allowing that spark to take shape in surprising, gasp-making, gear-changing, thrilling ways.

This is what every true artist or musician does when they lift their brush or sit at the piano, not knowing what is about to come but just letting what wants to arise to do so, in no particular format or order of events (we might tidy it up a little later, but this is where the original spark comes in). Creative license at its best looks (and feels) like this, and makes us so happy when we receive the lovely picture, the music to our ears, the cohesive ending to the fictional story, and yet its time for us to stop compartmentalising it to “the arts” or to “fiction” in order to bring it into real life, into COP26, into mainstream health modalities, into everything!

There is still (more than) a place for structures and linearity in this world…it wouldn’t stand up or function either, without its “ligaments” and “bones” to mobilise, feed and protect crucial “organs” (though, over time, those structures also get to evolve; nothing is ever fixed). Sudden, drastic, changes to structure lead to equally sudden collapse, pain and internal dysfunction, as I know all too well from experience. Yes, I also know, creative license in all the wrong places is not a healthy, nor sustainable, thing; the same applies to creative license when it comes to reporting “the news” or how politicians or corporates spin “the truth”. There are appropriate places for structure or for flux and, as we mature (and hopefully evolve), we have to do our very best to get that balance right, at both the personal and collective levels.

However, with our outlines in place, we all get to be so much more free-and-easy with the internal plot-lines than we are often led to believe is permissible. Structures aren’t the whole story, as we have been led to believe for countless centuries now, but they are fifty percent of the deal of creating that most appropriate of holding spaces. Then, holding space for the merger of left and right hemispheres to take place, through balance, isn’t the shift itself but is the beginning of where real, creative, shift “potentiates”, allowing-in just the right degree of creative license to rewrite all our plot lines towards a more collectively satisfying conclusion (of this particular chapter) in the long running saga of life.

(For anyone who has to know, I allude above to “The Waltons”, beloved series of my childhood and, actually, surprisingly rich, rewarding and wisdom-packed, thus far more nutitrious than most contemporary TV offerings, on the revisit.)

Posted in Consciousness & evolution, Divine feminine, divine masculine, Health & wellbeing, Life choices, Life journey, Menu, Personal Development, Recovery chronic illness, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Neuroqueer, an offering

All those years ago, when I got to the same point in my degree that my daughter has just reached (perhaps why it has been on my mind lately), as in that grande finale moment where you hover on the blade’s edge, confronted with a choice between abject originality and hang the consequences…or staying with convention to ensure a steady shot at the final grade you so desperately want and deserve to walk away with…I briefly teetered on that brink before going with my truth and intuition (my primary guidance systems, as ever). It became one of the many wounds of rejection of my life, to not have that decision, a grand affirmation on behalf of self-expression, pay-off so spectacularly.

In hindsight, my intuition is not necessarily well-geared for this world “as it is”; more so for a bigger-broader-future version of it in which all is inclusive, each and every subjective viewpoint held valid and originality welcomed. We have yet to mature into such a world (though, thirty years later, we are slowly getting there, or, I hope I can trust the signs telling me so).

My specialism at the time…Virginia Woolf; my angle…a personal tilt on layers of meaning that I strongly felt (notice that implied modality, “to feel”) hovered in the void between the author’s actual rhetoric and its associated sensory cues…colours, patterns, the very spaces between her words strewn with felt nuance…thus a layer of narrative and interpretation that I perceived hidden in plain sight. Because this is how her words strongly impacted me, recieved via all my multi-sensory modes of perception (surely how and why such an author puts meaning onto paper…in the hope of being received thus) but not so easy to “prove” in a paper, though I was prepared to try.

My attempt was, perhaps, over-daring in hindsight but I took as quite literal the request that the work be “our own”, not regurgitated text books. Typical for me in my fierce independence, I chose not to discuss any of this in advance with my tutor as I already knew they would not, really, understand…this had become my ingrained reality through years of school…so why would I waste effort trying to summarise in bullet-points what it would take an entire dissertation to put forth. My attempt to convey this new spin of mine became its own piece of art.

The gamble was daring and it backfired, as I might have guessed if I had been using my logic and not my intuition (the modus operandi of the world as it stands). I was told, in no uncertain terms, that it cost me my predicted “First” so I walked away feeling jaded and mediocre as my first step into an “adult world” of endless incomprehensibilities. It wasn’t an auspicious start and it set the theme of the next few years of my life, until I finally learned how and where to be fully myself without the consequence of endless rebuttal; the denial of how I experience things with all its complexity and many-layered nuances.

Photo by Efe Kurnaz on Unsplash

These days, a new generation of academics more readily approach the potential of literature, even of cinema, to convey neurodiverse experiences and layers of meaning that are far closer to mine and yet which, at the time I was that literary undergrad (the 1980s), were pushed well out of sight beneath layers of conventional, corridored, interpretation. Ironic, really, that even those authors one could easily suspect to be neurodiverse themselves had, by then, been typecast into rigid formulas of interpretation by neurotypical academics and perish the thought that any student should dare to wander off that path. That, now, seems to be on the verge of changing and I wonder if the number of hits on my post Jane Eyre – nineteenth century Aspie Woman and its inclusion in a list of recommended reading by one university’s literature department is a reflection of that.

Plucking out this academic paper “The Fantastic Autistic: Divergence, Estrangement, and The Neuroqueer Screen in Blade Runner: The Final Cut (2007) and Community (2009-2015)” by David Harley from my morning emails today, enticed by its juicy title, I dived in over my morning tea, so eager to gather its many clues that, these days, I might not feel so all-alone in my literary deep-dives of the neurodiverse variety (because who is to tell me my interpretations of VW, or any other writer with whom I feel the kinship of experience, are completely bizarre or off the mark).

It has introduced me to a new term (or, new to me at least), neuroqueer, as explained in this extract:

Autistic scholar and rhetorician Melanie Yergeaucoined the term ‘neuroqueer’ to describe the “cunning movements” of autism when positioned “in defiance against that which is rhetorically normative” (2018: 27).

In Yergeau’s reasoning, autism is an inherently queer category with explicit historical and contemporary connection to queerness through their shared experiences of “disciplining and normalization,” as well as in the evolving discourses of neurodiversity where “autistic people queer the lines of rhetoric, humanity, and agency” (2018: 26).
 
The neuroqueer, for Yergeau, accounts for both the rhetorical and
arhetorical actions of the autistic, the oscillation between the two, and the poetic potential of the condition as “an interbodily, beyond-the-skin experiential of detail and overwhelm and intricacy” (2018: 56). In such terms, the rhetorical redirections of autism offer new and exciting challenges to fundamental understandings of all cultural forms. Questions can be posed of assumed spectators, of what constitutes ‘normative’ narrative construction, as well as new interpretations of character motivation and behaviour.” (David Harley, as above).

The author is mostly concerned in this paper with autism in the context of cinema and whilst this is an area that fascinates me as someone who identifies as being neurodiverse and who typically responds to cinema (every bit, if not more so, than books) in quite a different, more complex and nuanced, way to my neurotypical friends and associates, it is not an area I have considered hugely since I have never “not been me” in the context of watching a film (and have never been marked down for my “inappropriate” responses…).  The difference in the general mode and in the sheer depth and intricacy with which I “meet” the cinematic experience no longer perplexes or upsets me, now that I realise my autism, but it certainly continues to interest me, including the potential for this to be taken into consideration, even catered for, by script writers and the TV and film industries as an entire production unit delivering “experience” to an audience. As with any form of “queerness”, not only should we be included but I see how everyone‘s experience of cinema could seriously benefit from this being the case!

There is something about the inbetweeny nature of the kind of experience that is the natural territory of the neurodiverse way of being that lends itself to evolution, as and when the various methodologies of life unlock themselves from all the rules and rigidity of what is already known and familiar to most, to venture into the territory and meet us there. We naturally inhabit the void where new potentials emerge by virtue of the fact we are non-conformers and this leads into new extrapolations of experience…and expression.

Harley’s paper has encouraged me to consider, not only that my sensory and perceptual needs should be taken into consideration by film producers if I am to be included in the audience of, say, a cinematic film (avoiding strobe effects, lowering “boom” volumes, for instance, both of which affect me so adversely) but also that the film itself could benefit from layers of subtle, a-typical communication that meet the perceptual advantages (yes, I said advantages) and strengths (yes!) of a neurodiverse audience and thus add artistic depth and potential to the film, not just for its neurodiverse audience but to broaden and stretch the conceptual and sensory experience of everyone watching, breaking new experiential soil for all who receive the fruits of such a venture…because isn’t that what “the arts” are all about? Sooo many films and TV programs seem one-dimensional to me (compared to the multidimensions of my actual experience) and I would love that to change.

Just as, say, synesthesia adds a whole other layer of sensory experience, meaning and richness to my world, such layers of cinematography could create a fuller experience for all audiences, compared to all the limitations of the typically strident and linear plotline (the clue is in the world “line”…my neurodiversity doesn’t experience life that way!), the ever dominant use of rhetoric as primary mode of conveyance, plus the over-reliance upon such clichéd dramatic effects as shock factor and formulaic storylines. I lack the specialist knowledge of the film genre to discuss this topic much further except to say I could well-imagine that neurodiverse screenwriters and directors (or those prepared to explore the kind of material that would include neurodiverse experiences and themes in a positive, celebratory light…not always, as the referred to paper points out, “attached to fantastical metaphors of aliens, robots, changelings, and other signifiers of the unreal and mysterious”) would be a beneficial addition to the industry, just as they have added immeasurable colour and depth to the world of literature for far longer than has been fully appreciated.

As I often touch upon in this blog, my sensory differences invariably add richness and light to my experiences when they are met by healthy, inclusive approaches. This is what the author of the paper refers to as the “fantastic autistic”, being an emphasis on what autism brings in the way of insight, playfulness and enhanced pleasures, qualities we could do with encouraging in this world and I live my life as a constant advocate of the same (yes, through my writing as one of my outlets). Literature and film are obvious mediums for more of this; we actively need to make room for neurodiversity in these places. There is a clear link here from fantastic autistic to the fantasy genre and I would say fantasy, playfulness and positively speculative storytelling are some pretty obvious intruments of evolutionary thinking, inspiring hope and innovation rather than dystopia, disillusionment and fear, as so ever-present in our current film industry.

I am also glad to notice, we apprear to be on the rising cusp of an attitudinal shift regarding what constitutes autism and what this brings to the table of human diversity as we shift our limiting beliefs around the faulty idea of what constitutes so-called “normal”; a shift that benefits us all by collectively expanding our awarenesses and, thus, possibilities. Being the same, doing the same, only brings more of the same, and we are all reliant on a considerable shift taking place now, before all of us, typical or no, become quite obsolete on this planet.

Meanwhile, there is so much more to the neurodiverse experience than is currently clichéd out of existence (or treated as “handicap”) by mainstream approaches. If it takes the occasional use of a word such as “neuroqueer” to position neurodiversity in active defiance to such limitation-labeling then so be it, I am neuroqueer and proudly so.

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Back in the soup: a first hand account of returning to “typical” EMF exposure levels after a much-needed respite

For the past few days, I’ve been about as “away from it all” as I’ve managed to achieve for ages. Not completely out of it, I should clarify (no off-grid experience this) but the best I’ve managed for a very long time, probably more than a decade when I think about it. We almost managed it a couple of years ago, but our plan went array (as written about before) and my health took a real knock as a result. This time we were away for slightly over a week, long enough for me to notice different things happening in my physical reponses to where we were staying (in fact, quite amazing how quickly the body responds to the more positive offering and begins to reboot) so it served as a real eye-opener.

As far as contrasts go, given how much I had been struggling with nerve pains (several weeks of occipital neuralgia!) and other EMF-worsened symptoms lately, it was very good timing for a trial of, you could say, our future life given the place we stayed was the kind of rural location we have in mind to move to at some point but “how soon?” being the golden question. How urgent is it? Would it really make any difference? I was about to find out…

This time, we were staying in a cottage on what I think of as a passive farm (as in, lots of animals, none of them harmed…) in a valley surrounded by woodland next to a small village with a stream running through it, plentiful country walks on the doorstep, no electrical exposures we couldn’t turn off (and we did, when it came to wifi and smart meter, etc), absolute darkness and quiet overnight if you don’t count the hooting of owls or coughing of donkeys, so we were able to pretty-much unplug and unwind our nervous systems for the week.

The proviso was that we were in that particular county at this particular time to help deal with a very difficult and saddening family situation involving my mother-in-law, who was discharged from hospital after 10 days during our stay, mainly because the hospital required the bed! This presented a very difficult, urgent situation regarding the desperate need for her to go into a care home and for my father-in-law to gain some respite. This was an awful, grief-stricken family situation framing our trip (the main reason for it), with repercussions and complications I won’t even attempt to convey except to say it is far from resolved.

So, in some ways, this wasn’t a true holiday but in others it met every truest definition of the word because it was a respite for me, from the untenable daily normal that feels like it is right at the core of all my physical problems. Yes, I have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, PoTs and all that other stuff going on but all of those feel like effects and symptoms reliant on how exposed I am to modern EMFs, though its very hard to convince all the non-believers that these have such an impact (I’ve long-since stopped trying). So I knew, not so very deep-down, that I was also here, in this off-the-beaten-path location when we could have stayed in a hotel in town near my in-laws, to test out for myself how hard this everyday and assumed thing…living in the modern, urban, EMF-vomiting world…really is for me and how urgent it is that I get out of there, as far and as fast as I can.

High sensitivity is an evolutionary advantage, biology says so

Because I know, already, that I’m a textbook Highly Sensitive Person with a load of environmental sensory sensitivities to my name and, yes, that includes being highly sensitive to electromagnetic forces so this is something I needed to look at straight-on, so that I can make some all-important decisions about the direction of my life (and stop acting as though such decisions about exposures etc are taken out of everyone’s hands, decided for us by the powers that be). But here’s the thing…what I have truly come to believe these past few years:

I believe that every living-breathing human on this planet, and all the animals, birds and insects besides, are highly EMF sensitive, its just that we don’t all realise it yet!

In that sense, people like me (and there are a lot of us) are like the canary in the coal mine, which has been written about many times before so I’m not going to go there. My purpose here is to offer a direct comparison of one experience versus another, for other people who may consider themselves to be subtly or overtly sensitive to compare with their own experiences and thus make their own value call when it comes to asking how do I choose to live my life, what steps am I taking to live my best and healthiest life, with an eye to the future and longterm physical wellbeing (the longterm effects of modern EMF exposures on our health are not yet known, of course, but I am not particularly optimistic based on my own experiences).

And yes, maybe some of us need more respite from modern provocations than others, we are not all made the same, but first we have to identify ourselves as amongst this highly sensitive cohort if we are the ones that struggle and so many HSPs have no idea they are any different to other people, in some quite profound and demonstrable ways (see Elaine Aron‘s work as a starting point if interested). For the record, being an HSP isn’t a flaw but an evolutionary advantage, as has been amply demonstrated by science and history (Elaine covers this in her books). We were always meant to be the natural outliers of the community, by design, so that we could be the first to notice important things that others miss, picking up envornmental cues and alerting others to any danger that we sensed coming our way. Likewise, there are HSPs in the animal kingdom too and they always serve an important purpose in the herd, etc. because while all the other animals have their heads down grazing or engaging with one another, guess who alerts them to the preditor heading their way or the flood waters starting to rise?

While everyone else is so intent upon forming into packs, sharing the same interests, being communal, desperate to connect, hook-up and hang out in crowds, we are the ones wired to stand aside and notice important things so that, in the long run, everyone gets to thrive!

Fringe

But when do we ever get a respite ourselves if that “environmental cue” telling us there is danger in the vicinity is actually coming from within the community, because everyone is so invested in it? What if the pervasive communal behaviour doesn’t suit us or feels all-wrong and unhealthy yet we can’t step away from it as easily as we used to because it is fast becoming the dominant norm? How can we stay on the fringe if our spaces are all gobbled up, even the air we operate in modified to the point it feels completely different and our well-honed senses turned back in on themselves because they are overwhelmed by artificial signals carried on the air. Everything these days is geared towards becoming uniform and we are all meant to comply with, or put up with, significant choices that are made, literally, on everyone’s behalf (5G coverage of the entire planet is a prime example) so that there are very few fringe places left and those are getting smaller by the minute.

That word respite, which has come up strongly this week in the context of trying to organise some for my struggling in-laws, has got me thinking more about how we all need respite from something…but what, if any, options are left for us whenever we reach that point, in a world that presses on with agendas for everything to be made the same, wherever we happen to be on the planet (reliable wifi coverage is valued more than fresh air in such a world)?

How does any degree of EMF sensitivity fit side-by-side with a world that is pressing ahead, with great urgency, along agenda routes intent upon filling all our spaces, yes rural ones too, with an EMF “smog” quite impossible to ignore? We are all about to find out.

Energetic hangover, the toxic “hit”

Thankfully, for now, there are still some small pockets left out of the loop and the place we were staying is one of them, for now (it was quite charming to find our phone signal so poor that the sending of a brief message depended on the level of the wind during what was a stormy few days). Yes, the nearby city was a visceral hotspot for me as we skimmed its edges. Then, the main “A” road through the county was a bit tricky in places, mainly along the stretch near the biggest market town, where my in-laws live, where I noticed a considerable amount of masts including a 5G monstrosity, looming on the fringes but, really, I only noticed them there because I felt them first, even on journeys when I had my eyes shut. We quickly learned a back route we could to take in and out of our village to visit the in-laws and, whenever we had the time or the road wasn’t flooded, we went that way instead!

I also felt systemically “hit”, like a monstrous hangover, by the one night we spent having a meal out with other family members. The pub was a popular gastro eatery, thus pretty crowded and stuffy on a Saturday night. I will never know if it was the food that “got me” or the EMF convergence of just so many people with “live” phones about their person (or just being in a room with more people than I have been close to for a while) but, starting from the journey home and building up into the following day, I felt as though I had been hit by a juggernaught. This was utterly galling, given I had noticed a marked and steady improvement in myself all week, enjoying my best, least painful, most energised day for MONTHS immediately prior to the evening out (you should have seen me stride out on our hike that morning). Following our meal, I had my one bad night of the trip and was in awful pain and PoTs symptoms for the whole of that day, nauseus and unsteady on my feet until I made myself breathe some sea air and go for a walk, and still purging the next.

It was an intresting juxtaposition. We were now four days into our trip and, I believe, the gradual detox of my system had started to show real benefits…until the pub, as it were, chopped me off at the knees, sending me a-tumble, straight into a visceral reminder of what “back home” generally feels like at its worse, and it was horrible. Thankfully, after another three days, I had recouped all the benefits and was feeling marvellous again…until I came home. Coincidence (though far from the first time I’ve made such observations), or have I just had a taster of my alter life, in some future rural location we have moved to, where (5G allowing) my experience of daily life feels very different?

Comparing how two very different enviroments feel

So, to keep things simple (this is pretty much a comparison post) here’s what I now notice after a day and a half back in the Thames Valley urban EMF “smog” I call home and, below that, my comparison list of how I felt while I was away from home staying in a wooded valley with next to no EMF exposure at all.

Effects are listed in no particular order, though the first bullet-point is something I realised within ten minutes of stepping into our house, on its busy road with its endless flow of traffic outside, close-proximity housing, small industrial units nearby and at least a dozen wifi routers detectable, even when we have ours permanently switched off. Bear in mind, these are symptoms I experience all the time “normally” but which feel all the more pronounced, thus conscious, because I have been away and not had them for a week so they sound extra dramatic, even to me, as I now list them. If you don’t want to read through these lists, you can scroll down to the summary and discussion below.

  • “Acidic” stomach, vaguely nauseous or hungry sensation, all the time.
  • Tingling “electric” feeling in face, lips, tongue, fingers and toes, skin, all-over body.
  • Internal tremble of pulse or subtle hand tremor at certain times.
  • Random eye nerve twitches.
  • Feel “toxic”, headachy, inflammed, sore.
  • Inentense occipital neuralgia or pressure and flashes of trigeminal neuralgia causing tooth and facial pain. Miraine type headeaches and aural flashes.
  • Neck becomes stiff, painful and prone to spasm if not carefully stretched, kept warm and well supported (indoors hats and scarves).
  • Itchy ears.
  • Tinnitus (I always have) that takes on a much sharper tone and varies more than usual, with occasional rushes of sound or shrillness like phone interference.
  • Vision blurring to the point of almost snow blindness (also noticed this in the pub and a coffee shop we went into, both times unable to see the menu properly, even with glasses).
  • Regular blood pooling in hands and feet, alternating with Reynaud’s, red and white blotchy extremities, pressure and pain in lower abdoment and against bladder.
  • Restless or twitchy legs.
  • Feeling irritable, snappy, blunt (flight or fight mode behaviours).
  • Generalised “low serotonin” feeling.
  • Regular urges for a quick dopamine fix (comfort food and other compulsions).
  • A thinking mode that easily becomes pushy and dogmatic, stuck in a rut, leaving little room or cope for just being aware, fully present or using intuition
  • An active urge to ground the body, eg by standing with bare feet on the bare earth, if I ever remember to this simple thing for myself, because…
  • At regular times, brain fog descends like a grey curtain of unclear thinking, thoughts acquire slippery sides, a mist of forgetfulness hangs over even those intentions set just a few moments ago, executive function suffers.
  • OCD behaviours start to take hold, grown out of the sheer determination it takes to to stick to a given task (given the above challenges); the problem now being how to stop doing them.
  • A profound longing for cool sensations and an intense dislike of stuffiness or heat (as a foil for an intense internal inflammation that feels ever-present) but, here’s the sting, also unable to bear the slightest sensation of cold because it significantly increases sensitivity and pain!
  • Therefore, needing layers of clothes, socks and hats indoors, heating on, windows shut if there is any cold or wind-factor.
  • Clothes feel cloying, annoying, some fabrics (nylon) irritate or seem to burn, even my own skin feels uncomfortable to be in at times.
  • Itching, burning skin and dry discoloured eczema patches appear on torso.
  • Burning/electric peripheral neuropathy to lower abdomen in line with computer tech, have to watch videos at 3 metres distance.
  • Unable to tolerate live mobile phone for more than a couple of minutes, feels like a hot potato I have to put down and switch off.
  • Hot flushes for no apparent reason, day and night.
  • Stuffy sinuses, not to do with mucus so much as feeling of intense pressure as though nasal passages narrow and sinues are being squeezed. No doubt this is also provoked by other urban pollutants such as traffic…but I am also convinced by my own experience that EMFs trigger cellular inflammation and tissue laxity, especially around the neck and head region, a combination that leads to congestion and poor functioning of sinus sacs and lymph nodes.
  • Feeling of intense intercranial pressure at certain times.
  • Lymph gland pressure or feeling of fullness or tenderness in neck, behind ears and under armpits.
  • Intense random tooth nerve pain, sensitive to cold and toothpaste.
  • Joint stiffness or pains and widespread generalised tissue pain, prone to spasms or episodes of sudden connective tissue laxity.
  • Unrestful sleep, even with no electricity or wifi on in the immediate vicinity (I use an isolator switch at night).
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome ever present, worse when EMF exposures are strongest.
  • Constantly craving carbs to refuel and because they feel like a pain buffer.
  • Waking at a run, as though adrenalin-pumped, even if still tired in the morning.
  • A profoundly defeated, disempowered feeling that hovers, like being a maimed animal waiting for the final blow without a struggle…disillusoned, as though my body is clearly signalling what is wrong but I am not able to take the necessary action to save myself.
  • Interstitial cystitis, IBS and other dysautonomic glitches on a regular basis.
  • Random PoTs symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, spacial challenges, blood pooling, vision disturbances, heart palpitations, shallow breathing (have to remember to breathe properly!).
  • Any dietary lapses such a a small amount of sugar (see below) profoundly increase pain levels in this environment; there is no margin of tolerance so I am back to a strict avoidance diet.
  • Experience energy lows or outright crashes at regular intervals during the day and after every meal.
  • More sensitive than ever (or, noticing it more)…cars that go by send a “whoosh” of energy through my system, nerve endings feel jangled, raw, over-stimulated, wired yet tired.
  • Cloud cover (thus October weather!) tend to make the intensity of the feelings worse.
  • Loads of visual noise in the dark of night or shadow areas of my vision (see below).
  • As soon as I feel hypersensitive, I become tunnel visioned, fixated on what is right in front of me, unable to expand my consciousness to the wider scope (because awareness means more pain) so I close down into the narrowest version of my senses as self-protection (compare this with how expansive I felt last week…)
  • Find I musn’t allow myself to stagnate in this energy as sitting too long etc worsens the toxic effect but then moving becomes progressively more difficult due to more pain, caught in catch-22.
  • I start to become a self-doubter, negating my own experiences, telling myself that I’m imagining these effects, that its unrelated to EMFs, that its just something I have to put up with.
  • My environment feels like an electric fence that zaps me if I unfurl my sensory awareness too far outside of my body; thus I learn to recoil, which reflects as rigidity in my body.

By comparison, this is how I felt during my time away, taken from notes in my journal:

  • (A really stark comparison was) I could easily bear the cold, in fact I loved keeping the house just the right side of chill, with the heating mostly off and the window open at night, even during the storms we had (normally, as above, I have to keep the house hermetically sealed, dress in multi-layers, shawls, socks and hats indoors as the slightest hint of cold or wind makes my nerve pain unbearable and my muscles and joints seize-up).
  • I slept on a “normal” firmer mattress without the topper I had brought with me and far preferred this (at home, I need a foam mattress to cushion my overnight pain levels but this also makes me hot and can worsen hypermobility issues).
  • I was able to get out of bed nimbly, with no stiffness or limping, even in the middle of the night.
  • No need for my usual pain relief supplements, except on the day after the pub.
  • No need of hats and scarves indoors.
  • No need for guided meditations to get me off to sleep or in the night.
  • No prolonged night-time wakefulness or ruminating at 4am.
  • Joint pain almost non-existent, except in relation to long walks and time spent on a shingle beach in a fresh wind (fingers and wrists fine, legs expectably sore from walking, so what I call honest pain, rather than systemic meltdown).
  • No teeth pain in response to cold, food or toothpaste.
  • No inconvenient sugar lows or energy dips to speak of, even on outings.
  • Able to sit for longer (say, doing crafts) without toxic feeling building up in body.
  • No occipital or trigeminal neuralgia, though I had had this intensively for 6 weeks prior to the trip!
  • Complete absence of brain fog, thinking felt extra clear, wrote loads, chatted vivaciously.
  • No PoTs head symptoms (spacial issues, wooly headed, dizzy, vision issues etc) apart from the day after the pub meal, when they were severe.
  • Some blood pooling effects of PoTs when standing for longer periods but far less than usual and always with an obvious explanation such as an extra long walk (not completely random, as at home).
  • No fizzy nerve sensations, tingling, crawling skin, eye tics or other random “energetic” sensations.
  • Able to reboot with just a 10 min nap once or twice a day (not the usual sluggishness that tends to hang around).
  • Clear thinking, able to prioritise, not obsessional or “stuck” in rumination.
  • Creative! First time I had picked up a pencil to draw in a very long time, also did needlework, edited photos etc.
  • No need for calming supplements (normally take several throughout the day/night), needing less calming herbal tea, even able to drink caffeine with no ill-effects.
  • Able to eat some of my usual food avoidances such as refined sugar, in moderation, with no registerable adverse effects, which is extremely rare.
  • No sinus issues, able to breathe freely day and night, no need whatsoever of the steam inhaler used daily at home to enable me to get through the night.
  • Skin comfortable, clothes weren’t bothersome and in fact kept remarking how pleasant things such as fabric and the cut of my clothing felt.
  • Able to sleep perfectly well without the isolator switch that I have at home (that removes electric current from the room) as long as wifi and phones were off.
  • In spite of electrical overhead cables very close to the cottage, these didn’t bother me as they usually would and it felt as though the wide open spaces and low personal load of EMFs made all the difference.
  • Able to go out straight after a meal without experiencing a sugar crash.
  • Able to walk and go on excursions or spend time with family for longer, with quicker recovery times.
  • Able to tolerate shops and crowds in small towns without crashing fatigue or other adverse effects.
  • Able to use my phone on cellular and wifi for far longer times than normal if needed (usually manage a couple of minutes) because, once I turned them off, I was able to recover fully from the effect due to the electrically quiet location. Also, no doubt, because I wasn’t also getting exposed to many other routers and phones at the same time.
  • Sleep felt replenishing and noticed I was feeling more recovered, by degrees, every day.
  • No visual noise in the extremely dark nghts; dark looked dark, not loaded with sparkles (see below)!
  • Able to stand for half an hour at a time with the donkeys, my mind quiet, lost in an impromptu meditation whereas I normally struggle to stand for more than a minute without intense pain and my mind is seldom still for that long.
  • Cloud cover made no difference, I was fine on dull, rainy or damp days.
  • My mind was generally calmer, clearer, able to be still for long periods of time so that I could be fully present with my surroundings (normally, my mind seems to have to keep itself hyper-busy because awareness of my surroundings causes aggitation and pain).
  • Even when I could feel EMFs around, for instance if we put the wifi router on for half an hour, it felt as though the open spaces and, especially, trees were mitigating or absorbing them (those same trees councils are cutting down because they absorb/block 5G signals…).
  • I felt open and expansive, able to unfurl my awarenesses to notice everything that was going on around me in my environment because it didn’t feel threatening or painful. So I was joyfully able to notice every nuance of the changeable weather, all the sights and sounds of nature and animals on the farm and become a broader version of myself than I can be back home, where I feel like I’m flinching in pain a lot of the time (the electric fence effect, as above).

Good honest pain as compared to systemic meltdown

This phrase rang out to me on one of the days I was enjoying a good stride-out with none of my usual, intense, pain and discomfort levels through all of my bodily systems (how I typically feel as a base-line), just the healthy, stiff aches of a fifty-something woman who had been on a few good hikes over recent days. Here’s the thing, I’m not adverse to pain, or a “wuss” or extra-feeble or anything like that (I think these criticisms are often aimed at people with chronic pain conditions by those who don’t try to understand), its just so hard to explain that the kind of pain I generally live with is on a whole other level to standard headaches or muscle gripes from doing some gardening…which I don’t mind at all, they are a fact of life…its this whole other layer of all pervading, toxic-feeling, systemic discomfort that reduces my quality of life every day of the week, and it simply wasn’t hanging around as much while we were staying in this quiet place.

I have to add (its now a day and a half since I got back) that, by contrast, I now feel aggitated and like I want to crawl out of my own skin if I pay my body any attention. That skin is itchy/burning in places, making me want to scratch my torso and losen my clothes, as though I am bathed in static. My knee joints are painful and spongy, fingers and wrists hurt as I type, I have back my stiff painful gait, difficulty climbing stairs, feel bloated and sore in my stomach, soft tissues feel irritated and I’m generally sore all over. In the night, though we do a good job of blocking the blue street lamp, my vision is noisy, the room seemingly full of sparkles, the same effect as I glance into the shadow areas of this room during the daytime; I never seem to see true darkness in this environment because it appears loaded with energy. I can’t settle to anything much, except for wrtiting this post, because it feels as though there is a fire that needs putting out and my body is sending out the alarm, day and night.

Beware complacency and self-doubt

If this is my old “normal” then, rather than continue to take it for granted or lapse into complacency, I now see it in the full light of day, in stark contrast to how I was a few days ago and that can’t be ignored. Yet, already, I feel that part of me that becomes defeated and self-doubting under these pressures wanting to give in, delete this post and put up with it all as inevitable. But for this brief moment of contrast, I still have my determination intact and I know I need to harness that while I still have the will.

Because its one thing to accept “this is my lot in life” due to some chronic condition that I may have to face up to living with for the rest of my life because its apparently not fixable, but quite another to realise that it can be switched on or off (or at least down) according to the kind of environment I place myself in and the exposures I accept as normal. Its a whole other matter to realise that a version of the world touted as that so called “normal” (rapidly being rolled-out as the new “everywhere”…) can make a person feel like this, versus a far more natural environment, while such a thing exists. If I am the canary around here then surely other people should want to be made aware of this.

Determination

So what is my take-away here and what is the point of making a note of it while these observations are still fresh in my mind?

Well, I’m a person who has lived with chronic pain since about 2006…that fact remains…and many of the contributing factors to that still remain valid. For instance, gluten, glutamates, sugar, sulphites and oxalates all make my condition much worse, true, but I don’t believe its these food substances (in moderation) per se that my body rejects. What they all have in common is their effect on the nervous system. They all make a sensitive person (I would argue, any person) a whole lot more sensitive and therefore susceptible to the effects of EMFs; ironic, since modern day lifestyle advocates them all, to excess. We sit in crowded places, bathed in EMFs, and we gorge on the hidden sugar, added sulphites, modified wheat products and bottomless flavour enhancers that lurk in nine tenths of the food served up by commercial eateries and supermarkets, and this is deemed normal, by most people.

I know from direct experience, the healthier my body is (fuelled by a home-prepared organic diet), the easier I can cope with EMFs and, when my symptoms are at their very worse, I languish in a state of abject helplessness because I can’t even gather the energy or the brain power to do or think anything about it (this week away has given me SUCH clarity when it comes to acknowledging this one terrifying realisation about my predicament). Having made all the most dramatic lifestyle and diet adjustments possible over the past few years, and helpful though they are, yet still finding myself in severe pain, I can attest that these tweaks are just not enough to see me through another load of years living where there is no respite from the current, or ever increasing, EMF exposure at the same time as going through the inevitable aging process of my later decades. As it stands, the odds are stacked against me.

This week has shown me, I can be around technology, on my terms and in moderation but when I am bathed in it with no respite, I become severely unwell. If I can dip in and out of such exposures, I can manage my health reasonably. However, the opportunity for any of us to experience such a respite is fast becoming a figment of the past as there are very few places or situations left out of the scope of hefty EMF pollution.

The precarious situation I am in feels akin to holding a a tray of rolling pingpong balls, somewhat steadily, above my head on one hand, which takes all of my effort and focus yet knowing (not so deep down) that one day, fatigued as I am becoming, I will inevitably drop some or all of those balls…if I continue living this way. I can’t ignore the direct route from the kind of cellular inflammation, endocrine meltdown and nerve damage I am currently prone to, towards diabetes, dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, stroke and so on, especially post-menopause (since which my symptoms have increased hugely), and I have already had enough warning signs to alarm me. I am engaged in a constant juggle of precious, overlapping, self-managed symptoms…but, having now known what it might start to feel like if they were to abate, at least to some degree, I am left wondering how I might have felt if I had stayed living in that quiet location for weeks or even months. How could my experience be reinvented, like choosing a different timeline (which is, effctively, what I am talking about)?

Following my week away, I know I have to take action to move myself to a place with far less EMF exposure, pretty much NOW to have a chance of bouncing back from the worsening effects. This presents its own shed-load of problems and we have our family fill of those at the moment but I also know I have to apply my own oxygen mask first.

I have to garner this new found clarity and determination and give it form in these words and other reminders to myself, so that it lasts beyond the point where the depletion of my energy kicks in more regularly (as it will after a few more days back into so called “normality”), so that I continue to do something about the situation and MAKE the life-affirming choice that needs to be made, though it can be all too easy to surrender to the familiar. Without this provocation, we would be unlikely to move house for a handful of years as we love our house…but I have to make it all far more urgent than that, and I need to remember the importance of this, daily and without complacency.

A crowded place isn’t my place because I’m simply not wired that way

I know that part of this problem, for me, is that I also “feel people” as part of my sensitivity (and Myers Briggs stack as an INFJ – I am an Extroverted Feeler, and then some). In other words, its not just a sensory problem (Extroverted Sensing) and I do pick up on people in proximity. Yet somehow these two components are not disimilar to each other because they both amount to a version of “crowded”, whether I am crowded by the energy of people or the energy of their mobile devices. Either way, being crowded is not something that feels comfortable to my introverted nature and modern life has a tendency to bring those crowds right into your personal living space, something that makes my whole system scream for help. What helped me thrive on the farm was the proximity of animals, particularly two donkeys I formed a close bond with, and this is something important to know and accept about myself…I thrive far more when around animals and birds than around hordes of people, especially strangers frenetically charging past my door on their daily commute. This isn’t something to ignore or apoligise for; it needs to be factored into my vision of the future, as an essential component of my health plan, as for any introvert, especially the most introverted.

Proactive and positive

If, by thinking these thoughts aloud, I happen to assist one other person with these sensitivities to rememeber that they, too, have a choice and can stand by their own traits by curating their own life experience, stepping out of mainstream to claim their own unique corner of comfort in this world, before it is all gobbled up by sameness, then it will have be worth the sharing.

Meanwhile, if changes can’t be made immediately, there are things we can do to mitigate the worse effects. Yes, get out into wide open spaces, into Nature, as much as possible, regardless of the weather (this healthy habit can slip for me as the weather turns cold and my body goes into more pain…I need to make sure it doesn’t). I can get away more often, and we already have plans to do so, approximately once a month if we can. I can get stricter about my diet where I have let some of those foods that make sensitivity worse (such as sugar!) slip back in over the summer, and can stick to a light and healthy, plant-based diet with fresh organic produce, regardless of the autumn/winter season, and plenty of water, so that inflammation and excess fat storage are kept at bay as these really don’t help.

I can work with energy to mitigate the effects, for instance I have a course from Prune Harris called EMFs, 5G and You just sitting there unplayed in my stash of things to catch up on so its time that I sat down and listened to her material so I can make it part of my daily routine. I can use “devices” around my home (this is where you need to do your homework, many of them are bogus) to mitigate the effect; I always use the Memon plug-in, even in my car, but also one that isn’t really a device at all, called Focused Life-Force Energy (FLFE) which factors EMF mitigation into its packages for the home and as a portable solution. I have used this for over a year and the immediate, noticeable effect was astonishing, as was the adverse effect when I accidentally turned it off for a day and felt awful. There are lots of studies shared on their website so I suggest you explore for yourself. There are so many more resources appearing all the time as more people notice the detrimental effects of EMFs on their bodies and quality of life, you just have to scout around.

The summary of all the above is that I have to stop panicing and stay proactive!

There is a distinct point, right after we turn that all-important corner by heading towards something we really want, instead of running away or shrinking back from what we don’t want, that something magical and potential-filled starts to happen. Its is as though we are presented with the opportunity to harness an incredible new source of energy that we never even dared imagine existed, let alone that we would have direct access to it. In fact, we had probably reached the point of assuming we had no personal power left at all and were on the verge of putting up or giving up.

That’s the point I am at, today, as I both notice what I am sliding back into but, also, recognise that I have known…and felt… something quite different, which is all that it takes to break through the hard ceiling of a stuck paradigm. And this is key for me to acknowledge because, by nature, I am an Intuitive first and a Feeler second (INFJ), so once I start to listen to these sources of information I really know that I am coming home to myself and harnessing my gifts, speaking my truth. If other people don’t want to listen, well, that’s up to them and we each have our own journey but I know what I feel and what my intuition is telling me about that, and I am taking direct action, not by trying to change the world but by doing what I can for myself, modelling that potential, leading by example because its what I have to do for my own long term wellbeing.

Due to this unplanned experiment in life choices, I have rediscovered my morale, pumped up my determination, polished all my hopes of achieving a different daily experience than the one I generally make-do with, and this is the key. At this precise moment (in spite of the fact I feel all the physical effects described above) and largely because I still carry visceral memories of my week away in the very cells of my body, held as memories that warm my heart and make me smile when I think back to them, I have been reminded that we each have a choice; we don’t have to languish in any situation that is wearing us down, which is a universal truth applicable to many more of the so-called “stuck” or “inevitable” situations of our world than I could possibly count; we are only stuck for as long as we believe that we are.


Disclaimer: This blog, it’s content and any material linked to it are presented for autobiographical, anecdotal purposes only. They are not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or prescribing. This article does not constitute a recommendation or lifestyle advice. Opinions are my own based on personal experience.

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Getting a grip on your weak spot

It can take evolving our most challenging foible, our most persistent Achilles’ heel, the very weak spot that repeatedly catches us out, dumbfounds or blind-sides us, to make the next evolutionary leap. Sharing a post I just published on Living Whole which feels pretty darned revelant to anyone looking to deep-dive this, sometimes, painful yet profoundly rewarding area of self-enquiry.


It’s been a while since I wrote about Myers Briggs personality types though the method remains one of the most consistently useful tools I have ever used to come to deeply understand myself.

Yesterday, I happened upon a particular foible of each personality type called a “grip stress” state, something I had never come across before. It quickly became the jigsaw piece that has filled in one of the most substantial gaps in my self-understanding, ever…so I became resolved to share about it in a post. Here’s the portion of the article that really caught my attention:

“Grip stress makes the INFJ suddenly start behaving like an unhealthy, imbalanced ESTP. We lose our long-range focus, our typical empathetic nature and become focused on indulgence and sensory pleasure. We may become impulsive and reckless, seeking out thrills or enjoyment even if it’s dangerous. For some of us this means overeating, for others it means bungee jumping.”Understanding INFJ “Grip” Stress – Psychology Junkie

I think this description is all the more shocking to an INFJ personality (or anyone who knows what that looks like) simply because its all the very qualities that are most unlike an INFJ, bundled into one horror-show of a package that I can relate to having experienced for myself at certain points in my life (and, as its author continues, “it usually isn’t pretty”). 

Grip states apply to all Myers Briggs types, each one being determined by whatever the inferior function of that type happens to be, but the version of this foible that presents for the INFJ personality seems to be the example most often written about because it is just so extreme (there’s a surprise; INFJs never do things by half!) and, as it happens, I am that definitive INFJ type so I can add some personal insight to this topic.

So, to start with, I intend to draw on a few of the articles I’ve found most helpful, to give you an overview. Then I will fill in the blanks of some of the things this new understanding has enabled me to garner about my own most-bewildering life experiences, which may then be of use to other INFJs who see themselves with this foible and who may have had similar experiences of acting completely out of character when the chips are down.

As I said, the foible I refer to is called a “grip stress” state (a wonderfully evocative description which conjures for me exactly how I feel in certain circumstances where its as though I am in the grip of some strange external power causing me to behave quite differently from my normal personality traits although, really, its all generated from the inside). Here’s another summary:

“When we are under pressure, we tend to fall back on, and start to over-use, our usual preferred style of operation – our leading Core Character or dominant function. If the stress is too extreme or continues for too long, we will exhaust all the energy of our dominant function and our psyche flips into the opposite Core Character – our inferior function. In Type dynamics terms, we are caught in the grip of our inferior function. That is, we are taken over by the least preferred and least practised part of our personality. People experience this process as being overwhelming, finding that they behave and feel quite unlike themselves, which often comes with a degree of embarrassment or remorse. “ Core Characters under great stress: the grip experience – The Myers Briggs Company.

So, as I mentioned, this tendency to default to our inferior function when under severe stress affects all personality types, however the INFJ has a particular version of it.

“Grip stress occurs when you, as an INFJ, have worn out your mental resources and are completely burned out. This form of stress is more severe than “everyday,” manageable stress”. When It All Becomes Too Much: The INFJ Under ‘Grip Stress’ – Susan Storm, Introvert Dear.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with the Extroverted Sensing (Se) cognitive function per se (its a wonderful, useful faculty to be able to immerse fully in the moment, navigating via the thrill of direct sensory experiences), except, for an INFJ, it is our weakest skill-set and, when under extreme stress, we seem to default to a particularly archaic version of it, a description borrowed from this passage from a book on the topic by Naomi Quenk:

“As their hold on their dominant and auxiliary functions further diminishes, the qualities of inferior Extraverted Sensing manifest in an obsessive focus on external data, overindulgence in sensual pleasures, and an adversarial attitude toward the outer world….What the introverted intuitive represses most of all is the sensation of the object, and this colours his whole unconscious. It gives rise to a compensatory extraverted sensation function of an archaic character. The unconscious personality can best be described as an extraverted sensation type of a rather low and primitive order. Instinctuality and intemperance are the hallmarks of this sensation, combined with an extraordinary dependence on sense-impressions. This compensates the rarefied air of the intuitive’s conscious attitude.” “Was That Really Me? How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality” – Naomi Quenk.

When intense stress happens, we INFJs become oddly impulsive, almost as though seeking proof of life through extreme sensory stimulation (or, this is my experience). Perhaps its a case that we can no longer see that all important (to the INFJ) “bigger picture” and so we demand to find other forms of stimulation in equal proportion to the amount of thrill our awareness of the whole universe usually provides to us (again, how it feels to me). Unfortunately, this demands an excessive amount of thrill and sensory feedback and can lead straight into impulsive, inappropriate, excessive, compulsive, repetitive, destructive behaviours. The way in which Extroverted Sensing can be underdeveloped in an INFJ bears comparison with the skill-level of a child and this is a theme I keep reading about; how our Extroverted Sensing can be like a three year-old run amok.

“Your behavior will be completely out of character in the grip of extraverted sensing (Se). You may become obsessed with details about the outside world. You might start overdoing sensing activities. You try to control everything in your environment and make endless lists. You may walk through your house and become hyper aware of all the things that need fixing or that are out of place. External blame often pops up for INFJs in the grip, too. If you stub your toe on your bed, you may immediately get mad at the bed for being there (or the person who put it there)! Any activity that involves your senses can be overdone (eating, drinking, exercising, watching TV, etc). INFJ women in the grip are especially susceptible to obsessing about an aspect of their physical appearance and how they appear to others.” “What happens to an INFJ “in the grip?” Leslie McDaniel Coaching

Such a grip state can often follow a phase of being required to “extrovert” too much (when, as an INFJ, you are designed to be deeply introverted) and I can very-much relate to that as a source of profound stress and even chronic fatigue and illness. Of course, most people can probably recognise being in such a grip state at some point, perhaps especially introverts provoked by too much need to engage externally. 

“When you experience grip stress, it’s because you have exhausted your normal ways of thinking and coping. You might be ill, suffering from a breakup, dealing with intense grief, or coping with physical exhaustion. All personality types experience grip stress at different points in their lives. As difficult as it is to go through, it is common, and sometimes unavoidable”. When It All Becomes Too Much: The INFJ under “Grip Stress” – Susan Storm, Introvert Dear.

The difference seems to be the degree of “grip” that an INFJ experiences…and just how rudamentary their compensatory coping skills are, because it is their inferior Se function that tries to step in and fill the breach. Hopefully this weak area improves (somewhat) with age and experience, if their coping mechanisms start to calm down or take a slightly different format (as mine have) as life also settles down. However, the legacy of earlier grip stress occurances can leave the reminant of trauma hovering, as I will touch on below, especially if the INFJ personality feels deep remorse or shame, even unresolved bewilderment, around those circumstances.

Now, it just so happens, I had to “extrovert” almost non-stop, in busy and crowded places, morning, noon and night, for three days in a row last week and am certainly feeling the deep fatigue from that extraordinary situation. Having to “extrovert” that much is very rare for me these days and even more so post-pandemic, in fact this was my first time in almost two years! Venturing away from home and being on the go all the time with chronic health challenges is always pretty stressful, even when you are enjoying yourself, because of travel, extra exertion, lack of rest and sleeping in different beds etc, so there was that too, all adding to my overwhelm load. I have certainly experienced a great deal of enhanced pain since we got back and this can often send me into a state of profound overwhelm without me even acknowledging it to myself (my obsessive behavours are often the biggest clue to how much pain I am in). So, here’s a case-study, am I currently in a grip stress state after doing too much “extroverting” a few days ago? Let’s look at the signs…

Fairly classically for this middle-aged version of my “grip” state (excessive research being a typical outlet for it), I notice that I have been deep into researching something profoundly life-altering this week (moving house!), something I would normally be quite loathe to dive into as it is just too triggering for me to contemplate moving just yet. Still, I have been oddly urgent about it these past few days and also uncharacteristically gung-ho since we got back from our trip, not to mention impulsive when it comes to how far I have actually got into “doing” things such as actually speaking to agents (rather than just passively researching). So much so, I think I may have frightened my husband into believing this is all happening rather too fast!

To be honest, I have even managed to frighten myself via how wide I have now opened this project up and a big part of me now wants to stop it. So, yes, I now recognise I have been in a version of “grip” state since our exhausting trip which, as ever, has only added to my stress to the point I feel I need to take a good long pause. Today, I don’t even know who that intense person was, researching the hell out of things that trigger me (I’ve distracted myself away from the activity by writing this blog…), and I simply long to pull back from the whole Big Idea I was cooking up, so that I can gain back my sense of centre and perspective, not to mention my intuition rather than running hell-bent towards some scary objective I became mentally fixed upon “out of the blue” for 48 hours. These two bedfellows of my psyche – the go-head, FAST part and the slow, intuitive part – can be pretty uneasy partners at times when I am most overwhelmed…adding to the overwhelm and stress.

I also notice how intensively I’ve been researching since I got home…for many hours at one sitting yesterday, even though I am meant to be recovering from our weekend and yet I have been pushing myself as though I have an urgent deadline, driven by the intense sensations of time-pressure and stress themselves (as I know I used to be when I was a student, often leaving things until the sense of urgency was really cranked sky-high). I know I have dived into similar projects in the past when most overwhelmed by other circumstances; diverting myself into projects such as planning complex holidays abroad or purchasing large items for the home, all on a similar wave of stress-induced “grip”iness. However, in a sense, I would rather deal with this “mature” version of the trait (which sometimes has a nice outcome such as a well-researched holiday) than the version I used to flip into when I was in my youth, which would get messy and self-destructive.

Because I often come round from these “grip” phases with buyers remorse or in agony over having to live with some of the consequences of this other persona who took me over for a while; somewhat like coping with ADHD yet with rarer (but sometimes bigger, more contrasting) swings of the personality pendulum.

In my youth, a “while” of being taken over by grip could last long enough to do some real harm or create legacies of pain. Like the period of not being myself that turned out to be a whole chunk of my mid to late 20s, immediately following the unbearable stress of being raped by someone I had previously liked and trusted, having no one I felt I could confide in or process this with (Susan Storm describes a similar situation in her article Understanding INFJ Grip Stress). Or the whole year of uncharacteristically impulsive behaviour, drinking, shopping-up debts and socialising, behaving in a haphazard and even reckless way that I engaged in during the sheer terror of my divorce whilst doing a terribly stressful job I wasn’t suited to. I now recognise how those long phases of feeling so disconnected from the true, recognisable sense of “selfhood” that was my personality backbone in the earlier parts of my life left deep scars in my psyche; ones which have hung with me ever since.

Both of those phases of my life left me in such deep remorse and shame that I have never fully recovered from them and the remnant of self-loathing stays with me, still causing me to flinch when I look back. Its like those eras simply don’t match the rest of my life or the person I recognise as the the quiet, introverted, private and deeply thoughtful INFJ that is how I mostly identify. The concept of “grip” helps me to understand them, finally, so I can start to grasp why I became all about the quick-sensory fixes during those times, throwing all the deeper stuff to the wind and behaving like someone who just didn’t care. No other theory that I have tried to apply to these times has ever felt authentic but this makes perfect sense to me and allows me to process the previously unprocessable. 

“Extroverted Sensation focuses on total immersion in the sensory world. It’s the function you use when you dive into the details all around you and enjoy them for exactly what they are. It’s tasting, touching, and interacting with the present moment as immensely as possible. Extroverted Sensation isn’t concerned with underlying meanings, long-term ramifications, and the concerns of Intuition — especially not at an inferior level of maturity. Because of this, if you’re an INFJ who’s in the grip of Extroverted Sensation, you tend to use it in an immature, haphazard, and reckless way that you often regret.”When It All Becomes Too Much: The INFJ Under ‘Grip Stress’

The remorse that comes from it can be overwhelming, in and of itself, hanging around so intensely you feel like you can no longer live with yourself. I can recall feeling, at just 24, as though my life was completely over or ruined to all intents and purpose (the visual I had, the morning after the rape, was of ink tipping over, pouring black stains all over my once pristine life and no chance of ever cleaning it up; INFJs also have the foible of intense perfectionism, which can lead to cut-and-dried perception of times when circumstances no longer meet the high benchmarks we set ourselves). This thew me into such intense stress that it began a cycle of repeated behaviours of excess, remorse and terrible decisions (my first marriage!), lasting a number of years. It was the birth of my daughter that finally snapped me out of it, although I had a marked relapse during the divorce era and, that time, it was my body that called “time” by forcing me to stop because of chronic health issues. Again, the remorse and self-criticism that linger, following a “grip” phase, can be extra-profound for the INFJ and feed into a poor state of health:

“Most personality types feel somewhat critical of themselves after being in the grip. INFJs are very critical of themselves after an episode because it’s seen as evidence of imperfection.“ What happens to an INFJ “in the grip?” – Leslie McDaniel Coaching

So, here’s a big question, could the INFJ “grip” state lead into chronic health conditions? Are my own chronic pain issues a form of extreme and long-lasting “grip” state (a search for intense sensations as distraction from overwhelm), or a post-traumatic reaction to prevous grip stress occurances that linger as sources of remorse, sadness and confusion? 

The thing is, INFJ is not the dull-librarian of a personality type that some may regard it to be. Its inner workings are extremely fast moving and intricate, like white lightning running along wires of awareness as complex and unfathomable as a meadow full of overlapping spiders’ webs, covering everything in sight. Its ponderings get into everything, all imaginable topics of consideration, all pretty-much conducted on the inside. My interests certainly poke around into a whole spectrum of life queries and are deeply metaphysical a their core, nosying into all the corners of the universe and tirelessly seeking connections. No topic is “just” simple, isolated or singular as all things are regarded as part of an over-arching pattern and this is where my personality dwells; you could say, its happy place and natural state.

However, when stress pushes me too hard, something in me flips and all that energy, that entire modality, now turns inside out and begins to look to the outside for the same degree of “kicks” as it got from the inside before…only, the outside world, where senses dominate, is far from my speciality area, being the consumate introvert. In other words Extroverted Sensing (Se) is my weakest spot.

Suddenly, I need my fix from sensations and that can (and has) led to times in life when I have become the unleashed consumer in every sense of the word; spending impulsively (yes) but also gobbling up sensations, thrills, encounters, even danger, in fact everything I could lay my hands on, especially in my younger years, as already mentioned. Following the sexual trauma that I had no way of processing adequately, I not only behaved in ways that I didn’t recognise as being me but which attracted people who thought that persona really was me (a far more extroverted, larger than life, spontaneous, dare-devil person than I really am) when it really wasn’t. That factor has bewildered both me, and them, for years. Who was that? Who am I now? Why have I (seemingly) changed and become so boring, more insular and naval-gazing, than they ever recall me being? Loss of continuity of selfhood, and of friendships, has only added to my stress load over the years.

It was all too easy, given my relative youth at the time, for me to assume that this other chaotic version was the “real” me and that this was who I had grown up to become, if a rather sad and cynical outcome for the deep-thinking and sensitive girl I was before so, for a time, I invested in it further, as though there was no other choice. Now, looking back, I can regard it as just a sizeable blip in my life, compared to the person I am now, who is a steady continuum of the person I was as a child and young adult. One of my closest and most lasting friends is someone who knew me as that very young adult and who recognises me still; from the time before all that grip-causing trauma happened and, as luck would have it, we weren’t so much in touch during that other era when I was behaving oddly, so she skipped all the confusion and I’m glad of that. Other friendships, made during my “grip” phase, have fallen by the wayside, along with the old life I no longer recognise. The stress of this disjunct life led directly into chronic health issues…perhaps, unsurprisingly given a sense of continuation and a need to deeply know, trust and respect myself, are so very important to me. I felt lost to myself, for a pretty long time and that was the worse thing in the world to go through as an INFJ, to whom sense of self is literally everything and far more important than anything material.

During the confused phase, I began to doubt the version of self that had seemed so very rock-solid until that point. If that solid sense of self had been so easily dismissed by a single event then who was I really, what was real, was I even loveable (by anyone else or even myself) or just another fickle personality driven by base urges, the kind of person I had never really understood? Why was I so driven by sensations, suddenly, when I was used to diving for something much deeper and more profound?

Here lies a clue to my health. Chronic health certainly calls in intense sensations…pain of every variety, which is what I still live with daily. Is there a layer of myself where my brain thinks it is “saving me” from worse excesses by sending me these sensory distractions to consume my sensory attention constantly? There have been times that I have wondered something similar to this before, but it is realising about INFJ grip stress that has got me far closer to understanding it.

Here’s another important factor: I see now how I do get carried away by excitement, the kind of exitement that converts pretty easily into a fixation with the thrills of extroverted sensing, when it is not otherwise taken up with more abstract yet, to me as an INFJ, engaging matters. When I am internally focussed, that perpetually excited person is who I am and there’s nothing wrong with that per se, plus its not at all dangerous to get excited by ideas and abstractions. I get excited about a lot of things that other people might consider to be abstract or obscure but, to me, they are everything, making life worth living, bringing me constant entertainment and joy. My innate excitement about “human consciousness”, “nature”, “the universe” and everything in it has carried me though many a dark time when other people might feel as though they are bored rigid or that all the lights have been turned off because their focus is on their immediate, physical environment. Mine is “out there” somewhere cosmic, looking at the vastly bigger picture and gaining its thrill from far more reliable sources of thrill; ones that are far less conditional, always available. This is why I gain so much intrinsic pleasure from my spiritual perspective; without it, its as though all the colours are turned down to monochrome.

However turned around to face the external/sensory field, that excitement can quickly carry me away into the realms of inappropriate behaviour, being or doing too much, too impulsively, just (basically) “too much” everything because, in the world of the physical, we have to set limits and boundaries, we can’t dive all-in. In my younger days, lack of grasping this is what got me into trouble, like the night I was sexually abused, which began as a night when I was quite over-the-top exuberant with the thrill of life and wanted to share it with the world, spilling my own edges with enthusiasm and thus completely off my guard. I, quite simply, didn’t see it coming and my usually pivotal intuition had completely left the building (excessive alcohol always did that to me too, so, when excitement led to more drinking there was a double effect). All these factors added to my self-blame and remorse after the event and I spent many years, unconsciously, wary of my own excitement states afterwards.

I realise now, that kind of excitement can be both uplifting and contagious but it can also (in the world as it currently is…) lead to liberties being taken. Something similar happened last weekend when my husband and I were reunited with our daughter and the three of us must have been beaming joy and excitement to be together as we sat outside a cafe chattering away, enjoying all the sensory thrills of being in a lovely place with good food and each other. This excitement attracted the attention of a character who, in hindsight, I would have avoided quite utterly based on my pure instincts…but, here’s the thing, turned inside out by my sensory excitement, my instincts (usually my greatest super-power) were dialled way down low and I let this guy get a foothold into our family circle since he insisted on talking to us, asking personal things he had no business demanding to know about each of us.

It quickly turned dark and uncomfortable, like a kind of daylight robbery of the energetic variety, making my daughter feel very ill-at-ease since he targeted her especially, and I regret now that I didn’t step up to my full power to close down his attempts to bother us (in the end, we curtailed our stay there and walked away; in hindsight, that didn’t feel assertive enough and I was annoyed at myself). This is what happens to the INFJs strongest traits when they are dialled down to lean more concertedly into our lesser ones; yes, we can seem big or magnetic in our enthusiasm or “light” energy because of how expansive we naturally are (which draws attention) but this is often simultaneous with loosing our foothold with the very skills we normally navigate by. Instead, we are left to our weaker “tools”, similar to when a left handed person is forced to use their right hand or vice versa. 

I have also noticed that, because social situations aren’t my forte as an INFJ, the energetic depletion I experience in socially demanding situations because of that weakness (which has only grown more profound over the years) leaves me vulnerable to this kind of wrong-footed scenario, where the very skills that normally serve me so well are too off-centre to be of use when I most need them. Chronic fatigue syndrome has only added to this effect, making me a walking target if I am not careful about avoiding overwhelm or drawing boundaries.

What am I left with from all this new realisation? Is there any point to knowing about it? Well, just as I have always found profound value in exploring the Myers Briggs method, I have found the same to be true of any system of enhancing self-awareness so that we can see what might otherwise be off to the side, sat squarely in our blind-spot, completely out of sight though it potentially affects our behaviour or our health every day of the week. Awareness sheds light on our unconscious traits, not so we can judge them but so that we can come to understand them rather better and this is, in a sense, a super-power that we then acquire, becoming more valuable to us than to not have the trait or foible in the first place. In a way, we can reach the point of saying “I am glad that I have this trait…now that I see it and understand it, because it helps me to know myself better”.

I recall when I did my first deep-dive into Myers Briggs, gobbling every book and resource I could on the topic, I learned that our weakest trait is usually the one we tackle or master the latest in our lives out of all the four components of our personality stack, perhaps in our middle years or beyond. Until that point, it can remain the one thing, the Achilles’ heel, that constantly causes us to flounder or trip up. Facing up to it makes me think of a mid-life crisis of sorts although, as with every midlife crisis, as we hit up against that one thing that has been bothering us for years, now eyeball to eyeball with it, there is always the opportunity to grow from the close encounter. Perhaps that is what my health crisis has been for me and realising so much about this sensory component, via the “grip” state, could be a big clue to how and why it happened to me.

I have been all-too aware of having hit upon such a “maturity challenge/opportunity” throughout most of my years of chronic health journeying. I am certainly not the same person who first embarked on the trek and would not choose to go back to the beginning, for anything in this world. How am I doing? The jury is still out but I can now look back at my younger self with compassion, if not always full understanding (that is a lifetime’s work) though that is now getting there in leaps and bounds.

This new information about grip stress adds a very large portion of the missing understanding in one go because, to me at least, it makes total sense. Turned inside out, so (in a sense) my innards pointing outwards, I would be a lose canon on deck as the same rules don’t apply in the physical world as in the universal “field” where I have always chosen to dwell and which is my more-familiar place. Do I learn from this that ranging too far, taking anything to excess (even on the inside…), is not such a healthy state for our physical-human form? It can certainly prove to be seriously ungrounding.

I can also start to become more aware of the signs that I am slipping into a “grip stress” state. What can I do to divert or defuse that when it happens, before it takes over? How can I teach myself rules of engagement for those rare times I turn my focus to the sensory more so than the intuitive, so that I don’t overdo it or lose my power? How can I make the sensory realm a healthier place to be, by (I’ve already done much of this work over the last 10 years) seeking my sensory kicks from being in nature rather than immersing in human-devised methods of sensory titillation. I can watch myself for signs of joining in with behaviours that aren’t really mine (defaulting to the dominant “norms” in social settings, in order to blend in…that old foible of mine) which only ever results in me depleting my innate guidance skills and personal power. I can pace myself to avoid getting carried away, whatever my “grip” outlet happens to be on a particular day (such as manic research, impulsive decisions, overdoing some activity or other, over indulgence, compulsive spending, worrying or ruminating obsessively, writing too many words, talking too much or generally oversharing in ways I later regret, spending too long on technology, even taking too many photographs).

I can ask myself “what has got me into this grip?” then use all my tools to let go of its squeeze upon me, liberating myself with breathing and mindfulness, visualising softness coming into any tension points that I happen to become aware that I am holding in various parts of the body (increased body awareness can be another route out of a “grip” state). I can acknowledge the inner child in me that is feeling completely overwhelmed and offer her other outlets (I’d been doing that work anyway). I can bring myself back into the present moment, into gratitude, as a means of anchoring in my body, where stress can’t get to me so very much because I am fully present and aware of my senses here-and-now, not needing to go off in search of them by means of over-stimulation. I can explore the posibility that pain is just an invitation from my body to stay more present with my actual sensory awarenesses, without needing to venture off in search of even more of them beyond the scope of my tolerance levels as a highly sensitive being.

Finding the source…as in, the REAL source…of the stress is the very key to the door, so that it can be looked straight in the eye and dealt with face-on, before it develops or takes over.

So, this has been, for me, a gigantuan piece of the jigsaw of self-realisation and I would expect that whatever Myers Briggs personality type a person happens to be, the same could be true for anyone interested in how they respond to being under intense stress, perhaps causing them to flip towards using their very weakest traits (their Myers Briggs inferior function) to handle their biggest crises, which is a bizarre turn of events when you think about it. Imagine how many of us potentially default to our weakest, least evolved, tools when pressured and the combined effect this has upon the collective when there is a whole lot of stress going about in the world. For my husband as an INFP, for instance, his “grip stress” state is to find himself thinking through all the logical details of life too much during periods of the day (or night!) when he should be chilling-out or using his personal values and emotions, being his dominant function of Introverted Feeling (Fi), as his main guide, as he generally does when not so stressed-out. This is his inferior Extroverted Thinking (Te) function trying to take over in a crisis (and is his absolute nemesis…he loathes to spend time over-thinking and seldom does!) and can quickly lead to panic, overwhelm, lack of sleep, huge amounts of self-criticism and loss of self-confidence (thankfully, he seldom gets overwhelmed as he has such a calm-demeanour, thus I don’t get to see him in this state very often). 

So, as you can see, each type has its own “grip stress” foible to be explored, by looking into the inferior trait and noticing if this sometimes becomes the default mode, in lieu of your dominant function, in times of severe stress. Seeing it in the clear light of day can defuse the grip stress state and lead to far better understanding of how to evolve the inferior trait, enabling you to move through the stress in a new and far healthier fashion, something we could all benefit from learning in these high stress times which are, nontheless, loaded with evolutionary potential if we but dare to do the inner work.

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