Saturday, May 21, 2022

Solitude

    I renewed my vows this month. Since I've been re-reading and reflecting on my Rule of Life for the occasion, I thought I'd write about some of it for the blog this week. I got as far as the three vows of Solitude, Silence, Simplicity, and my word-count was already about twice what it needs to be. So I'm just going to talk about Solitude, what it means to me, how I define and delimit it, why I love it, why I choose to renew the vow for a fourth year. 

    First, though -- since, lately, I see just about everything through the lens of "neurodiversity" -- let me make this really clear. Solitude is a religious calling. I may talk about how it suits me and my hyperreactive nervous system, and I how I understand the two together, but this is just my picture. This is really important: neurodiversity poses all kinds of unique challenges for relationships, but most people across the spectrum want intimacy, and -- with self-knowledge, self-acceptance, and good communication -- there is no reason why they cannot have it. Plenty of people, introverts like me, with neurocognitive systems just like mine, have happy, mutually enriching, long-lasting romantic partnerships. I want to be a hermit, I'm not settling for it.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Adios España ... where to next?

    I've decided to move on to another European country. I came to Spain first because it's my best second language, so it was a lower barrier to entry. Now, however, I have discovered a barrier to settling here -- getting a Spanish driver's license -- that is much lower for some other countries in my 3rd and 4th languages (i.e., Portugal, France, Belgium). Spain does not have reciprocity with the US or with any US state for driver's licenses. I would have to start from scratch, like any teenager. And it's a process I'm not willing to go through, now that I know that any of those other countries would just trade my old Maryland license for a new national one with no drama whatsoever. But I have gone through some internal drama on the way to making this decision.... 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Fantasy Me --> Real Me --> Ideal Me

     I've spent a lot of time, since becoming a hermit, getting to know who I really am, letting go of the perfectionistic fantasies of who I could be if I just tried harder, and embracing the reality of myself with all my inborn weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Separating Fantasy Me from Real Me has been a thread through this whole blog. Coming to accept myself as I am has involved grieving the loss of who I wish I were.

    Now I am in a new phase of the journey, beginning to explore Ideal Me. What's the difference between Fantasy and Ideal? 

    Fantasy Me is built out of ideas that come from outside of myself. Images of an iconic, mythical, holy hermit; a mash-up of all the things other people have seemed to want me to be, gathered together over the last 55 years; an angry or desperate denial of the parts of me that I wish weren't there. Fantasy Me is the mask I have used to try to hide my weaknesses from the world; but I've ended up hiding myself from myself.

    Ideal Me is built on the foundation of Real Me, out of all my own individual strengths, weaknesses, passions, values, and possibilities. Real Me is at a halfway point: I've learned a lot about who and how I am today, and a lot about why. But I have still a ways to go to get to know who I might become in the future. Who do I even want to be? What are the things about myself that I love? What are my gifts, my talents? What do I love to do, and to think about? What do I care about the most? How do I want to live? What conditions do I need to thrive? What energizes me, and what saps my energy? What do other people see in me, that I can't see in myself? 

    How have I shrunk over the years, because my weaknesses (unacknowledged, misunderstood, unsupported) undermined my strengths? What did I think, when I was a child, that I would love to spend my life doing? And where did those dreams get derailed? Are some of them still shiny dreams, that I regret abandoning? And are there valuable clues still in the old Fantasy Me, clues to what I value and admire?

    There is a whole new learning process to go through, to rediscover who I might be if I believed in myself, if I'm willing to try and fail, to learn new things. Including learning how to support and cushion my vulnerabilities, so that they don't hold me back from becoming more. Learning to believe in myself has to start with a leap of faith. It takes understanding that growth is gradual, that it takes more than a mindset shift, it takes stretching and strengthening parts of me that had been disused and disconnected. It takes trial and error. And it starts with a clear vision of the goal, a vision of Ideal Me.

+++ PEACE +++

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Positive Disintegration

    Last Sunday, I went again to the local parish for Mass. Oh, how I miss my monastery and the oblate community there! I sat there last Sunday feeling that old familiar feeling ... feeling like an alien among the congregation. And I don't mean because I'm a foreigner in Spain! The Costa del Sol is full of foreigners. No, I'm used to feeling like an alien in a regular parish setting. I think it's something a lot of neurodiverse people know about, judging by the name of one online community for people on the autism spectrum: wrongplanet.net. And I'm wondering, what is it about my monastic oblate community that is so different? Why do I feel so at home with those people, and not with these?

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Learning to Surf

     When I was a kid, I loved to play in the surf, on the mid-Atlantic coastline. The waves there are usually only a few feet high, big enough for a little kid to find exciting, but not too big for her to body-surf with all her big siblings coaching and watching out for her. I learned that the ocean is a powerful, unpredictable thing. I learned to dive through the waves on the way out, and to ride them back in to shore. I learned, when a wave would take me by surprise and knock me off my feet, to hold my breath, curl up and roll with it, let it pass, before trying to struggle up onto my feet again. I learned about the power of riptides, how fatal it can be to try to swim against them, and how to go sideways instead, parallel to the shore, until the rip looses its grip. 

    One of the key concepts I'm learning from my ADHD life-coach is called "surfing."

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Happy Hermit 2.0

    In 2019, I took early retirement, and became a hermit. I was burned out, and had been for years. I had very little understanding of why I was such a hot mess. During my almost 3 years as a hermit, I have learned more about myself than I ever did before. Especially, I have learned about neurodiversity, and gained a much better understanding of how my brain and nervous system work. I've gotten more aware of what my quirks are, where my weaknesses are, what my inborn vulnerabilities are, and how to take the weight off them so they don't drag me under. I'm learning to take the weight off of my weaknesses, so that I can lean more into my strengths and begin to thrive.

    So a few months ago, I realized that the burnout was over, that I had recovered -- and that I was starting to get bored. I needed a new challenge, something for my mind to dig into, something new to learn, a new way to grow.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

The Second Precept

     The Second Precept of Buddhism is "To refrain from taking that which is not given." The obvious equivalent is "Thou shalt not steal."  When I came across the 2nd Precept this morning, however, my mind went past the surface meaning to two other related principles. The first is not to grasp at or cling to the good things in life; the second, not to rage against the bad things. That which is given to us, in each moment, is all that is given.