Purveyor of Pleasure

Delving into my humanity and the joys and pitfalls of an overanalytical nature.

Tag: thesis baby

Never Finished, Only Abandoned

I just can’t seem to get anything fully out of me.

Or I just can’t finish anything.

I try to write and leave drafts abandoned. I have started reading so many books that I have never finished. I have wanted to finish so many things. But, since Grad School, I’m not sure I can complete anything anymore.

It feels like Grad School PTSD.

And probably it is.

I had to work so hard to finish that thesis. That Thesis Baby I gestated for far too long and that nearly broke me as it came out. I strained myself beyond my limits and cracked myself wide open, with thousands of micro-tears running across every inch of me by the time I was through. No part of me untouched by the intensity of such a labor.

I used to love to read, to write.

But the words don’t want to come out anymore.

I have all these ideas and stories in me that need to get out, but I’ve been trapped, afraid. Now I disassociate when trying to write or read for almost any period of time. I can do it in short bursts sometimes, but can’t seem to successfully get through an entire poem or blog or chapter, starting to get locked up and anxious, uncomfortable, unable to focus, unable to breathe. I numb myself, yet again, because that is what I know to do. Freeze, but smile on the outside. Act like everything is fine while I’m actually dying inside.

That’s hyperbole.

Somewhat.

So, I sit. I stare at the page or the blinking cursor. Or I re-read the same paragraph or sentence over a few times, reading the words but not comprehending the meaning. I grow uncomfortable, then I distract myself with something else. More distraction. More uncomfortable feelings. I’m trying to sit with my feelings these days, really let myself feel whatever it is that is coming up rather than pushing it down, ignoring it, pretending it does not exist. Sometimes that looks like not doing the things I want to do. Sometimes it means I end up wanting to do things I didn’t think I would. I am becoming more real, I think, the more I feel. The more I feel the more I am willing to feel. The more I am willing to feel the more I’m willing to be vulnerable. That’s what it’s all really about, anyway.

Vulnerability as the antidote to numbness.

Beauty and connection as the draw toward vulnerability.

Those cracks and micro-tears across all of me are healing into tiger stripes across my flesh. Which is not to say that I am a tiger1, just that they are decorating me, have become part of me, permanently changed me, and remain visible to others. More of my insides are on the outside now. That cracking open was a changing, a growing, I’m more open and willing to be vulnerable, not just via the written word, but with actual humans in the room with me. I’m not as locked tight up with perfectionism, self-doubt, and fear of others as I used to be even six months ago. I’m still afraid, certainly, and I still doubt, and I still hate myself at times for saying or doing the wrong thing, but the time without those feelings is getting longer, greater.

What does it mean to finish anything, anyway?

Is it even possible?

There’s that Da Vinci quote “art is never finished, only abandoned.” Maybe I just don’t know when to abandon something and move on. I was told, repeatedly, that my thesis would never contain everything I wanted it to, would never be what I wanted it to be. I had changed so much through the course of writing it that I would not be satisfied with the finished result. I kept putting off the delivery date: first December, then March, then June. I could have revised it more, could probably have revised it for years. By the time I set it down I was so tired, so worn out from the months of labor pains and the massive internal bleeding that I was just done. It came out of me and I couldn’t bear to look at it for a while. I didn’t know what to do with myself for a while.

Postpartum depression, I suppose.

Postpartum abandonment, really.

This is the first thing I’ve gotten so close to finishing in what feels like a very long time. Even now, though, there’s always more to say.

  1. tai-ger? []

On Writing a Thesis Focused on Embodiment and Emotions (thesis excerpt)

This is an excerpt from my Master’s thesis titled “Erotic Embodiment and Integration of Soul, Spirit, and Body: Toward a Sacred Erotic Psychology Healing Praxis,” it is a piece from the Introduction

To say it is difficult to write about embodiment is an understatement. Writing is a tool of the mind and splits us off from bodily experience. Language cannot fully capture the essence of being embodied, of being in a body, or of bodily sensations and emotions, but it can try. For the most part, language brings us out of our bodies and puts us apart from ourselves, especially language in an academic framework where one is compelled to be aware of sentence structure, word choice, proper citation methods, and so on. The question of how I can write an academic work on embodiment is one I have been grappling with since before I began writing it. The language that most closely aligns with the body is imaginal and poetic. With exception of the praxis chapter, my use of poetic imaginal language has been limited. I have not engaged with the imaginal and poetic nearly enough. Here is an attempt.

I really value each of the realms of spirit, soul, and body and the various ways they each manifest in the world, and I know that of these three realms the body is the most denigrated. This culture has a body problem. It has a problem in all three realms, really, but the way we approach the body is so much more backwards and twisted in my experience. We do everything we can to avoid focusing on our bodies, and that includes me. I have spent a lot of my own life hating my body, treating it as separate from my essential self, or ignoring its needs, feelings, and warnings.

My body has stiffened from the chore of sitting in front of a computer, writing (or attempting to write), while fighting against all the internal blocks I have against doing this work, my work. I can feel it in my shoulders and the back of my neck in the tension that creeps its way up and down from my head to my lower back. I get hit with it when I stretch, arching my back to hear the cacophony of crunchy popping sounds as my vertebrae realign themselves, and suddenly the release of tension sends a momentary throbbing spiraling up all the way to my temples. I can feel it in my knees and hips, the way I hold myself as I walk, where on my feet I place emphasis. I can tell when I am resisting the process and when I am not coming to my work with all of my strength by the way that I sit, passively and slouched or tall and engaged. I can feel it in how I am holding my teeth and tongue, the crack of my jaw when I yawn, the bend of my left knee when I take a step (am I fully bending it, or dragging that foot as I move?), or the pop of my right ankle when I get a twinge or stiffness in it that needs to be rotated out. My body tells me things, and I choose to listen to it or not, though the more I do this work the less I can ignore it. I notice the tension, I breathe, I move.

I do not claim to be perfect at my own methods, or to have mastered embracing the theories and praxis described in this thesis. In fact, what is driving me to do the work that I am dedicated to doing in the world, the work that this thesis is but a fraction of, is my own struggles with embodiment, connection, and belonging. I have been experiencing my own process as I have been writing about it, articulating only as far as I have been able to traverse my own self. Thus through this process I have had to feel my way through it just as much as I have had to work my way through it. I have had to nurture my own self, to build up the strength and self-love and self-compassion. To bring awareness to the things that I do, conscious and unconscious, and the patterns that I am enacting and reenacting within myself and with my lovers, friends, and family. I have gone through some major shifts and realizations within myself through this process, and also know that it is not over. This is just the beginning.

In going through this process of embracing my emotions and letting them flow, of excavating my own shadow and my own past, of working to understand the patterns laid inside of me back in the time of childhood and pre-verbal processing that still run me, of attempting to experience exquisite embodiment of the Self that is called Tai in this incarnation, I have had to confront most if not all of the parts of myself that keep me back. My self-sabotage. As with everyone, all of my issues are interlocking, threads in the tapestry of my life that interact and intersect, not just discrete problems that can be approached completely independently of each other. I have had to face head-on my own fear, grief, shame, anger, some nasty patterns of internalized oppression and repression. I have had to confront my fear of taking up my own space and what it looks like to put something so large as a personal sacred erotic manifesto into the world. This work details the entirety (so far) of my life’s purpose and my understanding of spirituality, sexuality, psychology, and their interactions with each other, and I am really taking up my own space by declaring my own mastery of it. I have also had to process and move through the grief I experienced surrounding the very sudden death of my father, and the emotional and psychological patterns instilled in me generationally and personally through him. I have recognized the shame I have held on to around being my true authentic self in a society that reviles people like me in multiple intersections of my identity. I have had moments of intense jealousy and shame around my relationship with my primary partner, and due to our interlocking patterns around intimacy and attraction we have, on occasion, fallen down the rabbit hole of destructive behavior.

Shame has been a large factor in my excavation process, and shame is necessary to face when doing this work. Emotions are necessary to face when doing this work of the body. To this end the work of Brene Brown and Karla McLaren have been indispensable to me. I have realized the amount of emotion processing that goes on in the face of change, and know that is a vital aspect of becoming. All emotions are particularly powerful, necessary, and important. They each have a reason for coming up when they do and a particular purpose or gift to share with us, if we are open to them. This entire thesis process has been an emotional one, and has impacted my body as such.

Feeling Deeply (thesis exerpt)

This is an exerpt from my Master’s thesis titled “Erotic Embodiment and Integration of Soul, Spirit, Body, and World: Toward a Sacred Erotic Psychology Healing Praxis,” it is a piece from the Theoretical Foundation chapter, Sacred Eroticism as Ontology section.

To further understand the self-deepening and embodied feeling inherent in the erotic, I turn once again to Audre Lorde1, who wrote:

[The erotic] is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves. . . . the erotic is not a question only of what we do; it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing. Once we know the extent to which we are capable of feeling that sense of satisfaction and completion, we can then observe which of our various life endeavors bring us closest to that fullness. (p. 54)

Thus, feeling is the first step toward healing our disconnection from our erotic lifeforce and experiencing the power of the erotic. Through fully embracing our own erotic experiences of satisfaction we are given access to our deeper and full Self. Through this experience of feeling we can determine where we are numbing out, freezing, or paralyzing, and where we need to expand our experience of emotions, pleasure, and sensations. We can also discover where our passions and desires lie through this same process. This is a wholly embodied process that is also cyclical. The more we feel the more we are embodied, and the more we are embodied the more we feel.

Another natural byproduct of both individual and cultural erotic expansion is the emerging of an anti-oppressive ethic that is inherent in this type of engaging with and experiencing the world. Through this process of individual growth and becoming, we bring these developments to the culture at large. This encourages us as a culture and species also move toward sacred embodied living. An anti-oppressive ethic is referring to a life ethic, or a value-based ideology. In this instance, the value is equality, diversity, justice, and self-expression as well as opposition to suffering, inequality, and discrimination. This ethic arises through the understanding of and connection with one’s higher self and soul’s purpose because of the centering of pleasure, wholeness, and authenticity that occurs when embracing the erotic.

Both Lorde1 and Kraemer2 stressed the inherent experience of anti-oppression that embracing the erotic leads to. Lorde (2007) stated:

[One] important way in which the erotic connection functions is the open and fearless underlining of my capacity for joy. . . . This is one reason why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all. . . . In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial. (p. 56-58)

This shift in personal experience and willingness to oppose the programming of the culture at large is at the essence of this anti-oppressive ethic. There is a compliance and complacency that one is required to buy into when unconsciously perpetuating intersectional oppression, either outwardly or internally. This shift toward the erotic, or the shift toward understanding our own individual capacities for joy and our own sources of personal power, is a shift away from accepting the narratives of oppression and obedience ingrained in all of us from the dominant culture. Embracing our erotic natures is a move toward self-understanding, sovereignty, and authenticity. This occurs through the recognition of, acceptance of, and responsibility over one’s own desires, joy, and pleasure.

The closer we are to full-bodied feeling and wholeness of Self, the closer we are to understanding our own sacred erotic natures and reason for being. This is the ultimate goal of SEP3: to assist individuals, groups, and the world toward individuation and the understanding of their soul’s purpose. The particular way I go about this is through investigating the erotic, and the archetypal, mythological, and metaphorical relationships the individual has with the erotic and the body. To this end, sexuality, emotions, connection to and understanding of the sacred, archetypal engagement, past experiences, family dynamics, complexes, the shadow, personal and cultural experiences of power, and many other aspects of the Self must be investigated and integrated within the life of an individual to work toward embracing what I refer to as one’s Whole Erotic Self.

  1. Lorde, A. (2007). Sister outsider: Essays and speeches. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press. [] []
  2. Kraemer, C. H. (2013). Eros and touch from a pagan perspective: Divided for love’s sake. New York, NY: Routledge. []
  3. SEP: Sacred Erotic Psychology, the interdisciplinary field that I am crafting/creating and working within. []

Light at the End of the School Tunnel

For those of you who don’t know, I have been attending Antioch University since the Fall of 2011 working on a self-designed Masters program in Psychology. Last Wednesday, the 12th, I had my Application Project Plan Approval Degree Committee Meeting (yes, apparently the name is that long). I met with the three other people who will be assessing, evaluating, and helping me through the process of my Applied Thesis in my last three quarters at Antioch.

My plan for my thesis was approved, which means that today I am submitting the syllabus for the next three quarters of my Application Project! This is a big deal.

This means I am nearly at the end of my time at Antioch and will, at the end of the year, have a Masters in Integrative Studies in Psychology, focusing on Sacred Erotic Somatic Psychology. I plan to graduate at the end of Fall Quarter 2014.

The proposed timeline is: I will begin working on my Applied Thesis next quarter, starting in April, and I will finish in December, giving me nine months to work through the nine credits of my Application Project. I have been referring to this as my Grad School Pregnancy (“I’m pregnant with grad school,” I’ve been saying) and I plan to birth my Thesis Baby in December.

This also means that my time from now until December, with the exception of the breaks between quarters, will be extremely limited. I don’t yet know if this will be more limited than it has been in previous quarters, but I imagine that may likely be true.

I do at some point want to get back into writing on here on a regular basis and reviewing on my other site. I have aspirations, but I will likely not have time for that until December.

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