I have chosen to hang out with myself today. My husband is in Massachusetts with family.
I didn't think that I could both fast and perform according to social expectations at the same time, so I chose to stay home and fast.
Since it is supposed to be a holiday, I chose to watch a Netflix film I had rented a couple of months ago but that I still hadn't gotten around to watching: Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present. Interestingly, fasting is one of the methods that she has used in her work.
Yesterday I was in the Emergency Room. The other night a bat had gotten into the house. One of the cats seems to have injured it. After a while the bat disappeared and we hoped that it had flown out of the door that I had left open. My husband found it in the morning, in the bedroom, still alive but flightless. I coaxed it onto a dustpan and held it outside of the window. It dropped onto the ground. Later, my husband checked outside and said he saw no evidence of it on the ground. Presumably it had crawled away, or perhaps regained its ability to fly.
When business hours arrived, I called my physician and called the vet to see if there were any precautions I should take, even though no one appeared to have been bitten. A physician's assistant at my doctor's office recommended that I go to the ER to be evaluated for possible rabies vaccine. The vet suggested rabies boosters for the cats. Evidently presence in the home, especially in a bedroom overnight, is considered significant risk for exposure to rabies.
12 years ago on the 4th of July, on a Thursday, my father took my mother to the ER because she had had a persistent headache. That led to her being admitted to the hospital for tests. Two days later the family gathered in the hospital to spend time with my mother, who had been scheduled for brain surgery the following Tuesday. She wasn't sure she was going to survive the surgery.
She survived the surgery, but that visit to the ER on July 4, 2002, just a few weeks after I relocated to the northeast in order to take a new job, signaled the beginning of the end. It was the beginning of the end of my family of origin as a complete, organic unit, and it was the beginning of the end of any real chance for a direct reconciliation of the estrangement I had experienced for nearly 20 years on account of my sexuality.
From that point forward, the primary emphasis would be on my mother's illness and treatments, and everyone would need to resume--as much as possible--their former roles as maintainers of family unity. No wonder why it feels like such a relief to be spending July 4 away from family.
Yesterday, which was Thursday, July 3, as I sat in the ER twice--once in the morning to wait for my treatment, and again in the late afternoon after my husband came home from work, to wait for him while he received his treatment--these thoughts came back to me quite vividly.
Today it occurred to me that there can be no substitute for one's own family (of origin). Since my husband's family accepted me in ways that my family would not, I tried for years to immerse myself in the life of his family (and, later on, the life of the Amma cult). The reason why there can be no substitute for one's own family is not that one's own family is superior to all others--far from it in many cases--but simply because it is a unique environment. Either it works out well or not so well, but ultimately it is what it is, and how it turns out will affect the nature of one's relationships with everyone else, to one degree or another.
10 years ago, not on this date, but a couple of weeks afterward, I received initiation from Amma during Devi Bhava in New York. I had recently become estranged from my cult friend and was hoping for a reconciliation at that program. He was so detached that he was hardly aware of my presence, but I did have an interesting experience of initiation (which seems to have been presaged in a dream from some months earlier) and I began to make more friends within the cult.
Looking back on that period, it seems to me that, given my background and profession, ongoing cult involvement and the constant cycle of ups and downs involving cult friendships, were simply not sustainable for me in my 40s and beyond.
Yesterday I brought Dane Rudhyar's The Magic of Tone, and Art of Music to the ER for reading material. One passage resonated with me particularly clearly:
The first phase of a process of transformation is deconditioning. Psychedelic drugs decondition; resonating to the myths, symbols, and vocabulary of a culture different from the one that formed one's mind also deconditions. But both types of deconditioning may also be dangerous. Psychedelic drugs can destroy one's sanity by opening wide an unprepared and unprotected consciousness to unassimilable, frightening intrusions; and not a few "passages to India," where contacts with a variety of holy men may be confusing and create whirlpools of psychic energy in an already partially uprooted psyche, have produced violent backlashes leading to a compulsive return to the narrowest forms of our collective and traditional Christian psychism." (Rudhyar 1982, 112)
The promise of cult friendships, which may appear to be freer and less boundaried than ordinary friendships or relationships, seems to remain elusive so long as one or both parties are unwilling to pass through growth-inducing experiences in the material world. Yesterday's experiences at the hospital and at the vet reinforced a sense of competence in being resourceful when presented with challenges. Passing through mini-crises like these, and pursuing goals--individually and together--and achieving them, seem to be some of the factors that have kept our relationship going over the past several years.