flow: a gift of feeling

by: Tara Ruttenberg

three drops? that's it? you have got to be kidding me. i just came off a week-long colon cleanse, i haven't eaten sugar, wheat or dairy in nearly a month, and i'm fermenting enough kombucha in my kitchen to eradicate cancer in a two-mile radius. how on earth could this be happening? discouraged, frustrated, and now a little more than concerned, i didn't bother flushing. not that anyone would have noticed.

what started as slight water retention and a feeling that i couldn't quite relieve myself fully, had now become serious and i couldn't pee at all. my urine test had come back 'completely normal' with no sign of infection, so technically (in Western medicine mumbo jumbo) there was nothing wrong with me. right. tell that to my throbbing kidneys and swollen bladder kicking and screaming for someone to open the fucking floodgates.

once i told her my pee test was inconclusive, the pharmacist denied me any medication and told me i had a 'serious medical condition' and needed to go see the doctor. i pleaded with her to let me try the anti-bacterial elixir that might do the trick if i had a bladder infection, and she finally relented. she told me to take one packet and that if i didn't start feeling relief in an hour, i should go straight to the clinic. come on pee-pee potion, let's make magic; mama don't wanna spend the night on dialysis in the creepy clinic.

earlier in the day i had sought refuge in my chakra workbook, hoping a more holistic understanding of what's going on in my bod might shed some light on the subject (or at least provide some quality bathroom reading while i sat chest-over-thighs praying for a miracle). Kathy Pike, author of Pathways to a Radiant Self: A Journey of Growth and Discovery with the Chakras, identifies the second chakra, svadhisthana, as the energy center corresponding with the lower abdomen, the fluids of the body, the bladder, kidneys, sexual and reproductive organs, and the lymphatic system. if the second chakra is blocked or out of balance, these are the areas of the body where we will experience pain or other physical symptoms. Earmarking the pages with my toes, I was all ears.

"Orange is the symbolic color of the second chakra and the element is water.... [it] provides you the space to explore your ability to feel and understand your emotions, your ability to flow in life.... A balanced second chakra in the human body will reflect a person who is in touch with his/her feelings and a person who has the ability to flow in all aspects of his/her life."

"The tears, the fluids of your body, release and flow as the emotions are expressed and the energy is shifted. Being in touch with and expressing your emotions is a key aspect of the natural flow of your being.... Unrecognized emotions and feelings can cause tidal waves and hurricanes in your inner being as they swell and you resist them. This pattern creates a situation in which you may isolate yourself repeatedly from your feelings or people who ignite these feelings, until the force behind the motions becomes unmanageable, like an inner tsunami. Leaving the tsunami untamed allows its power to grow and grow. The resulting dynamic is an inner struggle and frustration that requires an enormous amount of energy to control, and keep at bay, on a continual basis. This energy turns back into the body and the soul creating a deadening of the spirit that may result in sickness or disease.... These emotions are waiting to be released. The resistance to releasing the emotions can often feel bigger than the emotion itself. If you resist, you stop the flow of your life energy."

so if i was reading this right, i had been resisting feeling and releasing my emotions to the extent that my second chakra was so blocked that i literally could not flow.

as a surfer and a writer, flow is obviously something i care about, and i had to admit that both had been feeling a bit off in the past few weeks. i hadn't had much desire to surf, and when i did, i'd felt overwhelmed by panic and anxiety, freaking myself out and falling all over the place. my writing was equally sloppy and it took hours to create mediocre paragraphs that should have taken minutes. aware of this, and now drawing a cognitive connection to the flow-feelings relationship, its ability to manifest in the very ailments i was experiencing, and the need to 'feel my feelings' as the way to unblock my second chakra, somehow i became hopeful that if only i could get a grasp on some deep feelings i had been resisting, i would be able to flow, in all senses of the word. i didn't know what that meant, but i was determined to find out.

i started by identifying present feelings - frustration, fear and anger related to my health concerns and a new sense of conviction that i was going to beat this thing no matter what. in my chakra book, it says that the ocean and movement of the body can help get things flowing again, so lucky for me i'm living beachfront and the swell was peaking today. i paddled out with a vengeance, now on a surf-warrior mission to get my flow back. besides, i'd be damned if my last surf session on earth before dying of kidney failure was anything short of spectacular. i paddled into my first wave with a full-on sense of purpose, standing up fast and pumping down the line, surprised at my renewed fearlessness and lack of hesitation in overhead surf. second wave, same deal. cool and confident, celebrating feeling like me again, splashing off the top and putting some extra oomph in my bottom turn. i'm back.

i came in stoked, a feeling i hadn't felt in a while, to be honest, despite surfing frequently in decent conditions. maybe that means things are starting to shift, that i'm getting back into the flow. i hurried into the bathroom to try my luck. i sat there for a minute, straining uncomfortably... fruitlessly.

fuck. i guess it's not quite so simple. feel my feelings - but how? and what feelings? one thing i refused to acknowledge was unfortunately glaring me in the face, and i finally let it enter my mind once i had reached this low point of exhausting all other possibilities: i had been dreaming about him again despite my best intentions not to, waking up grumpy almost a month now after telling him i thought it best we stop communicating, again. oh god, anything but feel those feelings for the thousandth time. i had put those feelings in a box and thrown away the key, remember? long gone and buried forever. and i was so over it that i wasn't about to let svadhisthana make me dig those skeletons up again.             

defeated and deflated (unfortunately only figuratively), i drank the pharmacy elixir of life and started watching Silver Linings Playbook to take my mind off not peeing and not feeling. I sipped my parsley tea, dosed myself with homemade herbal tincture, and wrapped a bright orange scarf around my second chakra to try and get things moving. maybe if i mix their medicine with my own, something is bound to do the trick. i was enthralled in the flick and hadn't thought much about my bladder until the halfway point when i realized i still hadn't peed and i was past the fateful 1-hour mark after taking the medication. i took a deep breath and stuck it out, promising myself i'd drive to the clinic as soon as the movie ended. i couldn't just leave and never find out if he gets back with his cheater wife or falls for the crazy awesome dancer chick. with no untimely potty breaks (my own 'silver lining', perhaps), i watched it through to the end, content to learn he picks the gloomy crazy one and they live happily ever after in all of their dysfunctional real-ness.

then i cried for an hour.

then i wrote this in a stream of consciousness:


still trying to fill the gap you left. with whatever i possibly can. getting skinny, getting fat. spending savings on undetectable illnesses my body has created to remind me how resentful i am, how damaged this whole relationship has left me. for the person i loved with everything to tell me he won't even try to make it work after everything i've given and forgiven. every ounce of soul - for what? all my dreams are coming true. where are you? and is it really you i miss, or is it me? faking it with a broken smile, a romantic fling, a hard heart to hide the holes. is it that i really think it'll work this time or that i just can't get over not even trying? are you the jouissance of my heart's insatiable desire, a fantasy i created and perpetuated in my addictive imagination? are you content to be? or are you everything i've dreamed, live in the flesh, just taking your time to sort it all out? are you content not to be? unwavering in your indecision, i imagine we'll never know. and i'll just be here living, waiting for the day i stop caring which way your heart will go.

then i got up, walked to the bathroom, and flowed for a full 9-mississippi.  
...and counting.

so happy 30th to a man (or figment of my fantasy) who breaks my heart by doing absolutely nothing.