Go Big or Go Bust: Day 69 (on using writing to delve way down)

Part of me feels like this writing-to-access-childhood-memories/my-unconscious is a lot of pie in the sky.   How the heck am I actually going to get back to my childhood self?

So I loved getting these responses from yesterday’s post: Sharon Kahn pointed out that the only thing she accessed, writing with her non-dominant hand (after breaking the dominant one), was ‘deep frustration’.  Rachel Dangermond wrote that she’d had experience writing from the point of view of her six year old self. “You would be amazed what happens.”

Hmmm.  Sounds good, Rachel.  But how the heck did you get back into your 6 year old self?  I don’t want to end up in the frustration circle.

Facing the possibility that I could go either way made me get real and  I’m happy to report that I have a plan.   (more)

La Marquise Casati by Man Ray (1922)

La Marquise Casati by Man Ray (1922)

About sixteen years ago, my dear friend Rita, who had no aspirations to be a writer herself, had taken and practically insisted that I sign up for Ira Progoff’s Intensive Journal Workshop.  She was very forceful about the value of it.  And when she added “It isn’t about ‘writing’”, the intimidation factor vanished and I signed up.  

And so for one weekend I hunched over a desk in a classroom with thirty other hopefuls, listening to our teacher Annette Corvatta explain the program and guide us through exercises.

At one point, I think it was on the second day, we were to write a “Dialogue with the Body”.  What I remember is that we were to choose something ‘hot’, something charged, and to go through the Stepping Stones (important moments … the whole process is clearly explained in the book version) which lead up to this ‘hot’ experience of one aspect of the body.  And then we were to start writing a dialogue with that part as if it were able to hear and to respond.

The hottest thing I could think of was something that had been traumatic when it had happened ten years earlier, a miscarriage.  

But I’d dealt with it.  I’d been in a black depression until finally talking and crying about it.  And then I’d had a cathartic shift to clarity and an awareness of my feet connecting to the uneven flagstones on Sullivan Street in Soho.  I remember feeling peaceful, whole and very alive, thinking, “I don’t need fame and I don’t need money.  All I need is to be connected to what I’m feeling.”

So flashing forward to the classroom, I knew I was on pretty safe ground.  Yes I could write about a hot experience, but one I had Down.  

I went through the Stepping Stones which helped me to get into the emotional state of that time and started writing.  To my surprise, the voice of my body started the conversation.

To my astonishment, within five minutes I was sobbing, tears dropping all over my writing hand and my paper.

There were predictable feelings of my inadequacy as a woman and there were surprising feelings from my body’s point of view.  This I’d never even considered.  My body had feelings?? My body had a point of view?  Indeed it did.

My body was kind of pissed off at how my emotional self had reacted.  My body was hurt by how I distanced myself from it, how I judged it as defective.  

I was astonished to hear from my body.  And the last sentence of the dialogue was the body talking in a voice that I didn't (and don't) recognize as my own:  “I’m smart like an animal.”