So Bishop is perfect so far. I’ve been here two days, but still, I love it. I’ve seen douchey remarks about the Happies and Sads on message boards before, but my first two days here I went to both and had a blast. Sort of. They’re awesome areas, the rock feels like Hueco, they’re both very easy to navigate and full of glorious problems. But when I went to the Sads, I got really…sad.
I gave up on getting wooblery or frustrated while bouldering this year, because it’s so unattractive when other people do it. I figure it must look pretty bad on me too, and it gets me nowhere. But yesterday I got on this problem called Molly, a pockety V5 with kind of a balance move at the top and some greasy holds, and I will be damned if I did not have to fight tears when I fell off the top for the 4th time. It was very strange. I walked away.
Then I got on this other thing, kind of the Bishop version of Fear of Flying called Strength in Numbers, also a V5, with a bad hold at the top and limited foot options but, come on, not impossible just a bit scary. Jeeze LOUISE, I fell of the top half a dozen times, then almost started crying, then THREW my chalkbag on the ground like some petulant child climber from Boulder or something. It was embarrassing.
In both instances I was with super nice people, everyone was projecting and being very supportive, lots of laughter, etc. I didn’t feel self conscious or like I was the weak person, and I actually climbed pretty strong on both lines, just chuffing off at the tops. But there I was, tripping out. I’m going to try to pinpoint why now. Join me, if you want to, on a journey into my internal experience:
By the end of my Strength in Numbers session my skin was on fire, and I suppose that might have darkened my experience. Two weeks of barely climbing at all on the wet road, then focusing on yoga, thrift stores and the beach in Los Angeles for a week cost me my Hueco tips (but earned me a marginally recovered wrist!). So that’s one thing. But I’ve never cried about my skin before.
It was less than 14 degrees the night before, and I’d spent most of the night getting cold, tucking into my sleeping bag, getting too hot, repeat. So I may have just been completely exhausted. This would be normal for me if I was 5 years old, but since I finished my second pass through second grade, I don’t get hysterical when I’m tired. I usually just curl up on a pad and sleep in the sun.
It’s also possible that I might have been in a somewhat emotional place. Leaving LA and being back by myself, I’ve gotten into a reflecting and planning mode. I’ve been thinking a lot about my next phase. I’m going back to Austin in February and committing to staying put (minus some weekends in Hueco and maybe a trip to Colorado in July like duh) until August.
I had this thought the other day, that I got off super easy in my divorce. My ex and I were never into talking about negative emotional experiences, and during our split we coped by being super nice to each other. The process was pretty easy for us on the surface that way. We kind of just went to separate corners and tucked in, packed up, and moved on. But I know that the whole time I was reeling hard on the inside. By the time we were actually separated I was pretty convinced that I was pretty much unlovable and a destructive force more than likely to hurt anyone who got into my orbit, and not worth anyone’s time or respect. At least not anyone smart. And I think I’ve been fighting those peculiar instincts my whole life, and that they’re the reason why me and alcohol have had such a passionate, destructive relationship. So even though my ex was super kind and respectful to me the whole time we were together (and still is), that underlying self-yuck I have didn’t evaporate or even degrade. In fact, I suspect that being with someone who was so easy on me let me ignore that aspect of my personality and not address it at all, and it just kind of grew. And if I were a different or more logical person, I might have lived the rest of my life with him, feeling pretty ok and ignoring that stormy zone in my heart.
But life or god or maybe just human psychology seem to have this way of, like, forcing confrontation with underlying pain over and over until you just, like, cope with it and weave it into your life in an honest way. And I wonder if the way that I was so suddenly so hot for el playa (a very sore spot when I think about returning to the ATX) was that stormy pain shooting up out of my heart and into my life.
Because despite wanting something romantic with me, it sure felt like el playa considered me unlovable, potentially destructive, and totally unworthy of his time or respect. Whether or not that’s true, my storm was so strong that everything el playa did or said just fell into that mold. Whatever he did or didn’t do or said or didn’t say became evidence to support the “I am garbage” thesis.
I guess I thought if I could convince someone like that to love me, then maybe I had me all wrong after all! Maybe I’m not a horrible person! But that would not actually convince me. El playa, my ex, my parents, my friends, could all love me as much as they could stand to and it wouldn’t calm the storm a bit. In fact, I’d probably just think I had them fooled, and then I’d feel pressure to stay lovable and non-stormy. I’ve heard that It’s only the outgoing love that counts, and that without opening up for someone else and taking them into your life and your storming heart, all the dog kisses and snuggling in the world aren’t going to change you.
I think the only thing you can do, or that I can do, is love someone who can see and acknowledge our storms for what they are, rather than pretend they don’t exist like with my ex, or mistake the storm for who we are, like I did with El playa. I read this Eckhart Tolle thing that kind of described it (he calls the storm a “pain body”):
When you recognize your own pain-body as it arises, you will also quickly learn what the most common triggers are that activate it, whether it be situations or certain things other people do or say. When those triggers occur, you will immediately see them for what they are and enter an hightened state of alertness. Within a second or two, you will also notice the emotional reaction that is the arising pain-body, but in that state of alert Presence, you won’t identify with it, which means the pain-body cannot take you over and become the voice in your head. … Have an agreement with your partner that whenever either of you says or does something that triggers the other persons pain body, you will immediately mention it. In this way, the pain body can no longer renew itself through drama in the relationship…
So as I’m sleeping alone in the Trooper in Bishop (a balmy 20 tonight ftw), I think I’m starting to understand some of that stuff a bit more. And it’s making me cry at the tops of boulder problems. I suppose because those are also vulnerable places to be.